[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Wappingers Falls 4-29-2020 by L.L. No. 5-2020. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 114, Property Maintenance, which consisted of Art. I, Windows, adopted 10-14-2009 by L.L. No. 9-2009; and Art. II, Brush Grass and Weeds, adopted 8-10-2011 by L.L. No. 9-2011.
Property owners who fail to maintain their property create adverse conditions that affect the general health, safety and welfare of the public. Deficient property maintenance sometimes creates impacts to the health and safety of the public that require immediate attention while other instances of deficient property maintenance create harm to the general welfare that reduces the quality of life, adversely impacts property values and facilitates the creation of blighted neighborhoods.
The Village Board hereby finds that the improper maintenance of the exterior of any buildings that are visible to the neighbors and/or traveling public creates conditions that adversely affect property values, the quality of life of the neighbors and neighborhood, and the general health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Village. Property owners who allow poisonous shrubs to grow and allow weeds, shrubs, lawns, grass, landscape plants and other vegetation to become overgrown, or who allow the exterior of any buildings located on their property to deteriorate into a state of disrepair or to become unsightly or dilapidated, or who permit the accumulation of garbage, rubbish, debris and refuse thereon, facilitate the proliferation of pests, insects and vermin. These conditions, in turn, result in a general deterioration of property values and foster blight in the surrounding neighborhoods and in the community in general. The Village Board further finds that property owners, tenants or persons in possession of real property who keep or maintain junked, inoperable or unregistered vehicles on their property contribute to blight by promoting unsightly, unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
The Village Board hereby determines that in order to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Village, to prevent blight within the Village and to prohibit the proliferation thereof, it is necessary to establish standards for the exterior maintenance of property, yards and any buildings or structures thereon, and to provide standards for the general exterior maintenance of yards, buildings and structure, and to provide for the removal of any poisonous weeds or shrubs, overgrown vegetation, including lawns, grass, landscape shrubbery, and ornamental shrubs, garbage, debris, rubbish, and junked or inoperable vehicles on properties, so that all properties shall be maintained in accordance with the standards enunciated in this chapter.
This chapter authorizes the Village, through its Code Enforcement Officials, to enter onto the property containing the offending condition, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, and to remove the same where the property owners fails or neglects to cure the violation. By reason of the establishment of these regulations and restrictions as herein set forth in this chapter, the proliferation of blight may be prevented and the general public health, safety and welfare protected and fostered.
It is with this intent in mind that the provisions of this chapter are established.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outbuildings and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- COMMERCIAL PREMISES
- A building, structure or land used for any purpose other than for single-family or multifamily purposes, including premises used for rental purposes, business purposes or industrial purposes.
- All materials resulting from the construction, excavation, renovation, equipping, remodeling, repair or demolition of structures, property or roads, or resulting from the preparation therefor, as well as materials consisting of vegetation resulting from land clearing and grubbing, utility line maintenance, and seasonal and storm-related cleanup, except when such materials are organized in piles or structures for purposes of composting. Such materials include, but are not limited to, masonry, such as bricks, concrete blocks, mortar and concrete, soil, rock, wood, wall coverings, floor coverings, plaster, drywall, plumbing fixtures, insulation, roofing materials, siding, pavement, glass, window frames, electrical wiring and components, plastics, carpeting, foam padding, linoleum, and metals, or any combination thereof, which are incidental to construction, excavation, renovation, equipping, remodeling, repair or demolition.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL
- This chapter shall be enforced by the following Village of Wappingers Falls officials: the Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector, the Zoning Administrator, the Fire Chief, the Village Justices, the Village Police, the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, any police agency having jurisdiction in the Village of Wappingers Falls, and such other persons as may be designated by the Village Board of the Village of Wappingers Falls by duly adopted resolution.
- All putrescible animal and vegetable waste resulting from growing, processing, marketing and preparation of food items, including containers in which such items are packaged, except when such wastes are organized in piles or structures for purposes of composting.
- JUNKED VEHICLE
- Any motor vehicle which is either unregistered, dismantled (in whole or in part), or in such a damaged condition or state of disrepair that such vehicle cannot be operated without extensive repair or for which the cost of such repair exceeds the value of the motor vehicle. Lack of a license plate, or an incorrect license plate affixed to the motor vehicle, shall be presumptive evidence that the vehicle is not registered.
- MULTIFAMILY PREMISES
- Any building which is used as a home or residence, other than a single-family residence, together with any garage or other accessory buildings and the lot upon which such building or buildings are constructed.
- NOXIOUS WEEDS
- Plants or other flora growth that may be hurtful, harmful or may physically affect individuals, such as poison ivy, sumac (trees, bushes or vines), deadly nightshade, Japanese Heliotrope and bindweed. "Noxious weeds" shall not include those plants normally cultivated in gardens.
- A. Any public or private condition that would constitute a nuisance according to the statutes, laws and regulations of the State of New York, its governmental agencies or the regulations and laws of the Village.
- B. Any physical condition existing in or on the exterior of any premises which is potentially dangerous, detrimental or hazardous to the life, health or safety of persons on, near or passing within the proximity of premises where said condition exists.
- C. Any waste material or any other matter attractive to vermin, likely to breed disease or which presents a fire hazard, creates offensive odors, or otherwise is prejudicial to good health or is so unsightly of appearance as to be offensive to surrounding properties.
- Any person residing, living or sleeping in or on the premises or having actual possession, use or occupancy of a dwelling premises or any person or entity in possession of or using the premises or part thereof, whether or not the owner thereof and regardless of the duration of time of such possession, use or occupancy.
- Any person, persons or entity who shall have legal or equitable title in any form whatsoever to any premises or part thereof, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof, or who shall have charge, care or control of any lot, premises, building, structure or part thereof as agent of the owner or as a fiduciary, trustee, receiver, guardian, lessee or mortgagee in possession, regardless of how such possession was obtained. Any person, group of persons or entity who is a lessee, sublessee or assignee of a lessee of any part or all of any building structure or land shall be deemed to be a co-owner with the lessee for the purposes of this chapter and shall have responsibility over the portion of the premises so sublet, leased or assigned. Where the owner of the property cannot be determined, the person whose name is listed as the owner on the most current tax roll of the Village is deemed to be the property owner.
- Any individual, natural person, association, firm, corporation, partnership, limited liability company or any other business organization of two or more persons, or any and all combinations of individuals acting in concert.
- A lot, plot or parcel of land, including the buildings or structures thereon.
- All discarded or worthless nonputrescible solid wastes consisting of both combustible and noncombustible wastes, including, but not limited to, paper and paper products, rags, wrappings, cardboard, tin cans, wood, glass, metals, plastics, tires, bedding, cloth, crockery, furniture, appliances and similar items.
- SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE
- A building which is occupied exclusively as the home or residence of a single family, together with any garage or other accessory building and the lot upon which such building or buildings are constructed.
- SOLID WASTE
- Materials or substances discharged, discarded or rejected as being spent, useless, worthless or in excess by the owner at the time of such discard or rejection, except sewage and other highly diluted water-carried materials or substances and those in gaseous form. Such waste shall include, but is not limited to, garbage, sludge, rubbish, ashes, incinerator residue, street cleanings, dead animals, refuse, abandoned vehicles, agricultural waste, industrial waste, commercial waste and construction and demolition debris.
- An assembly of materials forming a construction, including, but not limited to, buildings, stadiums, gospel and circus tents, reviewing stands, platforms, stagings, observation towers, radio towers, water tanks, trestles, open sheds, bins, shelters, fences and display racks and signs.
- Any person, other than the owner, who uses or occupies a property or building and who occupies the same pursuant to a written or oral lease agreement, or otherwise with the consent and permission of the owner thereof.
- The property of admitting the passage of light but diffusing it so that objects beyond it cannot be clearly distinguished.
- An opening in the wall or roof of a building for the admission of light, which opening may be closed to the elements by casements or sashes containing glass or other transparent material.
- WINDOW DISPLAY AREA
- That area of a building in proximity to the inner surface of a window which is designed or used for the viewing of the interior and the display of items representative of any goods or services pertaining to the business therein.
In furtherance of the purposes of this chapter, it shall be the duty and responsibility of the owner or the occupant of premises to comply with any or all of the requirements and standards of this chapter to keep the premises free of conditions which constitute violations hereof and to promptly remove, prevent or abate such conditions.
Owners and occupants shall have all the duties, obligations and responsibilities prescribed in this chapter, and no such person or entity shall be relieved of any duty, obligation or responsibility hereunder nor be entitled to assert, as a defense against any charge made against him/her or them for violation of this chapter, the fact that another owner, operator or occupant or any other third person or entity is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
The provisions of this chapter shall supplement state and local laws, codes or regulations. Where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of a state or local law, code or regulation, the more restrictive provision shall prevail when legally permissible.
It is the responsibility of every owner, occupant or tenant to keep their property in a well maintained and sanitary appearance and condition so as not to adversely affect the value and condition of surrounding properties and the neighborhood.
All premises throughout the Village of Wappingers Falls, whether or not covered by other provisions of the Code of the Village of Wappingers Falls, shall be maintained in conformity with the provisions of this chapter so as to assure the desirable character of the property.
Surface and subsurface water shall be drained to prevent damage to buildings and structures and to prevent development of stagnant ponds. Gutters, culverts, catch basins, drain inlets, stormwater sewers and sanitary sewers or other satisfactory drainage systems shall be provided and utilized. In no case shall the water from any rain leader be allowed to flow over the sidewalk of adjoining property.
Premises shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition free of physical hazards, fire hazards, solid waste, infestation, rodents, roaches, fleas, ticks, junk vehicles, hazardous substances, construction and demolition material, noxious weeds or nuisances.
All fences and retaining walls shall be maintained in a safe and substantial condition by the owner of the premises upon which it is located. Such maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, painting or staining as needed and the replacement of broken or missing sections of fence or retaining wall which may come into disrepair.
All steps, walks, driveways, parking spaces and similar paved areas shall be maintained so as to afford safe passage under normal use and weather conditions. The owner shall keep all and every part of the premises which they may own and the steps, walks, driveways and parking areas located in the front, rear or side of said premises, from the building line to the nearest public street line, in a clean, sanitary and safe condition and free from litter, debris, paper, dirt, garbage and junk and, except for public improvements, in good repair.
Steps, walks, driveways, parking spaces, parking lots and similar paved areas shall be repaired, replaced and maintained so as to be free from holes, hazards and dirt so as to afford safe passage to the public under normal use and weather conditions. In the case of multifamily premises and commercial premises, all driveways and parking spaces provided shall be covered with broken stone, gravel, concrete or asphalt paving, which shall be kept in good repair, and such driveways and parking spaces shall be regularly cleaned to avoid accumulation of dirt, paper and other debris. On commercial premises, all parking areas shall be paved with concrete or asphalt, and all parking spaces shall be clearly marked with painted white or yellow lines.
Heavy undergrowth and accumulation of plant growth which is unsightly, noxious or detrimental to health shall be eliminated or removed. Hedges and shrubs shall be kept pruned or trimmed and free from becoming overgrown and unsightly. Yards shall be maintained so that grasses, weeds and other vegetative ground cover shall not exceed six inches in height. Lawns or vegetative ground cover shall extend to the pavement of the adjoining street(s) and shall be maintained by the property owner, lessee or tenant to the aforementioned standards.
Dead or incurably diseased trees shall be taken down and the diseased portion thereof removed and destroyed. Trees shall be kept pruned, and dead wood one inch in diameter shall be removed. Every owner, tenant, occupant and lessee shall keep all trees, shrubs and plants on its, his or her property, whether occupied or unoccupied, or on the area between the property line of an adjacent public highway or sidewalk and the pavement edge of the road, so trimmed and in such condition as not to interfere with or obstruct the vision (at an intersection or otherwise) or any way endanger the safety of persons using any public street, sidewalk or other public place. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, any tree limb overhanging a public sidewalk shall be at least eight feet above any part thereof and any tree limb overhanging a public street shall be at least 13 feet above any part thereof.
Exterior surfaces of buildings and structures, including fences, doors, window frames and porches that are not inherently resistant to deterioration shall be maintained in a good state of repair and periodically treated with protective coating of paint or other suitable preservative. Broken or missing clapboards, shingles and window and door glasses shall be replaced.
All exterior exposed surfaces of buildings and accessory structures not inherently resistant to deterioration shall be repaired, coated, treated or sealed with a protective coating of paint or other suitable preservative to protect them from deterioration.
All signs exposed to public view shall be maintained in good repair. Excessively weathered or faded signs shall be repaired, restored or removed. Inoperative electrical or other mechanical signs shall be repaired or removed.
The exterior of every building or accessory structure shall be maintained free of broken windows. All windows exposed to public view shall be kept clean. Except when necessary in the course of changing displays, no storage or materials, stock or inventory shall be permitted in window display areas ordinarily exposed to public view, unless such areas are first screened by drapes, venetian blinds or other means of making the windows translucent. All screening of interiors shall be maintained in a clean and attractive manner and in a good state of repair.
In the case of multifamily premises and commercial premises, all floors, walls, ceilings, stairs and fixtures of a building's exterior walls, roofs, porches or appurtenances thereto shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition and shall be maintained in a manner so as to prevent injury to the occupants of the building or to the public.
The foundation walls of every building shall be maintained in a structurally sound condition.
The exterior parts of a building shall be maintained so as to keep water from entering the building. Materials which have been damaged or show evidence of dry rot or other deterioration shall be repaired or replaced and refinished in a workmanlike manner. Exterior walls, gutters, leaders, soffits, cupolas, roofs and other parts of the building shall be free from loose and unsecured objects and materials. Such objects or materials shall be removed, repaired or replaced.
In the case of multifamily premises and commercial premises, grounds, buildings and structures shall be maintained free of fleas and roaches, vermin and rodent harborage and infestation.
In the case of multifamily premises and commercial premises. Where the potential for rodent or vermin infestation exists, windows and other openings in basements and cellars shall be screened with wire mesh and other suitable materials.
From May 1 to October 1, entrances to multifamily premises shall be provided with self-closing type devices or screens. Windows and other openings in such premises used for ventilation shall be screened.
Adequate sanitary facilities and methods shall be used for the collection, storage, handling and disposal of garbage and refuse. Garbage and refuse containers shall be of an approved waterproof type. Garbage, refuse and other debris shall not be permitted to accumulate in public halls and stairways of multifamily premises and commercial premises.
In the event that the owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises shall fail to comply with the standards enumerated in this chapter, the Village may institute enforcement proceedings as follows:
Inspection and report. Any enforcement official, upon his or her own investigation or upon written complaint that a property appears to be maintained in violation of any of the standards enumerated in this chapter, may conduct an investigation and inspection of such premises and shall prepare a written report of his or her findings. In necessary, the enforcement official is authorized to apply for a search warrant to a court of competent jurisdiction to enter onto the premises if there is reasonable suspicion to believe that there is a violation of this chapter. The enforcement official is further authorized to take such further steps as are necessary to effectuate the execution and return of a duly ordered search warrant.
Order to remedy. If the enforcement official determines that a violation exists after conducting an inspection, the enforcement official is authorized to issue an order to remedy directing the owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises to bring such premises into compliance with the provisions of this chapter. The enforcement official shall provide the Village Board with a copy of the order to remedy, together with an affidavit of service and a copy of his or her report of findings from the inspection of the property.
Contents of order to remedy. The notice shall contain the following information:
The tax parcel identification number;
The street address of the property;
The owner of the property as shown in the tax records of the Village;
A statement of the condition of the property and the standards of this chapter which have been violated;
The date and time the violations are alleged to have occurred;
The specific corrective action that needs to be taken to bring the property into full compliance with the standards of this chapter;
The specific date by which the corrective action must be completed;
The date, time and place of a public hearing to be held before the Village Board to determine whether the property is in compliance with the standards of this chapter and a statement that the owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises has an opportunity to appear and be heard at said public hearing to offer proof that the property is in compliance with the standards of this chapter or that additional time is needed to take corrective action to cure the violation; and
A statement that, if the property owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises does not comply with the order to remedy, the Village intends to enter onto the property, take corrective action, and assess the costs of the corrective action as a lien against the property and levy such lien on the Village tax bill if not paid.
Service of order to remedy. The order to remedy shall be served on the owner by registered or certified mail, return receipt, at the address shown on the last preceding tax assessment roll of the Village or by personal service in accordance with any manner provided for service of process by Article 3 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York. Service upon a occupant, tenant, lessee or person in charge of the premises shall be made by registered or certified mail, return receipt to the address of the property or by person service as noted above. A copy of such order to remedy may also be served in the same manner on any mortgagee or lienor of record. A copy of the order to remedy shall also be conspicuously placed on the property.
Imminent threat. Whenever the Village Board finds that there exists on premises a condition that poses an imminent threat to the public health or safety which requires immediate remedial action, the Village Board may, in its discretion, order the owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises to remove or abate such public nuisance or direct Village employees or agents of the Village to remove or abate such public nuisance, and, notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, no public hearing shall be required to be held before the time fixed in the order for compliance or before the Village removes or abates such public nuisance, and the time for compliance provided in the order for compliance shall not apply to an order issued pursuant to this section. Notice of an order or direction issued pursuant to this subsection shall be served in the manner prescribed in Subsection D above, provided that if the Village Board determines that service in such manner would result in delay prejudicial to the public health or safety, then the Village Board may serve such order or direction by delivery of a copy thereof to a person of suitable age and discretion in actual or apparent control of the premises to which it relates, or, if service cannot be made in such manner, by posting a copy posted upon the premises to which it relates. An order or direction served in the manner prescribed in this subsection shall take effect when delivered or when posted. After such order or direction takes effect, the enforcement official shall serve such order or direction in the manner prescribed in Subsection D above. Such additional service shall include notice of the earlier service of such order or direction.
Emergency situation. Where it reasonably appears that there is present a clear and imminent danger to the life, safety or health of any person or property unless action authorized under this chapter is taken immediately, then the enforcement official shall have the power to abate, correct or remove the emergency, and any costs and expenses shall be charged to the owner of the property at issue. In the event that the amount due to the Village is not paid within 30 days following notification by the Village, the costs and expenses shall become and be a lien upon the property involved and shall be added to and become part of the property taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such property by the Village and shall bear interest at the same rate as and be collected and enforced in the same manner as taxes.
The public hearing shall be held at a regularly scheduled or special Village Board meeting at least seven days but not more than 20 days after service of the order to remedy as set forth above.
After the public hearing, if the property is determined by the Village Board to be in noncompliance with the standards enumerated in this chapter, the Village Board may authorize employees of the Village, or its agents or contractors, to enter onto the property to undertake such measures as to bring the property into compliance with the standards of this chapter and assess the cost of such remediation against the property as described below.
Assistance allowed. The Village may request the assistance of any county, state or federal agency to perform work on its behalf pursuant to this chapter.
Assessment of costs and expenses; lien on property.
The costs and expenses incurred by the Village with respect to any work performed by or on behalf of the Village to bring the property into compliance shall be a debt recoverable from the owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises and shall constitute a lien upon the premises, including the land and buildings, with respect to which such work was performed.
The Village shall keep a record of all work performed on the property by or on behalf of the Village. Such records shall be accessible to the public during business hours. Claims for all work performed on the property shall be audited and approved. A notice stating the total amount due and the nature of the charge shall be mailed by the Village to the last known address of the person whose name appears on the records in the office of the Village Treasurer as being the owner or agent or as the person designated by the owner to receive tax bills or, where no name appears, to the premises, addressed to either the owner or the agent. Such notice shall have 10 days, after a copy of the notice establishing the costs and expenses is received, to challenge any of the costs incurred by the Village. After expiration of the time period to challenge the determination of costs and expenses, the amounts thereof shall be reported to the Village Treasurer to be levied and assessed against the property, and the expense so assessed shall constitute a lien and charge on the property on which it is levied until paid or otherwise satisfied or discharged and shall otherwise be collected in the same manner and at the same time as other Village charges.
Such lien shall have a priority over all other liens and encumbrances on the premises except for the lien of taxes and assessments.
Action for recovery. In addition to establishing a lien, the Village may recover such expenses and interest incurred by bringing an action against the owner, occupant, tenant, lessee or other person having charge of any premises. The institution of such action shall not suspend or bar the right to pursue any other remedy provided by law for the recovery of such debt.
Supplemental remedies; other remedies available. In addition to the remedies set forth in this chapter, the Village reserves the right to pursue any and all remedies available for lack of compliance, including, but not limited to, those set forth in Article 13 and 19-A of the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, and the enforcement official is authorized to take any and all action specified in these articles. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to restrict authority to provide for the abatement of a public nuisance conferred upon any agency of the Village by any other provision of law.
Criminal penalty. Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or any order promulgated hereunder shall, upon conviction, be punishable as provided for violations of the Penal Law of the State of New York.
Any person, firm or corporation who or which violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation, punishable as follows:
In addition, or as an alternative to the above-provided penalties, the Village Board may also maintain an action or proceeding in the name of the Village in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with or to restrain by injunction the violation of this chapter.