Borough of Riverton, NJ
Burlington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Riverton as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 55.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 69.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 64.
[Adopted 2-10-1955 by Ord. No. 231; amended in its entirety 10-11-1995 by 6-79]
[Amended 7-10-1986 by Ord. No. 6-86]
The Burlington County Health Department and/or Public Health Coordinator is designated as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this article.
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 said public officer on his own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, said 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 said 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; 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 the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, said public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state in writing his findings of facts in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
A. 
Requiring the owner, to the extent and within the time specified in the order, to repair, alter or improve the said building to render it fit for human habitation or occupancy or use if the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building as a human habitation or occupancy or use; or
B. 
Requiring the owner, within the time specified in the order, to remove or demolish such building if the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building.
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. Said 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 for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, said 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.
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 Article determined in favor of the municipality and the amount of such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by said public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition; and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by said 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.
Said public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous to 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: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects or uncleanliness.
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 Article, 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 and 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 purposes of this Article.
E. 
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this Article to such officers and agents as he may designate.
Complaints or orders issued by said public officer pursuant to this Article adopted under the aforementioned act[1] 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 said public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the said 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 each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality, or in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the municipality in which the buildings are located. 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 county recording officer of the county in which the building is located.
[1]
Editor's Note: The act mentioned in the preface to this ordinance is L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.).
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this Article, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this Article, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
BUILDINGS
Any building or structure or part thereof, whether now or previously used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses, appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
OWNER
The holder of the title in fee simple.
PARTIES IN INTEREST
All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in the building and any who are in possession thereof.
PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the municipality relating to health, fire or building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the municipality.
PUBLIC OFFICER
The Burlington County Health Department and/or Public Health Coordinator.
[Amended 7-10-1986 by Ord. No. 6-86]
[Adopted 8-10-1995 as Ord. No. 7-95]
[Amended 5-14-1998 by Ord. No. 5-98]
The Burlington County Health Department, the Construction Code Official and/or the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of Riverton are hereby designated as the officers to exercise the powers prescribed by the within article, and they shall serve in such capacity without any additional salary.
Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:49-5.1 et seq., the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision), as approved by the Department of Community Affairs and filed in the Secretary of State's office, is hereby accepted, adopted and established as the standard to be used as a guide in determining whether dwellings in this municipality are safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation and rental. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision) is annexed to this Article, and three copies of the same have been placed on file in the office of the Borough Clerk and are available to all persons desiring to use and examine the same.
[1]
Editor's Note: The text of the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision) is included as Appendix A as an attachment to this chapter.
[Amended 5-14-1998 by Ord. No. 5-98]
The Burlington County Health Department, the Construction Code Official and/or the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of Riverton are hereby authorized and directed to make inspections to determine the conditions of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and premises located within the Borough of Riverton in order that they may perform their duty of safeguarding the health and safety of the occupants of dwellings and of the general public. For the purpose of making such inspections, the Burlington County Health Department, the Construction Code Official and the Code Enforcement Officer are hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey at all reasonable times all dwellings, dwelling units and rooming units, and the person in charge thereof shall give the Burlington County Health Department, the Construction Code Official and the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of Riverton free access to such dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit and its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspection, examination and survey. Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall give the owner thereof or his agent or employee access to any part of such dwelling or dwelling unit or its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effectuate the compliance with the provisions of this article or with any lawful rule or regulation adopted or any lawful order issued pursuant to the provisions of this article.
[Amended 5-14-1998 by Ord. No. 5-98]
A. 
Notification. Whenever the Burlington County Health Department, Construction Code Official or the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of Riverton determine that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of any provision of this article or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, they shall give notice of such alleged violation to the person or persons responsible therefor as hereinafter provided. Such notice shall be put in writing; include a statement of the reasons why it is being issued; allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it required; and be served upon the owner or his agent or the occupant, as the case may require, provided that such notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner or agent or upon such occupant if a copy thereof is served upon him personally or if a copy thereof is sent by certified mail to his last known address or if a copy thereof is posted in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling affected by the notice or if he is served with such notice by any other method authorized or required under the laws of this state. Such notice may contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will affect compliance with the provisions of this Article and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
B. 
Hearing. Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provision of this Article or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the Burlington County Health Department, provided that such person shall file in the office of the Burlington County Health Department a written petition requested such hearing and setting forth a brief statement of the grounds therefor within 10 days after the day the notice was served. Upon receipt of such petition, the Burlington County Health Department shall set a time and place for such hearing and shall give the petitioner written notice thereof. At such hearing, the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to be heard and to show why such notice should be modified or withdrawn. The hearing shall be commenced not later than 10 days after the day on which the petition was filed, provided that, upon application of the petitioner, the Burlington County Health Department may postpone the date of the hearing for a reasonable time beyond such ten-day period if, in its judgment, the petitioner has submitted a good and sufficient reason for such postponement.
C. 
Decision. After such hearing the Burlington County Health Department shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice, depending upon its findings as to whether the provisions of this article and of the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with. If the Burlington County Health Department sustains or modifies such notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this Article shall automatically become an order if a written petition for a hearing is not filed in the office of the Burlington County Health Department within 10 days after such notice is served.
D. 
Maintenance of records. The proceedings at such hearing, including the findings and decision of the Burlington County Health Department, shall be summarized, reduced to writing and entered as a matter of public record in the office of the Burlington County Health Department. Such records shall also include a copy of every notice or order issued in connection with the matter.
E. 
Appeal. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Burlington County Health Department may seek relief therefrom in any court of competent jurisdiction, as provided by the laws of the State of New Jersey.
F. 
Emergency situations. Whenever the Burlington County Health Department, the Construction Code Official and/or the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of Riverton find that an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health or safety, they may, without notice or hearing, issue an order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as they deem necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Article, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, but upon petition to the Burlington County Health Department shall be afforded a hearing as soon as possible. After such hearing, depending upon its findings as to whether the provisions of this article and of the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with, the Burlington County Health Department shall continue such order in effect or modify it or revoke it.
[Amended 5-14-1998 by Ord. No. 5-98]
The Mayor and Council and the Burlington County Health Department are hereby authorized and empowered to make and adopt such written rules and regulations as they may deem necessary for the proper enforcement of the provisions of this Article; provided, however, that such rules and regulations shall not be in conflict with the provisions of this Article nor in anywise alter, amend or supersede any of the provisions thereof. The Mayor and Council and the Burlington County Health Department shall file a certified copy of all rules and regulations which they may adopt in the office of the Clerk of the Borough of Riverton.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or rent to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein which does not conform the provisions of the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision) established hereby as the standard to be used in determining whether a dwelling is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation.
Any person, firm or corporation who or which shall violate any of the provisions of this Article shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed 90 days or serve a period of community service not to exceed 90 days, or any combination thereof, and each violation of any of the provisions of this Article and each day the same is violated shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct offense.