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City of Watertown, WI
Jefferson/Dodge County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Title. These regulations shall be known as the "City of Watertown Commercial Property Maintenance Code," hereinafter referred to as "this chapter."
B. 
Scope. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all existing nonresidential structures and residential portions of such structures and constitute minimum requirements and standards for premises, structures, equipment and facilities for light, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, protection from the elements, life safety, safety from fire and other hazards, and for safe and sanitary maintenance; the responsibility of owners, operators and occupants; the occupancy of existing structures and premises; and for administration, enforcement and penalties.
C. 
Intent. This chapter shall be construed to secure its expressed intent, which is to ensure public health, safety and welfare insofar as they are affected by the continued occupancy and maintenance of structures and premises. Existing structures and premises that do not comply with these provisions shall be altered or repaired to provide a minimum level of health and safety as required herein.
A. 
General. Where there is a conflict between a general requirement and a specific requirement, the specific requirement shall govern. Where differences occur between provisions of this chapter and the referenced national standards, the provisions of this chapter shall apply. Where, in a specific case, different sections of this chapter specify different requirements, the most restrictive shall govern.
B. 
Maintenance. Equipment, systems, devices and safeguards required by this chapter or a previous regulation or code under which the structure or premises was constructed, altered or repaired shall be maintained in good working order. No owner, operator or occupant shall cause any service, facility, equipment or utility which is required under this chapter to be removed from or shut off from or discontinued for any occupied dwelling, except for such temporary interruption as necessary while repairs or alterations are in progress. The requirements of this chapter are not intended to provide the basis for removal or abrogation of fire protection and safety systems and devices in existing structures. Except as otherwise specified herein, the owner or the owner's designated agent shall be responsible for the maintenance of buildings, structures and premises.
C. 
Application of other codes. Repairs, additions or alterations to a structure, or changes of occupancy, shall be done in accordance with the procedures and provisions of the City of Watertown Housing Code, International Building Code, International Fuel Gas Code, International Mechanical Code and NFPA 70.
D. 
Existing remedies. The provisions in this chapter shall not be construed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the jurisdiction or its officers or agencies relating to the removal or demolition of any structure which is dangerous, unsafe and insanitary.
E. 
Workmanship. Repairs, maintenance work, alterations or installations which are caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this chapter shall be executed and installed in a workmanlike manner and installed in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions.
F. 
Historic buildings. The provisions of this chapter shall not be mandatory for existing buildings or structures designated as historic buildings when such buildings or structures are judged by the code official to be safe and in the public interest of health, safety and welfare.
G. 
Referenced codes and standards. The codes and standards referenced in this chapter shall be those that are listed in § 424-45, as well as the City of Watertown Housing Code contained in Chapter 332, and considered part of the requirements of this chapter to the prescribed extent of each such reference. Where differences occur between provisions of this chapter and the referenced standards, the provisions of this chapter shall apply. Exception: Where enforcement of a code provision would violate the conditions of the listing of the equipment or appliance, the conditions of the listing shall apply.
H. 
Requirements not covered by code. Requirements necessary for the strength, stability or proper operation of an existing fixture, structure or equipment, or for the public safety, health and general welfare, not specifically covered by this chapter, shall be determined by the code official.
I. 
Application of references. References to chapter or section numbers, or to provisions not specifically identified by number, shall be construed to refer to such chapter, section or provision of this chapter.
J. 
Other laws. The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to nullify any provisions of local, state or federal law.
A. 
General. An official of the Department of Building, Safety and Zoning of the City is appointed as the executive official in charge hereof and shall be known as the "code official."
B. 
Appointment. The code official shall be appointed by the Mayor of the City, subject to approval by the Common Council.
C. 
Deputies. In accordance with the prescribed procedures of the City and with the concurrence of the Common Council, the code official shall have the authority to appoint a deputy(s). Such employees shall have powers as delegated by the code official.
D. 
Liability. The code official charged with the enforcement of this chapter, while acting for the City in good faith and without malice in the discharge of the duties required by this chapter or other pertinent law or ordinance, shall not thereby be rendered liable personally, and is hereby relieved from all personal liability for any damage accruing to persons or property as a result of an act or by reason of an act or omission in the discharge of official duties. Any suit instituted against any officer or employee because of an act performed by that officer or employee in the lawful discharge of duties and under the provisions of this chapter shall be defended by the legal representative of the City until the final termination of the proceedings. The code official or any subordinate shall not be liable for costs or attorneys' fees in an action, suit or proceeding that is instituted in pursuance of the provisions of this chapter.
E. 
Fees. The fees for activities and services performed by the Department in carrying out its responsibilities under this chapter shall be as set by the Common Council and provided under separate fee schedule.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
A. 
General. The code official is hereby authorized and directed to enforce the provisions of this chapter. The code official shall have the authority to render interpretations of this chapter and to adopt policies and procedures in order to clarify the application of its provisions. Such interpretations, policies and procedures shall be in compliance with the intent and purpose of this chapter. Such policies and procedures shall not have the effect of waiving requirements specifically provided for in this chapter.
B. 
Inspections. Whenever the code official believes or receives a complaint of any person, shall make all of the required inspections or shall accept reports of inspection by approved agencies or individuals. All reports of such inspections shall be in writing and be certified by a responsible officer of such approved agency or by the responsible individual. The code official is authorized to engage such expert opinion as deemed necessary to report upon unusual technical issues that arise, subject to the approval of the Common Council.
[Amended 6-4-2019 by Ord. No. 19-9]
C. 
Right of entry. Where it is necessary to make an inspection to enforce the provisions of this chapter, or whenever the code official has reasonable cause to believe that there exists in a structure or upon a premises a condition in violation of this chapter, the code official is authorized to enter the structure or premises at reasonable times to inspect or perform the duties imposed by this chapter, provided that, if such structure or premises is occupied, the code official shall present credentials to the occupant and request entry. If such structure or premises is unoccupied, the code official shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person having charge or control of the structure or premises and request entry. If entry is refused, the code official shall have recourse to the remedies provided by law to secure entry.
D. 
Identification. The code official shall carry proper identification when inspecting structures or premises in the performance of duties under this chapter.
E. 
Notices and orders. The code official shall issue all necessary notices or orders to ensure compliance with this chapter.
F. 
Department records. The code official shall keep official records of all business and activities of the Department specified in the provisions of this chapter. Such records shall be retained in the official records for the period required for retention of public records.
A. 
Modifications. Whenever there are practical difficulties involved in carrying out the provisions of this chapter, the code official shall have the authority to grant modifications for individual cases upon application of the owner or owner's representative, provided the code official shall first find that special individual reason makes the strict letter of this chapter impractical and the modification is in compliance with the intent and purpose of this chapter and that such modification does not lessen health, life and fire safety requirements. The details of action granting modifications shall be recorded and entered in the Department files.
B. 
Alternative materials, methods and equipment. The provisions of this chapter are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or to prohibit any method of construction not specifically prescribed by this chapter, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material or method of construction shall be approved where the code official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this chapter, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, at least the equivalent of that prescribed in this chapter in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety.
C. 
Required testing. Whenever there is insufficient evidence of compliance with the provisions of this chapter, or evidence that a material or method does not conform to the requirements of this chapter, or in order to substantiate claims for alternative materials or methods, the code official shall have the authority to require tests to be made as evidence of compliance at no expense to the City.
(1) 
Test methods. Test methods shall be as specified in this chapter or by other recognized test standards. In the absence of recognized and accepted test methods, the code official shall be permitted to approve appropriate testing procedures performed by an approved agency.
(2) 
Test reports. Reports of tests shall be retained by the code official for the period required for retention of public records.
D. 
Used material and equipment. The use of used materials which meet the requirements of this chapter for new materials is permitted. Materials, equipment and devices shall not be reused unless such elements are in good repair or have been reconditioned and tested when necessary, placed in good and proper working condition and approved by the code official.
E. 
Approved materials and equipment. Materials, equipment and devices approved by the code official shall be constructed and installed in accordance with such approval.
F. 
Research reports. Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this chapter, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources.
A. 
Unlawful acts. It shall be unlawful for a person, firm or corporation to be in conflict with or in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Notice of violation. The code official shall serve a notice of violation or order in accordance with § 424-7.
C. 
Prosecution of violation. Any person failing to comply with a notice of violation or order served in accordance with § 424-7 shall be deemed guilty of a civil violation and shall be subject to the issuance of a citation by the City, and the violation shall be deemed a strict liability offense. If the notice of violation is not complied with, the code official shall institute the appropriate proceeding at law or in equity to restrain, correct or abate such violation or to require the removal or termination of the unlawful occupancy of the structure in violation of the provisions of this chapter or of the order or direction made pursuant thereto. Any action taken by the authority having jurisdiction on such premises shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon such real estate pursuant to Chapter 76, Article III, of the City's Code.
D. 
Violations and penalties. Any person who shall violate a provision of this chapter or fail to comply therewith or with any of the requirements thereof shall be prosecuted within the limits provided by state or local laws. Each day that a violation continues after due notice has been served shall be deemed a separate offense. Penalties imposed shall be as authorized in § 1-4 of the City's Code.
E. 
Abatement of violation. The imposition of the penalties herein prescribed shall not preclude the City Attorney from instituting appropriate action to restrain, correct or abate a violation, or to prevent illegal occupancy of a building, structure or premises, or to stop an illegal act, conduct, business or utilization of the building, structure or premises.
A. 
Notice to person responsible. Whenever the code official determines that there has been a violation of this chapter or has grounds to believe that a violation has occurred, notice shall be given in the manner prescribed in Subsections B and C to the person responsible for the violation as specified in this chapter. Notices for condemnation procedures shall also comply with § 424-8D.
B. 
Form. Such notice prescribed in Subsection A shall be in accordance with all of the following:
(1) 
Be in writing.
(2) 
Include a description of the real estate sufficient for identification.
(3) 
Include a statement of the violation or violations and why the notice is being issued.
(4) 
Include a correction order allowing a reasonable time to make the repairs and improvements required to bring the structure into compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
(5) 
Inform the property owner of the right to appeal.
(6) 
Include a statement of the right to file a lien in accordance with § 424-6C.
C. 
Method of service. Such notice shall be deemed to be properly served if a copy thereof is:
(1) 
Delivered personally;
(2) 
Sent by certified or first-class mail addressed to the last known address of the owner; or
(3) 
If the notice is returned showing that the letter was not delivered, a copy thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure affected by such notice.
D. 
Unauthorized tampering. Signs, tags or seals posted or affixed by the code official shall not be mutilated, destroyed or tampered with, or removed without authorization from the code official.
E. 
Penalties. Penalties for noncompliance with orders and notices shall be as set forth in § 424-6D.
F. 
Transfer of ownership. It shall be unlawful for the owner of any structure who has received a compliance order or upon whom a notice of violation has been served to sell, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose of such structure to another until the provisions of the compliance order or notice of violation have been complied with, or until such owner shall first furnish the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee a true copy of any compliance order or notice of violation issued by the code official and shall furnish to the code official a signed and notarized statement from the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee acknowledging the receipt of such compliance order or notice of violation and fully accepting the responsibility without condition for making the corrections or repairs required by such compliance order or notice of violation.
[Amended 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 15-27]
A. 
General. This section is meant to prevent buildings or structures in the City of Watertown from becoming dangerous and/or neglected or remaining dangerous and derelict, as the terms may be defined in this chapter; to prevent structures from becoming blighted; to mitigate blighting impacts of such buildings; to provide for the regular inspection of structures and buildings that are or are likely to become dangerous, derelict or abandoned; and to impose fees to cover the cost of inspections of those properties upon owners, operators, mortgagees, tenants or lessees who have a legal or equitable interest in the property and have a responsibility to maintain the property.
B. 
Conditions. When upon and following inspections made as set forth in Subsection C of this section, any structure, building or premises is found to contain conditions as defined in the definitions in § 424-14 under "neglected," "dangerous structure," "abandoned structure," "derelict," "blighted" or "nuisance," it shall be declared to be in violation of this § 424-8, subject to fines and penalties as hereinafter stipulated.
C. 
Inspection and registration.
(1) 
Inspection. Whenever the code official believes or receives a complaint that a building or structure is dangerous, abandoned, blighted or derelict, the code official shall cause an inspection to be done to determine if it complies with the Building Code, Electrical Code, Plumbing Code and this chapter, and all other applicable local and state codes.
(2) 
Determination.
(a) 
In the event the code official determines that a building or structure is a dangerous, abandoned, blighted or derelict building, notice of that determination shall be given to the building's or structure's owner of record who is listed at the County's Land Information Department by certified mail, who is hereafter required to register the building within 15 calendar days of the code official's notification date.
(b) 
Required information that the notice shall include:
[1] 
The building's address and legal description of the property;
[2] 
A specific and detailed statement listing all the items not in compliance as to form the basis of the code official's determination;
[3] 
A statement that the building must be registered with the City of Watertown's Building, Safety and Zoning Division as provided in this chapter and an administration/initial inspection fee, as set by the Common Council and provided under separate fee schedule, paid to the City of Watertown.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
(3) 
Registration. Registration shall be completed on forms to be provided by the City of Watertown Building, Safety and Zoning Division and shall include the information relating to the location and ownership of the building, the expected period of its vacancy, a plan for regular maintenance during the period of vacancy and a plan for rehabilitation, proposed occupancy and use or its demolition, which plans shall be reviewed by and subject to approval of the Site Plan Review Committee.
(4) 
Appeals. See § 424-11.
(5) 
Quarterly inspections. For buildings declared dangerous, abandoned, blighted or derelict, the code official shall conduct quarterly inspections to endeavor to bring the owner in compliance with applicable codes. Fees for dangerous, abandoned, blighted or derelict buildings shall be as set out in Subsection D.
(6) 
Compliance. When all code violations have been corrected and a building has been legally repaired or reoccupied and brought up to all code standards, or when the building has been demolished and the lot cleared in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, Building Code, Electrical Code and Plumbing Code, it shall cease to be dangerous, abandoned, blighted or derelict building.
D. 
Inspection fees payable.
(1) 
Fees; late payments. The owner of any dangerous, derelict, blighted or abandoned building so declared under Subsection C shall be placed on a register and subject to quarterly inspection to ensure compliance. A basic nonrefundable quarterly fee as set by the Common Council and provided under separate fee schedule shall be paid on each building under his or her ownership and control for as long as the structure is declared dangerous, derelict, blighted or abandoned, notwithstanding subsequent repairs which might be made, until the structure comes into full compliance. Owners of structures and/or buildings in excess of 10,000 square feet of floor space at ground level shall pay a higher nonrefundable quarterly fee as set by the Common Council and provided under separate fee schedule on each building under his or her or their ownership and control, for as long as the structure is declared dangerous, derelict, blighted or abandoned, notwithstanding any subsequent repairs which might be made, until the structure comes into full compliance.[2]
(a) 
Inspections; penalties. Pursuant to the initial inspection made, first payment of fees will be due 90 calendar days from the date of the initial inspection, and subsequent inspections and payments shall be due quarterly thereafter. In the event fees for quarterly inspections are not paid within 15 calendar days from the date of the notice given to make payment, the owner shall be assessed a penalty of $10 per day until payment is made in full or until the code official determines the property is in compliance with all applicable codes.; penalty to start on the 16th calendar day following the date of the notice.
[2]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
(2) 
Transfer of ownership. The registration fee and inspection fees imposed under the terms of this section are to be paid prior to any transfer, purported or actual, of ownership interest in a structure, as well as prior to the issuance of any permit required for the demolition, alteration or repair of a structure subject to the terms of this chapter and all applicable codes. Any present owner or person having a financial interest in any structure or property upon which inspection fees and penalties have been assessed, or continued inspections are required, shall be required to notify in writing the prospective buyer or purchaser of the inspections, inspection fees or penalties or other conditions related to the inspection, repair or rehabilitation of the subject property prior to the completion of a sale or the transfer of title of the property, which are continued in nature and monitored by the code official.
(a) 
Exception. The owner(s) and purchaser(s) may elect to provide a performance bond or irrevocable letter of credit, in favor of the City, equal to the outstanding balance owed for the registration fee, inspection fees and any penalties before the time of closing (transfer of title).
(b) 
Purpose. The purpose of the exception is to allow an owner to transfer title as need for the purpose of rehabilitating the subject property and bringing it into compliance with this chapter.
(c) 
Plan. A plan of compliance shall be submitted to the code official at least 10 days prior to the closing date. The plan shall include: 1) a detailed list of hazards and/or repairs to be corrected; 2) a schedule for starting the repairs, projected completion date; and 3) signed contract with a properly licensed contractor. The plan must be approved by the Site Plan Review Committee to qualify for the exception.
(d) 
Use of funds. The owner(s), seller(s) and buyer(s) shall waive any and all claims to the performance bond at the closing (transfer of title). After completion of all of the work indicated in the plan of compliance and approval by the Site Plan Review Committee and all applicable code enforcement agencies, the performance bond will be released and returned to the seller.
(e) 
Default. If a purchaser fails to comply with the approved plan, the code official is authorized to declare and collect the funds, without notice to the purchaser, to be used as a payment for the fees and penalties owed at the time of the transfer.
(f) 
Limitations. The use of the "exception" is limited to one time for each parcel unless otherwise approved by the code official. All other provisions of this chapter shall apply.
(3) 
Abeyance and waiver of fees and penalties. The code official shall have authority to place in abeyance and/or waiver fees and penalties imposed under this chapter and all applicable codes as follows.
(a) 
The code official shall have authority to place fees and/or penalties in abeyance if all of the following are met:
[1] 
A plan and timetable for the repair, demolition and/or maintenance of the structure has been submitted by the owner and approved by the Site Plan Review Committee;
[2] 
The property is being maintained so that it does not constitute or become a nuisance;
[3] 
The owner is acting in a timely fashion in adherence to any plan approved by the Site Plan Review Committee.
(b) 
The code official shall have authority to waive fees and/or penalties if the following conditions have been met:
[1] 
All of the conditions in Subsection D(1)(a) of this section have been met;
[2] 
The property has been brought into compliance with all applicable codes and approved by the code official.
(4) 
Unpaid fees on property. In addition to above fees and penalties, should the owner fail to pay accumulated inspection fees and penalties, the City shall affect a lien on the property to recover the fees and penalties. All uncollected costs for the current year shall be certified to the City Clerk/Treasurer. The lien will be assessed as a special tax, the amount so certified at the time City taxes levied against properties on which the fees and penalties were assessed for the next succeeding year are collected. The fees and penalties for this section are declared to be a special tax assessment to be collected as general taxes levied by the City, pursuant to Chapter 76, Article III of the City's Code, and may be collected by any other legal remedies.
E. 
Vacate. If the structure is vacant and/or unfit for human habitation and occupancy and is not in danger of structural collapse, the code official is authorized to post a placard of condemnation on the premises and order the structure closed up so as not to be an attractive nuisance. Upon failure of the owner to close up the premises within the time specified in the order, the code official shall cause the premises to be closed and secured through any available public agency or by contract or arrangement by private persons and the cost thereof shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon such real estate, pursuant to Chapter 76, Article III of the City's Code, and may be collected by any other legal remedies.
(1) 
Authority to disconnect service utilities. The code official shall have the authority to authorize disconnection of utility service to the building, structure or system regulated by this Code and the referenced codes and standards set forth in §§ 424-2G and 424-45 in case of emergency, where necessary to eliminate an immediate hazard to life or property or when such utility connection has been made without approval. The code official shall notify the serving utility and, whenever possible, the owner and occupant of the building, structure or service system of the decision to disconnect prior to taking such action. If not notified prior to disconnection, the owner or occupant of the building structure or service system shall be notified in writing as soon as practical thereafter.
(2) 
Notice. Whenever the code official has condemned a structure or equipment under the provisions of this section, notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure affected by such notice and served on the owner or the person or persons responsible for the structure or equipment in accordance with § 424-7C. If the notice pertains to equipment, it shall also be placed on the condemned equipment. The notice shall be in the form prescribed in § 424-7B.
(3) 
Placarding. Upon failure of the owner or person responsible to comply with the notice provisions within the time given, the code official shall post on the premises or on defective equipment a placard bearing the word "condemned" and a statement of the penalties provided for occupying the premises, operating the equipment or removing the placard.
(a) 
Placard removal. The code official shall remove the condemnation placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the condemnation and placarding action were based have been eliminated. Any person who defaces or removes a condemnation placard without the approval of the code official shall be subject to the penalties provided by this Code.
(4) 
Prohibited occupancy. Any occupied structure condemned and placarded by the code official shall be vacated as ordered by the code official. Any person who shall occupy a placarded premises or shall operate placarded equipment, and any owner or any person responsible for the premises who shall let anyone occupy a placarded premises or operate placarded equipment shall be liable for the penalties provided by this Code.
F. 
Probation period and rehabilitation plan.
(1) 
Preparation of rehabilitation plan. The code official is authorized to permit probation periods alleviating or suspending payment of fees and penalties by an owner who submits a rehabilitation plan, which may be required to be prepared by a registered architect or engineer experienced in preservation and rehabilitation of buildings and structures, showing a proposed or scheduled date for completion. The plan is subject to the review and approval by the Site Plan Review Committee.
(2) 
Concurrence of Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission.
(a) 
If the building or structures are within a historic district designated by the City of Watertown, the rehabilitation plan must also be approved and issued a certificate of appropriateness by the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission.
(3) 
Suitability of plan. A suitable rehabilitation plan shall include, where applicable:
(a) 
Legal description of property.
(b) 
Final set of plans as approved by the Fire Chief or his or her designee.
(c) 
Repair items may include, but are not limited to, the following categories:
[1] 
Storefront and show windows;
[2] 
Windows other than show windows;
[3] 
Building fronts, sides and rears, abutting or visible from streets, public parking lots or other public places;
[4] 
All signs and signage, including billboards and other outdoor advertising, whether related or unrelated to the property;
[5] 
Awnings and canopies;
[6] 
Mechanical and electrical equipment on exterior walls;
[7] 
Water systems, sewer systems, heating/cooling systems, electrical, plumbing systems and fire protection systems;
[8] 
Auxiliary structures, if any;
[9] 
Demolition;
[10] 
Rear and side yards and parking areas, if any;
[11] 
Vacant lots;
[12] 
Fencing;
[13] 
Landscape and planting;
[14] 
Roofs, gutters, downspouts;
[15] 
Exitways and stairs;
[16] 
Basements, excluding properties located within Mid America Mall;
[17] 
Other.
(d) 
Statement of approximate cost for rehabilitation work.
(e) 
Estimated construction time.
(f) 
Detailed statement of proposed use of property.
(4) 
Progress. The subject property is subject to review as to progress or continuing repairs at each three-month period after the rehabilitation plan is approved and until completion; the owner shall be responsible for submission of a progress report each three months to the code official. If an owner is unable to show satisfactory progress at any three-month interval, the code official is authorized to cancel or discontinue the probation, and fees shall be reinstated.
(5) 
Work permits required. After the rehabilitation plan is approved, the owner shall be required to obtain necessary permits for construction, excavation, demolition or other requirements for the Building, Safety and Zoning Department and to notify the department when the project is completed.
(6) 
Final work and continuing inspections. At the end of the rehabilitation work upon notice by owner an inspection will be made within 10 days of notification, and additional inspections shall be conducted as necessary to ensure property is in compliance, by the Building, Safety and Zoning Department. If maintenance by owner is not complied with in accordance with the inspection, the owner shall be notified in writing of the noncompliance and given 30 days in which to either bring the building or structure back into compliance or give acceptable reason for noncompliance, at which time an additional period may be given or final notification given that the probation period has ceased, and fees are to be reinstated against the owner.
(7) 
Emergencies during rehabilitation work. When 50% or more of a structure suffers major damage by fire, act of God or other peril while rehabilitation work is in progress, the structure must be repaired to meet the regular rehabilitation and maintenance plan requirements or be demolished. The affected owner shall present an additional plan of proposed reconstruction or start demolition. The structure must at all times be fenced or boarded, so as to safeguard the general public against the dangers which may become eminent because of the damaged building or structure. When demolition is requested and approved, the cost shall be borne by the owner. No work, demolition, excavation, alteration or improvement shall be undertaken prior to the approval of the plan and proper permits, except where an emergency exists and the safety of the general public is affected. If and when the emergency is designated or declared existing by the code official, all other code sections shall take precedence, in addition to this chapter, to alleviate the emergency.
A. 
Imminent danger. When in the opinion of the code official there is imminent danger of failure or collapse of a building or structure which endangers life, or when any structure or part of a structure has fallen and life is endangered by the occupation of the structure, or when there is actual or potential danger to the building occupants or those in the proximity of any structure because of explosives, explosive fumes or vapors or the presence of toxic fumes, gases or materials, or operation of defective or dangerous equipment, the code official is hereby authorized and empowered to order and require the occupants to vacate the premises forthwith. The code official shall cause to be posted at each entrance to such structure a notice reading as follows: "This Structure Is Unsafe and Its Occupancy Has Been Prohibited by the Code Official." It shall be unlawful for any person to enter such structure except for the purpose of securing the structure, making the required repairs, removing the hazardous condition or of demolishing the same.
B. 
Temporary safeguards. Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, whenever in the opinion of the code official there is imminent danger due to an unsafe condition, the code official shall order the necessary work to be done, including the boarding up of openings, to render such structure temporarily safe, whether or not the legal procedure herein described has been instituted, and shall cause such other action to be taken as the code official deems necessary to meet such emergency.
C. 
Closing streets. When necessary for public safety, the code official shall temporarily close structures and close or order the City's Public Works Department to close sidewalks, streets, public ways and places adjacent to unsafe structures and prohibit the same from being utilized.
D. 
Emergency repairs. For the purposes of this section, the code official shall employ the necessary labor and materials to perform the required work as expeditiously as possible.
E. 
Costs of emergency repairs. The owners or occupants of the structure(s) shall pay all costs incurred in the performance of emergency work. The City Attorney shall institute appropriate action against the owner or occupants of the premises where the unsafe structure is or was located for the recovery of such costs in addition to the ability of the City to recover all such costs as a special charge against the premises, pursuant to Chapter 76, Article III of the City's Code.
F. 
Hearing. Any person ordered to take emergency measures shall comply with such order forthwith. Any affected person shall thereafter, upon petition directed to the City's Public Safety and Welfare Committee of the Common Council, be afforded a hearing as described in this chapter.
[Amended 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 15-28]
A. 
General.
(1) 
The code official shall order the owner of any premises upon which is located any structure, which in the code official's judgment after review is so deteriorated or dilapidated or has become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy, and such that it is unreasonable to repair the structure, to demolish and remove such structure; or if such structure is capable of being made safe by repairs, to repair and make safe and sanitary or to board up and hold for future repair or to demolish and remove, at the owner's option; or where there has been a cessation of normal construction of any structure for a period of more than two years, the code official shall order the owner to demolish and remove such structure or board up until future repair. Boarding the building up for future repair shall not extend beyond one year, unless approved by the Building Inspector of the City. The code official shall comply with § 66.0413, Wis. Stats., in proceeding under this section.
(2) 
This section of code shall also apply to any owner-initiated demolition.
B. 
Permits.
(1) 
No principal structure within the City of Watertown shall be demolished without a permit from the City of Watertown Building, Safety and Zoning Department. A snow fence or other approved barricade shall be provided as soon as any portion of the structure is removed and shall remain during demolition operations. After all demolition operations have been completed, unless the owner produces and submits proof from a state-approved architect or engineer certifying the existing foundation is stable and usable, the foundation and floor slab shall be broken up with all utilities being capped, sealed and appropriately marked. The foundation shall then be filled at least one foot above adjacent grade, the property raked clean, and all debris hauled away. If determined by the Building Inspector, a site that remains idle for more than 30 days must be seeded (between April 15 and October 15) and/or appropriate erosion control practices implemented. Demolition permits shall lapse and be void unless work authorized thereby is commenced within six months from the date thereof or completed within 30 days from the date of commencement of the work. Any unfinished portion of work remaining beyond the required 30 days must have special approval from the code official or a penalty may be issued.
(2) 
All debris must be hauled away at the end of each week for the work that was done during that week. No combustible material shall be used for backfill but shall be hauled away. There shall not be any burning of materials on the site of the demolished structure. If any demolition or removal operation under this section results in or would likely result in an excessive amount of dust particles in the air, creating a nuisance in the vicinity thereof, the permittee shall take all necessary steps by use of water spraying or other appropriate means to eliminate such nuisance. The permittee shall take all necessary steps prior to demolition of a structure, through the employment of a qualified person in the field of pest control or by other appropriate means, to treat the building so as to prevent the spread and migration of rodents and insects therefrom during and after the demolition operations. The site must be returned to a dust-free surface within 30 days as approved by the code official.
C. 
Insurance and bonding.
(1) 
Residential demolition projects. If the homeowner is completing the demolition work without a contractor, proof of homeowner's insurance is required. If a homeowner hires a contractor for the demolition work, the contractor must submit the following:
(a) 
Comprehensive liability insurance. An applicant for a permit shall provide proof of comprehensive liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 per occurrence and per person and $50,000 property damage.
(b) 
Performance and payment bond. Any application for a permit to engage in the demolition of structures within the boundaries of the City shall be accompanied by a performance and payment bond, approved by the City Attorney as to form, in the amount of the actual cost of the permitted work including linear feet of any sidewalk, curb and gutter, and resurfacing as applicable based on annual contract prices for said items. Such bond shall guarantee that all work is performed in accordance with this Code and other state and local laws, rules and regulations, and hold the City harmless from any costs and expenses arising from the permitted work and secure timely performance of the work. The City may reasonably require a bond of a greater amount, on a case-by-case basis, where deemed necessary to protect the City.
(2) 
Commercial demolition projects. All commercial demolition projects require comprehensive liability insurance and a performance and payment bond as set out in Subsection C(1)(a) and (b), respectively.
D. 
Concurrence of Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission.
(1) 
If the building or structures are within a historic district designated by the City of Watertown, the demolition must also be approved and issued a certificate of appropriateness by the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission.
(a) 
No person shall demolish all or part of a landmark or improvement on a landmark site unless the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission has approved such work. Unless the Commission has approved the work, a demolition permit shall not be issued for such work.
(b) 
When a person applies for a permit to demolish such property, such application shall also be filed with the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission.
(c) 
Upon the filing of an application, the Commission may refuse to approve the work for up to 120 days from the date of filing, during which time the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission and the applicant shall undertake serious continuing discussions to try to find a method to save such property. During such time, the applicant and the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission shall cooperate to try to avoid demolition of the property. At the end of the 120 days, if no mutually agreeable method of saving the property bearing a reasonable prospect of eventual success is underway, or if no formal application for funds from any governmental unit or nonprofit organization to preserve the property is pending, the demolition permit may be issued without the approval of the Historic Preservation and Downtown Design Commission.
(2) 
Subsection D does not apply to buildings or structures deemed by the code official to be so deteriorated or dilapidated or so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy, and such that it is unreasonable to repair the structure.
E. 
Notices and orders. All notices and orders shall comply with § 424-7.
F. 
Failure to comply. If the owner of a premises fails to comply with a demolition order within the time prescribed, the code official shall cause the structure to be demolished and removed, either through an available public agency or by contract or arrangement with private persons, and the cost of such demolition and removal shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon such real estate, pursuant to Chapter 76, Article III of the City's Code.
G. 
Salvage materials. When any structure has been ordered demolished and removed, the Common Council or other designated officer under said contract or arrangement aforesaid shall have the right to sell the salvage and valuable materials at the highest price obtainable. The net proceeds of such sale, after deducting the expenses of such demolition and removal, shall be promptly remitted with a report of such sale or transaction, including the items of expense and the amounts deducted, for the person who is entitled thereto, subject to any order of a court. If such a surplus does not remain to be turned over, the report shall so state.
A. 
Application for appeal. Any person directly affected by a decision of the code official or a notice or order issued under this chapter other than a condemnation order shall have the right to appeal to the Public Safety and Welfare Committee, provided that a written application for appeal, on a form approved by the code official, is filed within 20 days after the day the decision, notice or order of the code official was served. An application for appeal shall be based on a claim that the true intent of this chapter or rules legally adopted thereunder have been incorrectly interpreted, the provisions of this chapter do not fully apply, or the requirements of this chapter are adequately satisfied by other means.
B. 
Notice of meeting. The Committee shall meet upon notice from the Chairperson, within 20 days of the filing of an appeal.
C. 
Open hearing. All hearings before the Committee shall be open to the public. The appellant, the appellant's representative, the code official and any person whose interests are affected shall be given an opportunity to be heard. A quorum shall consist of a simple majority of the entire membership of the Committee present at such hearing.
D. 
Procedure. The Committee shall adopt and make available to the public through the City Clerk/Treasurer procedures under which a hearing will be conducted. The procedures shall not require compliance with strict rules of evidence but shall mandate that only relevant information be received.
E. 
Postponed hearing. When the full Committee is not present to hear an appeal, either the appellant or the appellant's representative shall have the right to request a postponement of the hearing.
F. 
Committee decision. The Committee shall affirm, modify or reverse the decision of the code official only by a concurring vote of a majority of the total number of appointed members present at such hearing.
G. 
Records and copies. The decision of the Committee shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting at which the hearing occurred. Copies of the minutes shall be furnished to the appellant and to the code official.
H. 
Administration. The code official shall take immediate action in accordance with the decision of the Committee.
I. 
Court review. Any person, whether or not a previous party of the appeal, shall have the right to apply to the circuit court of the appropriate county for a writ of certiorari to correct errors of law. Filing of an application for certiorari review shall be made within 30 days of the date that the decision was issued by the Committee and following the filing of the decision in the office of the code official.
J. 
Stays of enforcement. Appeals of notice and orders (other than imminent danger notices) shall stay the enforcement of the notice and order until the Committee decides the appeal.
A. 
Authority. Whenever the code official finds any work regulated by this chapter being performed in a manner contrary to the provisions of this chapter or in a dangerous or unsafe manner, the code official is authorized to issue a stop-work order.
B. 
Issuance. A stop-work order shall be in writing and shall be given to the owner of the property, to the owner's agent, or to the person doing the work. Upon issuance of a stop-work order, the cited work shall immediately cease. The stop-work order shall state the reason for the order and the conditions under which the cited work is authorized to resume.
C. 
Emergencies. Where an emergency exists, the code official shall not be required to give a written notice prior to stopping the work.
D. 
Failure to comply. Any person who shall continue any work after having been served with a stop-work order, except such work as that person is directed to perform by the code official to remove a violation or unsafe condition, shall be liable to a forfeiture of not less than $100 or more than $2,000 for each day or portion thereof that said person continues to violate the stop-work order.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).