[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Wenonah 9-27-2001 by Ord. No. 01-20. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended:
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Borough Council, or whenever action is taken hereunder by resolution, such term shall mean the Borough Council.
- Any person living, sleeping, cooking, eating, habituating, occupying or having actual possession of a building, structure or dwelling.
- Any person who has charge, care or control of a building or structure, or part thereof.
- Any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
- A. Shall have legal title to any dwelling or structure, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof; or
- B. Shall have charge, care or control of any structure or dwelling as owner or agent of the owner or its executor, executrix, administrator, administratrix, trustee or guardian of the estate of the owner. Any such person thus representing the actual owner designated by him by name and address shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this chapter and the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto to the same extent as if he/she were the owner. An owner who is a nonresident shall indicate the person responsible for acceptance of notice or orders, listing the name and address of such persons, partnership or corporation and shall list such persons with the public officer.
- Any individual, firm, corporation, association, partnership or other entity.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer, officers, party or body who is authorized by this chapter or by any resolution adopted hereunder to exercise the powers prescribed by such laws and by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 to 40:48-2.12, inclusive.
- A. Any building, structure or dwelling, or portion thereof, which threatens the life, health, safety or property of the public or its occupants by reason of inadequate maintenance, ventilation, light, sanitary facilities, disrepair, uncleanliness, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster, damage or abandonment shall be deemed an "unsafe structure." The conditions which may cause a structure to be classified as an unsafe structure include, but are not limited to the following conditions:
- (1) The walking surface of any aisle, passageway, stairway or other means of exit is so warped, worn, loose, torn or otherwise unsafe as not to provide a safe and adequate means of exit in case of fire or panic;
- (2) Any portion, member or appurtenance of the building or structure which has been damaged by fire, earthquake, wind, flood or by any other cause to such an extent that it is likely to partially or completely collapse, fail, detach or dislodge;
- (3) The building or structure, or any portion thereof, because of dilapidation, deterioration or decay; faulty construction; the removal, movement or instability of any portion of the ground necessary for the purpose of supporting such building; the deterioration, decay or inadequacy of its foundation; or any other cause is likely to partially or completely collapse;
- (4) The building or structure has been so damaged by fire, wind, earthquake or flood or has become so dilapidated or deteriorated as to become an attractive nuisance to children or a harbor for transients, vagrants, or criminals;
- (5) The building or structure is unsanitary, unfit for human habitation or in such a condition that is likely to cause sickness or disease because of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, decay, damage, faulty construction or arrangement, inadequate light, air or sanitation facilities or other cause;
- (6) The building or structure creates a fire hazard by virtue of its obsolescence, dilapidated condition, deterioration, damage, inadequate ventilation, lack of sufficient fire-resistive construction, faulty electric wiring, gas connections or heating apparatus, or other cause;
- (7) The building or structure constitutes a public nuisance as defined by law;
- (8) Any portion of the building, including the foundation and slab or grade, or structure remains on a site after the demolition or destruction of the building or structure;
- (9) The exits of the building or means of exiting do not conform with the applicable state codes or Borough ordinances regarding the number of exits, their width or any other features which may cause a hazard to the life or safety of the occupants or general public;
- (10) Defective or overloaded electrical systems, faulty or leaking fuel piping systems, or deteriorated fuel combustion equipment or combustion product vents;
- (11) The existing use or occupancy violates the fire, health or building regulations or applicable state codes or Borough ordinances;
- (12) Structural components which cannot withstand 100% of the vertical design loads specified by the applicable state codes or Borough ordinances; provided, however, if a structure complies with the vertical load carrying capacity requirements that were in effect when the building was built, the building shall not be considered structurally unsafe because of failure to comply with current requirements. In lieu of engineering analysis, the load carrying capacity for flexural floor or roof members may be demonstrated by a load test, provided the amount of load or procedure used are first approved by the Borough's Engineer or Construction Code Official; and
- B. Nothing in this section shall be construed to place any limitations upon the Borough Council in establishing additional standards to guide the public officer in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use. Such additional standards may be established whenever circumstances seem to require the same by resolution of the Borough Council duly adopted under the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever the designated public officer or the Fire Official of the Borough finds and determines that there exists in the Borough any buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to conditions as set forth in the preceding section or due to other conditions rendering such building or part thereof unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous, injurious or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the occupants or the residents of the Borough, the Borough shall proceed to exercise its police powers to repair, secure, close or demolish or to cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or part thereof in the manner provided in this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Borough charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer on his own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner or a party in interest in any such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer or his designed agent at a place therein fixed at not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after serving the complaint.
Service of complaints and orders. Complaints or orders issued by a public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the County of Gloucester and circulating in the Borough of Wenonah. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posed in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Recording Officer of the county in which the building is located.
The owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint provided for in the preceding section and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlled in hearings before the public officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state in writing his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of such building and parties in interest an order:
To repair the building. Repairs, alterations or improvements of the building are to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or at his option the owner may vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order. All repairs made pursuant to this chapter shall be in accordance with the New Jersey State Housing Code, N.J.A.C. 5:28-1.1 et seq.; the Uniform Construction Code, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.; Uniform Firm Code, N.J.A.C. 5:70-2 et seq.; and Uniform Fire Safety Act, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-192 et seq., and all other codes in effect at the time of the violation.
To demolish the building. If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises, and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
A permit to demolish a building or structure listed on the State or Borough's Historical Landmark Registry shall be delayed in issuance for a period of 30 days, during which time notice of the application shall be provided to the State or Borough's Landmark Commission for review. A permit to demolish shall be issued at the conclusion of said 30 days if recommended by the Public Officer or desired by the applicant. The building shall be secured and/or closed during the thirty-day review period.
If the owner of an unsafe structure fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The public officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition of the building after advertisement for and receipt of bids for such project.
The amount of the costs of the filing of any legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the Borough, and the cost of any repairs, securing, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract removal or demolition thereof, shall be a Borough lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. A detailed statement of the aforesaid cost and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. All matters relating to the cost of repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, if any, shall be controlled by the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.5.
In cases where it reasonably appears that there is an immediate danger to the life or safety of any person or adjoining property or becomes vacant and is in such condition that no residential, commercial or authorized use could be made of same, the public officer shall cause the immediate securing, repair or demolition of such structure or dwelling; the cost of such emergency securing, repair or demolition shall be a lien and collected in the same manner as provided in § 65-8 hereof.
Whenever necessary to make an inspection to enforce any of the provisions of this chapter, or whenever the public officer, or his/her authorized representatives, has reasonable cause to believe that there exists in any building or upon any premises any condition or code violation which makes such building or premises unsafe, dangerous or hazardous, the public officer, or his/her authorized representatives, may enter such building or premises at all reasonable times to inspect the same in regard to such condition or conditions, provided that if such building or premises be occupied, he/she shall first present proper credentials and request entry. If such entry is refused, the public officer, or his/her authorized representatives, shall seek an appropriate order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed six months or by community service, or by a combination of such fine, imprisonment and/or community service. Each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day the same is violated shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct offense.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held to be invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.
All ordinances and parts of ordinances inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter are hereby repealed.
This chapter shall take effect immediately upon final passage and publication in accordance with law.