Township of Warren, NJ
Somerset County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 9-1, Table of Contents for Code Provisions, contained a listing of the sections in this chapter. The listing of sections is now included at the beginning of every chapter, so this section has been deleted.
This chapter shall be known as the "Commercial and Industrial Property Maintenance Code of the Township of Warren" and may be referred to in this chapter as "Property Maintenance Code".
Experience and observations have shown that lack of maintenance of nonresidential properties and mixed use residential/commercial, industrial or other nonresidential use properties leads to progressive deterioration and loss of property values within a community. Through the establishment of the regulations and restrictions contained herein, the desirability of the township will be enhanced, and the general health, safety and welfare of all residents and nonresidents alike will be fostered and protected. This chapter is hereby declared to be remedial and essential for the public interest, and it is intended that the same be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes as stated herein.
The purposes of this chapter are:
a. 
This chapter is intended to cover all nonresidential lands, buildings, structures and premises (firms not being included herein) in the township and also mixed use residential/commercial, industrial, or other nonresidential use properties. These properties sometimes being referred to as commercial and industrial properties herein.
b. 
To provide for the public health, safety and welfare.
c. 
To avoid, prevent and eliminate the maintenance and creation of hazards to the public health and safety.
d. 
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 and the community as a whole.
e. 
To prevent the creation, continuation, extension or aggravation of blight.
f. 
To preserve property values in the township.
g. 
To prevent the physical deterioration or progressive downgrading of the quality of commercial and industrial properties in the township.
h. 
To maintain the value and economic health of the commercial and industrial properties and business that serve and help to support the township and its residents.
i. 
To prevent and eliminate physical conditions in or on commercial and industrial property which constitute nuisances and are thereby potentially dangerous or hazardous to the life, health or safety of persons on or near the premises where such conditions exist.
j. 
To establish minimum standards governing the maintenance and conditions of commercial and industrial lands, buildings, structures and premises in the township.
k. 
To fix responsibilities and duties upon owners, lessees, operators and occupants of commercial and industrial property.
l. 
To provide for administration and enforcement.
m. 
To fix penalties for the violation of this chapter.
For the specific purposes of this chapter, the following terms, whenever used herein or referred to in this chapter, shall have the respective meanings assigned to them hereunder unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context.
a. 
EXTERIOR OF PREMISES — Shall mean those portions of a building or structure which are exposed to public view or are visible from adjoining or adjacent lots, including all outside surfaces and appurtenances thereto and the open land space of any premises outside of any building or structure erected thereon.
b. 
GARBAGE — Shall mean putrescible animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
c. 
NUISANCE — Shall mean:
1. 
Any public or private condition that would constitute a nuisance according to the statutes, laws and regulations of the State of New Jersey, its governmental agencies or the ordinances of the township.
2. 
Any physical condition existing in or on the exterior of any premises which is potentially dangerous, detrimental or hazardous to the life, health or safety of persons on, near or passing within the proximity of premises where such condition exists.
3. 
Any physical condition, use or occupancy of any premises or its appurtenances considered an attractive nuisance to children, including but not limited to abandoned wells, shafts, basements, excavations and unsafe fences or structures.
4. 
Any premises which are manifestly capable of being a fire hazard or are manifestly unsafe or insecure as to endanger life, limb or property.
5. 
Any premises which are unsanitary or which are littered with rubbish or garbage or which are not landscaped and become overgrown and weed infested.
6. 
Any structure, building or lot improvement that is in a state of dilapidation, deterioration or decay; faulty in construction; open, vacant or abandoned; damaged by fire to the extent as not to provide habitability; or in danger of collapse or failure and is dangerous to anyone on or near the premises.
d. 
OCCUPANT — Shall mean any person, persons or entity having actual possession or use of premises or operating a business thereon or any person or entity in possession of or using any premises or part thereof, whether or not the owner thereof and regardless of the duration of time of such possession, use or occupancy.
e. 
OPERATOR — Shall mean any person, persons or entity not the owner, who has charge, care or control of premises or a part thereof, with or without the knowledge, consent or authority of the owner.
f. 
OWNER — Shall mean any person, persons or entity who shall have legal or equitable title in any form whatsoever to any premises or part thereof, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof or who shall have charge, care or control of any lot, premises, building, structure or part thereof, as owner or agent of owner, or as a 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 lease of any part 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 the portion of the premises so sublet, leased or assigned.
g. 
PREMISES — Shall mean a lot, plot or parcel of land, right-of-way or multiples thereof, including the buildings or structures if located thereon.
h. 
REFUSE or RUBBISH — Shall mean all discarded, useless, unusable, unused or worthless solid waste matter or materials, combustible or noncombustible, including but not limited to garbage, trash, ashes; paper, paper goods and products; wrappings; cans; bottles; containers; yard clippings; garden refuse; brush and containers of waste materials, chemicals or oil other than garbage containers used and intended to be picked upon in the normal scavenger collection service; debris; junk; glass; boxes; crockery; wood; mineral matter; plastic; rubber; leather; furniture; household goods; appliances; fixtures; bedding; scrap lumber; scrap metal; construction material; inoperable machinery or parts thereof; dead or rotting vegetation, abandoned, inoperative, unused or unusable automobiles and vehicles, or parts or components of automobiles, motor vehicles, motorcycles or vehicles of any kind; solid commercial or industrial waste, and all other materials of such character.
i. 
SHALL — Shall mean the use of the word "shall" herein will be applied retroactively as well as prospectively.
Every nonresidential and mixed use residential/commercial, industrial or other nonresidential use properties, building, structure, lot and the premises or part of the premises on which it is situated in the township, previously or presently used or intended to be used, in whole or in part, for commercial, business, service, institutional, religious, charitable, club and fraternal, quasi-public, professional, office/research or industrial occupancy and uses accessory thereto, shall comply with the provisions of this chapter whether or not any such building or structure shall have been constructed, altered or repaired before or after the enactment of this chapter and irrespective of any permits or licenses which may have been issued for the use or occupancy of such building or for the installation or repair of equipment or facilities prior to the effective date of this chapter. Vacant lots, lands and premises in nonresidential zone districts are also required to comply with the provisions of this chapter. Exclusive residential uses of lands located in nonresidential zone districts are not subject to the provisions of this chapter.
In any case where the provisions of this chapter impose a higher or stricter standard than set forth in any other ordinance or regulation of the township or under the laws or regulations of the State of New Jersey or any of its agencies, then the standards as set forth herein shall prevail, but if the provisions of this chapter impose a lower or lesser standard than any other regulation or ordinance of the township or the laws and regulations of the State of New Jersey or any of its agencies, then the higher standard contained in any such other ordinance, regulation or law shall prevail.
Compliance with this chapter shall not constitute a defense against any violation of any other ordinance of the township applicable to any structure or premises, nor shall any one act of compliance constitute a defense against any subsequent or other violation of this chapter. All ordinances of the township must be complied with by owners, operators or occupants of premises.
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 be entitled to assert as a defense against any charge made against him, them or it for violation of this chapter, the fact that another owner, operator or occupant or any other third person or entity is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
Any alterations, modifications or other work performed on buildings, structures or appurtenances thereto, or changes of use therein, which may be caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this chapter, shall be accomplished in accordance with all applicable sections of the Uniform Construction Code of the township.
Nothing contained in this chapter or any requirement of compliance herewith shall be deemed to alter, impair or affect the application of the zoning ordinance or zoning laws of the township.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the township 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. In addition to the above, the township shall continue to have all existing remedies against persons or entities in violation of the provisions of this chapter existing under its ordinances and regulations, under the laws of New Jersey or any of its agencies and any other applicable laws or regulations.
In furtherance of the purposes of this chapter, it shall be the duty and responsibility of the owner, operator or occupant of premises to comply with any or all of the requirements and standards of this chapter, to keep the premises free of conditions which constitute violations hereof and to promptly remove, prevent or abate such conditions when noticed of the same.
Whenever a nonresidential property or mixed use residential/commercial, industrial or other nonresidential use property is transferred or the occupancy of the same changes, the owner of the property must obtain a certificate of continued occupancy from the enforcement officer before such transfer or occupancy change takes place, the property requiring a certificate of continued use shall comply with the terms hereof before such certificate shall issue. The fee for this certificate shall be $40.
a. 
Scope. The provisions of this chapter shall govern the minimum conditions for maintenance of exterior property, premises and structures. Premises shall comply with the conditions herein prescribed insofar as they are applicable.
b. 
Responsibility. The owner of the premises shall maintain such structures and premises in compliance with these requirements. A person shall not occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy or use premises which do not comply with the following requirements of this chapter. Without limitation by the following requirements of this chapter, it shall also be the duty and responsibility of owners, occupants or operators to keep the exterior of all premises structurally sound, in good general repair and sufficiently maintained, to an extent so as to prevent and avoid conditions that violate the purposes of this chapter, as hereinabove set forth.
c. 
Vacant Structures and Land. All vacant structures, and premises thereof, or vacant land shall be maintained in a clean, safe, secure and sanitary condition as provided herein so as not to cause a blighting problem or adversely affect the public health or safety.
a. 
Sanitation. All exterior property areas and premises shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition, free from any accumulation of refuse or rubbish.
b. 
Containers. The operator of every commercial and industrial establishment producing garbage, vegetable wastes or other putrescible materials shall provide, and at all times cause to be used, leakproof approved containers, provided with close-fitting covers, for the storage of such materials until removed from the premises for disposal.
c. 
Grading and Drainage. All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon or within any structure located thereon. All drainage facilities shall be kept open and clear.
d. 
Landscaping. Premises shall be kept landscaped and lawns, trees, hedges and bushes shall be kept trimmed and be kept from becoming overgrown and weed-infested. Plantings required by site plan approval shall be replaced when the same have died. All waterways, brooks, drainage ditches and swales, to the extent that the same are located on or immediately adjacent to the premises, shall be maintained in good condition, free of debris, plantings or other obstructions and shall not be allowed to become overgrown.
e. 
Paved Areas. All driveways, parking areas, loading areas, automobile service stations and food establishments shall be paved with bituminous concrete or equivalent surfacing (unless exempted therefrom by the planning board or zoning board of adjustment of the township) which shall be free from dirt and other litter and kept in good repair. Pavement which is severely cracked with a deteriorated surface, frost heaved or with potholes shall be repaired. When lighted for nighttime use, lights shall not be permitted to cast directly upon adjoining properties. All motor vehicles, not including off the road construction equipment, will park only on paved areas unless allowed otherwise by the zoning board of adjustment or planning board of the township.
f. 
Traffic Safety Maintenance. All parking, traffic flow and control signs, whether painted on pavement or vertical structures, shall be properly maintained in a functional condition and shall meet state and township specifications and shall conform to the current Manual of Uniform Control Devices. Bent and leaning sign poles shall be replaced and/or straightened. Painted directional and parking-bay strips shall be maintained in a readable condition. Bent and broken traffic control guardrails and fencing shall be replaced.
g. 
Litter and Maintenance of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities. All sites shall be kept free from noticeable accumulation of paper and solid waste debris. Refuse storage areas shall be kept in a clean and repaired state in full conformance with the site plan provisions for such facilities. If there is no site plan approval for a premises, then all solid waste disposal facilities on the premises shall be maintained in the rear of the same, all containers will be tightly sealed and the area of the same shall be kept in a clean and sanitary state.
h. 
All driveways, parking areas, walkways, sidewalks and pathways shall be cleared of snow and ice within 12 hours of the end of any snow or ice storm.
i. 
Insect and Rat Control. An owner of a structure or property shall be responsible for the extermination of insects, rats, vermin or other pests in all exterior and interior areas of the premises. Whenever infestation exists in the shared or public parts of the premises, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner of the premises or the condominium association controlling the same.
j. 
Public Areas. All sidewalks, steps, curbs, driveways, parking spaces and similar paved areas (to include those located in the township or Somerset County rights-of-way upon which the premises front) for public use shall be kept in a proper state of repair and clear of litter.
k. 
Noxious Weeds. All areas shall be kept free from weeds or plant growth which are noxious or detrimental to the public health and welfare.
l. 
Exhaust Vents. A person shall not construct, maintain or operate pipes, ducts, conductors, fans or blowers discharging gases, steam, vapor, hot air, grease, smoke, odors or other gaseous or particulate wastes so as to discharge directly upon abutting or adjacent public and private property or that of another tenant.
m. 
Accessory Structures. All accessory structures, including detached garages, fences and walls, shall be maintained in a structurally sound manner.
n. 
Prohibited Conditions. The exterior of all premises shall be kept free of the following matter, materials or conditions:
1. 
Abandoned, uncovered or structurally unsound wells, shafts, towers, exterior cellar openings, basement hatchways, foundations or excavations.
2. 
Abandoned refrigerators, heaters, television sets and other similar major appliance.
3. 
Animal excrement.
4. 
Hidden or uncovered ground or surface hazards, such as holes, sudden depressions, sharp or jagged projections or obstructions, natural rock formations not included.
5. 
Buried rubble, refuse or rubbish.
6. 
Nuisances as hereinabove defined.
7. 
Vehicles or parts thereof, including boats and trailers, motorized or not, licensed or unlicensed, registered or unregistered, which vehicles or parts thereof are or have been junked, abandoned, dismantled or are in a state of disrepair.
8. 
Dangerously loose and overhanging objects, including but not limited to dead trees or tree limbs, accumulations of ice or any object natural or man-made, which could threaten the health and safety of persons if caused to fall or other similar dangerously loose and overhanging objects, which, by reason of their location above ground level, constitute an actual hazard to persons or vehicles in the vicinity thereof.
9. 
Structurally unsound, loose, dangerous, crumbling, missing, broken, rotten or unsafe exterior portions of buildings or structures including but not limited to porches, landings, balconies, stairways, handrails, steps, walls, overhangs, roofs, fences, supporting members, timbers, abutments, fire escapes, signs or loose, crumbling or falling bricks, stones, mortar or plaster.
10. 
Exterior surfaces or parts of buildings or structures containing sharp, rough or projecting surfaces or objects which might cause injury to persons coming in contact therewith.
11. 
Broken glass or windows or rotted, missing or substantially destroyed window frames and sashes, door frames, exterior doors or other major exterior component parts of buildings or structures.
o. 
All provisions of any and all approved site plans for commercial or industrial premises shall be complied with without exception. Any specific conflict between an approved site plan and this chapter shall be resolved in the site plan's favor. If a site plan does not address any matter set forth in this chapter, then the provisions of this chapter shall control.
a. 
General. The exterior of a structure shall be maintained structurally sound and sanitary so as not to pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupants, employees and invitees and so as to protect the occupants, employees and invitees from the environment and further maintained in an aesthetically acceptable manner.
b. 
Structural Members. All supporting structural members of all structures shall be kept structurally sound, free of deterioration and maintained capable of safely bearing the dead and live loads imposed upon them.
c. 
Exterior Surfaces (Foundations, Walls and Roof). Every foundation, exterior wall, roof and all other exterior surfaces shall be maintained in a workmanlike state of maintenance and repair.
d. 
Foundation Walls. All foundation walls shall be maintained so as to carry the safe design and operating dead and live loads and shall be maintained plumb and free from open cracks and breaks, so as not to be detrimental to public safety and welfare.
e. 
Exterior Walls. Every exterior wall shall be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timber and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or to the occupied spaces of the building. All exterior surface materials, including wood, composition, vinyl or metal siding, shall be maintained weatherproof and shall be painted or be properly surface-coated to prevent deterioration and to maintain an appearance which avoids any blighting effect on the properties surrounding any premises.
f. 
Roofs, Gutters and Leaders. The roof shall be structurally sound and tight and shall not have defects which might admit rain, and roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent rainwater from causing dampness in the walls or interior portion of the building. All rainwater shall be collected and brought to the ground by means of gutters and leaders.
g. 
Chimneys. All chimneys, cooling towers, smoke stacks and similar appurtenances shall be maintained structurally safe, sound and in good repair. All exposed surfaces of metal or wood shall be protected from the elements and against decay or rust by periodic application or weather-coating materials, such as paint, or similar surface treatment where necessary.
h. 
Stairs and Porches. Every stair, porch and balcony, and all appurtenances attached thereto, shall be so constructed as to be safe to use and capable of supporting the loads to which they are subjected and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.
i. 
Signs. All signs shall be maintained in good repair. All signage shall conform in all respects with the Warren Zoning Ordinance.
j. 
Scaffolding. No temporary painting scaffold or other temporary equipment used for construction, repair or maintenance shall be permitted to remain in place beyond a period of three months after erection or placement thereof without permission of an enforcement officer.
k. 
Fences.
1. 
Barbed-wire fences, razor wire fences, fences topped with metal spikes or other sharp objects or fences constructed of any material or in any manner which may be dangerous to persons or animals are not allowed.
2. 
In the event any fence is broken down or becomes so deteriorated as to be classified as dilapidated, then and in that event the failure to comply with a directive to repair or replace such fence shall be considered as a violation of this chapter.
3. 
Where by reason of the maintenance of property or the use thereof, the same becomes aesthetically unacceptable, then and in that event, and in the discretion of the enforcement officer, he shall have the authority to order said premises to be temporarily fenced for the purpose of screening said area from public view.
Without limitation by the foregoing prohibited matters, materials and conditions, it shall also be the duty and responsibility of owners, occupants or operators to keep the exterior of all premises structurally sound, in good general repair and sufficiently maintained, to an extent so as to prevent and avoid conditions that violate the purposes of this chapter.
The construction official, and his designees, and the township engineer, and his designees, of the Township of Warren are hereby designated as the officers charged with enforcement of this chapter and are hereinafter referred to as the "enforcement officers."
Whenever an enforcement officer determines that there is or has been a violation of any provisions of this chapter, he or she shall give notice of such violation to the person, persons or entities responsible therefor under this chapter. Such notice shall be in writing and shall include a concise statement of the reasons for its issuance. Such notice shall be deemed to be properly and sufficiently served if a copy thereof is sent by registered or certified mail to the last known address of the person or entity upon which the same is served, as shown by the most recent tax lists of the township, or if a copy thereof is handed to such person or persons or a copy thereof left at the usual place of business or location of such persons or entities. Notice shall be given as aforesaid within or without the township. The notice shall also state that unless the violation is abated, removed, cured, prevented or desisted from within 10 days of the date of service of such notice (exclusive of the date of service) a summons shall be issued for such violation. The enforcement officer may, at the time he or she issues the notice, extend the period for compliance with the requirements stated in the notice for a period in excess of the aforesaid 10 days if, in his or her judgment, the abatement, removal, prevention, cessation of or cure of the condition violated cannot reasonably be effected within the ten-day period or for other just cause; and in such cases the enforcement officer shall state such reasonably required extended period in the notice, which shall then be applicable instead of the aforesaid 10 days. In the event the violation is not abated, removed, cured, prevented or desisted from or otherwise fully remedied within the ten-day period or within such extended period as set forth in the notice pursuant to the foregoing, a summons shall then be issued against the person, persons, entity or entities so notified. (A form of the above referenced notice is attached hereto as Appendix-A).[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix A, referred to herein, is included as an attachment to this chapter.
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 or safety, he or she may issue an order by service of notice as set forth above, reciting the existence of such an emergency condition and requiring that such action be taken by the violation as soon as is reasonably necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter such order shall be effective immediately. Any person, persons or entity to whom such an order is directed shall comply therewith immediately. Where an emergency condition exists which constitutes an immediate threat to life and limb or to the safety of the township's residents unless abated without delay, the enforcement officer may order the owner, operator or occupant to correct the condition immediately. If not corrected immediately, the enforcement officer shall abate the condition immediately thereafter at the cost of the owner, operator or occupant of the premises.
All buildings and premises subject to this chapter are subject to inspection from time to time by enforcement officers. At the time of such inspections, all parts of the premises must be available and accessible for such inspections, and the owner, operator and occupant are required to provide the necessary arrangements to facilitate such inspections. Such inspections shall be made during normal working hours of the industrial or commercial business occupying the premises unless there is reason to believe a violation exists of a character which is an immediate threat to health or safety requiring inspection or abatement without delay.
Where abatement of any nuisance, as set forth herein, or correction of a defect on the premises or the maintenance of the premises in a proper condition to conform to applicable ordinances of the township or the laws of the State of New Jersey requires the expenditure of township moneys therefor, either by the supplying of labor by township employees; the furnishing of material by the township or the hiring of outside contractors, the police department, fire department, construction official, subcode officials, zoning officer, health officer, sanitary inspector or any other appropriate public official shall present a report of the work accomplished to the township committee along with a summary of the proceedings undertaken to secure compliance, including notice served upon owners, operators, occupants or their agents, as the case may be, by telephone, telegram, personal service or by any other means of communication utilized. The township committee shall then approve the expenditures, whereupon they shall then become a lien against the premises, collectible as provided by law. A copy of the resolution approving said expenditures shall be certified by the township clerk and filed with the tax collector, who shall be responsible for the collection thereof, and a copy of the report and resolution shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner of the premises involved.
Any person, persons or entity that shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or any order promulgated hereunder shall, after a summons is issued under the terms hereof, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day that each such violation shall continue shall be deemed to be a separate and distinct offense without the need of writing a summons for each day after the date of the original summons.
If any section, subsection, paragraph, clause or provision of this chapter shall be adjudged invalid, such adjudication shall apply only to the section, subsection, paragraph, clause or provisions so adjudged, and the remainder of this chapter shall remain in full force and effect.