Atlantic City, NJ
Atlantic County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners (now City Council) of the City of Atlantic City 8-15-1957 by Ord. No. 9-1957. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Abandoned buildings — See Ch. 104.
Demolition of buildings — See Ch. 105.
Moving of buildings — See Ch. 106.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 111.
Firesafety — See Ch. 128.

§ 108-1 Legislative findings.

[Amended 10-6-2010 by Ord. No. 70-2010]
The City of Atlantic City hereby declares and finds that there exists in the municipality a building or buildings, or parts thereof, which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or part thereof, unsafe or insanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the municipality, and the City of Atlantic City desires to exercise the powers set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq. and the several supplements and amendments thereto.
A. 
Structures that are vacant for an extended period of time and in a state of disrepair or boarded (hereinafter referred to as "vacant buildings") can be considered public nuisances and unfit buildings because they are the breeding ground for vermin, create targets for vandals and arsonists, serve as temporary refuge for derelicts, vagrants, and criminals, become attractive nuisances to children and become a venue for crime; and
B. 
Vacant buildings cause a decrease in neighboring property values, make it more difficult or impossible for neighboring property owners to secure homeowner's insurance and contribute to blight; and
C. 
The property surrounding vacant buildings invites the dumping of garbage and rubbish, increases the incidents of weeds, high grass and unsightly and rubbish-strewn grounds, and otherwise harms the aesthetic environment of the community; and
D. 
The City recognizes the "broken window" concept: that even a single broken window, left unrepaired, can lead to more broken windows and to further vandalism and disrepair by giving the appearance that no one cares for or protects the property so that the building becomes increasingly dilapidated; and
E. 
The abatement of the nuisance caused by vacant buildings left unoccupied for extended periods of time is in the best interests of the citizens of Atlantic City.
F. 
Structures that are wholly or partially boarded up ("partially boarded buildings"), where the boards are uncut to fit the openings, unpainted (or covered with exterior weathertight material) and do not comply with established and industry-approved design standards, are public nuisances as they are the breeding ground for vermin, create targets for vandals and arsonists, serve as temporary refuge in parts for derelicts, vagrants and criminals, become attractive nuisances to children, and become a venue for crime. Partially boarded buildings cause a decrease in neighboring property values, make it more difficult or impossible for neighboring property owners to secure homeowners insurance, and contribute to blight. The City recognizes the "broken window" concept that even a single window in disrepair or boarded over, left in that condition, can lead to further vandalism and disrepair. The abatement of the nuisance caused by partially boarded buildings left in that state for an extended period of time is in the best interests of the citizens of Atlantic City
[Added 4-11-2012 by Ord. No. 2-2012]

§ 108-2 Enforcing official.

[Amended 10-24-2007 by Ord. No. 84-2007; 1-27-2010 by Ord. No. 03-2010]
The Director of Licensing and Inspections, having charge of the Division of Construction and Division of Code Enforcement, is hereby designated as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.

§ 108-3 Enforcement procedures.

A. 
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the municipality charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the public officer (on his own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer (or his designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, or otherwise, and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
B. 
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the building, buildings or parts thereof are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state in writing his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of said building, buildings or part thereof to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and if the building, buildings or parts thereof are in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises, and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building, buildings or parts thereof within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building, buildings or parts thereof within a reasonable time as specified in said order of removal.
C. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed, the public officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful." It shall be unlawful for any person to own, have, keep, maintain or live in any building on which there has been posted a placard as herein provided for or to remove or cause the removal of any such posted placard.
[Amended 10-24-2007 by Ord. No. 84-2007]
D. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause such building, buildings or parts thereof to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor. The removal or demolition thereof shall be in accordance with Ordinance No. 12 of 1963 and any amendments thereto.[1]
[Amended 5-16-1984 by Ord. No. 28-1984]
[1]
Editor's Note: Ordinance No. 12-1963 was repealed 8-4-1977 by Ord. No. 33-1977. See now Ch. 105, Buildings, Demolition of.
E. 
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter and determined in favor of the municipality, and such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, including grading and seeding, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract removal or demolition thereof, and the amount so charged, with an additional administrative fee of $100, shall forthwith become a lien upon the lands and shall be added to and become and form part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such lands, the same to bear interest at the same rate as taxes, and shall be collected and enforced by the same officers and in the same manner as taxes. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract of the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the total sum of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amounts so due shall be filed by the municipal tax assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount of the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
[Amended 5-16-1984 by Ord. No. 28-1984; 6-11-2014 by Ord. No. 26-2014]
F. 
When, in the opinion of the public officer, Construction Official, Chief of Code Enforcement and the City Engineer, there is an actual and immediate danger of failure or collapse of a building or structure or any part thereof which would endanger life, an emergency order, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.32(b), may be issued requiring repair or demolition as expeditiously as possible. The public officer shall require all property inspections be done immediately and a report issued within 24 hours.
[Amended 10-24-2007 by Ord. No. 84-2007]

§ 108-3.1 Vacant buildings enforcement procedures.

[Added 10-6-2010 by Ord. No. 70-2010]
A. 
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the municipality charging that any vacant building as defined in this chapter is a public nuisance or whenever it appears to the public officer (on his own motion) that any vacant building is a public nuisance as defined in § 104-1, the public officer shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer (or his designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, or otherwise, and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
B. 
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the vacant building is a public nuisance, he shall state, in writing, his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of said building, buildings or part thereof to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order; and if the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building, as the case may be, within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building, buildings or parts thereof within a reasonable time as specified in said order of removal.
C. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause such building, buildings or parts thereof to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
D. 
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter and determined in favor of the municipality, and such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, including grading and seeding, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the total sum of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the municipal tax assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.

§ 108-4 Dangerous conditions.

A. 
Said public officer may determine that a building, buildings or parts thereof are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building, buildings or parts thereof which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, buildings or parts thereof, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the City of Atlantic City; without limiting the generality of the foregoing, such conditions may include the following: defects therein increasing the hazard of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; or uncleanliness.
B. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to have, keep, use or maintain a building that is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use or which is dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of said buildings or other occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents or people of or in the City of Atlantic City as specified in this section.

§ 108-5 Complaints.

Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaints or orders upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the City of Atlantic City. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Clerk of Atlantic County.

§ 108-6 Powers and duties of public officer.

Said public officer is hereby authorized to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following powers addition to the other powers herein granted to:
A. 
Investigate the building conditions in the City of Atlantic City in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
B. 
Administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
C. 
Enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entry shall be made in such manner as to cause the least inconvenience to the persons in possession.
D. 
Appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
E. 
Delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
F. 
Investigate the building conditions in the City of Atlantic City in order to determine which vacant buildings as defined in this chapter are a public nuisance as defined in § 104-1 and should be removed or demolished.
[Added 10-6-2010 by Ord. No. 70-2010]

§ 108-7 Repair or demolition; recovery of costs.

Any repair, alteration, improvement, removal or demolition, as above provided, may be performed by the municipality, through its proper officials or employees, or the municipality may contract with any person to render such service on behalf of the municipality, under its control and direction, and pursuant to specifications showing in detail the service to be rendered and to rules and regulations adopted by the governing body for the same, and upon ample security for proper performance being given to the municipality. The procedure to be followed in adopting any such contract shall be in accordance with N.J.R.S. 40:48-5. The municipality may recover the cost thereof from said owner by action at law, which action shall be in addition to any other remedy provided for by this chapter, and shall not make void any lien upon real estate provided for by this chapter nor prevent the imposition of any penalty imposed for violation of this chapter or any ordinance of this municipality.

§ 108-8 Powers of other agencies.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of any department of the City of Atlantic City to enforce any provisions of its Charter or other statute, or its ordinances or regulations, nor to prevent or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other ordinance of the City of Atlantic City.

§ 108-9 Definitions.

The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this chapter unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
BUILDING
Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
GOVERNING BODY
The City Council of the City of Atlantic City charged with governing the municipality.
[Amended 10-24-2007 by Ord. No. 84-2007]
OWNER
The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
PARTIES IN INTEREST
All individuals, associations and corporation who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the City of Atlantic City, County of Atlantic or State of New Jersey relating to health, fire or building regulations or to the other activities concerning buildings in the City of Atlantic City.
PUBLIC OFFICER
The officer or officers who are authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.

§ 108-10 Violations and penalties.

[Amended 2-1-1989 by Ord. No. 2-1989; 11-25-2008 by Ord. No. 104-2008]
A. 
Violation of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both, at the discretion of the Municipal Judge before whom such a case shall be brought.
B. 
Any person who aids, assists or abets in the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to the penalties herein provided for.