[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Aldermen (now City Council) of the City of Chicopee as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 6-16-1998 by Ord. No. 98-37]
[Amended 3-21-2000 by Ord. No. 00-33]
[Adopted 8-2-2011 by Ord. No. 11-28; amended in its entirety 6-20-2017 by Ord. No. 17-29]
The purpose of this article is to provide a schedule and procedure within City government for the payment and appeal of municipal fines and the disposition of violations of any ordinance, rule, or regulation of any municipal officer, board or department, the violation of which is subject to a specific penalty. Chapter 40U authorizes the City to adopt this article. The provisions of Chapters 109, 144, 160, 169, 172, 188, 200, 206, 223, 239, 243, 256, 262, and 269 of the City Code and any violations of Section 21D of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws enforceable by the City with a specific fine shall be enforced through the process and fine schedule set out below unless the City chooses to seek any other available remedy from the Housing Court or any court of similar jurisdiction of the commonwealth should such a remedy be determined more appropriate under the circumstances.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any employee or department authorized to make violation determinations and issue tickets.
- ENFORCING PERSON
- Police officers, inspectors, department heads or any employees charged with reviewing violations of any City ordinance or relevant state statute and issuing tickets for those violations.
- MUNICIPAL HEARING OFFICER
- A person appointed by the appointing authority of a municipality to conduct hearings of alleged code violations pursuant to this article of the City code.
- UNPAID CHARGE
- An unpaid fine incurred as a result of a violation of a rule, regulation, order, or ordinance regulating the housing, sanitary, or municipal snow and ice removal requirements.
The Mayor will appoint the City's Hearing Officer every January 2 to hear all appeals of citations issued under this article. The Hearing Officer will hear appeals of citations issued under this article.
Any employee or inspector who is tasked by their department with identifying violations of the chapters listed in § 132-1 or Section 21D of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws and enforcing those violations will be identified as the enforcing person for the purposes of this article. Every enforcing person who takes notice of a violation of a rule, regulation, order, or ordinance regulating the housing, sanitary or snow and ice removal requirements shall provide the offender with a notice forthwith, which shall be in tag or ticket form, to appear before the Hearing Officer or the Hearing Officer's designee during regular office hours, not later than 21 days after the date of such violation. All tickets or tags shall be prepared in triplicate.
The tag or ticket shall be affixed securely to the building or, for a building with an on-site professionally managed property office, delivered to the office during normal business hours and shall contain, but shall not be limited to: the date, time and place of the violation, the specific violation charged, the name and identification or badge number of the officer or enforcing person and his department, a schedule of payment for established fines and instructions for return of the tag.
The City shall utilize an electronic form and system of issuing citations that assimilates and interfaces with the existing software used by the City to provide for the uniform and efficient processing of all documentation from the issuance of electronic tickets, the adjudicatory process, and ultimate disposition of the fines imposed by the electronic ticketing process. The City shall be responsible for working with the Hearing Officer to manage the public docket generated by the documentation of violations, the recordkeeping process of adjudication, and the imposition of fines and liens with the cooperation of the Collector's office if needed or as required by this article or any state statute.
Within three business days after completion of each shift, the officer or enforcing person shall give to his department head or supervisor those copies of each notice of a violation issued during such shift. The department head or supervisor shall retain and preserve one copy and shall, not later than the beginning of the next business day after receipt of the notice, deliver another copy to the Hearing Officer before whom the violator has been ordered to appear. The Hearing Officer shall coordinate and maintain a docket of all such notices.
Where a notice of violation is issued for Code violations, the alleged violator, within 21 days, shall return the notice of violation, by mail, personally or by an authorized person, to the hearing officer and shall either: (1) pay in full the scheduled fine by check, postal note, money order and send said payment to the Collector's office; or (2) request a hearing before the Hearing Officer, in which case the request for appeal shall be forwarded to the Hearing Officer for scheduling. Each violation issued shall contain a statement explaining the procedure to adjudicate the violation by mail. Any amounts paid shall be payable to the City of Chicopee and forwarded to the Collector's office for proper posting. If a fine remains unpaid for 21 days and no hearing has been requested, a letter shall be sent by the Hearing Officer to the property owner of record's mailing address and, if appropriate, to the local individual or property management company responsible for the maintenance of the property, with a processing fee of $10, notifying him that the fine shall be paid within 30 days after the receipt of that notice unless, within 14 days of receiving that notice, the property owner requests a hearing before the Hearing Officer and swears in writing, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that the property owner did not receive the notice of violation. If the fine remains unpaid after that thirty-day period, additional penalties and interest may be attached. Thereafter, any fine and additional penalties and interest that may be attached and which remain unpaid shall become an additional assessment on the property owner's tax bill. Such amount and cost relative thereto may also be a lien upon such real estate as provided in Section 42B of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The City's determination of whether to place a lien on the property may involve the number of and the dollar amount of the violations on the property. The property owner of record shall be notified by certified mail of the lien on the property. No lien shall be removed without notice from the Tax Collector that all such matters have been disposed of in accordance with the law. Additional charges equal to the amount required to file the lien and the amount required to release the lien shall be assessed against the owner of record for the purpose of ensuring that all costs associated with filing the release are recovered.
Any person notified to appear before the Hearing Officer, as provided herein, may, without waiving the right to a hearing provided by this article and without waiving judicial review as provided in Section 14 of Chapter 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws, challenge the validity of the violation notice and receive a review and disposition of the violation from the Hearing Officer by mail. The alleged violator may, upon receipt of the notice to appear, send a signed statement of objections to the violation notice as well as signed statements from witnesses, police officers, government officials and other relevant parties. Photographs, diagrams, maps and other documents may also be sent with the statements. Any statements or materials sent to the Hearing Officer for review shall have attached the person's name and complete address as well as the ticket number and the date of the violation. The Hearing Officer shall, within 21 days after receipt of such material, review the material and either dismiss or uphold the violation and notify the alleged violator by mail of the disposition of the hearing. If the outcome of the hearing is against the alleged violator, the Hearing Officer shall explain the reasons for the outcome on the notice. Such review and disposition conducted by mail shall be informal, the rules of evidence shall not apply, and the decision of the Hearing Officer shall be final, subject to any hearing provisions provided by this article or to judicial review as provided in said Section 14 of said Chapter 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Notwithstanding Section 21D of Chapter 40, a person who desires to contest a violation of any City ordinance alleged in a notice to appear, pursuant to violations issued by the City in accordance with said Section 21D of said Chapter 40, shall request, in writing, a hearing before the Hearing Officer. The notice to appear shall be in the format specified in said Section 21D of said Chapter 40, except that the third copy of the notice shall be submitted to the Municipal Hearing Officer unless the ticket was produced by an automated ticketing device. If the alleged violator requests a hearing before the Municipal Hearing Officer in a timely manner, the Municipal Hearing Officer shall schedule a hearing not later than 45 days after receiving the hearing request. The Municipal Hearing Officer shall duly notify the alleged violator of the date, time and location of the hearing. When a hearing notice is sent, the alleged violator shall be given an opportunity to request a rescheduled hearing date. The Municipal Hearing Officer so designated shall not be an employee or officer of the department associated with the issuance of the notice of violation. The Municipal Hearing Officer shall receive training in the conduct of administrative hearings. The hearing and disposition shall be informal and shall follow the rules set forth in Chapter 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws. Rules for judicial proceedings shall not apply. In conducting the hearing, the Municipal Hearing Officer shall determine whether there was a violation.
Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Municipal Hearing Officer may appeal to the district court, housing court or other court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Section 21D of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws, on a form provided by the City, and shall be entitled to a de novo hearing before a clerk magistrate of the court. The court shall consider such appeals under a civil standard. The aggrieved person shall file the appeal within 10 days after receiving notice of the decision from the Municipal Hearing Officer who conducted the hearing.
Any person who has received a notice of violation issued in accordance with this article who, within the prescribed time, fails to pay the same or fails to request a hearing before the Municipal Hearing Officer, or who fails to appear at the time and place of the hearing, shall be deemed responsible for the violation as stated in the notice of violation. Such finding of responsibility shall be considered prima facie evidence of the violation in a civil proceeding regarding that violation and shall be admissible as evidence in a subsequent criminal proceeding. If a person fails to appear at a scheduled hearing without good cause, the appeal shall be dismissed and the violator shall waive any further right of appeal.
If the condition which caused the notice of violation to issue continues to exist, the finding of responsibility may also be used by the City as prima facie evidence of the existence of a violation in any proceeding to suspend or revoke any license, permit or certificate issued by the City relative to that building, structure or premises pending the correction of the condition, and the City may pursue any remedy at law through the pursuit of injunctive relief in the courts of the commonwealth.
There shall be a fine of $25 for each incident of improper removal or failure to remove accumulated snow and ice and for each day the condition is not remediated.
Dogs. There shall be a fine of $50 for any incident resulting in a violation of Chapter 144 of the City Code regarding the keeping of and existence of dogs or other animals in the City. The owner of any dangerous or vicious dog, if said animal is found on property not owned or controlled by its owner or not restrained in a secure area per Subsection C of § 144-23, shall be subject to a fine of $250.
Any person, firm or corporation committing fire prevention violations of any provisions of Chapter 160 of the City Code shall be fined $100 for each offense, and a separate offense shall be deemed committed on each day during or on which a violation occurs or on which a violation continues.
Any misuse or unauthorized use of the Chicopee Municipal Golf Course as defined by Chapter 172 of the City Code shall be fined $250.
Whoever commits a parks and recreation violation of a provision of Chapter 206 or any regulation established by the Parks Commission or the Cemetery Commission, whether included herein or hereafter enacted, shall, unless other provision is expressly made, be liable to a penalty of not more than $20 for each offense.
Any person violating any provision of Chapter 223 regarding recycling regulations shall be fined $100 for each violation.
Any person who violates any provision of Chapter 239 of the City Code regarding spray paint and indelible markers shall be fined $200 for the first offense and $300 for each subsequent offense within a year of the first offense.
Whoever shall refuse or neglect to comply with the provisions of Article I of Chapter 243 of the City Code regarding street numbering within 30 days after a notice, in writing, delivered to the owner or occupant of such tenement or building, of the number or numbers so assigned by the City Engineer shall, for each and every offense, be liable to a penalty of $100.
Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of Chapter 257 of the City Code by removing any wood, trees, bushes or other flora from any City property without the express written consent of the Tree Warden and Superintendent of Public Works shall be subject to a fine of $300. Each day's continuance of a violation and each tree removed shall be considered a separate offense.
Any person who violates Chapter 262 of the City Code by illegally storing unregistered or abandoned vehicles or otherwise violates the State Sanitary Code in their possession of vehicles shall be fined $100 for the first offense or incident and $100 for each subsequent day the condition persists.
Any person committing a violation of Chapter 111 of the Massachusetts General Laws or regulations derived from the State Sanitary Code and enforceable by the City Health Department shall be fined $50 per violation and $50 per day of a persisting violation.
Any person violating any provision of the State Building Code shall be fined $100 per violation per day that the condition or illicit activity persists.
Any person who violates any other provision of the City Code not enumerated above shall be fined $20 per incident per every day the condition or illicit activity persists.
All fines, penalties or assessments in actions under this article shall be paid to the general fund of the City.
This article shall supersede any local ordinances, rules or regulations to the contrary, and any conflict in the City Code shall be resolved in favor of this article.