[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Alpha 2-11-1964 by Ord. No. 150 (Ch. 47 of the 1974 Code); amended in its entirety at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings, or parts thereof, in the Borough which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of this Borough, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or part thereof. Whenever the Borough finds that there exists in such municipality any building or buildings which 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 sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or part thereof, unsafe or unsanitary, or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of said municipality, power is hereby conferred upon such municipality to exercise its police powers to repair, close or demolish, or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or part thereof, in the manner herein provided.
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 municipality wherein it is located, and the Borough may exercise its police powers to repair, demolish, or cause the repairing or demolishing of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.), and the procedures set forth therein.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this chapter, 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 outhouses, and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Alpha.
- The holder or holders of the 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 officer, officers, board or body who is or are authorized to exercise the powers prescribed by such ordinances and by P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.). Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, nothing shall prevent the Mayor and Council from designating more than one public officer for different purposes as provided by law.
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 the basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in building a complaint, stating the charges in that respect, containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public, 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 be given a 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; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the court shall not be controlling 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 thereof and parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of said building be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order by 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 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 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 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 the main 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 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 Borough and the municipality may exercise its police powers to repair, demolish, or cause the repairing or demolishing of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to the procedures set forth in this chapter.
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 Borough; and such costs of such repairs, alterations or improvement or 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 the 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.
If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell 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 the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amounts so due shall be fixed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or the 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 in 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 of 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 a municipal lien certificate.
Any action taken using revenues derived from the local property tax shall be taken only after advertisement for, and receipt of, bids therefor, pursuant to the provisions of the Local Public Contracts Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq.), unless the action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, limb or property.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threat of 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 chapter 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 and abatement by summary proceedings, or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
For purposes of this chapter, the public official shall be the Construction Official.