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Town of Boonton, NJ
Morris County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the Town of Boonton during codification (upon enactment, adoption information will be inserted here). Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Vacant and Abandoned Properties Ordinance of the Town of Boonton."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ABANDONED PROPERTY
As defined in accordance with the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., and shall mean the following:
A. 
Except as provided in N.J.S.A. 55:19-83, any property that has not been legally occupied for a period of six months and which meets any one of the following additional criteria as noted in N.J.S.A. 55:19-81 may be deemed to be an abandoned property upon a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Officer that:
(1) 
The property is in need of rehabilitation in the reasonable judgment of the Construction Official and/or the Zoning Official, and no rehabilitation has taken place during that six-month period;
(2) 
Construction was initiated on the property and was discontinued prior to completion, leaving the building unsuitable for occupancy, and no construction has taken place for at least six months as of the date of a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official pursuant to this section;
(3) 
At least one installment of property tax remains unpaid and delinquent on that property in accordance with N.J.S.A. 54:4-1 et seq. as of the date of a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official pursuant to this section; or
(4) 
The property has been determined to be a nuisance by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official in accordance with N.J.S.A. 55:19-82.
B. 
A property which contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq. so long as two-thirds or more of the total net square footage of the building was previously legally occupied as residential space and none of the residential space has been legally occupied for at least six months at the time of the determination of abandonment by the Construction Official and/or the Zoning Officer and the property meets the criteria of either A.(1) or A.(4) of this definition.
C. 
Property determined to be "abandoned property" in accordance with the meaning of such term in the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq. shall also be deemed to be abandoned property for the purposes of this chapter.
NUISANCE PROPERTY
As defined in accordance with the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., and shall mean the following:
A. 
The property has been found to be unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use pursuant to Section 1 of P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3);
B. 
The condition of the property materially increases the risk of fire to the property and adjacent properties;
C. 
The property is subject to unauthorized entry leading to potential health and safety hazards; the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to secure the property; or the municipality has secured the property in order to prevent such hazards after the owner has failed to do so;
D. 
The presence of vermin or the accumulation of debris, uncut vegetation or physical deterioration of the structure or grounds have created potential health and safety hazards and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remove the hazards; or
E. 
The dilapidated appearance or other condition of the property materially affects the welfare, including the economic welfare, of the residents of the area in close proximity to the property, and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remedy the conditions.
F. 
A Construction Official or Zoning Official who determines a property to be a nuisance pursuant to Subsections A through E of this section shall follow the notification procedures set forth in P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.).
Meeting any condition noted in Subsections A through F of this section shall constitute a nuisance property.
OWNER
An owner shall include the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 or any other entity determined by the Town to act with respect to the property.
VACANT PROPERTY
Any building used or to be used as a residence which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or residential occupancy has ceased for a period of at least three months, and any commercial property that has not been legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations have ceased for a period of at least three months, and which exhibits evidence of vacancy such that a reasonable person would believe that the property is vacant. Any property that contains all building systems in working order, is being maintained on a regular basis, has not been cited by the Town for any violation of municipal ordinance within such time and is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental shall not be deemed vacant.
A. 
The owner of any vacant or abandoned property as defined herein shall, within 30 days after the building becomes vacant or within 30 days after assuming ownership of the property, whichever is later, file a registration statement for each such vacant property with the Town on forms provided by the Town for such purposes. The registration shall remain valid until the end of the calendar year. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually, no later than January 31, as long as the building remains vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in § 215-5, Fee schedule, of this chapter for each property registered. The initial and renewal fees shall be prorated and or credited accordingly upon legal occupancy.
B. 
Any owner of any building that meets the definition of "vacant property" or "abandoned property" prior to adoption date shall file a registration statement for that property on or before adoption date plus 60 days. The registration statement shall include the information required under § 215-4, Registration statement requirements; property inspection, of this chapter, as well as any additional information that the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official may reasonably require.
C. 
The owner shall notify the Town within 30 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Town for such purpose.
D. 
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Town against the owner or owners of the building.
A. 
After filing a registration statement or a renewal of a registration statement, the owner of any vacant or abandoned property shall provide access to the Construction Official and or Zoning Official, if requested, following reasonable notice, during the period covered by the initial registration or any subsequent renewal. If an inspection is required of the interior of the property due to complaints or other cause, the fee for such inspection shall be the same as that for a certificate of occupancy inspection as provided in the applicable provisions of the Town Code.
B. 
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, and telephone number of a natural person 18 years of age or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding, on behalf of such owner or owners in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code. The designated agent must have a contact number that will be available 24 hours per day on an emergency basis. The statement shall also include the name of the person responsible for maintaining and securing the property, if different from the designated agent.
C. 
An owner who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this section as to availability with a contact number on a twenty-four-hour emergency basis may designate himself or herself as agent.
D. 
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this section, the owner consents to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered vacant or abandoned property and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered building by service of the notice or process on the authorized agent. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purpose of this section until the owner notifies the Town of a change of the authorized agent, or until the owner files a new annual registration statement. The designation of an authorized agent in no way releases the owner from any requirement of this section.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. IV)]
See Chapter 130, Fees, for fees related to vacant and abandoned properties.
The owner of any building that has become vacant and/or abandoned property, and any person maintaining, operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant and/or abandoned, shall, immediately:
A. 
With the exception of vacant or abandoned single-family dwellings, post a sign, affixed to the inside of the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process (if designated pursuant to § 215-4, Registration statement requirements; property inspection, of this chapter), and the person responsible for the day-to-day supervision and management of the building, if such person is different from the owner holding title or authorized agent. The sign shall be of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than 15 inches by 17 inches; and
B. 
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Town Code and maintain the sign required by this section until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
C. 
Make provision for the maintenance of the lawn and yard, including regular grass cutting, as required by the applicable provisions of the Town Code; and
D. 
Make provision for the cessation of the delivery of mail, newspapers and circulars to the property, including having the property listed on the exclusion list maintained by the Town for the delivery of circulars and advertisements to the property; and
E. 
Make provision for the winterizing of the property by the cessation of water service to the property and the draining of water lines; other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
F. 
Make provision for the cessation of electric or gas utility services to the property; other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
G. 
Make provision for the regular maintenance of the exterior of the property.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen shall issue rules and regulations for the administration of the provisions of this section.
A. 
Any owner who is not in full compliance with this chapter or who otherwise violates any provision of this chapter or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 for each offense. Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this chapter shall be recoverable pursuant to Chapter 1, General Provisions, Article III, General Penalty, from the owner and may be pursued by judgment, and once docketed, as a lien on the property.
B. 
For purposes of this chapter, failure to file a registration statement in time, failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, failure to comply with the provisions of § 215-6, Requirements for owners of vacant and/or abandoned property, of this chapter, or such other matters as may be established by the rules and regulations of the Town, shall be deemed to be a violation of this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter is intended to nor shall be read to conflict or prevent the Town from taking action against buildings found to be unfit for human habitation or unsafe structures as provided in applicable provisions of the Code of the Town and/or the Uniform Construction Code. Further, any action taken under any such Code provision other than the demolition of a structure shall not relieve an owner from its obligations under this chapter.