[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Bethel 6-5-1991. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 135.
Unsafe buildings and collapsed structures pose a threat to life and property in the Town of Bethel. Buildings and structures may become unsafe by reason of damage by fire or other casualty damage, the elements, age or general deterioration. Vacant buildings not properly secured at doorways and windows are nuisances and serve as congregation areas for vagrants, the homeless, mentally incompetent and children, who may be injured therein. A dilapidated building or collapsed structure may also serve as a place of rodent infestation, thereby creating a health menace to the community. Debris, rubble or parts of buildings left on the ground or in disrepair and not removed constitute a dangerous, unhealthy and unsightly condition. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for the safety, health, protection and general welfare of persons and property in the Town of Bethel by requiring such unsafe buildings to be repaired or demolished and removed.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building, structure or portion thereof used for residential, business, industrial, recreational or any other purpose.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Code Enforcement Officer of the Town of Bethel or such other person appointed by the Town Board to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
- PORTION OF BUILDING OR STRUCTURE
- Any debris, rubble or parts of buildings which remain on the ground or on the premises after demolition, reconstruction, fire or other casualty.
- UNSAFE BUILDING OR STRUCTURE
- Any building or structure or portion thereof which, because of its structural condition, is or may become dangerous or unsafe to the public, and may include, without limitation, any or all of the following:
- A. Units open at the doorways or windows or walls, making it accessible to and an object of attraction to minors under 18 years of age, as well as to vagrants and other trespassers;
- B. Units which may become a place of rodent infestation, or infestation by other insects or pests;
- C. Units consisting of debris, rubble or parts of buildings left on the ground after demolition, reconstruction, fire or other casualty; and/or
- D. Units presenting any other danger to the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the public.
It shall be unlawful for any owner, tenant or occupant of any building or structure or portion of any building or structure in the Town of Bethel to maintain such building or structure or portion of any building or structure in any condition or manner which shall be unsafe as set forth herein.
When, in the opinion of the Code Enforcement Officer or Town Engineer, any building or structure located in the Town of Bethel shall be deemed to be dangerous or unsafe to the public as defined herein, the Code Enforcement Officer or Town Engineer shall make a formal inspection thereof and report in writing to the Town Board his findings and recommendations in regard to the building or structure's removal or repair.
The Town Board shall thereupon consider said report and, if it finds that such building or structure is dangerous and unsafe to the public, it shall by resolution order its repair if the same can be safely repaired and, if not, its removal and demolition, and shall further order that a hearing be held before the Town Board at a time and place therein specified and on at least five days' notice to the owner of the building or structure or persons having an interest therein to determine whether said order to repair or remove shall be affirmed or modified or vacated and, in the event of modification or affirmance, to assess all costs and expenses incurred by the Town in the repair or removal of such building or structure against the land on which said building or structure is located. Said order shall also provide that the securing or removal of said building or structure shall commence within 30 days after service of notice and shall be completed within 60 days thereafter.
The notice shall contain the following statements:
The name of the owner or person in possession as appears from the tax and deed records.
A brief description of the premises and its location.
A description of the building or structure which is unsafe or dangerous and a statement of the particulars in which it is unsafe or dangerous.
An order requiring the same to be made safe and secure or to be removed.
That the securing or removal of said building or structure shall commence within 30 days of the service of the notice and shall be completed within 60 days thereafter.
The time and place of the hearing to be held before the Town Board, at which hearing the owner or occupant shall have the right to contest the order and findings of the Town Board.
That in the event that such owner, occupant or other person having an interest in said premises shall fail to contest such order and fail to comply with the same, the Town Board will order the repair or removal of such building or structure by the Town; and that the Town will assess all costs and expenses incurred in such removal against the land on which such building or structure is located.
A copy of said notice shall be personally served upon the owner or some one of the owner's executors, legal representatives, agents, lessees or other person having a vested interest or contingent interest in the premises as shown by the Collector of Taxes and/or in the office of the Sullivan County Clerk or Sullivan County Treasurer.
If no such person can be reasonably found for personal service, then a copy of said notice shall be mailed to such person by certified mail addressed to his last known address as shown on said records and by personally serving a copy of said notice upon any adult person residing in or occupying said premises or by securely affixing a copy of said notice upon said building structure.
A copy of said notice shall be filed in the Sullivan County Clerk's Office, which shall be filed in the same manner as a notice of pendency pursuant to Article 65 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, and shall have the same effect as a notice of pendency as therein provided. A notice so filed shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing. It may be vacated, however, upon an order of Judge or Justice of a court of record or upon the consent of the Town Attorney. When vacated, the Sullivan County Clerk shall mark such notice and any record or docket thereof as canceled of record upon the presentation and filing of such consent or of a certified copy of such order.
The Town Board shall conduct the public hearing at the time and place specified in the notice to repair or demolish. It may adjourn the hearing from time to time until all interested parties are heard and until the hearing is completed. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Town Board shall determine by resolution to revoke the order to repair or remove, modify said order or continue and affirm said order and direct the owner or other persons to complete the work within the time specified in the order or such other time as shall be determined by the Town Board.
In the event of the refusal, failure or neglect of the owner or person so notified to comply with said order of the Town Board within the time specified in said order and after the public hearing, the Town Board shall provide that such building or structure be made safe and secure or removed and demolished by Town employees or by independent contractors. Except emergency cases as herein provided, any contract for repair or demolishing of a building or structure in excess of $5,000 shall be awarded through competitive bidding.
All expenses incurred by the Town in connection with the proceedings to repair and secure or demolish and remove the unsafe building, including the cost of actually removing such building, shall be assessed against the land on which such building is located and shall be levied and collected in the same manner as provided in Article 15 of the Town Law for the levy and ad valorem levy.
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 an unsafe building or structure is immediately repaired and secured or demolished, the Town Board may, by resolution, authorize the Code Enforcement Officer or Town Engineer to immediately cause the repair or demolition of such unsafe building or structure. The expenses of such repair or demolition shall be a charge against the land on which it is located and shall be assessed, levied and collected as provided in § 113-10 hereof.
The provisions of this chapter shall be in addition to, and in furtherance of, the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, including but not limited to Sections 108 and 109 of the Property Maintenance Code of New York State.