[HISTORY: Derived from Ch. III, Sec. 3-20, of the Revised General Ordinances of the Borough of Fort Lee, 1978, adopted 3-1-1979. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Property maintenance — See Ch. 312.
The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Fort Lee find and declare that the defacing of public and private property by what is commonly referred to as "graffiti" may contribute to the degradation and blight of neighborhoods within the Borough of Fort Lee and that graffiti upon private and public property constitutes a nuisance which endangers the public health, safety and welfare. Left uncontrolled, such graffiti encourages additional graffiti and results in blighting conditions and a reduction in property values. The Mayor and Council further find and declare that the prompt removal of graffiti is the responsibility of all property owners and that, in the event a property owner should fail or refuse to remove such graffiti, it is appropriate for the Borough of Fort Lee to abate such a nuisance and to charge the cost thereof as a lien against the property.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any writing, drawing, marking, symbol or the like placed upon any real or personal property, whether private property or public property, by using paint, spray paint, aerosol paint, markers, chalk, dyes or any other substance or method without the consent or authorization of the owner of the property. "Graffiti" shall not mean any words, letters, symbols, logos or numbers which convey information, an announcement, a direction or an advertisement which are in compliance with the regulations concerning signs as set forth in Chapter 410, Zoning, of the Code of the Borough of Fort Lee, or the occasional and temporary marking of public streets or sidewalks with chalk for traditional children's games.
- Any person under the age of 18 years.
- WIDE FELT-TIP MARKERS
- A marking pen or instrument of which the surface used for writing or marking purposes is equal to or greater than 1/8 of an inch.
No person shall write, draw, paint, print or place with ink, paint, chalk, or other substance, graffiti or other markings, whether obscene or not and whether intended to offend or not, on the real or personal property of another, whether such property is publicly or privately owned, unless the owner of said property shall have, prior to the drawing, writing, printing or placing of such markings, specifically consented to the same; nor shall any person willfully or maliciously damage, deface or vandalize the property of another by inscribing or placing graffiti or any other markings on a public or private street, or on public or private property, whether real or personal; provided, however, that nothing contained herein shall prohibit the occasional and temporary marking of public streets or sidewalks with chalk for traditional children's games.
No person shall knowingly sell or offer for sale to the general public any spray paint or other pigmented substance in an aerosol or similar spray container, or any wide felt-tip marker, as defined above, unless a sign is exhibited, either where the product is displayed or where it is paid for, warning that in the Borough of Fort Lee a conviction for an act of graffiti carries a minimum mandatory fine of $100 and a minimum mandatory twenty-day period of incarceration or community service for a first offense. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a person who knowingly violates this subsection shall be fined $100 for the first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense.
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess a spray paint container, liquid paint in cans, a wide felt-tip marker or any other pigmented substance in an aerosol or similar spray container in any public building or upon any public facility or private property with the intent to use the same to deface said building, facility or property. A person who possesses a spray paint container, liquid paint in cans, a wide felt-tip marker or any other pigmented substance in an aerosol or similar spray container in any public building, or upon any public facility or private property, with no legitimate or lawful purpose therefor, shall be presumed to have possessed the same with the intention of using such container, marker, can or paint to deface said building, facility or property, the said presumption being rebuttable by the possessor demonstrating a lawful, legitimate use for the container, marker, can or paint.
It shall be unlawful for any parent, legal guardian or other person having custody or in the presence of any minor child under the age of 18 years to assist, aid, abet, allow, permit or encourage said minor to violate the provisions of this section, as defined herein, either by words, overt act or by failing to act or by lack of supervision and control over said minor child.
Owners of real property within the Borough of Fort Lee shall be required to remove graffiti from all buildings and structures upon their property within 21 calendar days following discovery thereof or within 21 calendar days of receipt of a notice thereof from Building Department personnel or any other agency of the Borough of Fort Lee served upon the owner, property manager or occupant of said premises, whichever shall first occur.
Upon the failure or refusal of the property owner to remove said graffiti within said twenty-one-day period, the Borough of Fort Lee, by resolution of the Borough Council, may enter upon said property, remove said graffiti and put the premises in proper condition so as to comply with the requirements of this section or any other state law or municipal ordinance applicable thereto and may expend public funds for such purpose.
The cost of abating such nuisance, removing such graffiti and putting the premises in proper condition shall be the responsibility of the owner and, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12f, or any successor statute, the amount thereof, as determined by the Borough Council of the Borough of Fort Lee, shall be a lien against the premises and collectible pursuant to the provisions of said statute and in accordance with the provisions of the Code of the Borough of Fort Lee.
In addition to the powers set forth above, in the event that any owner of a building or structure in the Borough of Fort Lee shall violate this chapter or fail to abate a condition harmful to the health and safety of the occupants of the building or structure and/or the general public, after notice and opportunity to do so, the Building Inspector or his designee, with the approval and advice of the Borough Attorney, may bring an action to be appointed receiver ex officio of the rents and income of such property in accordance with and for the purposes specified in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12h et seq., or any successor statute.
Any person found guilty of violating any of the provisions of this chapter, with the exception of § 233-3B above, upon conviction thereof, shall pay a fine not to exceed $2,000 or be subject to imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.
[Amended 5-23-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-20; 3-23-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-16]
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding subsection, for a first offense involving the actual defacing or marring of any private or public property, a person having been convicted of same shall be subject to a minimum mandatory fine of not less than $100 and a minimum mandatory period of imprisonment or a term of community service of not less than 20 days. One day of community service shall consist of six hours.
For a second and subsequent violation involving the actual defacing or marring of any private or public property, a person having been convicted of same shall be subject to a minimum mandatory fine of not less than $500 and a minimum mandatory period of imprisonment of not less than 20 days and shall be ordered to perform community service for a period of not less than 20 days, which shall be of such form and substance as the court shall deem appropriate under the circumstances.
In addition to any other penalty imposed by the court, any person convicted of a violation of this chapter may, at the discretion of the Judge of the Municipal Court, be required to pay to the owner of the damaged property monetary restitution in the amount of the pecuniary damage caused by the act of graffiti or, as part of such person's community service, to remove the graffiti from the property.
If, at the time of the offense charged, any person apprehended for a violation of this chapter shall be under the age of 18 years, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, shall have exclusive jurisdiction of the disposition of such juvenile or juveniles, and such juvenile or juveniles shall be referred to that Court, and the case, including all papers, reports and process, shall be transferred to said court as provided for in N.J.S.A. 2C:4-11.