Township of Oxford, NJ
Warren County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council (now Township Committee) of the Township of Oxford 12-30-1975 (Ch. 42 of the 1974 Township Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Affordable housing – See Ch. 100.
Fire prevention – See Ch. 185.

§ 139-1 Title and purpose.

A. 
Title. This chapter shall be known as the "Oxford Township Unfit Building Abatement Ordinance."
B. 
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of buildings which are so old or dilapidated or which have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use.

§ 139-2 Declaration of findings.

It is hereby found and declared that there exist in the Township of Oxford buildings which are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use due to dilapidation; defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities; or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe or unsanitary, or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of this Township.

§ 139-3 Definitions.

The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purpose 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 Township Committee of the Township of Oxford.
[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
OWNER
The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
PARTIES IN INTEREST
All persons who have interests of record in a building or who are in possession thereof.
[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
PERSON
Includes any individual, firm, corporation, association, partnership or other entity.
[Added 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township of Oxford.
PUBLIC OFFICER
The officer, officers, board or body who is or are authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.

§ 139-4 Appointment of public officer.

The public officer shall be appointed by the Mayor; and in lieu of such an appointment, the Mayor and Township Committee shall exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.

§ 139-5 Notice of violation; hearing; failure to comply.

A. 
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer, on his own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation, 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 said building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed not less than seven 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 rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
B. 
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, 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 the said building 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 the said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and if the building is in such a condition 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 the said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the 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; and 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; and the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
D. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
E. 
If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building, to be credited against the costs of removal and demolition thereof.

§ 139-6 Standards for determining unfitness.

The public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of such municipality. Such conditions may include the following, without limiting the generality of the foregoing: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; and uncleanliness.

§ 139-7 Emergency situations.

[Added 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.

§ 139-8 Costs to become lien; disposition of moneys.

A. 
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 determined in favor of the Township, and the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of 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.
B. 
There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof or the clearance or leveling of the site the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building.
[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
C. 
If there are no such credits or if the sum total 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, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail.
D. 
If the total of the credits exceeds 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 Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this section intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.), or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
E. 
Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 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.
[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]

§ 139-9 Manner of serving notice.

[Amended 10-21-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11]
Service of complaints or orders issued by a public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail; but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and 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 complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in Oxford Township or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in Oxford Township. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Warren County Clerk.

§ 139-10 Additional powers of public officer.

The public officer is 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, in addition to others herein granted:
A. 
To investigate the building conditions in the Municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
B. 
To administer oaths or affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
C. 
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
D. 
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purpose of this chapter.
E. 
To delegate any of its functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.

§ 139-11 Construal of provisions.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of any department of the Township of Oxford to enforce any provisions of its charter or its ordinances or regulations or to prevent or punish violation thereof.