Cass County, MO
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019[1]]
Section 67.400 et seq., RSMo., authorizes Cass County, Missouri ("County") to enact an ordinance to provide for the regulation and abatement of dangerous buildings, and for recovery of the County's costs associated with such action.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also deleted former Ch. 505, Dangerous Buildings, adopted or amended 11-5-2009 by Ord. No. 09-09 §§ 1 — 12.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
The Building Inspector, as referenced herein, shall be the Director of the County's Building Codes Department or his/her designee. For purposes of this Chapter, the Presiding Commissioner shall serve as the Building Commissioner, unless the County Commission appoints someone else to so serve.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
As used in this Chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUILDING
Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.
HEARING BOARD
The County Commission.
INTERESTED PARTIES
The owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee, agent, and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of Cass County.
NOTICE AND ORDER
Shall be such notice and order given by the Building Inspector pursuant to Section 505.090 of this Chapter.
ORDER OF ABATEMENT
Shall be such order issued pursuant to Section 505.120 of this Chapter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
The Building Inspector shall:
1. 
Inspect, or cause to be inspected, as often as may be necessary, any building of the unincorporated area of the County about which complaints are filed by any person alleging that the building is a dangerous building, as defined by this Chapter.
2. 
Inspect, or cause to be inspected, as often as may be necessary, any building of the unincorporated area of the County reported by any department or office of the County that has reason to believe that the building is a dangerous building, as defined by this Chapter.
3. 
Inspect, or cause to be inspected, as often as may be necessary, any building of the unincorporated area of the County at any time whenever there is reason to believe that the building is a dangerous building, as defined by this Chapter.
4. 
Immediately report to the Building Commissioner any such building found by the Inspector to be inherently dangerous and that the Inspector determines to be a nuisance. The Building Commissioner may direct that such building be marked or posted with a written notice reading substantially as follows:
UNSAFE: The County's Building Inspector has deemed this building a dangerous building pursuant to Chapter 505 of the Cass County Code. It shall be a violation of the Cass County Code to remove this notice, unless authorized by Cass County.
5. 
Report to the Building Commissioner any non-compliance with any notice given under this Chapter.
6. 
Appear at any and all hearings required by this Chapter or as otherwise required by law, and provide testimony at such hearings.
7. 
Notify all interested parties of any building found by the Inspector to be a dangerous building, in accordance with this Chapter.
8. 
Nothing contained in this Section shall be construed to deprive any person entitled thereto by this Chapter of the notice and hearings prescribed in this Chapter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
The Building Commissioner shall have the authority under this Chapter to do the following:
1. 
Whenever the Building Commissioner shall deem it advisable, he may request inspections be made by the appropriate Fire District, or by any County department or appropriate office, or by any person who might have knowledge and information useful in the determination of whether a building is a public nuisance and, if so, how it might be alleviated. In addition, the Building Commissioner, if he deems it advisable, may request such an inspection be made by an architect or engineer specifically employed by the County for the purpose of that inspection.
2. 
Supervise all inspections required by this Chapter and cause the Building Inspector to make inspections and perform all the duties required of him/her by this Chapter. Upon receiving a complaint or report from any source that a dangerous building exists in the County, the Building Commissioner shall cause an inspection to be made forthwith by the Building Inspector.
3. 
Upon notice from the Building Inspector that the interested parties have failed to commence work of repairing or demolishing the building within the specified time, or upon failure to proceed continuously with work without unnecessary delay, the Building Commissioner shall call a hearing before the Hearing Board and give appropriate notice as required by this Chapter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
Any building having any of the following conditions is hereby declared a dangerous building and public nuisance, to the extent that such conditions are detrimental to the life, health, property, or safety of the public or its occupants:
1. 
Those whose interior wall or other vertical structural member lists, leans, or buckles to such an extent that a plumb line passes through the center of any such wall, or that a vertical structural member falls outside of the middle third of its base.
2. 
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show thirty-three percent (33%) or more of damage or deterioration of the supporting members, or fifty percent (50%) of damage or deterioration of the non-supporting enclosing or outside walls or covering.
3. 
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the floors or roofs are overloaded, or those having floors or roofs of insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purpose for which they are being used or intended to be used.
4. 
Those which have been substantially damaged by fire, earthquake, wind, flood, or by any other cause(s).
5. 
Those which are unoccupied and are open at door, window, wall or roof. As used herein an "unoccupied" building is one (1) that is not being continuously and lawfully inhabited for residential or any non-residential purpose. As used herein an unoccupied building is "open" at door, window, wall or roof when, because of removal, breakage, deterioration, destruction, or disrepair of original or replacement materials, the interior has been exposed to the elements or has become accessible for entry by animals, trespassers, or others acting without the building owner's consent.
6. 
Those under construction upon which work has ceased to the point that substantial progress has not been made for a period of thirty (30) consecutive calendar days.
7. 
Those in the process of demolition upon which work has ceased to the point that substantial progress has not been made for a period of seven (7) consecutive calendar days.
8. 
Those containing therein substantial accumulations of trash, garbage, or other materials susceptible to fire, or constituting or providing a harboring place for vermin or other obnoxious animals or insects or in any way threatening the health of the occupants thereof or the health of the persons in the vicinity thereof.
9. 
Those that are so dilapidated, decayed, unsanitary, unsafe, or that so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living, that they are unfit for human occupation, or are likely to cause sickness or disease, so as to injure the health, safety, and/or welfare of the occupants.
10. 
Those having inadequate facilities for egress in case of fire or panic.
11. 
Those that have parts thereof which are so attached or deteriorated that they may fall upon public ways or upon the property of others or may injure members of the public or the occupants thereof.
12. 
Those built in violation of the building code, plumbing code, electrical code, zoning code, or other code adopted by the County, or used in violation thereof.
13. 
Those which are used or intended to be used for dwelling purposes, and because of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, decay, faulty construction or arrangement, inadequate light, air or sanitation facilities, or otherwise, is determined by the Building Inspector or his representatives to be unsanitary, unfit for human habitation, or in such a condition that is likely to cause sickness or disease.
14. 
Those that, because of obsolescence, dilapidated condition(s), deterioration, damage, inadequate exits, lack of sufficient fire-resistive construction, faulty electric wiring, gas connections or heating apparatus, or other cause is determined by the Building Inspector to be a fire hazard.
15. 
Those that, because of their general overall condition, are unsafe, unsanitary, or dangerous to the health, safety, or general welfare of the public.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
If deemed necessary, the Building Inspector or Building Commissioner may request an administrative search warrant pursuant to applicable law to gain entry onto property or into a structure for purposes of inspection or abatement.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
The following standards shall be followed in substance by the Building Inspector and/or the Hearing Board in ordering the repair, vacation, or demolition of any dangerous building:
1. 
Vacation. If the dangerous building is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of the public or the occupants, it shall be ordered vacated.
2. 
Repair — With Or Without Closing And/Or Vacation. If it is reasonably feasible to repair the dangerous building so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this Chapter, it may be ordered repaired; and, if reasonably necessary, vacated during repair. An order to repair may include a boarding requirement to close and secure any exterior openings.
3. 
Demolition. In any case where a dangerous building is damaged, decayed or deteriorated to a degree that it is not reasonably feasible to rehabilitate such building or the building will not be structurally safe, the building or any portion thereof shall be ordered demolished. An order to demolish may include a requirement to vacate and to close, and boarding to close and secure exterior openings until demolition commences.
4. 
No Action. If the evidence does not support a finding that the building is a dangerous building, no order shall be issued.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
Notice And Order. Whenever the Building Inspector determines that any building is a dangerous building and public nuisance under the provisions of this Chapter, he shall as soon as possible thereafter notify the interested parties that he has found the building to be a dangerous building and public nuisance under the provisions of this Chapter. This notice and order shall set forth the description of the conditions found in the building that make the building a dangerous building and public nuisance under this Chapter. The notice and order shall order the abatement of the violation pursuant to the standards outlined in this Chapter, giving a reasonable time for commencement of the work, which shall not be longer than thirty (30) days from the date of such notice and order, and requiring the work to proceed continuously without unnecessary delay.
1. 
Service.
a. 
The notice and order shall be signed by the Building Inspector. The notice and order may be served by:
(1) 
Personal service;
(2) 
Certified mail, return receipt requested; or
(3) 
Regular first-class mail.
b. 
Mailing shall be addressed to the person's last known address. If the address of the person to be served shall not be known, or if the certified mailing shall be returned by the United States Post Office marked "address unknown" or "unclaimed," and regular mailed notice is also returned, then the service of the notice and order may be by publication and posting on the subject property. The publication shall be published at least once each week for two (2) consecutive weeks on the same day of the week in some newspaper of general circulation qualified to publish legal notices for the County, and the time specified in the notice and order for the commencement of work for any other thing to be done shall be at least thirty (30) days from the date of the first publication of notice.
2. 
Notice And Order Content. Whenever a notice and order shall be given that any building constitutes a dangerous building and public nuisance under the provisions of this Chapter, the Building Inspector giving the notice shall base his order as to the necessary actions to abate the violation by observance of the standards outlined in this Chapter.
3. 
Permits. Interested parties shall be required to obtain all permits required by this Code prior to commencing work pursuant to any notice and order (or order of abatement) given pursuant to this Chapter.
B. 
Failure To Comply With Notice And Order. Whenever there shall be a failure to obey a notice and order within the requisite time or a failure to proceed pursuant to such notice and order without unnecessary delay, the Building Inspector shall report the same to the Building Commissioner, and the Building Commissioner shall convene a hearing before the Hearing Board.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
Notice.
1. 
The Building Commissioner shall cause written notice to be given to the interested parties of such hearing. Such notice may be served by:
a. 
Personal service;
b. 
Certified mail, return receipt requested; or
c. 
Regular first-class mail.
2. 
Mailing shall be addressed to the person's last known address. If the address of the person to be served shall not be known, or if the certified mailing shall be returned by the United States Post Office marked "address unknown" or "unclaimed," and regular mailed notice is also returned, then the service may be by publication and posting on the subject property. Published notice pursuant to this Section shall be for two (2) successive weeks in a newspaper qualified to publish legal notices for the County, with the last notice running at least ten (10) days prior to the hearing directed to the interested parties instructing them to appear before the Hearing Board on the date specified in the notice to show cause why the building reported to be a dangerous building should not be so declared, and ordered repaired, vacated, and/or demolished in accordance with the Building Inspector's notice and order.
B. 
Hearing. The Hearing Board shall hear the case. Any party may be represented by counsel, and all parties shall have an opportunity to be heard and present such evidence as shall be relevant to a determination of:
1. 
Whether the building involved is a dangerous building and public nuisance under the terms of this Chapter;
2. 
Whether the procedures required by this Chapter have been substantially followed; and
3. 
Whether the notice and order was reasonable and within the standards of this Chapter.
C. 
All testimony shall be under oath or affirmation, and shall be recorded by a court reporter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
Within thirty (30) days from the date of the hearing, the Hearing Board shall, upon the basis of competent and substantial evidence offered at the hearing, make conclusions of law as to whether or not the building in question is a dangerous building and public nuisance under the terms of this Chapter and detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of residents of the County, specifically finding as a matter of fact the conditions of such building that constitutes the dangerous building and public nuisance.
B. 
If the Hearing Board finds that the building is a dangerous building and public nuisance, further findings shall be made as to whether the procedures required by this Chapter have been substantially met and complied with and whether the notice and order of the Building Inspector was reasonable in its terms and conditions and within the standards of this Chapter.
1. 
If the Hearing Board finds that the procedures required by this Chapter have been met and substantially complied with, and finds that the notice and order was reasonable in its terms and conditions and within the standards of this Chapter, then the Hearing Board shall cause an order of abatement to be issued.
2. 
If the Hearing Board finds that the procedures required by this Chapter have not been met and substantially complied with, and/or finds that the notice and order was not reasonable in its terms or conditions or within the standards of this Chapter, then the Hearing Board shall not cause an order of abatement to be issued and shall dismiss the action. However, such dismissal shall in no way prevent the Building Inspector from reinitiating the process defined by this Chapter upon such dismissal.
C. 
If the Hearing Board finds that a dangerous building and public nuisance does not exist, the proceeding against the building shall be dismissed.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
Any order of abatement that the Hearing Board causes to be issued pursuant to this Chapter shall be attested to by the Building Commissioner. The County Counselor shall cause to be filed with the Cass County Recorder of Deeds a certificate of dangerous building, which shall reference such order of abatement. The order of abatement, together with the Hearing Board's findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be in writing and shall be immediately delivered or mailed to each party to the hearing, or to his attorney of record, as well as to other interested parties. In addition, copies shall be posted on the affected property and in a conspicuous place at the historic County Courthouse for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of issuance thereof. The order shall state a reasonable time, which shall not be less than thirty (30) days from the date of issuance, within which to comply therewith, and shall further provide that if it is not complied with within such time, the Building Commissioner may, in his discretion, cause the work to be done by the County and its own crews or by contractors employed by the County for that purpose, or the County may enter into contracts with persons engaged in the business of repairing, securing, boarding, or demolishing buildings for the purpose of enforcing the order provided for in this Section, provided there are unencumbered funds in the County budget for that purpose.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
In all cases where it reasonably appears in the opinion of the Building Commissioner that the conditions of a building pose an imminent danger to the health, safety, or welfare of any person, the Building Commissioner may authorize that emergency measures be taken to vacate, repair, and/or demolish the building which is a public nuisance under the provisions of this Chapter. The costs of such emergency repair, vacation, and/or demolition of such dangerous building shall be collected in the same manner as otherwise provided in this Chapter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
The owner, occupant, or lessee in possession of any dangerous building who shall fail to comply with any order of the Hearing Board to repair, vacate, or demolish said building shall be guilty of a violation of this Code.
B. 
The occupant of any building or structure who shall fail to vacate such building or structure within the time specified by a notice and order issued by the Building Inspector shall be guilty of a violation of this Code.
C. 
Any person removing any notices provided for in this Chapter shall be guilty of a violation of this Code.
D. 
It shall be a violation of this Code for any owner of any unoccupied building to allow the same to become open at door, window, wall or roof for a period of time exceeding twenty-four (24) hours, except when such a building is being boarded, repaired or demolished under a valid permit issued by the County.
E. 
It shall be a violation of this Code for the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee, or agent thereof, of a building or structure subject to this Code, to keep a building or structure in violation of this Chapter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
Unoccupied buildings which are open at door and/or window, wall or roof are hereby declared to constitute a potential danger and a public nuisance and constitute an emergency under this Chapter, and the Building Inspector is hereby authorized to board and secure such buildings without first complying with the notice and hearing provisions provided herein.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
Whenever the County incurred costs related to the abatement of nuisance and dangerous conditions pursuant to a final order of abatement, or pursuant to an emergency abatement, the Building Commissioner shall certify the cost of the work to the County Treasurer, who shall cause to be prepared a special tax bill therefor, which shall include reasonable administrative costs of the County in enforcing this Chapter, which shall likewise be certified by the Building Commissioner. This tax bill shall be issued against the lot, tract, or parcel of land upon which the building is located. The special tax bill, from the date of its issuance, shall be deemed the personal debt of the property owner and shall be a lien on the lot, tract or parcel of land until paid.
B. 
Upon the written request of the taxpayer, to the County Clerk, the tax bill may be paid in installments over a period of not more than ten (10) years, with eight percent (8%) interest.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
A. 
If there are proceeds of any insurance policy based on a covered claim payment for damage or loss to a building arising out of or caused by fire, explosion or other casualty loss, and the covered claim payment exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the face value of the policy covering such building, then the insurer shall pay to the County Clerk a sum equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the covered claim, within thirty (30) days of the determination of coverage, to be held by the County in an interest-bearing account. The proceeds shall be used to reimburse the County for its costs in the removal of such building, if necessary.
B. 
The County shall release the proceeds paid to it pursuant to Subsection (A) of this Section to the insured or in accordance with the provisions of the insurance policy and endorsements thereto as directed by the insurer unless within thirty (30) days after receipt of the insurance proceeds the Building Inspector has issued a notice and order pursuant to this Chapter, and the County shall retain such proceeds until the conditions cited in the notice and order are abated.
C. 
The County shall apply the insurance proceeds first to the cost of the removal of any building found to be a nuisance under this Chapter, less any salvage value, prior to the expenditure of any County funds. Should any balance of insurance proceeds remain in the interest-bearing account after the expense of removal of such building has been paid, the balance shall be paid over to the insured.
D. 
Nothing in this Section shall be construed to affect the priority of a named mortgagee on the insurance policy to the proceeds of the policy.
E. 
It shall be a violation of this Code for an insurance carrier to fail to pay insurance proceeds to the County after being notified pursuant to this Chapter.
[Ord. No. 19-03, 6-13-2019]
Any aggrieved party may appeal any order of abatement as provided in § 536.100 et seq., RSMo.