[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Martinsburg 7-18-2012 by L.L. No. 3-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of the Town of Martinsburg, pursuant to the authority granted it under Article 4 of the Town Law and §§ 10 and 20 of the Municipal Home Rule Law of the State of New York, enacts as follows:
The Town Board of the Town of Martinsburg hereby finds that unsafe buildings pose a threat to life and property in the Town of Martinsburg. The buildings and structures may become unsafe by reason of damage 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, and serves as a point of congregation by vagrants and transients. A dilapidated building may also serve as a place of rodent infestation, thereby causing a health menace to the community. 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 Martinsburg by requiring such unsafe buildings to be repaired, demolished or removed.
The Town Board of the Town of Martinsburg hereby enacts this chapter, to be known as "the Unsafe Building and Structure Local Law," as follows.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building, structure, or portion thereof used for residential, agricultural, business, or industrial purposes.
- CODE OFFICER
- The Code Enforcement Officer of the Town of Martinsburg, or any other law enforcement official chargeable with enforcement of the local laws of the Town of Martinsburg.
- The person, partnership, corporation or other entity shown to be the owner of a property as per those documents most recently recorded in the Lewis County Clerk's records.
The Code Officer, when in his opinion, or upon receipt of information that a building:
Is or may become dangerous or unsafe to the general public;
Is open at the doorways and windows making it accessible to and an object of attraction to minors under 18 years of age, as well as to vagrants or other trespassers;
Is or may become a place of rodent infestation;
Presents any other danger to the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the public; or
Is unfit for the purposes for which it may be lawfully used, shall cause or make an inspection thereof and report in writing to the Town Board, his findings and recommendations in regard to its repair, demolition, and/or removal.
The Town Board shall consider any report rendered to it under this chapter by the Code Officer and by resolution, determine if in its opinion the report so warrants, that such building is unsafe and dangerous and order that it be made safe, secured or removed, and further order that a notice be served upon the persons identified below in the manner provided herein.
The notice shall contain the following:
A description of the premises.
A statement of the particulars in which the building is unsafe or dangerous.
A report outlining the manner in which the building is to be made safe, secured, or removed.
A statement that the securing or removal of the building shall commence within 15 days of service of the notice and shall be completed within 60 days thereafter, except in case of emergency, in which case the Town Board may shorten such time frames, or where for good cause shown, the time should be extended.
A date, time, and place for an evidentiary hearing before the Town Board in relation to such dangerous or unsafe building, which hearing shall be scheduled not less than 15 business days from the date of service of the notice. The purpose of the hearing shall be to determine if the building is dangerous or unsafe. The owner of the structure shall be allowed to examine and cross examine the evidence against him and present evident on his own behalf. The owner may be represented by legal counsel of his choice. The Town Board shall make findings and a recommendation following the close of the evidentiary hearing.
A statement that in the event of neglect or refusal to comply with the order to secure or remove the building, the Town Board, after hearing, is authorized to provide for its demolition and removal, and to assess all expenses incurred thereby against the owner of the property and institute a special proceeding to collect the costs of demolition, including legal expenses.
The notice shall be served on the owner of the premises, or his executor, administrator, legal representative, agent, lessee, or any other person having a vested or contingent interest in the property, either personally or by certified mail, return-receipt requested, addressed to the last known address, if any, of the owner, or other persons mentioned herein, as shown by the records of the receiver of taxes, and/or in the Office of the County Clerk. A copy of such notice is also to be posted on the premises. The notice shall be considered served upon personal delivery or five days after it is mailed.
In the event of a failure or refusal of the owner to comply with said order of the Town Board, after the hearing, the Town Board may provide for the demolition and removal of such building and/or structure, either by Town employees or by contract. Except in emergency cases as provided in § 115-11, any contract for demolition and/or removal of building in excess of $30,000, shall be awarded through competitive bidding.
The Town Board may assess all costs and expenses incurred by the Town in connection with the proceeding to remove and/or secure, including the cost of actually removing said building or structure against the land on which such building or structure are located as a special assessment on the next Town tax bill.
Additionally, the Town Board may commence a special proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction to collect all costs and expenses incurred by the Town in connection with the proceedings to remove or secure, including the cost of actually removing said buildings or structures, from the owners of any buildings or structures.
The provisions of Article 4 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules shall govern any special proceeding commenced under this section.
In addition to remedying the property as set forth in Subsection A above, the Town Board may direct its Code Enforcement Officer or any other peace officer of the Town to issue an appearance ticket to the owner of the property for violation of this chapter. Any person found guilty of violating this chapter shall be guilty of a violation and may be fined in an amount not to exceed $250 and/or imprisoned for a period not to exceed 15 days for each violation. Each week such violation shall continue, shall constitute a separate violation.
Where it reasonably appears that there is a present, clear and imminent danger to the life, safety, or health of any person or property, unless an unsafe building is immediately repaired, secured, or demolished, the Town Board may, by resolution, authorize the Code Officer or any other representative of the Town to immediately cause the repair or demolition of such unsafe building or structure. The expenses of such repair or demolition shall be recovered as provided in § 115-10.