[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Blairstown 7-13-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-06. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that there exist in the Township structures and vacant lots which are or may become in the future substandard with respect to structural integrity, equipment or maintenance, and, further, that such conditions, including but not limited to structural deterioration, a lack of maintenance or upkeep of essential facilities and utilities and the existence of fire hazards and unsanitary conditions, constitute a menace to the health, safety, welfare and reasonable comfort of the citizens and inhabitants of the Township. It is further found and declared that, by reason of a lack of maintenance and the ensuing progressive deterioration, certain properties have the further effect of creating blighting conditions and that, by reason of timely regulations and restrictions as herein contained, the growth of this blight may be prevented and the neighborhood and property values thereby maintained, the desirability and amenities of dwellings and neighborhoods enhanced and the public health, safety and welfare protected and fostered. It is also found that there is a need to regulate and limit the number of vehicles and boats that can be parked or stored on properties to avoid undue congestion and enhance the streetscape and aesthetic appearance of the community.
The purpose of this code is to protect the public health, safety and welfare by establishing minimum standards governing the maintenance and condition of the exterior of residential and nonresidential premises; to avoid, prevent and eliminate the maintenance of or creation of hazards to the public health and safety; to avoid, prevent and eliminate conditions which, if permitted to exist or continue, will depreciate or tend to depreciate the value of adjacent or surrounding properties; to prevent the creation, continuation, extension or aggravation of blight; to regulate and limit the number of vehicles and boats that may be parked or stored on properties; to fix certain responsibilities and duties upon owners, operators and occupants of property; and to provide for the administration and enforcement of this chapter.
All vacant or improved properties shall comply with the provisions of this code.
Every residential and nonresidential structure used for residential, commercial, business or industrial occupancy, including vacant structures, and the premises on which they are situated in the Township, shall comply with the provisions of this code, whether or not such structure shall have been constructed, altered or repaired before or after the enactment of this code and irrespective of any permits or licenses which shall have been issued for the use or occupancy of the structure or for the installation or repair of equipment or facilities prior to the effective date of this code.
In any case where the provisions of this code impose a higher standard than that set forth in any ordinance of the Township or under the laws of the State of New Jersey, then the standards as set forth herein shall prevail, but if the provisions of this code impose a lower standard than any ordinance of the Township or of the laws of the State of New Jersey, then the higher standard contained in any such other ordinance or law shall prevail.
Nothing in this chapter shall limit or impair any existing remedies of the municipality, or its officers or agencies, relating to the removal or demolition of any buildings or structures which are deemed to be dangerous, unsafe or unsanitary, enforcement of the brush, grass and weeds provisions set forth in Chapter 128, or the enforcement of the vacant/abandoned properties provisions of Chapter 132.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purposes of this chapter, be defined as follows:
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Zoning Officer, the Township Engineer, and/or the Blairstown Township Police Department, or other public officer appointed by resolution of the Township Committee, as specified herein below.
- Any physical condition that is potentially dangerous, detrimental or hazardous to the health or safety of persons on, near or passing in proximity of the premises where said condition exists.
- Any occupant, owner, agent, tenant, lessee, caretaker or other person or corporation residing in, living or sleeping in or on the premises of or having actual possession or use of a business, dwelling unit or rooming unit or other premises affected by this chapter.
- Any person, persons or entity, not the owner, who has charge, care or control of a structure or a part thereof, with or without the knowledge, consent or authority of the owner.
- Any person, persons or entity who shall have legal or equitable title, in any form whatsoever, to any premises or part thereof, or who shall have charge, care or control of any lot, premises, building, structure or part thereof, as owner or agent of the owner or as fiduciary, trustee, receiver, guardian, lessee or mortgagee in possession, regardless of how such possession was obtained. Any person, group of persons or entity who is a lessee, sublessee or assignee of a lessee of any part of or all of any building, structure or land shall be deemed to be a co-owner with the lessor for the purposes of this chapter and shall have responsibility over that portion of the premises so sublet, leased or assigned.
- A lot, plot or parcel of land, including the buildings, structures and improvements thereon which are exposed to public view or are visible from the streetscape or from adjoining or adjacent properties, including all outside surfaces and appurtenances thereto, and the open space on the premises outside any building or structure erected thereon.
Owners, operators and occupants shall have all the duties, obligations and responsibilities prescribed in this chapter, and no such person or entity shall be relieved of any such duty, obligation or responsibility hereunder, nor may any such person or entity assert as a defense against any charge made under this chapter that another owner, operator or occupant or any other third person or entity is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
All premises shall be kept free from hazards and nuisances, which include but are not limited to the following:
Deteriorated structures: the condition of a structure or part thereof characterized by excessive holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting or other evidence of physical blight, decay or neglect, lack of maintenance or excessive use, including, but not limited to, structurally unsafe or unsound buildings, structures or fences or abandoned, uncovered or structurally unsound walls, shafts, towers, exterior cellar openings, basement hatchways, foundations or excavations and abandoned septic tanks or cesspools.
Fire hazard: anything or any act which increases or may cause any increase of the hazard or menace of fire to a greater degree than that customarily recognized as normal by persons in the public service of preventing, suppressing or extinguishing fires or which may obstruct, delay or hinder or may become the cause of an obstruction, delay, hazard or hindrance to the prevention, suppression or extinguishment of fire.
Garbage: animal and vegetable wastes, excluding garden composts, resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
Infestations: excessive insects, rodents, feral domestic animals, or other pests caused by the accumulation of garbage, rubbish, abandoned vehicles, or other nuisances, as defined in this chapter.
Inoperable vehicles: the storage for more than 30 days of vehicles or parts thereof, regardless of whether licensed, titled or registered, that have been dismantled or in a state of visible disrepair or abandonment, including automobiles, trucks, vans, motorcycles, boats, trailers, mobile homes and recreational vehicles.
Rubbish: all combustible and noncombustible waste materials, other than garbage and garden composts, including but not limited to the following: paper, rags, cartons, construction/demolition material, boxes, wood, excelsior, rubber, leather, tree branches, yard trimmings, tin cans, metal, mineral matter, glass, crockery and the residue from burning wood, coal, coke or other combustible material, discarded appliances and plumbing fixtures, and solid commercial and industrial waste.
Unsanitary conditions, including, but not limited to, recurring accumulations of stormwater: stagnant surface or groundwater accumulation which creates or is likely to create insect breeding areas, failing or failed septic systems, cesspools or sanitary conveyancing facilities.
Steps, walks, driveways and parking lots for commercial establishments. Steps, walks, driveways, parking areas, parking lots, parking spaces and similar areas for commercial establishments shall be maintained so as to afford safe passage under normal use and weather conditions. Any holes or other hazards that may exist shall be filled, or necessary repairs or replacement shall be performed promptly.
Enforcement Officer. The Enforcement Officer shall be any officer of the Blairstown Township Police Department, the Township Engineer, the Zoning Officer, or other public officer appointed by resolution of the Township Committee.
The Enforcement Officer is authorized to enter upon any land at any reasonable time for the purpose of performing his duty, with the consent of the property owner.
In the event that a property owner refuses such consent, the Enforcement Officer is authorized to apply to the Judge of the Blairstown Township Municipal Court for an administrative entry order. The Judge may issue such order upon submission of information which is sufficient, in the determination of the Judge, to justify the issuance of the order.
No entry conducted pursuant to such administrative order shall take place other than during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. unless the Enforcement Officer demonstrates that an emergency exists and that the public health, safety and welfare requires such search during earlier or later hours, as the case may be.
The inspections authorized hereunder are in addition to those which may be authorized by the laws of the State of New Jersey.
In the case of an officer of the Blairstown Township Police Department, enforcement shall take the form of a duly issued summons reciting the provisions of this chapter that may be issued with or without prior warning.
In the case of an Enforcement Officer other than an officer of the Blairstown Police Department, upon determination that there is or has been a violation of any provision of this chapter, prior to the issuance of a summons, the Enforcement Officer shall provide written notice sent by regular mail to the last known address of the person or entity upon which the same is served, as shown by the most recent tax records of the municipality, or if a copy thereof is handed to said person or persons or if a copy thereof is left with the occupant of the property if different from the owner of record. Notice shall be given as aforesaid within or without the municipality.
The notice, subject to the rights of appeal provided in § 147-10 hereof, shall also state that, unless the violation is abated, removed, cured, prevented or desisted (collectively referred to herein as "abatement") within 30 days of the date of service of such notice (exclusive of the date of service), a complaint shall be issued for such violation in the Blairstown Township Municipal Court. The Enforcement Officer may extend the period for compliance with the requirements of this section in regard to the violation stated in the notice for a period in excess of the aforesaid 30 days if, in his judgment, the abatement, removal, prevention, cessation or cure of the condition violated cannot reasonably be effected within the thirty-day period, and, in such cases, the Enforcement Officer shall state such reasonably required extended period of notice, which shall then be applicable instead of the aforesaid 30 days. In the event that the violation is not abated, removed, cured, prevented or desisted from or otherwise fully remedied within said thirty-day period or within such extended period as set forth in the notice, pursuant to the foregoing, a summons shall be issued against the person, persons, entity or entities so notified.
Emergency conditions. Whenever the Enforcement Officer finds that an emergency condition in violation of this chapter exists, which condition requires immediate attention in order to protect the public health, welfare or safety, he may issue an order to correct by service of notice as set forth in Subsection C above, reciting the existence of such an emergency condition and requiring that such action be taken by the violator as soon as is reasonably necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such an order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, and upon objection, in writing, to the Enforcement Officer, any such person shall be afforded a hearing before the Township Committee at the next scheduled regular meeting. After such a hearing and decision by the Township Committee as to the existence or nonexistence of the emergency condition, the Township Committee may continue such order in effect or modify or withdraw it, subject to the issuance of a summons or complaint for violation thereof if such order is continued.
Any owner, occupant or operator who receives a violations notice from the Enforcement Officer as provided for in § 147-9, other than an emergency notice, shall have a right to appeal the Enforcement Officer's findings and determinations to the Township Committee by filing a written notice of appeal with the Township Clerk within 15 days of receipt of the violations notice. The Township Committee shall hear any appeal at a regularly scheduled meeting or, at the option of the Committee, at a special meeting on a date to be established by the Committee. At the hearing, the aggrieved party, by himself or herself or through counsel, may present competent evidence that the Enforcement Officer's findings and determinations are incorrect and that his or her property is not in violation of this code. The Enforcement Officer and his or her authorized representatives and witnesses shall likewise be entitled to present competent evidence in support of their findings and determinations.
The Township Committee shall render its decision with respect to the appeal within 30 days after the close of the hearing and shall memorialize its findings and determinations in a written resolution to be adopted within 45 days thereafter. In its decision, the Township Committee may approve, reverse or modify the findings and determinations of the Enforcement Officer. A certified copy of said resolution shall be mailed by the Township Clerk to the aggrieved party and the Enforcement Officer within 10 days of the adoption.
The time frame for abatement as set forth in this chapter and in the violations notice shall be automatically extended during the pendency of the appeal, and a summons with the Municipal Court shall not be issued until a decision is rendered by the Township Committee.
In adjudicating any appeal, the Township Committee shall have the discretion to modify any compliance time frames and to extend compliance for a reasonable period of time, if satisfied that there are special circumstances justifying such extension.
The Township Committee, by resolution, may authorize the abatement of any hazard or nuisance regulated by this chapter and put any premises in proper condition such as to comply with the provisions of this chapter, at the cost of the owner, operator and/or occupant; any municipal funds expended for such purpose shall be charged against the premises, and the amount thereof, as determined by the Township Committee, shall be a lien against the premises and shall be added to and become and form a part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such dwelling or lands, the same to bear interest at the same rate as taxes, and shall be collected and enforced by the Tax Collector in the same manner as taxes.
Any person or entity who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or any order promulgated hereunder shall, after a summons is issued under the terms hereof, be punished as follows:
For the purposes of this section, each and every calendar day on which a violation exists may be considered to be a separate and distinct violation, subject to a fine.