[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Rappahannock 7-2-1990; amended in its entirety 11-5-2012. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Building construction — See Ch. 71.
This chapter is enacted pursuant to § 15.2-906 of the Code of Virginia. [Note: See also Lee v. City of Norfolk, 281 Va. 423, 706 S.E.2d 330 (2011).]
It shall be the duty of all property owners in Rappahannock County to remove, repair or secure any building, wall or other structure which might endanger the public health or safety of other residents of the County. Such property owners shall, at such time or times as the Board of Supervisors may prescribe, after it follows the procedures set forth below, remove, repair or secure any building, wall or any other structure that might endanger the public health or safety of other residents of the County.
All complaints by the public of violation hereof shall be made in writing, contain the name and address of the complaint(s) and shall be referred to the Building Official, who shall visit the site and make a report to the County Administrator, provided the Building Official or any member of the Board of Supervisors may initiate a complaint orally with the County Administrator, who may also initiate a complaint on his own motion.
The County Administrator shall make such additional investigation as he deems necessary and shall notify all members of the Board of Supervisors of the complaint and the location of the property.
At the Board of Supervisors' meeting next occurring at least 30 days after the complaint is made, whether a regular or special meeting, the Board shall decide whether the complaint merits a public hearing to determine whether this chapter has been violated. The property owner shall be given actual notice, or written notice to the address shown on the County's tax records, of the date and place of said public meeting. Any written notice shall be posted at least 10 days prior to the meeting.
At the public meeting referred to in Subsection C, above, if the Board feels the complaint merits a public hearing, then the matter shall be put on the agenda for the next Board of Supervisors' meeting, whether a regular or special meeting. Notice of such meeting shall be given to the property owner, by registered or certified mail, and to the complainant and adjoining property owners, by regular mail, at least 20 days prior to the meeting. Mail posted to the current addresses shown on the real property tax records maintained by the County is sufficient, provided, if the property owner was present at the prior meeting of the Board of Supervisors referred to in Subsection C, above, when the time of the public hearing was set, then no further notice need be given to the owner under this Subsection D.
At the public hearing, the Board shall consider all public comment, including from the property owner, written or oral reports from its staff and the observation by the Supervisors of the site. If the Board then determines the building, wall or other structure endangers the public health or safety of other residents of the County, then it shall proceed as provided in § 74-4.
If the County of Rappahannock has determined in the manner set out in § 74-3, above, that a certain building, wall or other structure endangers the public health or safety of other residents of the County, then it, through its agents or employees, may remove, repair or secure any such building, wall or any other structure if the owner and lienholder of such property, after reasonable notice and a reasonable time to do so, has failed to remove, repair, or secure the building, wall or other structure. For purposes of this section, repair may include maintenance work to the exterior of a building to prevent deterioration of the building or adjacent buildings. For purposes of this section, reasonable notice includes a written notice (i) mailed by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, sent to the last known address of the property owner, and (ii) published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality. No action shall be taken to remove, repair, or secure any building, wall, or other structure for at least 30 days following the later of the return of the receipt or newspaper publication, except that the locality may take action to prevent unauthorized access to the building within seven days of such notice if the structure is deemed to pose a significant threat to public safety and such fact is stated in the notice.
In the event the County, through its own agents or employees, removes, repairs, or secures any building, wall, or any other structure after complying with the notice provisions of this section, the cost or expenses thereof shall be chargeable to and paid by the owners of such property and may be collected by the locality as taxes are collected.
Every charge authorized by this chapter or § 15.2-900 of the Code of Virginia with which the owner of any such property has been assessed and that remains unpaid shall constitute a lien against such property ranking on a parity with liens for unpaid local taxes and enforceable in the same manner as provided in Articles 3 (§ 58.1-3940 et seq.) and 4 (§ 58.1-3965 et seq.) of Chapter 39 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia. A locality may waive such liens in order to facilitate the sale of the property. Such liens may be waived only as to a purchaser who is unrelated by blood or marriage to the owner and who has no business association with the owner. All such liens shall remain a personal obligation of the owner of the property at the time the liens were imposed.
Any property owner who fails to remove, repair or secure any building, wall or any other structure; or attempts to obstruct the County from removing, repairing or securing any building, wall or any other structure, after having been given notice as provided in § 74-4, shall be subject to a civil penalty of $1,000. The County Administrator, the County Building Official or any law enforcement officer may issue a summons for a violation. Any person summoned or issued a ticket for a scheduled violation may make an appearance, in person or in writing by mail, to the Clerk of the General District Court of Rappahannock County prior to the date fixed for trial in court. Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial, admit liability, and pay the civil penalty established for the offense charged.
The provisions hereof shall be supplemental to and shall not preempt the right and authority of the Building Official with respect to unsafe structures, nor prevent the County from obtaining any other relief allowed by law.