[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Upper Deerfield 7-2-1959 by Ord. No. 72 (Ch. 40 of the 1977 Township Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Amended 5-3-1990 by Ord. No. 352]
Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, including any outhouse and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith, which is unfit for occupancy or use or has been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls or parts of the walls and other supports may be repaired, closed or demolished, as hereinafter provided.
[Amended 4-3-1969 by Ord. No. 116; 5-3-1990 by Ord. No. 352]
The Township Clerk, Construction Official, Housing Inspector or any other employee or person designated by the Township Committee is hereby designated as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
[Amended 6-2-1977 by Ord. No. 168; 5-3-1990 by Ord. No. 352; 3-5-1992 by Ord. No. 386]
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority, as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., or by at least five residents of the municipality, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or has been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls or parts of the walls and other supports, or whenever it appears to the public officer, on his own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or has been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls or parts of the walls and other supports, the public officer shall, if preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that aspect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Code Appeals Board established pursuant to § 303-2F of the Code of the Township of Upper Deerfield, or its designated agent, 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 Code Appeals Board.
[Amended 5-3-1990 by Ord. No. 352]
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or has been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls or parts of the walls and other supports, 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:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of said 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 said 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 or has been damaged to such extent that nothing remains but the walls or parts of the walls and other supports, and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building within a reasonable time, as specified in said 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 building, the public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed; and the public officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of 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."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the 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.
[Amended 6-2-1977 by Ord. No. 168; 5-3-1990 by Ord. No. 352]
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 chapter determined in favor of the municipality 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. In addition to the placement of a municipal lien, the Township may, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-1.1, enforce the payment of such assessment, together with interest, as a debt of the owner of the premises and may authorize the institution of an action at law for the collection thereof.
If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer and he sells the materials of such building, there shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof 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 costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of such 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 judgement of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgement of such Court; provided, however, that 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. 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 building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he 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 such municipality; such conditions may include the following without limiting the generality of the foregoing:
Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter 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 municipality or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the municipality in which the buildings are located. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the 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 of the county in which the building is located.
[Amended 5-3-1990 by Ord. No. 352]
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer under this chapter may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief, as provided in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8 and the amendments thereto and supplements thereof.
The public officers designated in this chapter are 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 the building conditions in the municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or 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.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as the public officer deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as the public officer may designate.
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.
[Amended 6-2-1977 by Ord. No. 168]
Any and all persons who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or fail to comply with any order made hereunder, and who shall interfere with or hinder the public officer or any other duly appointed officer, agent or employee in the execution and fulfillment of his duties under this chapter, shall severally for each and every violation, respectively, forfeit and pay a fine not exceeding $1,000 or shall be committed to the county jail for a term of not more than 90 days, or both, at the discretion of the court. Where a thirty-day notice has been sent to correct violations and not been satisfied, the general penalty provisions set forth in § 1-15G of the Code shall apply.