Borough of Old Forge, PA
Lackawanna County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Old Forge 10-21-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-9. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 130.
Housing — See Ch. 194.
Nuisance properties — See Ch. 229.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 247.

§ 112-1 Title.

This chapter shall be known as and may be cited as "Old Forge Borough Dangerous Buildings Ordinance."

§ 112-2 Applicability.

This chapter shall apply uniformly to all persons, business organizations, nonprofit organizations, and all other legal entities, and it shall apply uniformly to all property and all property owners within the Borough of Old Forge.

§ 112-3 Definitions; word usage.

A. 
Unless otherwise specifically defined below, words or phrases used herein shall be interpreted so as to give them the same meanings as they have in common usage and so as to give this chapter its most reasonable application consistent with its intent.
B. 
The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
C. 
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BOROUGH
The Borough of Old Forge, County of Lackawanna, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
COUNCIL
The Borough Council of the Borough of Old Forge. (See "Borough" hereinabove.)
DANGEROUS BUILDINGS
All the buildings or structures which have any or all of the following defects, and all such buildings or structures shall be deemed dangerous buildings:
(1) 
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other cause so as to utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living and are unfit for human habitation;
(2) 
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other cause so as to have become dangerous to the life and safety or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the Borough;
(3) 
Those which have become or are so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe, unsanitary or which so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living so that they are unfit for human habitation;
(4) 
Those which have become or are so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe, unsanitary or which so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living and are likely to cause accidents, sickness, or disease so as to work injury to the health, morals, safety, or general welfare of those living therein, as well as other citizens of the Borough;
(5) 
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they might fall and injure members of the public or adjoining property; or
(6) 
Those which, because of their general condition, are unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous to the health, safety or general welfare of the people of the Borough.
D. 
Words used in the present tense include the future and the past, words in the plural number include the singular, words in the singular number include the words in the plural, and words either in the feminine, masculine or neuter shall include words of the other genders.

§ 112-4 Dangerous buildings deemed nuisances.

A. 
All dangerous buildings are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished.
B. 
Each day a nuisance in the form of a dangerous building continues, after notice is given that said dangerous building is to be repaired, vacated or demolished, shall constitute a separate offense in violation of this chapter.

§ 112-5 Identification; investigation procedure.

Whenever it shall be reported or come to the attention of any Borough official or police officer that any building or structure, completed or in the process of construction, or any portion thereof, is in a dangerous condition, such person shall report the same to the Council, and the Council shall immediately designate a Borough official, employee or police officer to make an investigation and examination of such building or structure. If such investigation or examination indicates such building or structure to be a dangerous building, a written report of such investigation shall be sent to the Council, specifying the exact condition of such building or structure and setting forth whether or in what respect the structure is dangerous and whether the structure is capable of being properly repaired or whether it shall be removed as a dangerous building.

§ 112-6 Hearing procedure.

The Council of the Borough shall:
A. 
Upon receipt of a report in accordance with the investigation procedure provided for hereinabove in § 112-5 of this chapter, give written notice to the owner or owners of such dangerous building as determined by the record in the office of the Recorder of Deeds in and for the County of Lackawanna in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or, failing to find any owner or owners, then such occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent, or any other person with an interest in said dangerous building who may be located, to appear before the Council on the date specified in the notice to show cause why the building or structure reported to be a dangerous building should not be repaired, demolished or vacated in accordance with the statement of particulars set forth in the notice provided for herein;
B. 
Within not less than 10 nor more than 60 days from the date of such notice, hold a hearing and hear such testimony as the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee or other person having an interest in said building shall offer related to the building in question being a dangerous building;
C. 
Within 30 days of such hearing, make written findings of fact from the testimony offered pursuant to the hearing as to whether or not the building in question is a dangerous building; and
D. 
Within not more than 30 days following the hearing provided for in Subsection B hereof, issue an order, based upon findings of fact made pursuant to Subsection C hereof, demanding the owner of said building to repair, demolish or vacate any building found to be a dangerous building.

§ 112-7 Standards for repair, vacation or demolition.

The following standards shall be followed in substance by the Council in ordering repair, vacation or demolition of a dangerous building:
A. 
If the dangerous building can be repaired as determined by the Council so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this chapter, it shall be ordered repaired.
B. 
If the dangerous building is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health, safety, or general welfare of its occupants, it shall be ordered to be vacated.
C. 
If the dangerous building cannot be reasonably repaired as determined by the Council, it shall be demolished.
D. 
If the dangerous building is a fire hazard or is existing or erected in violation of the terms of this chapter or any other ordinance of the Borough or any statute of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it shall be demolished.

§ 112-8 Notice of violation.

A. 
If any structure is deemed to be a dangerous building within the standards of this chapter, the Council shall forthwith cause notice to be served upon the owner or owners of such dangerous building as determined by the record in the office of the Recorder of Deeds in and for the County of Lackawanna in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or, failing to find any owner or owners, then such occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent, or any other person with an interest in said dangerous building who may be located.
B. 
The notice required by this section shall be served personally upon the owner or owners of a dangerous building if such owner resides, or such owners reside, in the Borough or personally upon his agent if such agent resides within the Borough. If personal service required herein cannot be obtained, such notice shall be sent to the owner or owners of a dangerous building by certified mail at the last known address according to the records available in the Tax Assessment Office in and for the County of Lackawanna in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
C. 
Such notice shall identify the building or structure deemed dangerous, contain a statement of the particulars which made this building or structure a dangerous building and include an order requiring the same to be put in such condition as to conform with the terms of this chapter; provided further, in any case where the notice prescribes the repair of any structure, the owner thereof shall have the option to remove such structure in lieu of making the repairs thereto within the time period provided.
D. 
Such notice shall require any person notified to repair, vacate or demolish any building to commence the work or act required by the notice within 10 days of such notice and to comply with such repair, vacation or demolition within 60 days from the receipt of such notice.
E. 
The Council shall cause to be placed on all dangerous buildings a notice reading essentially as follows:
"This building has been found to be a dangerous building by the Council for the Borough of Old Forge, County of Lackawanna, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This notice is to remain on this building until it is repaired, vacated or demolished in accordance with the notice which has been given to the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee, or the agent of the building. It is unlawful to remove this notice until compliance is made under the terms contained in the notice served on the above-named party."

§ 112-9 Violations and penalties.

A. 
All fines provided for in this section shall be in addition to costs.
B. 
Any person who shall fail to comply with any notice or order to repair, vacate or demolish any dangerous building, which notice is served by any person authorized to do so by the Council, shall, upon conviction before a Magisterial District Judge, be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000, plus costs, and, in default of payment of such fine and costs, shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 days.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
C. 
Any person removing the notice provided for in § 112-8E shall, upon conviction before a Magisterial District Judge, be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000, plus costs, and, in default of payment of such fine and costs, shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 days.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
D. 
Any person having an interest in any building who fails to comply with any notice or order to repair, vacate or demolish any dangerous building within 60 days of the receipt of such notice, by such failure, does empower the Council to cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated or demolished by the Borough and to cause the costs of such repair, vacation or demolition, together with a penalty of 10%, to be charged upon the land upon which the building exists as a municipal lien or, alternatively, to recover such costs and penalty in a suit at law against the owner or owners, but, failing to recover same, to have judgment therefor to be charged upon the land as a lien, and this subsection is separate from and in addition to the fine, penalty and costs which may be imposed by any other subsection of this section.

§ 112-10 Emergency cases.

In cases where it reasonably appears that there exists an immediate danger to the life or safety of any person caused or created by a dangerous building, the Council shall cause the immediate repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building. The costs of such emergency repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building shall be collected as provided for in § 112-9D of this chapter.