Town of Potsdam, NY
St. Lawrence County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Potsdam 6-12-2007 by L.L. No. 6-2007.
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 84, Fire Prevention, adopted 1-8-2001 by L.L. No. 2-2001, as amended.
Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES

Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 49.

Fire prevention and building code administration — See Ch. 62.

Garbage, rubbish and refuse — See Ch. 72.

Outdoor fires — See Ch. 65.

Subdivision of land — See Ch. 93.

Zoning — See Ch. 110.

§ 84-1
Purpose. 

§ 84-2
Definitions. 

§ 84-3
Standards for grounds and exterior property. 

§ 84-4
Standards for stairways, decks, porches and balconies. 

§ 84-5
Rubbish and garbage. 

§ 84-6
Extermination. 

§ 84-7
Inspections. 

§ 84-8
Program review and reporting. 

§ 84-9
Injunctive relief. 

§ 84-10
Notification regarding fire or explosion. 

§ 84-11
Responsibilities of agents delegated by property owners. 

§ 84-12
Town to correct violations; costs. 

§ 84-13
Enforcement. 

§ 84-14
Penalties for offenses. 

§ 84-15
Severability. 

§ 84-1 Purpose.

A. 

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a minimum standard for the maintenance of the exterior grounds in an effort to secure the future environmental quality of the land, groundwater and open waters within the Town. This chapter is designed to promote environmentally safe residential neighborhoods, business and commercial districts by prohibiting or regulating certain practices undertaken by property owners, their delegate agents, tenants or occupants which could potentially create, cause or contribute to environmental degradation of land and water within the Town.

B. 

The adoption and enforcement of this chapter is intended to serve as deterrence to substandard exterior property maintenance and as a tool for protecting property investment, the tax base and the health, safety and welfare of all Town residents.

§ 84-2 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

COMPOSTING MATERIALS
Yard trimmings, vegetable wastes and other matter managed to provide aerobic, thermophilic decomposition of organic constituents to produce a stable, humus-like material. The organic material shall be stored in a container or compact pile that:
A. 

Contains no sewage, sludge or seepage;

B. 

Contains no inorganic materials, such as metal, plastic or glass; and

C. 

Is maintained in a manner to minimize odors and the attraction of insect and animal pests.

GARBAGE
Food wastes, food wrappers, containers, nonrecyclables or other materials resulting from the use, consumption and preparation of food or drink, as well as other expended used or discarded materials, such as paper, plastic, metal, rags or glass, etc., or any other wastes generated from day-to-day activities of a household, business or public or quasi-public facility. The term "garbage" does not include properly prepared and stored recyclable materials or properly maintained compost areas.
GROUNDS AND EXTERIOR PROPERTY
Any area of a building or lot, excluding porch areas, not enclosed within the walls of a building. These terms include any public rights-of-way which pass through or are adjacent to a property, including the sidewalk and any area between the sidewalk, if there is one, and the street pavement.
PORCH AREA
Includes any open and/or partially enclosed porches or decks as well as any entranceways or exitways which are in the public view.
PUBLIC VIEW
Areas of any property that are visible by pedestrian or vehicular traffic in the public right-of-way or visible from the exterior ground level of adjoining properties or properties within 100 feet of the subject property or special circumstances that allows for public visibility or detection.
SOLID WASTE
Includes materials or substances that are discarded or rejected as being spent, worthless, useless or in excess to the owners at the time of such discard or rejection, including but not limited to materials or substances such as garbage, refuse, industrial and commercial wastes, sludge from air or water treatment facilities, rubbish, tires, ashes, incinerator residue, construction and demolition debris, discarded motor vehicles, discarded household and commercial appliances and discarded furniture. An object shall be presumed to be discarded or rejected solid waste when the object is stored, placed or left on the grounds or exterior of the property in the view of neighbors or passersby under circumstances which meet any of the following criteria:
A. 

The object produces an offensive smell.

B. 

The object is of a type designed for interior use or made of materials which are suitable only for the interior use, and the object is left outside and exposed to precipitation.

C. 

The object has reached a degree of dilapidation or disrepair that can reasonably be presumed to render the material unsuitable for or incapable of being used for its original intended purpose or some other reasonable purpose.

TOXIC OR NOXIOUS SUBSTANCE
Any solid, liquid, or gaseous matter, including but not limited to gases, vapors, dusts, fumes, and mists containing properties which by chemical means are inherently harmful and likely to destroy life and impair health, or capable of causing injury to the well-being of persons or damage to property.
TRASH RECEPTACLE
A container that is nonabsorbent, watertight, and durable having a tight-fitting lid in place. Plastic bags are not considered durable containers.
WEEDS
Weeds shall be defined as all grasses, annual plants and vegetation, other than trees or shrubs; provided, however, this term shall not include cultivated flowers and gardens.

§ 84-3 Standards for grounds and exterior property.

It shall be the responsibility of all owners, their delegated agents, tenants, or occupants of their property within the Town and it is their respective duty to adopt the following practices:

A. 

That all grounds and exterior property are kept clean and free of solid waste.

B. 

Solid waste, other than garbage stored in proper containers described in the preceding section, is not stored in the public view, except construction and demolition debris related to an ongoing construction project with a valid building permit may be stored in the public view for no more than 30 days or by special exception by the Code Enforcement Official. Residents may place reusable materials on the front lawn for purposes of informal scavenging, to not be in public view for more than two successive days.

C. 

Strong, waterproof plastic bags may be used to place garbage at the roadside on the day of collection.

D. 

The landowner may dispose of solid waste on his/her property, provided the following requirements are all satisfied:

(1) 

The waste contains no toxic or noxious materials, or potentially decomposes to create a material (solid, liquid or gaseous) that causes or results in compromising the environmental quality of the land, groundwater, open water and associated ecosystems.

(2) 

The following are minimum separation distances for any storage or burial activities:

(a) 

From any domestic well: 200 feet; 500 feet if the well is located down gradient and 1,000 feet from municipal or any other high-production well or potable water source.

(b) 

From mean high water level if open water body: 100 feet.

(c) 

From adjoining property line: 100 feet.

(d) 

From the roadway: 500 feet.

(e) 

Above seasonal high groundwater table: five feet.

(f) 

Above bedrock: 10 feet.

E. 

All premises and immediate exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds in excess of 10 inches. All noxious weeds shall be prohibited.

(1) 

Upon failure of the owner or agent having charge of a property to cut and destroy weeds after service of notice of violation, he or she shall be subject to prosecution in accordance with § 84-14. Upon failure to comply with the notice of violation, any duly authorized employee of the jurisdiction or contractor hired by the jurisdiction shall be authorized to enter upon the property in violation and cut and destroy the weeds growing thereon, and the costs of such removal shall be paid by the owner or agent responsible for the property.

F. 

Motor vehicles.

(1) 

Except as provided for in state statue or other municipal or state regulations, two or more inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicles shall not be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled.

(2) 

Painting of vehicles is prohibited unless conducted inside an approved spray booth.

(a) 

Exception: A vehicle of any type is permitted to undergo major overhaul, including bodywork, provided that such work is performed inside a structure or similarly enclosed area designed and approved for such purposes.

§ 84-4 Standards for stairways, decks, porches and balconies.

It shall be the responsibility of the property owners or their delegated agents within the Town and their duty to adopt the following practices:

A. 

Stairways, decks, porches and balconies are to be kept free of garbage, unless the garbage is stored and completely contained in a durable, nonabsorbent, watertight container having tight-fitting lids in place in anticipation of weekly collection or disposal. Plastic bags are not considered durable containers.

B. 

Construction and demolition debris can be located in these areas for no longer than 30 days.

C. 

Every exterior stairway, deck, porch and balcony, and all appurtenances attached thereto, shall be maintained structurally sound, in good repair, with proper anchorage and capable of supporting the imposed loads.

§ 84-5 Rubbish and garbage.

A. 

All exterior property and premises and the interior of every structure shall be free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.

B. 

Combustible waste, refuse and large quantities of dry vegetation, which by reason of their proximity to buildings or structures would constitute a fire hazard or contribute to the spread of fire, shall be removed.

C. 

Every occupant of a structure shall dispose of all rubbish in a clean and sanitary manner by placing such rubbish in approved containers.

D. 

The owner of every occupied premise shall supply approved covered containers for rubbish, and the owner of the premises shall be responsible for the removal of rubbish.

E. 

Refrigerators and similar equipment shall not be discarded, abandoned, or stored on premises accessible to children without first removing the doors.

F. 

Every occupant of a structure shall dispose of garbage in a clean and sanitary manner by placing such garbage in an approved garbage disposal facility or approved garbage containers.

§ 84-6 Extermination.

A. 

All structures must be kept free from insect and rodent infestation. All structures in which insects or rodents are found shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes that will not be injurious to human health. After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to prevent reinfestation.

B. 

The owner of any structure shall be responsible for extermination within the structure prior to renting or leasing the structure.

C. 

The occupant of a one-family dwelling or of a single-tenant nonresidential structure shall be responsible for extermination on the premises.

D. 

The owner of a structure containing two or more dwelling units, a multiple occupancy, a rooming house or a nonresidential structure shall be responsible for extermination in the public or shared areas of the structure and exterior property. If infestation is caused by failure of an occupant to prevent such infestation in the area occupied, the occupant shall be responsible for extermination.

E. 

The occupant of any structure shall be responsible for the continued rodent and pest-free condition of the structure. If the infestations are caused by defects in the structure, the owner shall be responsible for extermination.

§ 84-7 Inspections.

A. 

Inspections required. Firesafety and property maintenance inspections of buildings and structures shall be performed by the Code Enforcement Officer or an Inspector designated by the Code Enforcement Officer at the following intervals:

(1) 

Firesafety and property maintenance inspections of buildings or structures which contain an area of public assembly shall be performed at least once every 12 months.

(2) 

Firesafety and property maintenance inspections of buildings or structures being occupied as dormitories shall be performed at least once every 12 months.

(3) 

Firesafety and property maintenance inspections of all multiple dwellings not included in Subsection A(1) and (2) of this section, and all nonresidential buildings, structures, uses and occupancies not included in Subsection A(1) and (2) of this section, shall be performed at least once every 36 months.

B. 

Inspections permitted. In addition to the inspections required by Subsection A of this section, a firesafety and property maintenance inspection of any building, structure, use, or occupancy, or of any dwelling unit, may also be performed by the Code Enforcement Officer or an Inspector designated by the Code Enforcement Officer at any time upon: the request of the owner of the property to be inspected or an authorized agent of such owner; receipt by the Code Enforcement Officer of a written statement alleging that conditions or activities failing to comply with the Uniform Code or Energy Code exist; or receipt by the Code Enforcement Officer of any other information, reasonably believed by the Code Enforcement Officer to be reliable, giving rise to reasonable cause to believe that conditions or activities failing to comply with the Uniform Code or Energy Code exist; provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as permitting an inspection under any circumstances under which a court order or warrant permitting such inspection is required, unless such court order or warrant shall have been obtained.

C. 

OFPC inspections.

(1) 

Nothing in this section or in any other provision of this chapter shall supersede, limit or impair the powers, duties and responsibilities of the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control ("OFPC") and the New York State Fire Administrator under Executive Law § 156-e and Education Law § 807-b.

(a) 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall not perform firesafety and property maintenance inspections of a building or structure which contains an area of public assembly if OFPC performs firesafety and property maintenance inspections of such building or structure at least once every 12 months;

(b) 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall not perform firesafety and property maintenance inspections of a building or structure occupied as a dormitory if OFPC performs firesafety and property maintenance inspections of such building or structure at least once every 12 months;

(c) 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall not perform firesafety and property maintenance inspections of a multiple dwelling not included in Subsection A(1) and (2) of this section if OFPC performs firesafety and property maintenance inspections of such multiple dwelling at intervals not exceeding the interval specified in this subsection; and

(d) 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall not perform firesafety and property maintenance inspections of a nonresidential building, structure, use or occupancy not included in Subsection A(1) and (2) of this section if OFPC performs firesafety and property maintenance inspections of such nonresidential building, structure, use or occupancy at intervals not exceeding the interval specified in Subsection A of this section.

D. 

Fee.

(1) 

A schedule of fees shall be established by resolution by the Town Board of Potsdam.

(2) 

Fees must be paid prior to or at the time each inspection is performed pursuant to this section.

(3) 

This subsection shall not apply to inspections performed by OFPC.

§ 84-8 Program review and reporting.

A. 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall annually submit to the Potsdam Town Board a written report and summary of all business conducted by the Code Enforcement Officer and the Inspectors, including a report and summary of all transactions and activities described in Chapter 62 and Chapter 84 and a report and summary of all appeals or litigation pending or concluded.

B. 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall annually submit to the Secretary of State, on behalf of the Town of Potsdam on a form prescribed by the Secretary of State, a report of the activities of the Town of Potsdam relative to administration and enforcement of the Uniform Code.

C. 

The Code Enforcement Officer shall, upon the request of the New York State Department of State, provide to the New York State Department of State, from the records and related materials the Town of Potsdam is required to maintain, excerpts, summaries, tabulations, statistics and other information and accounts of the activities of the Town in connection with administration and enforcement of the Uniform Code.

§ 84-9 Injunctive relief.

A. 

An action or proceeding may be instituted in the name of the Town in a court of competent jurisdiction, to prevent, restrain, enjoin, correct, or abate any violation of, or to enforce, any provision of the Uniform Code, the Energy Code, this chapter, or any term or condition of any building permit, certificate of occupancy/certificate of compliance, temporary certificate, stop-work order, operating permit, compliance order, or other notice or order issued by the Code Enforcement Officer pursuant to any provision of this chapter. In particular, but not by way of limitation, where the construction or use of a building or structure is in violation of any provision of the Uniform Code, the Energy Code, this chapter, or any stop-work order, compliance order or other order obtained under the Uniform Code, the Energy Code or this chapter, an action or proceeding may be commenced in the name of the Town in the Supreme Court or in any other court having the requisite jurisdiction to obtain an order directing the removal of the building or structure or an abatement of the condition in violation of such provisions. No action or proceeding described in this subdivision shall be commenced without the appropriate authorization from the Supervisor of the Town.

B. 

Operating permits for areas of public assembly shall be limited to one year. Operating permits for all other occupancies as noted in § 84-7A shall be for not more than three years or shall coincide with the schedule of inspections as required by § 84-7A of this chapter.

C. 

Where activities do not comply with applicable provisions of the Uniform Code, an operating permit shall be revoked or suspended.

§ 84-10 Notification regarding fire or explosion.

The chief of any fire department providing fire-fighting services for a property within the Town of Potsdam shall notify the Code Enforcement Official of any fire or explosion involving any structural damage, fuel-burning appliance, chimney or gas vent, or any fire the origin of which has been traced to the electrical system of any building or structure.

§ 84-11 Responsibilities of agents delegated by property owners.

A. 

The responsibilities outlined in previous sections may be delegated to an agent by the property owner, so long as, at the time of any violation of this chapter, an agency agreement is on file in the code enforcement office which contains the following information:

(1) 

The identity of the owner and the agent.

(2) 

The owner's and agent's addresses and current phone numbers.

(3) 

The property or properties the agent is accepting responsibility for.

(4) 

The beginning and ending date of the agreement.

(5) 

The exact sections of this Code assigned to the agent.

(6) 

The signatures of both the property owner and agent, along with each party's date of birth.

B. 

The agent must be a resident of or maintain an office for the transaction of business in St. Lawrence County or an adjoining county. Post office boxes will not be accepted as addresses for agents.

§ 84-12 Town to correct violations; costs.

Any case in which the Town, by written notice, requires an owner or his/her designated agent to correct any violation of this chapter, and the owner or his/her designated agent fails to correct the condition within the time prescribed in said notice, shall be considered a default, and upon said default, the Town may cause the violation to be corrected, and the total expense of such correction may be assessed by the Town Board on the real property on which such corrections were not made, and the expense so assessed shall constitute a lien and charge on the real property on which it is levied until paid or otherwise satisfied or discharged and shall be collected in the same manner and at the same time as other Town charges.

§ 84-13 Enforcement.

These regulations shall be administered by the Code Enforcement Officer designated by the Town Board.

§ 84-14 Penalties for offenses.

Any person, as herein defined, committing an offense against any provision of this chapter or the rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto shall be guilty of a violation punishable by a fine of not more than $250 per week or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 days, or both.

§ 84-15 Severability.

If any section of this chapter shall be held unconstitutional, invalid, or ineffective, in whole or in part, such determination shall not be deemed to affect, impair, or invalidate the remainder of this chapter.