[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Springfield as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Demolition of Dangerous Structures
Article II Buildings Unfit for Human Habitation
[Adopted 12-14-1994 as § 12-3 of the 1994 Code]
It shall be the duty of the Construction Code Official to report, in writing, to the Township Council any and all buildings, walls or structures in the Township which are or may become unsafe and dangerous to life or health or which might tend to extend a conflagration, and if any such building, wall or structure can be repaired, altered or fireproofed in such a manner as to remove the danger, the Construction Code Official shall include in his/her report a recommendation of the repairs, alterations or fireproofing which in his/her opinion should be made.
Whenever a report is made to the Township Council by the Construction Code Official that any building, wall or structure is or may become dangerous to life or health or is of such a character or condition as might tend to extend a conflagration, the Council shall cause notice of the contemplated removal or destruction of such building, wall or structure to be given to the owner of the land affected thereby. Such notice shall contain a description of the property affected, sufficiently definite in terms to identify it, and shall state that a hearing will be held before the Council at a time and place therein fixed, which shall be not less than 10 days after service of the notice. The owner shall have the right to appear in person, or otherwise, and present testimony at the time and place fixed in the notice.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Township Council determines that the building, wall or structure under consideration is or may become dangerous to life or health or might tend to extend a conflagration, the Council shall cause notice to be given to the owner of the land affected thereby, directing such owner to destroy or remove same and fill to grade all excavation under or in connection with such building, wall or structure, or if the Council determines that such building, wall or structure can be repaired, altered or fireproofed in such a manner as to remove such danger to life or health or as a fire hazard, such notice shall direct the owner to make such repairs, alterations or fireproofing as may be specified in the notice. The notice shall contain a description of the property affected, sufficiently definite in terms to identify it, as well as a description of the manner in which such repairs, alterations, fireproofing, removal or destruction is to be carried out, and a notice that unless such building, wall or structure is repaired, altered, fireproofed, removed or destroyed within 30 days after service of the notice the Township will proceed with the removal or destruction thereof or cause the same to be proceeded with pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-1.1.
Any notice required by this article may be served upon an owner resident in the Township, in person or by leaving it at his/her usual place of residence with a member of his/her family above the age of 14 years. If an owner does not reside in the Township, notice may be served upon him/her personally or by mailing it to his/her last known post office address, or it may be served upon the occupant of the property or upon the agent of the owner in charge thereof. If the owner of the property is unknown or service cannot for any reason be made as above indicated, notice thereof shall be published at least once, not less than 30 days before the proposed removal or destruction, in a newspaper circulating in the Township of Springfield. There may be inserted in the advertisement notice to the owners of several different parcels of land. Notice to infant owners or owners of unsound mind shall be served upon their guardians. Where lands are held in trust, service shall be made upon the trustee. Where lands are held by two or more joint tenants, tenants in common or tenants by the entirety, service upon one of such owners shall be sufficient and shall be deemed and taken as notice to all.
Within 10 days after service of the notice required by § 62-3, proof of service shall be filed with the Township Clerk and the Tax Collector, but failure to file the same shall not invalidate the proceedings if service has actually been made as provided in this article.
Whenever an owner fails to comply with a notice to destroy or remove a building, wall or structure or to repair, alter or fireproof the same, the Township Council may cause such building, wall or structure to be removed or destroyed. When any such removal or destruction is undertaken and completed by the Township, an accurate account of the cost and expense thereof shall be kept, and a true statement under oath or affirmation shall be filed by the Construction Code Official with the Township Clerk. The Council shall examine the same and if it is properly made, shall confirm it and file such report with the Township Clerk, who shall record the same in a book to be kept for that purpose.
The costs of removal or destruction, as evidenced by a true statement under oath or affirmation duly filed and confirmed by the Township Council as provided in § 62-6, shall be a municipal lien against the premises. In addition, the Township may institute a civil action against such owners to recover such costs.
All work in connection with the repairing, altering, fireproofing, removing or destroying of any building, wall or structure, pursuant to the terms of this article, shall be in charge of the Construction Code Official with the approval and authorization of the Township Council
[Adopted 12-14-1994 as § 12-4 of the 1994 Code]
The Construction Code Official is appointed as the public officer to exercise the powers and duties prescribed by this article.
The public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if (s)he finds that conditions exist in the building which are dangerous or injurious to the health and safety of the occupants of the building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township. The conditions may include, without intending to limit the generality of the foregoing, defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamity, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, uncleanliness.
In order to effectuate the provisions of this article, the public officer shall have the following powers:
Investigate building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use.
Administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
Enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that entry shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
Appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents or employees as (s)he deems necessary to carry out the purpose of this article.
Delegate any of his/her functions and powers under this article to such officers and agents as (s)he may designate.
Whenever a petition is filed with a public officer by a public authority as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 and 40:48-4, or by at least five residents of the Township, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use as defined in Chapter 111, Housing Standards, § 111-8, of this Code, or whenever it appears to the public officer on his/her own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the public officer shall, if his/her preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner or parties in interest in the building, a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer or such agent as (s)he shall designate at a place therein fixed, and at a time not less than seven nor more than 30 days after service of the complaint.
The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
If, after the prescribed notice of hearing, the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, (s)he shall set forth, in writing, his/her findings of fact in support of such determination, and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner and parties in interest an order requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building to the made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be specified in the order. The order shall further provide that the owner may, at his/her option, vacate or cause the building to be vacated and closed within the time prescribed in the order.
Notwithstanding any or all of the foregoing, if the building is in such condition to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises, the order shall provide that if the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, that the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time, such time to be specified in the order of removal.
Order for repair. In the event that an owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, then the public officer may cause the building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The public officer may also, in the event of noncompliance, cause to be posted at 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.”
Order for demolition. In the event the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause the building to be removed or demolished, or may contract for the removal or demolition of the building after advertisement for and receipt of bids thereon.
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses’ fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this article determined in favor of the Township, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which the cost was incurred. The cost of repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after the deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from the building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall also be a municipal lien against the real property against which the cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, (s)he shall sell the materials of the building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof the proceeds of any sale of materials, or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits, or if the sum total of the costs exceeds the total of the credits, a detailed statement of the costs and the amount due shall be filed with the 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. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the superior court by the public officer, shall be secured in the manner directed by the court, and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the court to the person found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of the court. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the superior court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances, and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
Complaints and orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this article shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public officer makes an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of the complaint or order upon the persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the Township, or in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the Township in which the buildings are located. A copy of the complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of the 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.