City of Gardner, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Gardner 6-2-2008 by Ord. No. 1471. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Alarm systems — See Ch. 302.
Animals — See Ch. 312.
Vacant and abandoned buildings — See Ch. 357.
Hazardous materials — See Ch. 432.
Wrecked and abandoned vehicles — See Ch. 610.
Wells and cellar holes — See Ch. 643.

§ 493-1 Purpose; findings; statutory authority.

It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to eliminate property nuisances in the City of Gardner. Nuisances, such as dilapidated buildings, overgrowth, debris, trash, stagnant pools of water, property having defective weather protection and vacant or abandoned buildings, cause and contribute to blight within neighborhoods and commercial areas of the City. Such nuisances on property also impair the public health and safety. As authorized by MGL c. 111 § 122, this chapter is intended to further the objectives of and to act in concert with any existing state or local laws.

§ 493-2 Definitions.

The following words and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings:
NUISANCE
A failure to satisfy any one or more of the property standards set forth in § 493-3 herein.
OWNER
A person, trust, partnership, corporation, mortgagee in possession or other entity who or which is capable of owning legal or equitable title to real property or an authorized agent of the person or entity holding legal or equitable interest to real property, including but not limited to any person sufficiently identified by the name and address appearing in the records of the City Assessor.
PERSON
The owner, occupant, or his or its authorized agent who owns, possesses, occupies, manages or controls any property.
PROPERTY
Any land, building, structure on real property, including any fixtures attached thereto, or any personal property located within the City of Gardner.
[Amended 11-18-2013 by Ord. No. 1563]

§ 493-3 Property standards.

All property in the City of Gardner shall be maintained in accordance with the following property standards:
A. 
General. All property, whether occupied or vacant, shall be maintained in good repair and a safe and sanitary condition as provided herein, so as not to cause or contribute to the creation of a hazardous or blighted area or to affect adversely the public health and safety of adjacent or surrounding property.
B. 
Overgrowth. All property shall be maintained free of vegetation over 12 inches high that is or may reasonably become infested with rodents, vermin, or other animals, conceal pools of stagnant water, or create a firesafety hazard. All property shall be kept free of overgrown, decayed, dead, or hazardous trees, shrubs, or any other vegetation that poses a hazard to the health and safety of any person in the vicinity of the property, including any persons traveling on any portion of any public way, or any surrounding property.
C. 
Structures. All structures, including any buildings, fences, storage sheds, or any element thereof, shall be maintained in a structurally sound condition and in good repair, including proper weather protection and waterproofing, and shall be maintained in a condition so as to not cause or contribute to creation of a firesafety hazard. All property shall be maintained free of extensive peeling, flaking, or chipped paint. All property with siding shall be maintained in a weather-resistant and watertight condition.
D. 
Accumulation of trash, rubbish or debris. All property shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary manner and free from the accumulation of litter, rubbish, trash or other debris, except in closed receptacles intended for such use.
E. 
Pools of stagnant water. All property shall be maintained to prohibit the formation of stagnant pools of water, which may affect adversely the public health by attracting and harboring mosquitoes and other insects.

§ 493-4 Order to remove nuisance.

[Amended 11-18-2013 by Ord. No. 1563]
It shall be unlawful for the owner of any property in the City to violate any one or number of the property standards contained in § 439-3, and any such property in violation shall be deemed a public nuisance. The Director of Public Health or his respective designated agent shall declare the property a public health nuisance and order the property owner to remove the nuisance within 10 days after service of notice of the violation.
A. 
Notices required pursuant to this section shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The street address and description of the property sufficient for identification of the property.
(2) 
A statement that the property has been declared a public nuisance because of the presence of a nuisance on the property.
(3) 
A concise description of the conditions on the property that have lead to the determination that the property is a public nuisance.
(4) 
A statement that the nuisance shall be removed from the property within 10 days from service of the notice and that if the owner fails to remove the nuisance within the time frame specified that the owner will be in violation of this chapter and subject to the penalties described therein.
B. 
Notice.
(1) 
Notices required pursuant to this section shall be served in accordance with MGL c. 111, § 124, in the following manner:
(a) 
Personally on the owner, occupant or his authorized agent;
(b) 
Left at the last and usual place of abode of the owner, occupant or his authorized agent if such place of abode is known and is within or without the commonwealth; or
(c) 
By certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to the owner, occupant or his authorized agent if such address is known and is within the commonwealth.
(2) 
If the residence and whereabouts of the owner, occupant or his authorized agent are unknown or are outside the commonwealth, then the notice shall be served by posting a copy thereof in a conspicuous place on the property and by advertising it for at least three out of five consecutive days in one or more newspapers of general circulation within the City.

§ 493-5 Abatement by City; violations and penalties.

A. 
If the owner fails to remove such nuisance within the period provided in § 493-4, the City may enter the property and remove or cause the nuisance to be removed. The reasonable costs and expense of abating a nuisance in accordance with this section shall be assessed to the owner, who shall be liable to the City for expenses incurred by the City. The Director of Public Health or his designee shall provide the owner with a written statement of all costs associated with abating the nuisance, and the owner shall reimburse the City within 60 days of notice of expenses incurred for such abatement. If the owner fails to pay or reimburse the City, the sum so expended may be recovered by the City as provided in MGL c. 111, § 125, and MGL c. 139, § 3A, relative to liens for such debt and collection of the claims for such debt, or in an action of contract by the City against the owner.
[Amended 11-18-2013 by Ord. No. 1563]
B. 
This chapter may also be enforced by civil process, criminal process or by noncriminal disposition as provided in MGL c. 40, § 21D.
C. 
Each day on which a violation exists shall be deemed to be a separate offense, and any person in violation of this chapter shall be subject to the following fines:
(1) 
First violation: $50.
(2) 
Second violation: $100.
(3) 
Third violation: $200.
(4) 
Fourth and each subsequent violation: $300.
D. 
In addition to the penalties set forth above, the Director of Public Health or his respective designated agent may seek an injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction to restrain any violation of this chapter.
[Amended 11-18-2013 by Ord. No. 1563]
E. 
This chapter shall not be enforced against the City or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its authorities, departments, or agencies.

§ 493-6 Appeals.

A. 
Any owner who is aggrieved by a notice of violation made by the Board of Health may, within five business days from the date of notice of violation, appeal his or her case in writing to the Director of Public Health or his designee for further consideration. Thereafter the decision of the Director or his designee shall be final and binding on the parties.
[Amended 11-18-2013 by Ord. No. 1563]
B. 
If an owner submits a written statement of action taken or to be taken within a designated time period to abate a nuisance violation, the Director shall determine whether said action will eliminate the nuisance in a timely manner. If it is determined that the action taken or to be taken will result in the elimination of the nuisance a timely manner, the Director shall notify the owner, in writing, that no assessment will be made at that time.