[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Waterford 10-5-1993 by L.L. No. 2-1993. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Fire prevention and building construction — See Ch. 88.
Smoke detectors — See Ch. 134.
This chapter shall be known as the "Unsafe Buildings Law" of the Town of Waterford.
This chapter is promulgated pursuant to authority conferred by § 130, Subdivision 16, of the Town Law of the State of New York.
Unsafe buildings pose a threat to life and property in the Town of Waterford. Buildings and structures may become unsafe by reason of damages by fire, the elements, age or general deterioration. Vacant buildings not properly secured at doorways and windows also serve as an attractive nuisance for young children who may be injured therein, as well as a point of congregation by vagrants and transients. A dilapidated building may also serve as a place of rodent infestation, thereby creating a health menace to the community. Debris, rubble, scrap, abandoned machinery or equipment or parts of buildings left on the ground and not removed constitute a dangerous, unhealthy and unsightly condition. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for the safety, health, protection and general welfare of persons and property in the Town of Waterford by requiring that such unsafe buildings be repaired or demolished and removed.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building, structure or portion thereof, including the lot on which such building, structure or portion thereof is situated, used for residential, business, industrial, recreational or other purpose.
- INSPECTOR OF BUILDINGS
- The Inspector of Buildings of the Town of Waterford or such other person appointed by the Town Board of the Town of Waterford to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
- The Town of Waterford.
- TOWN BOARD
- The Town Board of the Town of Waterford.
- UNSAFE BUILDING
- Any building, as defined in this section, which:
- A. Is or may become dangerous or unsafe to the general public;
- B. Is open at the doorways or windows making it accessible to and an object of attraction to minors under 18 years of age, as well as to vagrants and other trespassers;
- C. Is or may become a place of rodent infestation;
- D. Contains or consists of debris, rubble, scrap, abandoned machinery or equipment, or parts thereof, or parts of buildings, whether in the building or on the lot on which such building is located;
- E. Is abandoned or inadequately maintained;
- F. Presents any other danger to the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the public; or
- G. Is unfit for the purposes for which it may be lawfully used.
When, in the opinion of the Inspector of Buildings, or upon receipt of information, that an unsafe building exists in the Town of Waterford, the Inspector of Buildings shall cause or make an inspection thereof and report in writing to the Town Board of the Town of Waterford his findings and recommendations in regard to its repair or demolition and removal.
The Town Board shall thereafter consider such report and by resolution determine, if in its opinion the report so warrants, that such building is an unsafe building as defined in § 63-4 and order its repair if the same can be safely repaired or its demolition and removal, and further order that a notice be served upon the persons in the manner provided in § 63-7 of this chapter.
The notice shall contain the following:
A description of the premises.
The name of the owner of the premises as it appears from the tax and deed records.
A statement of the particulars in which the building is unsafe or dangerous.
An order outlining the manner in which the building is to be made safe and secure or demolished and removed.
A statement that the securing or removal of such building shall commence within 30 days of the service of the notice and shall be completed within 60 days thereafter, unless, for good cause shown, such time shall be extended.
A date, time and place for a hearing before the Town Board in relation to such dangerous or unsafe building, which hearing shall be scheduled not less than five business days from the date of service of the notice.
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 proceeding to collect the costs of demolition, including legal expenses.
The notice shall be served:
Upon the owner, executor, legal representative, administrator, agent, lessee or any person having a vested or contingent interest in such unsafe building, either personally or by registered mail, addressed to the last known address, if any, of the owner, executor, legal representative, administrator, agent, lessee or any person having a vested interest or contingent interest in such unsafe building, as shown by the town tax records or the records of the Saratoga County Clerk's office; and
If such notice be served by registered mail, by securely affixing a copy of such notice upon the unsafe building.
The Town Board shall conduct a hearing at the time and place specified in the notice. It may adjourn the hearing from time to time until all interested parties are heard and until the hearing is completed. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Town Board shall determine by resolution to either revoke the order to repair or remove, modify said order or continue and affirm said order and direct the owner or other persons to complete the work within the time specified in the order or such other time as shall be determined by the Town Board. In the event that the owner, occupant or other person having an interest in said premises shall fail to appear at the hearing, the Town Board can take any of the above actions, and such person shall lose all rights to be heard before the Town Board.
A copy of the notice served as provided in § 63-8 shall be filed in the office of the County Clerk of the County of Saratoga.
In the event of the refusal or failure of the person so notified to comply with said order of the Town Board and after the hearing, the Town Board shall provide that such building shall be made safe and secure or provide for the demolition and removal of such building either by town employees or by contract. Except in emergency as provided in § 63-13 hereof, any contract for repair or demolition and removal of a building in excess of $20,000 shall be awarded through competitive bidding.
All expenses incurred by the town in connection with the proceedings to repair and secure or demolish and remove the unsafe building, including the cost of actually removing such building, and all reasonable and necessary legal expenses incidental thereto, shall, at the option of the Town Board:
Be assessed against the land on which such building is located and shall be levied and collected as a special ad valorem levy;
Be collected by commencement of a special proceeding against the owner of said unsafe or dangerous building or structure pursuant to General Municipal Law § 78-b; or
Be collected in any other manner allowed by law.
Where it reasonably appears that there is present a clear and imminent danger to the life, safety or health of any person or property:
The notice as described in § 63-7 shall also require the building to be vacated forthwith and not reoccupied unless and until the unsafe building has been repaired and secured or demolished and removed and the Inspector of Buildings has inspected and approved such repairs and removal. Until such inspection and approval, it shall be unlawful for any person to enter the building except for the purpose of inspecting such building or making the required repairs or demolishing the same; and
The Town Board may by resolution authorize the Inspector of Buildings to immediately cause the repair or demolition of such unsafe building. In such a case the Inspector of Buildings may vacate adjacent structures and protect the public by appropriate barricades or such other means as may be necessary, and for this purpose may close a public or private way. The expenses of such repair or demolition shall be a charge against the land on which it is located and shall be assessed, levied and collected as provided in § 63-12 hereof.
The Town Board may elect to apply to the Supreme Court of the State of New York for an order directing that the building be repaired and secured or demolished and removed.
It shall be unlawful for any firm, person or corporation to violate any portion of this chapter or to fail to comply with any notice or order made hereunder.
Any person, having been served, who fails to comply with a written order of the Inspector of Buildings or the Town Board within the time fixed for compliance therewith or any owner, builder, architect, tenant, contractor, subcontractor, construction superintendent or their agents or any other person taking part or assisting in the construction or use of any building who knowingly violates any applicable provision of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500 or 30 days in jail, or both. Each day that a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.
Except as provided otherwise by law, such a violation shall not be a crime, and the penalty or punishment imposed therefor shall not be deemed for any purpose a penal or criminal penalty or punishment and shall not impose any disability upon or affect or impair the credibility as a witness, or otherwise, of any person convicted thereof.
This section shall not apply to violations of the Uniform State Fire Prevention and Building Code punishable under § 382 of the Executive Law of the State of New York; nor to violations of the provisions of the Multiple Residence Law punishable under § 304 of the Multiple Residence Law of the State of New York.