[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Groton 2-22-1988 by L.L. No. 2-1988. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to promote the general health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Village of Groton and to protect the value of real property in the Village of Groton and to promote and perpetuate the attractive appearance of neighborhoods in the community, by requiring proper maintenance of real property within the Village of Groton. This chapter shall be entitled the "Village of Groton Real Property Maintenance Law."
[Amended 2-17-1992 by L.L. No. 2-1992; 11-21-2011 by L.L. No. 5-2011]
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any owner or other occupant or person having control of real property in the Village of Groton to:
Deposit, abandon, maintain, keep or allow the accumulation on his real property, outside of any building, of any junk, trash, rubbish, garbage, refuse, debris, discarded materials and any other waste material which, when thrown or deposited as herein prohibited, tends to create a danger to the public health, safety and welfare or creates degradation through unsightliness or noisomeness.
Examples of such materials are as follows:
Putrescible animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
Putrescible and nonputrescible solid wastes, except body wastes, including but not limited to garbage, rubbish, ashes, street cleanings, dead animals and solid market and industrial wastes.
Nonputrescible solid wastes consisting of both combustible and noncombustible wastes, including but not limited to felled or cut trees, limbs, lumber and construction materials not actively and presently being used to construct or repair a building or make any other improvement on the premises, broken glass, discarded bedding, broken crockery and similar materials.
Any automobile, boat, snowmobile, vehicle or other such device which is in a state of disrepair or is otherwise dilapidated, broken or abandoned.
Abandoned, discarded, broken or inoperable refrigerators, washing machines or other machinery or parts thereof.
Such list of examples is not exclusive and is not in limitation of the prohibition contained in this section.
With respect to any property of the type listed in Subsection A(1)(a) or  above, in any prosecution for a violation of this chapter, the storing of any such items on any yard or lot for a period of more than 30 days shall be presumptive evidence of the dilapidated, broken, discarded, inoperable or abandoned condition of said property. The trier of fact in any criminal prosecution for a violation of this chapter may but shall not be required to draw the inference set forth. In a civil proceeding, the trier of fact shall be required to draw the inference set forth herein unless the owner, occupant or person in control of the property, as the case may be, proves by a preponderance of the evidence that such property is not in a dilapidated, broken, discarded, inoperable or abandoned condition.
Except to the extent that a health, safety or fire hazard is found to exist or if the storage of such items would constitute a nuisance, it shall not be a violation of this chapter to maintain on real property items of the kind and nature set forth in Subsection A(1)(a) above if such items are stored inside a storage structure or if they are stored in such manner that they are not visible to neighboring properties or from a highway; without limiting the foregoing, storage in a front yard as defined in the Village Zoning Ordinance, Law or Regulations is forbidden.
Permit grass, weeds or other vegetation on the grounds to grow above a height of eight inches, except for trees, bushes and other vegetation planted, maintained or kept for some ornamental or other useful purpose. Natural woodlands shall be considered an ornamental or useful purpose.
Fail to maintain premises situated at street intersections or on curved streets in such condition as to give a clear and unobstructed view of the intersection or curve.
Maintenance of the property of a licensed garbage or trash hauler.
The provisions of § 153-2A shall not apply to real property owned leased, legally occupied or used by a corporation, firm, association or individual engaged in the business of collection and/or hauling of garbage, trash or refuse and used in connection with such business, provided that the following conditions are met:
The property subject to the exception set forth herein must be owned, leased, legally occupied or used by a corporation, firm, association or individual engaged in the business of collection and/or hauling of garbage, trash or refuse holding a currently valid license in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 119 of this Code for the location and/or operation of such a business within the Village of Groton;
Such real property does not contain any residential units; and
The primary use of such real property is in connection with the operation of the business of collection and/or hauling of garbage, trash or refuse.
In such a case, the use of the property subject to the exception provided herein and the operation of the business of collection and/or hauling of garbage, trash or refuse shall be regulated under the provisions of Chapter 119 of this Code and such other laws, rules and regulations of the County of Tompkins, State of New York or United States of America as may apply to and affect the operation of such business or the use of such property.
The exception set forth herein shall terminate immediately upon the failure to meet any of the conditions set forth above or upon the termination of the use of the real property for the purposes of such collection and/or hauling business, and in such case the provisions of § 153-2A shall apply to such property and shall be deemed to be in full force and effect and fully enforceable as hereinafter provided.
In addition, in the event of a violation of this chapter, the village may enforce the provisions hereof by civil action as set forth herein.
[Amended 11-21-2011 by L.L. No. 5-2011]
The Code Enforcement Officer of the Village of Groton and/or his assistants are hereby authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
Upon receiving a complaint, the Code Enforcement Officer shall determine whether or not there appears to be a violation of this chapter. Upon determining that this chapter has been violated, the Code Enforcement Officer shall give the owner of the real property or other person charged with the maintenance of the property written notice setting forth the nature and existence of the violation and the provisions of this chapter violated and directing that the violation be terminated or corrected within seven days of the date of such notice. Such notice shall be given personally to the owner, lessee, occupant or other person required to maintain the property within the County of Tompkins or by posting a copy of the notice on a conspicuous place on the real property or by mailing the same by regular first-class United States mail to the address of the real property or that listed by the owner with the Tompkins County Assessment Department for the receipt of tax bills. Notice shall be deemed given upon such personal delivery, posting or the mailing of notice as provided herein.
Failure to correct violation.
If the owner of the real property or other person charged with the maintenance of the property fails to terminate or correct the violation in the time provided, the Code Enforcement Officer may file a written complaint with the Town Justice, signed by the complaining party or the Code Enforcement Officer, specifying the conditions, acts or omissions constituting a violation of this chapter, the address of the real property where the violation is taking place and the name and address of the owner, occupant, lessee, tenant and/or other party having control of the real property. The Code Enforcement Officer shall also file with the Town Justice proof of compliance with the notice requirements of Subsection B above. Upon filing such complaint and proof of service of notice, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue and serve on the real property owner an appearance ticket requiring his or her appearance in court with respect to such complaint and violation.
In the alternative, the Code Enforcement Officer or any complaining or aggrieved party may file a written complaint, signed by the complaining party or the Code Enforcement Officer, with the Town Justice specifying the conditions, acts or omissions constituting a violation is taking place, the name and address of the real property owner, occupant, lessee, tenant or other party having control of the real property and facts showing compliance with the notice provisions of Subsection B of this section. Upon receipt of such complaint and upon the request of the Code Enforcement Officer or complaining party, the Town Justice may issue a written summons directing the property owner or other responsible party to appear in person before him to answer the complaint for such violation; if such person does not appear, the Town Justice may issue a warrant for the arrest of said person based upon any complaint or information previously filed.
The imposition and collection of any fine or penalty prescribed shall not bar the right of the Village to collect the cost of any work done by the Village as hereinafter prescribed.
Correction of violation by Village; costs.
Subsequent to the seven-day period set forth in Subsection B above, the Village Code Enforcement Officer may notify the head of the Department of Public Works of such violation, and the head of Department of Public Works may perform or cause to be performed such work as is necessary to terminate or correct the violation and/or to remove and dispose of the waste materials or items.
Upon completion of the work necessary to terminate or correct the violation and/or to remove and dispose of the waste materials or items, the head of the Department of Public Works shall file in the office of the Village Clerk a verified statement of all costs and expenses incurred by the Village in connection with the termination and/or correction of such violation or with respect to the removal and disposal of such waste materials, including the costs of all labor, materials, hauling, disposal permits and other services. The Village Clerk shall also cause to be filed a statement of all other expenses incurred in connection with the foregoing, including, without limitation, the cost of any service fee or mailing fees and charges; the reasonable costs of any legal proceedings, including, without limitation, stenographic services, witness fees; the cost of any additional insurance or security, material or performance or other bonds required for the termination or correction or the removal and disposal of wastes; and the reasonable costs of legal fees in connection with any proceedings undertaken under this chapter. The Village Clerk shall promptly present to the owner of such property a statement or statements for the costs and expenses incurred as set forth above, as certified by the head of the Department of Public Works and the Village Clerk. A copy of said statements shall be mailed to the owner of the premises at the address of the real property and at the address listed by the owner with the Tompkins County Assessment Department for the receipt of tax bills.
If not paid within 30 days, the costs thereof shall be assessed against the property, added to its tax and become a lien thereon, collectible in the same manner as delinquent Village taxes. Appeals from this section shall only be permitted if written notice of appeal is received by the Village Clerk within 45 days after the mailing of the statement(s) by the Village Clerk, and such appeals shall be taken to the Village Board of Trustees.
The Village may, as an alternative method of collecting, and at its election, institute suit against the owner of said premises for the costs incurred by the Village as described above and including also any fees, penalties or other charges, as provided for in this chapter, and enter judgment thereon against the owner personally for the aforesaid amount.
In addition to the enforcement powers set forth above, the Village of Groton is hereby authorized to seek injunctive relief, pursuant to the applicable provisions of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, to terminate any violation of this chapter.
The terms "person," "owner," "lessee," "occupant" or "person having control of real property" shall be deemed to include, without limitation, the plural of such terms and corporations, partnerships or other associations standing in such relationship to the real property.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to supersede, repeal or otherwise negate the regulatory effects of any other local laws, rules, regulations or ordinances or applicable state or federal laws, rules or regulations with respect to the subject matter of this chapter or commercial junkyards.
This chapter shall apply equally to real property used for commercial and residential purposes in the Village of Groton.