[HISTORY: Derived from Sec. 15-15 of the 2002 Revised General Ordinances, adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Clark 12-16-2002 by Ord. No. 02-27. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any accessory structures and outbuildings belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building or 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 Township, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations, or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township.
It has been found and declared that there exists in the Township a building or buildings, or parts thereof, which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or parts thereof, unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township.
It is therefore necessary to exercise the police powers of the Township to repair, close or demolish or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or parts thereof, in the manner provided by law.
The Construction Code Official, or his/her designee, is hereby designated and appointed as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter. The Construction Code Official shall serve in such capacity without any additional salary.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Construction Code Official by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township charging that a building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Construction Code Official that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the Construction Code Official shall make a preliminary investigation. If the investigation discloses a basis for such charges, he/she shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner and parties in interest of such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect.
The notice of violation shall:
Be in writing.
Include a description of the real estate, sufficient for identification.
Specify the violation which exists and the remedial action required.
Allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act required.
State the time occupants must vacate the dwelling unit or units, if required.
The complaint shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before the Construction Code Official at a place therein fixed, not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of such complaint. The notice shall state that the owner and parties in interest 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 and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Construction Code Official.
After notice and hearing, the Construction Code Official may determine that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if he/she finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township. Such conditions may, among other things, include the following:
If, after the notice and hearing, the Construction Code Official determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, he/she shall state, in writing, his/her findings of fact in support of such determination.
Upon a finding of unfitness, the Construction Code Official shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building to be made within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order. The order shall give the option to the owner to vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
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 to repair, then the owner shall be required by a further order to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time, as specified in such order of removal.
All orders shall be served upon the owner and parties in interest in the manner provided in § 11-3 of this Code.
Repair or closure by Township.
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 building, the Construction Code Official may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The Construction Code Official shall cause to be posted on the main entrance to any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful." The placard shall also include the following:
The name of the Township.
The name of the authorized department having jurisdiction.
The chapter and section of the ordinance under which it is issued.
An order that the dwelling or multifamily dwelling, when vacated, shall remain vacant until the provisions of the order are complied with and the order to vacate is withdrawn.
The date that the placard is posted.
A statement of the penalty for defacing or removing the placard.
No person shall deface or remove the placard from any dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared or placarded as unfit for human habitation except by authority, in writing, from the Construction Code Official.
Demolition by Township. If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Construction Code Official may cause such building to be removed or demolished, or he/she may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for, and receipt of, bids therefor.
Cost to be a lien; sale of materials.
The cost of filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the Township and the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, as the case may be, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the Construction Code Official, he/she shall attempt to sell the materials of such building. The proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof. If there are no such credits, or if the total sum of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of such costs and the amount due, less any credits, shall be filed as a lien certificate with the Township Tax Assessor, and a copy thereof shall be served forthwith upon the owner in the manner set forth in § 11-3 of this Code.
If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited by the Construction Code Official with the Superior Court of New Jersey and shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court. The proceeds shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of such Court to the persons found entitled thereto by final order of judgment of the Court.
Appeal by owner. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court of New Jersey to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the lien certificate.
Any dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared and placarded as unfit for human habitation by the Construction Code Official shall be vacated within a reasonable time, as required by the Construction Code Official. The owner or operator of such dwelling shall not lease the dwelling or portion thereof to any person for human habitation. No person shall occupy any dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared or placarded by the Construction Code Official as unfit for human habitation after the date set forth in the placard.
No dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared or placarded as unfit for human habitation shall again be used for human habitation until written approval is secured from the Construction Code Official. The Construction Code Official shall remove the placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the declaration and placarding action were based have been eliminated.
If for any reason a building remains vacant or untended for a period of 120 days, the owner shall secure all windows, doors and other openings so that access into the building is prevented. The owner of any such dwelling shall not cause or permit such dwelling to be used, in whole or in part, for living purposes until the structure has been rehabilitated in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
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 chapter, including the following powers, in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use;
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence;
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; and
To delegate any of his/her functions and powers under this chapter to such assistants and other employees as he/she may require in the performance of his/her duties.
In the event the public officer finds that the condition of any building is such that it presents an immediate danger to the public health or safety, the public officer, without prior notice, may cause the building to be closed or vacated. The owner or other party in interest shall be entitled to a hearing before the Construction Code Official to contest such action. Such hearing shall be held within two business days of the request for same being received by the Township Clerk, unless a longer time is consented to by the applicant.
In addition to the rights of appeal provided in § 108-10D, any person aggrieved by any order issued by the public officer under this chapter or any decision of the Construction Code Official may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order or decision, 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, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Code Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq., or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.