[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Honesdale 9-12-1977 by Ord. No. 434. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Honesdale Borough Fire Prevention and Nuisance Ordinance."
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to specify measures which will provide that degree of public safety from fire which can be reasonably required. This chapter endeavors to avoid requirements which might involve unreasonable hardships or unnecessary inconvenience or interference with the normal use and occupancy of a building, but insists upon compliance with a minimum standard for firesafety necessary in the public interest, even though a financial hardship may be involved in some individual cases. This includes prohibiting and removing any nuisance, including but not limited to accumulations of garbage and rubbish and the storage of abandoned or junked automobiles, and prohibiting and removing any dangerous structure on public or private grounds or requiring the removal of any such nuisance or dangerous structure by the owner or occupier of such grounds, in default of which the borough may cause the same to be done and collect the cost thereof, together with a penalty of 10% of such costs, in the manner provided by law for the collection of municipal claims or by action of assumpsit or may seek relief by bill in equity.
Scope. This chapter deals with standards and procedures for ensuring that unsafe buildings which would constitute either a nuisance or a fire hazard are either repaired or demolished.
Application. This chapter covers both new and existing construction.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- BUILDING (STRUCTURE)
- A structure enclosed within exterior walls or fire walls, built and erected and framed of component structural parts, designed for the housing, shelter, enclosure and support of individuals, animals or property of any kind.
- BUILDING OFFICIAL
- The officer or other designated authority charged with administration and enforcement of this chapter or his or her duly authorized representative.
- A building unfit for human habitation and beyond repair or which constitutes a fire hazard.
Duties of Building Official. The Building Official shall enforce and administer all of the provisions of this chapter. The Building Official shall also supervise such other employees or assistants as shall be necessary for the administration and execution of the responsibilities of said office, as appointed and approved by the Council of Honesdale Borough. Said Building Official and other personnel may consist of employees directly hired and compensated by the municipality.
Entry. Except in the case of an emergency or a mutually convenient time agreed to by the Building Official and the owner, operator or occupant or the person in charge of any structure or premises, the Building Official or the Building Official's authorized representative, in discharging his or her duties and upon showing proper identification where requested, is hereby authorized to enter and inspect, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., any structure or premises in the municipality to enforce the provisions of this chapter and of those other applicable codes and ordinances. The assistance and cooperation of all other municipal officials, including Police and Fire Departments, shall be available to the Building Official to assist in the performance of his or her duties and in securing right of entry.
The Building Official will inspect each property and determine its conformance with standards of this chapter. The Building Official shall also make a written report and retain records of the inspection.
If nonconformance is found, the owner will be served a written notice of the unsafe conditions, specifying the required repairs, etc., or requiring that unsafe buildings or portions thereof be demolished. The work shall be done at the owner's expense. The notice shall require the owner notified to declare, within five days, his or her acceptance or rejection of the terms of the order. Failure of the owner to respond shall be considered a rejection of the terms of the order.
Should the owner elect to repair the structure, said owner shall have 30 days from the date of initial notification to submit an acceptable time schedule for repairs. The Building Official shall, within five days thereafter, notify the owner of the acceptability or unacceptability of the schedule. If unacceptable, a revised schedule must be resubmitted within 10 days.
Should the owner reject the terms of the order, elect not to repair the structure, fail to submit an acceptable repair time schedule or fail to comply with an approved time schedule, the Building Official shall submit to the Borough Council a report and recommendation for demolition. The Borough Council may then take the required steps necessary to condemn the property, authorize its demolition and place a lien on the land for the actual cost of demolition plus 10%.
The owner will be notified in writing within five days of the action taken by Council, and the Building Official will proceed to carry out all appropriate actions, including but not limited to posting of the property, advertising for demolition, etc.
Request for appeals or variances. Any person requesting a variance or aggrieved by a decision of the Building Official or by any other employee or official charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter may take an appeal to the Board of Appeals. All appeals shall be made in writing, stating the grounds upon which the appeal is based, and shall be transmitted to the office of the Building Official. An appeal must be taken within 15 days of the action or on the receipt of written notice of any decision or ruling which is being appealed.
Board of Appeals. There is hereby established a Board of Appeals, appointed by the Council of the municipality, consisting of not fewer than three members nor more than five members, who shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for necessary and reasonable expenses. Their terms of office shall be for three years, except for those first appointed, so fixed that the term of office of at least one member shall expire each year. Appointments to fill vacancies shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term.
Unsafe buildings. All buildings or structures that are or hereafter shall become unsafe, unsanitary or deficient in adequate exit facilities or which constitute a fire hazard or are otherwise dangerous to human life or the public welfare or by reason of illegal or improper use, occupancy or maintenance shall be taken down and removed or made safe and secure, as the Building Official may deem necessary and as provided in this chapter. A vacant building unguarded or open at door or window shall be deemed a fire hazard and unsafe within the meaning of this chapter.
Examination and record of damaged building. The Building Official shall examine every building or structure reported as dangerous, unsafe structurally or constituting a fire hazard and shall cause the report to be filed in a docket of unsafe structures and premises, stating the use of the building and the nature and estimated amount of damages, if any, caused by collapse or failure.
Determining standards. In determining whether a building or structure is unsafe, unsanitary or deficient in adequate exit facilities or constitutes a fire hazard or nuisance, the Building Official shall also apply the standards of the Life Safety Code, 1973, prepared by the National Fire Protection Association.
Any person or member of any partnership or corporation who or which shall violate the provisions of this chapter or shall fail to comply with any requirement thereof or who or which shall erect, construct, alter, repair or demolish a building or structure in violation of an approved plan or directive of the Building Official or of a permit or certification issued under the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty upon conviction thereof and be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $600, plus costs of prosecution, and, in default of payment of such fine and costs, to imprisonment for not more than 30 days. Each day that a violation is continued shall constitute a separate offense.