Village of Ridgefield Park, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Village of Ridgefield Park as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 160.
Fire protection — See Ch. 188.
Housing standards — See Ch. 225.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 287.
[Adopted 4-25-1972 (Ch. 85, Art. I, of the 1985 Code)]
For the purposes of this article, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
BUILDING
Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, including any outhouses and 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 a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Village, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Village.
The Commissioner in charge of the Building Department is hereby designated as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this article.
[Amended 3-26-1985 by Ord. No. 6-85]
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Village charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation or whenever it appears to the public officer that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, the 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 dwelling a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of such complaint. The owner and parties in interest shall have 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. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
If, after notice and hearing as provided in the preceding section, the 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 fact 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 repair, alteration or improvement of the building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
B. 
If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
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 dwelling, the public officer may cause such dwelling to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The public officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any dwelling so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation. The use or occupation of this building for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful."
A. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order pursuant to this article to remove or demolish a building, the 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.
B. 
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer 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.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Added at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
C. 
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, nor is anything in this act 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.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Added at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
[Amended 3-26-1985 by Ord. No. 6-85]
The amount of 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 Village, and such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Village Tax Assessor, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the 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. 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.
The public officer may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if he finds that conditions exist in such dwelling which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of the Village. Such conditions shall include but not be limited to 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.
[Amended 3-26-1985 by Ord. No. 6-85]
Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this article 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 public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the 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 in a newspaper printed and published in the Village or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the Village. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on 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.
The 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 but not limited to the following powers in addition to others herein granted:
A. 
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the Village in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
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.
[Amended 3-26-1985 by Ord. No. 6-85]
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer under this article may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the public officer from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. The remedy herein provided shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the public officer shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant thereto or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the public officer.
[Adopted 4-25-1972 (Ch. 85, Art. II, of the 1985 Code)]
Any building, wall or structure which is or may become dangerous to life or health or which might tend to extend a conflagration shall be removed or demolished by the owner of the land on which such building, wall or structure is located.
In the event any owner of land shall fail to remove or demolish any building, wall or structure which is or may become dangerous to life or health or which might tend to extend a conflagration, the Construction Official shall cause to be served upon the owner of the land affected thereby a notice to remove or destroy the same as provided by law, and unless such building, wall or structure is removed or destroyed within 30 days after service of such notice, the Village may proceed with such removal or destruction or cause the same to be proceeded in the manner provided by law, at the cost and expense of the owner of such land, and assess the cost and expense upon the land pursuant to Subsection 15 of N.J.S.A. 40:48-1.