City of Gardner, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Gardner 10-2-2017 by Ord. No. 1605. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that graffiti creates a visual blight and property damage. When graffiti is allowed to remain on property and is not promptly removed, it invites additional graffiti and criminal activity and constitutes a nuisance. Any property within the City which becomes a graffiti nuisance property is in violation of this chapter and subject to its remedies. Any owner of property who permits said property to be a graffiti nuisance property shall be in violation of this chapter and subject to its remedies.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
GRAFFITI
Any inscription, word, figure, design, painting, writing, drawing or carving that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted, or otherwise applied to property without the prior authorization of the owner of the property, regardless of the graffiti content, or nature of the material used in the commission of the act, or the material of the property.
GRAFFITI NUISANCE PROPERTY
Property to which graffiti has been applied, if the graffiti is visible from any public right-of-way, from any other public or private property or from any premises open to the public, and if the graffiti has not been abated within a period of 30 days. This shall not include any property owned by the City of Gardner, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or any department or agency of the United States government.
OWNER
The deed holder, occupant, tenant, mortgagee in possession, or manager of any commercial, industrial, mixed-use, or residential building, estate, or land on which the graffiti is placed.
PERMIT
Permission by the City to suffer, allow, consent to, acquiesce by failure to prevent, or expressly assent or agree to the doing of an act.
PROPERTY
Any real or personal property and that which is affixed, incident or appurtenant to real property, including but not limited to any premises, house, building, fence, structure or any separate part thereof, whether permanent or not.
STRUCTURE
That which is built or constructed; an edifice or building of any kind, including units thereof or mobile homes; any of which is an addition to or a fixture on real property.
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to apply graffiti.
B. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or command another person to apply graffiti.
C. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to aid or abet or agree to aid or abet another person to plan to apply or apply graffiti.
The following acts and omissions shall constitute violations of this chapter punishable by the fines as herein provided:
A. 
Any person caught in the act of placing graffiti on a property or found guilty of defacing a property with graffiti shall be assessed a fine according to the following schedule:
(1) 
First instance: $100.
(2) 
Second instance: $150.
(3) 
Third instance: $200.
(4) 
Fourth and subsequent instances shall be fined at an amount which increases by $50 per instance, up to $400.
B. 
Any owner who fails to remove graffiti from his/her property after 30 days of receiving notification from the Chief of Police, or his/her designee, shall be assessed a fee of $20 per day up to $400 until the graffiti is removed from the property pursuant to the schedule set forth in Subsection A.
C. 
Should any fee assessed pursuant to this chapter remain unpaid in excess of 30 days from the date the fee is billed, a late fee in the amount of $25 shall be assessed and shall be payable by the owner of the premises in addition to the original fee.
A. 
Graffiti removal is defined as:
(1) 
Removal or attempted removal of graffiti from, or painting or repair of, public or private property at the request of the owner of the property.
(2) 
Abatement by the City at the expense of the property owner.
B. 
Graffiti removal shall be supervised by the Chief of Police or his/her designee.
A. 
When the Chief of Police (or designee) believes in good faith that property within the City is a potential public nuisance property, the Chief of Police (or designee) shall notify the owner in writing that the property is potential graffiti nuisance property. The notice shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The street address or description sufficient for identification of the property.
(2) 
That the Chief of Police (or designee) has found the property to be potential graffiti nuisance property with a concise description of the conditions leading to his/her findings.
(3) 
A direction to abate the graffiti, as well as notification that the property owner has 30 days in which to abate the graffiti, unless otherwise stated by the Chief of Police (or designee).
(4) 
That no building listed as a graffiti nuisance property is eligible to receive any permit from the City until the graffiti is abated.
(5) 
That the above remedies are in addition to those otherwise provided by law.
(a) 
Service of the notice is completed upon mailing the notice first class, postage prepaid, addressed to the owner or his designee, as defined by the property owner card in the City Assessor's office.
(b) 
A copy of the notice shall be served on occupants of the property, if different from the owner. Service shall be completed upon mailing the notice first class, postage prepaid, addressed to "occupant" of each unit of the property believed to be a potential graffiti nuisance property.
(c) 
The failure of any person or owner to receive actual notice of the determination by the Chief of Police (or designee) shall not invalidate or otherwise affect the proceedings under this chapter.
A. 
Within 30 calendar days of the mailing of the notice, the owner shall abate the nuisance.
B. 
Upon good cause shown, the Chief of Police (or designee) may grant an extension of up to 30 additional business days. Good cause shall include delays due to weather, insurance claim processing, and availability of service providers hired to perform the abatement, or other delays which are outside of the control of the owner.
A. 
If the owner or agent fails to remove such nuisance within the period provided for in this chapter, the City may enter the property and remove or cause the nuisance to be removed. The reasonable costs and expense of abating a nuisance in accordance with this section shall be assessed to the owner, who shall be liable to the City for expenses incurred by the City. The Director of Public Works or his designee shall provide the owner with a written statement of all costs associated with abating the nuisance, and the owner shall reimburse the City within 60 days of notice of expenses incurred for such abatement. If the owner fails to pay or reimburse the City, the sum so expended may be recovered by the City as provided under prevailing general laws relating to liens for such debt and collection of the claims for such debt, or in an action of contract by the City against the owner.
B. 
This chapter may also be enforced by civil process, criminal process or by noncriminal disposition as provided for under Chapter 1, Article I, of the Code of the City of Gardner and MGL c. 40, § 21D.