Township of Washington, NJ
Morris County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Washington 9-17-1979 by Ord. No. 64-79 (Sec. 12-4 of the Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 53.
Littering — See Ch. 114.
Water on township roads — See Ch. 172, Art. VII.
Housing standards — See Ch. 240.
Nuisances — See Ch. 243.
In accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:49-5 1, the BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978 is hereby adopted as the standard governing and establishing the minimum acceptable standards for the maintenance of existing buildings, structures, premises and facilities to protect the public health, safety and general welfare. A copy of this BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978 is attached to and is hereby made a part of this chapter without the text being included herein.
Three copies of the BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978 have been placed on file in the Township Clerk's office for the use and examination by the public.
[Amended 3-21-2016 by Ord. No. 07-16]
The administrative and enforcing authority for the provisions of this chapter shall be the public officer designated by the Township unless otherwise specified herein.
[Amended 5-19-1980 by Ord. No. 23-80]
A. 
The BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978, Sections PM-110.2, PM-110.2.1, PM-110.2.2. and PM-110.3 are hereby amended to read as follows:
[Amended 3-21-2016 by Ord. No. 07-16]
PM-110.2 Appeals Board: In order to protect existing structures in the jurisdiction by vigorous enforcement of the provisions of this code, there shall be and is hereby created a Property Maintenance Code Appeals Board, hereafter referred to as the "Board," consisting of the Township Committee.
PM-110.2.1 Membership: Said Board shall consist of five members of the Township Committee. Their terms shall run concurrently with their terms of office.
PM-110.2.2 Vote: The Board shall hear all appeals relative to the enforcement of this code and, by a concurring vote of the majority of its members present and voting, may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision appealed from and shall make such order or determination as, in its opinion, ought to be made. Failure to secure such concurring votes shall be deemed a confirmation of the decision of the public officer.
PM-110.3 Records: The Township Clerk shall keep a record of each meeting of the Board so that the record shows clearly the basis for each decision made.
B. 
The phrase "the Township of Washington, County of Morris, State of New Jersey," is hereby inserted in the second line of Section PM-100.1 on page 1 of the code.
C. 
The dollar amounts of "$10" and "$1,000," respectively, are hereby inserted in two places in the third line of Section PM-109.2 on page 7 of the code.
[Amended 10-15-1984 by Ord. No. 25-84]
D. 
The maximum imprisonment penalty of "90" days is hereby inserted in the fourth line of Section PM-109.2 on page 7 of the code.
E. 
The number of days "30" is hereby inserted in the second line of Section PM-111.4, on page 9 of the code.
[Added 12-17-1979 by Ord. No. 75-79[1]]
The BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978, Section PM-111.0 is hereby amended to read as follows:
PM-111.1 General: If a preliminary investigation shall indicate to the Construction Official that, in his judgment, any structure or part thereof is so old, dilapidated or out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, he shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest on such structure or part thereof a complaint which shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before the Construction Official at a place therein fixed not less than seven nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint.
PM-111.1.1 Manner of serving complaint orders: Complaints and orders issued by the Construction Official pursuant to this section shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail. If the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Construction Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Construction Official shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint, notice or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the township. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or logged for record with the County Clerk of Morris County.
PM-111.2 Order: Subsequent to any hearing conducted pursuant to this section, the Construction Official may order the owner of premises upon which such structure or part thereof is located to raze and remove it; or, if it can be made safe by repairs, to repair and make sale and sanitary or to raze and remove, at the owner's option; or, where there has been a cessation of normal construction of any structure for a period of more than two years, to raze and remove the structure or part thereof. The order shall specify a time in which the owner shall comply therewith and specify repairs, if any. The order shall be served according to the provisions of PM-111.1.1 of this section.
PM-111.3 Unreasonable repairs: Whenever the Construction Official determines that the cost of such repairs would exceed 100% of the current value of such structure, such repairs shall be presumed unreasonable, and it shall be presumed for the purpose of this section that such structure is a public nuisance which may be ordered razed without option on the part of the owner to repair.
PM-111.4 Restraining actions: Anyone affected by any such order shall, within 30 days after service of such order, apply to a court of record for an order restraining the Construction Official from razing and removing such structure or parts thereof. The court shall determine whether the order of the Construction Official is reasonable, and, if found reasonable, the court shall dissolve the restraining order, and, if found not reasonable, the court shall continue the restraining order or modify it as the circumstances may require.
PM-111.5 Failure to comply with order: Whenever the owner of a property fails to comply with a demolition order within the time prescribed, the Construction Official shall cause the structure or part thereof to be razed and removed, either through an available public agency or by contract or arrangement with private persons, and the cost of such razing and removal, including the clearance and, if necessary, the leveling of the site, shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon such real estate.
PM-111.6 Salvage materials: When any structure has been ordered razed and removed, the Township Committee or other designated officer under said contract or arrangement aforesaid shall sell the salvage and valuable materials at the highest price obtainable. The net proceeds of such sale shall be credited against the cost of removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site and all items enumerated in P.L. 1979, c. 43. If the total credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, by the Construction Official and shall be secured in such a manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed by final order or decree of such Court. 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.
PM-111.7 Additional powers of Construction Official: If any actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the Construction Official 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. 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.
[1]
Editor's Note: Section 3 of this ordinance provided as follows: "Nothing in this ordinance is intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official 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."
[Added 11-17-1980 by Ord. No. 60-80; amended 3-21-2016 by Ord. No. 07-16]
The BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978, Article 3, Environmental Requirements, is hereby amended and supplemented by the addition of PM-301.12 to read as follows:
PM-301.12 Numbering of buildings: All principle structures located on separate lots shall be identified by their designated number as issued by the Construction Official. Such numbers shall be displayed so as to be clearly seen and identified from the road. This shall not be construed to limit the locations of the numbers to be on the structure itself; however, they shall be so located that they will reasonably indicate the building so intended to be identified. Business signs and/or mailboxes are examples of acceptable locations, provided that such signs or mailboxes are located on the same side of the road and next to the entrance of the lot. Notwithstanding the above, said numbers shall be at least three inches in height.
[Added 6-20-2011 by Ord. No. 10-11]
A. 
All residential premises shall be maintained free from weeds, grass or lawn growth in excess of 10 inches, except that this requirement shall not apply to farmland or to areas of natural growth that are not ordinarily maintained, including, but not limited to, areas containing wetlands or marshes, conservation easement areas or densely wooded areas. All noxious weeds shall be prohibited.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection B, regarding violations and penalties, was repealed 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 17-14.
[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 17-14; amended 11-19-2018 by Ord. No. 16-18]
A. 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ABANDONED PROPERTY
As defined in accordance with the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., and shall mean the following:
(1) 
Except as provided in N.J.S.A. 55:19-83, any property that has not been legally occupied for a period of six months and which meets any one of the following additional criteria as noted in N.J.S.A. 55:19-81 may be deemed to be an abandoned property upon a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Officer that:
(a) 
The property is in need of rehabilitation in the reasonable judgment of the Construction Official and/or the Zoning Official, and no rehabilitation has taken place during that six-month period;
(b) 
Construction was initiated on the property and was discontinued prior to completion, leaving the building unsuitable for occupancy, and no construction has taken place for at least six months as of the date of a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official pursuant to this section;
(c) 
At least one installment of property tax remains unpaid and delinquent on that property in accordance with N.J.S.A. 54:4-1 et seq., as of the date of a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official pursuant to this section; or
(d) 
The property has been determined to be a nuisance by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official in accordance with N.J.S.A. 55:19-82.
(2) 
A property which contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., so long as 2/3 or more of the total net square footage of the building was previously legally occupied as residential space and none of the residential space has been legally occupied for at least six months at the time of the determination of abandonment by the Construction Official and/or the Zoning Officer and the property meets the criteria of either Subsection (1)(a) or (d) of this definition.
(3) 
Property determined to be "abandoned property" in accordance with the meaning of such term in the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., shall also be deemed to be abandoned property for the purposes of this section.
(1) 
As defined in accordance with the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., and shall mean the following:
(a) 
The property has been found to be unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use pursuant to Section 1 of P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3);
(b) 
The condition of the property materially increases the risk of fire to the property and adjacent properties;
(c) 
The property is subject to unauthorized entry leading to potential health and safety hazards; the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to secure the property; or the municipality has secured the property in order to prevent such hazards after the owner has failed to do so;
(d) 
The presence of vermin or the accumulation of debris, uncut vegetation or physical deterioration of the structure or grounds have created potential health and safety hazards and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remove the hazards; or
(e) 
The dilapidated appearance or other condition of the property materially affects the welfare, including the economic welfare, of the residents of the area in close proximity to the property, and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remedy the conditions.
(f) 
A Construction Official, Zoning Official and/or Property Maintenance Official who determines a property to be a nuisance pursuant to Subsection (1)(a) through (e) of this definition shall follow the notification procedures set forth in P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.).
(2) 
Meeting any condition noted in Subsection (1)(a) through (e) of this definition shall constitute a nuisance property.
OWNER
An owner shall include the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 or any other entity determined by the Township to act with respect to the property.
VACANT PROPERTY
Any building used or to be used as a residence which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or residential occupancy has ceased for a period of at least three months, and any commercial property that has not been legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations have ceased for a period of at least three months, and which exhibits evidence of vacancy such that a reasonable person would believe that the property is vacant. Any property that contains all building systems in working order, is being maintained on a regular basis, has not been cited by the Township for any violation of municipal ordinance within such time and is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental shall not be deemed vacant. This section is not applicable to seasonal agricultural labor housing.
B. 
General requirements.
(1) 
The owner of any vacant or abandoned property as defined herein shall, within 30 days after the building becomes vacant or within 30 days after assuming ownership of the property, whichever is later, file a registration statement for each such vacant property with the Township on forms provided by the Township for such purposes. The registration shall remain valid until the end of the calendar year. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually, no later than January 31, as long as the building remains vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in Subsection D, Fee schedule, of this section for each property registered. The initial and renewal fees shall be prorated and/or credited accordingly upon legal occupancy.
(2) 
Any owner of any building that meets the definition of "vacant property" or "abandoned property" prior to the adoption date shall file a registration statement for that property on or before the adoption date plus 60 days. The registration statement shall include the information required under Subsection C, Registration statement requirements; property inspection, of this section, as well as any additional information that the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official may reasonably require.
(3) 
The owner shall notify the Township within 30 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Township for such purpose.
(4) 
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the owner or owners of the building.
C. 
Registration statement requirements; property inspection.
(1) 
After filing a registration statement or a renewal of a registration statement, the owner of any vacant or abandoned property shall provide access to the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official, if requested, following reasonable notice, during the period covered by the initial registration or any subsequent renewal. If an inspection is required of the interior of the property due to complaints or other cause, the fee for such inspection shall be the same as that for a continued certificate of occupancy inspection as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township Code.
(2) 
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, and telephone number of a natural person 18 years of age or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding, on behalf of such owner or owners in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code. The designated agent must have a contact number that will be available 24 hours per day on an emergency basis. The statement shall also include the name of the person responsible for maintaining and securing the property, if different from the designated agent.
(3) 
An owner who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this section as to availability with a contact number on a twenty-four-hour emergency basis may designate himself or herself as agent.
(4) 
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this section, the owner consents to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered vacant or abandoned property and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered building by service of the notice or process on the authorized agent. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purpose of this section until the owner notifies the Township of a change of the authorized agent, or until the owner files a new annual registration statement. The designation of an authorized agent in no way releases the owner from any requirement of this section.
D. 
Fee schedule. The initial registration fee for each building shall be $500. The fee for the first renewal is $750. The fee for any subsequent renewal is $1,000. After five years, the registration fee shall be $5,000. The initial fee shall be prorated according to the month of registration and renewal fees shall be credited when a property becomes legally occupied during a renewal period.
Vacant and Abandoned Property Registration Fee Schedule
Registration
Fee
Initial registration
$500
First renewal
$750
Any subsequent renewal up to five years
$1,000
After five years
$5,000
E. 
Requirements for owners of vacant and/or abandoned property. The owner of any building that has become vacant and/or abandoned property, and any person maintaining, operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant and/or abandoned, shall, immediately:
(1) 
With the exception of vacant or abandoned single-family dwellings, post a sign, affixed to the inside of the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process (if designated pursuant to Subsection C, Registration statement requirements; property inspection, of this section), and the person responsible for the day-to-day supervision and management of the building, if such person is different from the owner holding title or authorized agent. The sign shall be of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than 15 inches by 17 inches; and
(2) 
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township Code and maintain the sign required by this section until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
(3) 
Make provision for the maintenance of the lawn and yard, including regular grass cutting as required by the applicable provisions of the Township Code; and
(4) 
Make provision for the cessation of the delivery of mail, newspapers and circulars to the property, including having the property listed on the exclusion list maintained by the Township for the delivery of circulars and advertisements to the property; and
(5) 
Make provision for the winterizing of the property by the cessation of water service to the property and the draining of water lines, other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
(6) 
Make provision for the cessation of electric or gas utility services to the property, other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
(7) 
Make provision for the regular maintenance of the exterior of the property.
F. 
Administration. The Township Committee shall issue rules and regulations for the administration of the provisions of this section.
(1) 
Any owner who is not in full compliance with this section or who otherwise violates any provision of this section or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 for each offense. Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this section shall be governed by § 1-3, General penalty, be recoverable from the owner and may be pursued by judgment, and once docketed, as a lien on the property.
(2) 
For purposes of this section, failure to file a registration statement in time, failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, failure to comply with the provisions of Subsection E, Requirements for owners of vacant and abandoned property, of this section, or such other matters as may be established by the rules and regulations of the Township, shall be deemed to be a violation of this section.
G. 
Compliance with other provisions. Nothing in this section is intended to nor shall be read to conflict or prevent the Township from taking action against buildings found to be unfit for human habitation or unsafe structures as provided in applicable provisions of the Code of the Township and/or the Uniform Construction Code. Further, any action taken under any such code provision other than the demolition of a structure shall not relieve an owner from its obligations under this section.
[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 17-14]
Except as set forth in § 148-8D and herein, any person, firm, corporation or entity violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punishable as provided in § 1-3 of the Code of the Township of Washington. A creditor required to care, maintain, secure and upkeep a property under this chapter cited in a notice issued pursuant to § 148-8B shall be subject to a fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation, commencing 31 days following receipt of the notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to public health and safety, in which case the fine shall commence 11 days following the receipt of the notice.