[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Stillwater 9-16-2004 by L.L. No. 6-2004. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Unsafe buildings pose a threat to life and property in the Town of Stillwater. Buildings and structures may become unsafe or uninhabitable to the occupants or others by reason of inadequate construction, damage by fire, the elements, age, deferred maintenance, structural deficiencies or general deterioration. Vacant buildings not properly secured at entry points and windows serve as an attractive nuisance for children who may be injured therein, as point of congregation by vagrants and transients, and a harbor for illegal activities. Dilapidated buildings may also serve to create health menaces to the community through rodent and other infestations or the emanation of toxic materials. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for the safety, health, protection and general welfare of the citizenry and the preservation of property and property values in the Town of Stillwater by requiring unsafe buildings to be repaired, made structurally sound, demolished and removed.
This chapter shall be known as the "Unsafe Buildings Law of the Town of Stillwater."
This chapter is adopted pursuant to the general powers granted to the Town of Stillwater by the Constitution and laws of the State of New York, including in particular § 130, Subdivision 16, of the Town Law, and the Public Health Regulations of the Consolidated Health District of Stillwater.
This chapter hereby repeals Town of Stillwater Local Law Number One of 1985 and Local Law Number One of 1993.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any man-made structure or portion thereof, on or within the land.
- TOWN OF STILLWATER or TOWN
- The principal Building and Uniform Fire Code Enforcement Officer of the Town of Stillwater or, in the event of the unavailability of such officer, the Town Supervisor or Deputy Town Supervisor.
When in the opinion of the Town of Stillwater, or upon receipt of information that a building 1) is or may become dangerous or unsafe to the general public, or 2) is open at entry points and windows, making it accessible to and an object of attraction, to minors, vagrants, other trespassers, or 3) is or may become a place of rodent infestation, or 4) is or may become a place to harbor illegal activities, or 5) presents any other danger to the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the public, or 6) is unfit for the purposes for which it may lawfully be used, including human habitation, the Town of Stillwater shall make or cause to be made an inspection thereof and report, in writing, to the Town Board the Town's findings and recommendations in regard to its repair or demolition and removal.
Notice of the Town's report and the required remedial action shall be served on the owner or on the owner's executor, legal representative, agent, lessee or any other person having a vested or contingent interest in the property. Service shall be made either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested.
The notice shall include a description of the premises, a statement of the particulars in which the building or structure is unsafe or dangerous and an order requiring the premises to be made safe and secure or removed. The notice shall also include a statement that the securing or removal of such building shall commence within 10 days after the service of the notice and shall be completed within 30 days thereafter. Unless upon good cause shown, the Town extends such time. Any such extension may not exceed 30 additional days.
The notice shall also schedule a hearing before the Town Board, which hearing shall be scheduled not fewer than five business days from the date of service of the notice, and a statement that in the event of neglect or refusal to comply with the order to secure or demolish and remove the building, the Town Board is authorized to provide for its demolition and removal, to assess all expenses thereof against the land on which it is located and to institute a special judicial proceeding to collect the costs of demolition, including legal expenses; and hearing transcript advertisement.
A copy of the Town of Stillwater's aforesaid report shall accompany the notice, and a copy of such notice shall be posted on the premises.
A copy of the aforesaid notice shall be posted on the Town Bulletin Board and filed in the office of the County Clerk of Saratoga County, which notice shall be filed by the County Clerk in the same manner as a notice of pendency pursuant to Article 65 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, and shall have the same effect as a notice of pendency as therein provided, except as otherwise hereinafter provided in this section. A notice so filed shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing; provided, however, that it may be vacated upon the order of a judge or justice of a court of record or upon the consent of the Town Attorney. The County Clerk of Saratoga County shall mark such notice and any record or docket thereof as canceled of record upon the presentation and filing of such consent or of a certified copy of such order.
The hearing shall be before the Town Board or its representative. A quorum is not necessary. Witnesses shall provide sworn testimony, and the proceedings shall be transcribed. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply.
The Town Board shall enter the report of the Town of Stillwater in the minutes and receive additional sworn testimony from the Town of Stillwater or others as the Board finds relevant. The owner of the subject property is entitled to testify or provide the relevant testimony of others.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Town Board, if a quorum is present, may render a determination, or it may reserve decision. In the absence of a quorum, or if the hearing is conducted by the Board representative, a report shall be made to the full Board, which shall thereafter render its determination. The findings shall be the basis for an order requiring the owner to remediate any unsafe condition. Such order may include, but not be limited to, completion of specified repairs or improvements, or vacating the building, or the demolition and removal of the building or a portion thereof. Any such remedial action must be completed within 30 days.
In the event of the failure, refusal or neglect of the person so notified to comply with an order of the Town Board after a hearing pursuant to § 69-8 of this chapter, the Town Board shall provide for the ordered remediation of the unsafe condition either by Town employees or by contract. Except in emergency as provided in § 69-10 hereof, any contract for demolition and removal of a building shall be awarded through competitive bidding pursuant to General Municipal Law § 103.
Whenever the Town of Stillwater finds, with the concurrence of the Town of Stillwater police, or a Fire Chief whose district encompasses the subject property, or the Health Officer of the Consolidated Health District of Stillwater, or, in case of the unavailability of the Health Officer, the President of the Board of Health of the Consolidated Health District of Stillwater, that the condition of a building is such which, in their opinion, requires immediate action to abate a direct hazard or an immediate danger to the health, safety or welfare of the occupants of said building or of the public, the Town Supervisor or the Deputy Town Supervisor may, without prior notice or hearing, take any action authorized herein which is reasonably necessary to abate or remove the condition.
Such action may include but is not limited to demolition of the building or structure, vacating the occupants of the premises and of surrounding premises, closing of public or private streets or rights-of-way, termination of utility service, erection of barricades and other protections and the performance of physical work on the premises.
All expenses incurred by the Town in connection with the proceedings to repair, secure or to demolish and remove the unsafe building, including the cost of the work and inspections and any fees incurred by the Town for engineering and legal services, shall be charged to the owner of the premises. In the event that the owner fails to pay all such expenses within 30 days on the issuance of a bill for such expenses, the Town Assessor shall transmit the account of the unpaid expenses to the Treasurer of Saratoga County who shall assess the total amount of such unpaid expenses against the land on which such building is located and shall cause such total of unpaid expenses to be levied and collected in the same manner as provided in Article 15 of the Town Law for the levy and collection of a special ad valorem levy.
In preparing the annual Town budget, the Supervisor shall make provision for a contract for the repair or demolition of unsafe buildings by the Town pursuant to this chapter. The Supervisor shall also estimate the amount of costs to be recovered in the ensuing fiscal year through the enforcement provisions of this chapter.
At the first meeting of each fiscal year, the Town Board shall award a contract for the repair or demolition of unsafe buildings. The contract shall be awarded based upon competitive bids pursuant to General Municipal Law § 103, submitted no later than December 15 of the preceding year.
No action may be maintained against the Town of Stillwater and/or a duly designated Code Enforcement Officer of the Town or any other agent of the Town for the value of damages for injury to, or destruction of, property under the provisions of this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter shall not supersede, but rather shall be supplementary to, the provisions of law contained in the Constitution, Eminent Domain Procedures Law, Executive Law, General Municipal Law, Town Law, the Public Health Regulations of the Consolidated Health District of Stillwater and any other applicable local law, ordinance, rule or regulation.