[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Cranbury 3-28-2005 by Ord. No. 03-05-05. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 72.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 84.
Land development — See Ch. 150.
Housing standards — See Ch. 157.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 64, Buildings, Unfit, adopted 5-22-1961, as amended 4-28-1980.
Pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 112 of the Laws of 1942 of the State of New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., as said statute may from time to time be amended or supplemented), and after the adoption of a resolution by the Township Committee of the Township of Cranbury finding that there is or are a building or buildings which exist in the Township of Cranbury which is or are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or parts thereof, unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township of Cranbury, it is hereby declared that this chapter is in exercise of the police powers of the municipality to repair, close or demolish, or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or parts thereof, in the manner herein provided.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following meanings unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building, or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any accessory buildings and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- A building or structure, or part thereof, containing one or more dwelling units or lodging units.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A building or portion thereof providing living facilities for one or more persons.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Committee of the Township of Cranbury.
- The holder or holders of title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the municipality, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the municipality.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The Building Subcode Official of the Township of Cranbury and such other designees as hereinafter provided.
- The Township of Cranbury in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
The Building Subcode Official of the Township of Cranbury is hereby designated and appointed to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., as said statute may from time to time be amended or supplemented.
The Building Subcode Official shall have the power to designate such assistants, in writing, as may be needed to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter, provided such designation is first authorized and approved in writing by the "Township Administrator.
Any building within the Township of Cranbury may be determined and declared to be unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if the public officer in consultation with the Township Administrator finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township, including, but not limited to defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; uncleanliness; or failure to conform to other laws of the State of New Jersey or to ordinances of the Township of Cranbury or of the local Board of Health of the Township of Cranbury regulating the safety and sanitation of buildings.
Any building or buildings, or parts thereof, which have come into a state of disrepair through neglect, lack of maintenance or use, fire, accident or other calamities, or through any other act rendering the building or buildings, or parts thereof, in a state of disrepair, to the extent that the building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, shall be deemed inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township, and the public officer may exercise the public officer's powers to repair, demolish or cause the repairing or demolition of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
Any building or buildings, or parts thereof, which have been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls, or parts of the walls and other supports, shall, regardless of the safety and sturdiness of those remaining walls or parts thereof, be deemed inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township, and the public officer may exercise the public officer's powers to repair, demolish or cause the repairing or demolition of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer, on the public officer's own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer, in consultation with the Township Administrator, shall, if preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building, a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint, that the owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and appear in person or by counsel and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint, and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in the hearing before the public officer.
Complaints or orders issued by the 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 each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the County of Middlesex and circulating in the Township.
A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order.
A copy of such complaint or order shall also be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County recording officer of Middlesex County.
The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or by attorney and give testimony at the place and time fixed in said notice of hearing.
The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
At the time and place stated in said notice, or at such time and place to which said hearing shall be adjourned, the public officer shall hold a hearing at which time and place the charges shall be read and the owner and parties in interest and witnesses shall be heard.
Within 14 days of such hearing, the public officer shall issue a written report setting forth the public officer's findings of fact, disposition of the charges and reasons thereof. A copy of the report shall be served upon the owner and other parties in interest.
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, in addition to the written report required under § 64-7D above, the public officer shall issue and cause to be served upon the owners thereof and parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
If the building is in such 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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building within a reasonable time as specified in said order of removal.
If the owner fails to comply with an order so issued by the public officer 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 thereof, after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer under this chapter may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the public officer from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The court may proceed in a summary manner or otherwise as provided by statute or rule. The remedy herein provided shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the public officer shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant to this chapter or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the public officer.
The amount of 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 chapter determined in favor of the municipality, and the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, of vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred.
A detailed statement of the aforesaid cost shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the record of tax liens, and a copy of said statement shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, the public officer shall, if possible, sell or cause to be sold the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such 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 such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs 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. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such court. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 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.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
In addition to the powers of this chapter granted to the public officer, the public officer shall also have the following powers:
To investigate the building conditions in the municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, provided such appointments are first approved in writing by the Township Administrator.
To delegate any of the functions and powers of the public officer under this chapter to such officers and agents as the public officer may designate, provided such delegation and/or designation is first approved in writing by the Township Administrator.
The provisions of the New Jersey State Uniform Construction Code, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq., and the New Jersey State Housing Code, N.J.S.A. 2A:42-76 et seq., are hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code and New Jersey Uniform Construction Code is on file in the Township Clerk's office.
The failure, neglect or refusal of any person to comply with any order made by the public officer pursuant to the provisions hereof or the hindrance by any person of the public officer in making any investigation under this chapter shall constitute a violation of this chapter.