[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Millville 9-9-2008 by Ord. No. 08-03. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The maintaining of dangerous buildings on any property located within the corporate limits of the Town of Millville, which constitute a serious hazard to life and property, shall be and is hereby declared to be a common and public nuisance.
As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended:
- DANGEROUS BUILDING
- Any building, structure or portion thereof which threatens the life, health, safety or property of the public or its occupants by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster, damage or abandonment shall be deemed a "dangerous building." The conditions that may cause a structure to be classified as a dangerous building include but are not limited to any one or combination of the following conditions:
- A. The walking surface of any aisle, passageway, stairway or other means of exit is so warped, worn, loose, torn or otherwise unsafe as not to provide a safe and adequate means of exit in case of fire or panic.
- B. Any portion, member or appurtenance of the building or structure has been damaged by fire, earthquake, wind, flood or by another cause, to such an extent that it is likely to partially or completely collapse, fail, detach or dislodge.
- C. The building or structure, or any portion thereof, because of dilapidation, deterioration or decay; or faulty construction; or the removal, movement or instability of any portion of the ground necessary for the purpose of supporting such building; or the deterioration, decay or inadequacy of its foundation; or any other cause, is likely to partially or completely collapse.
- D. The building or structure has been so damaged by fire, wind, earthquake or flood, or has become so dilapidated or deteriorated as to become an attractive nuisance to children or a harbor for transients, vagrants, or criminals.
- E. The building or structure, used or intended to be used for dwelling purposes, is unsanitary, unfit for human habitation or in such a condition that it is likely to cause sickness or disease because of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, decay, damage, faulty construction or arrangement, inadequate light, air or sanitation facilities or other cause.
- F. The building or structure creates a fire hazard by virtue of its obsolescence, dilapidated condition, deterioration, damage, inadequate exiting, lack of sufficient fire-resistive construction, faulty electric wiring, gas connections or heating apparatus, or other cause.
- G. The building or structure constitutes a public nuisance as defined by law.
- H. Any portion of the building, including the foundation and slab or grade, or structure remains on a site after the demolition or destruction of the building structure.
- I. The exits of the building or means of exiting do not conform to the applicable Town ordinances regarding the number of exits or any other feature which may cause a hazard to life or safety of the occupants or general public.
- J. There are defective or overloaded electrical systems, faulty or leaking fuel piping systems, or deteriorated fuel combustion equipment or combustion product vents.
- K. The existing use or occupancy violates the fire, health or building regulations of applicable Town ordinances.
The Town Council shall, upon complaint from two or more residents of the Town of Millville, or the Code Enforcement Officer, adopt a resolution appointing a Dangerous Building Inspection Committee consisting of not less than three members, at least two of whom shall be elected members of the Council. One of the elected members so appointed shall be designated as Chairman of the Committee.
Whenever the Town Council receives any information that a building located within the corporate limits of the Town of Millville is a serious hazard to life and property, the Town Manager shall direct the Dangerous Building Inspection Committee to investigate and determine whether the building is a serious hazard to life and property.
The Dangerous Building Inspection Committee shall proceed to make its investigation and shall make a report to the Town Council, not later than 30 days after having been directed to make an investigation, setting forth in writing its findings and conclusions concerning the building.
If the findings from the Dangerous Building Investigating Committee deem the structure to be unsafe due to structural integrity, the Committee will direct the Town Manager to contract a structural engineer to investigate the structure and provide a written report to the Town Council of the findings of the inspection. This inspection will be scheduled by the Town Manager; however, the property owner of the structure shall be required to pay the expenses of the structural engineer.
If the Dangerous Building Inspection Committee concludes following its investigation that the building is a serious hazard to life and property, the Town Council shall cause a notice to be directed to the owner of the building at his last known address. The notice shall set forth the findings and conclusions of the Dangerous Building Inspection Committee. It shall set a time and place for a public hearing before the Town Council to afford the interested parties an opportunity to show cause why the building investigated by the Dangerous Building Inspection Committee should not be declared to be a hazard to life and property and why it should not be ordered to be demolished.
Notice shall be given pursuant to this section by certified or registered mail, with return receipt requested, at least 20 days prior to the date of the hearing. If notice by mail is unsuccessful, notice may then be accomplished by posting a copy of the notice in placard form in a conspicuous place on the premises at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing and by publication of such notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town of Millville for a least two consecutive weeks prior to the date of the hearing.
At the public hearing, the owner of the building shall be permitted to present evidence why the building should not be declared to be a common and public nuisance and why he should not be required to abate the dangerous conditions found by the Dangerous Building Inspection Committee.
Following the hearing and presentation of any evidence by the owner, the Town Council shall issue its findings and conclusions concerning the building. If it is found that the building constitutes a hazard to life and property but that measures may be taken to remove the dangerous conditions and render the building safe, the findings and conclusions shall specify what measures shall be taken to correct the conditions and shall specify a time limit within which the corrective measures shall be taken.
If it is found, following the hearing, that conditions render the building a hazard to life and property and that no corrective measures may be taken to abate the conditions and render the building safe, the building shall be declared by the Town Council to be a common and public nuisance, and its demolition by a certain date shall be ordered.
Whenever the owner of a property fails to comply with the order issued by the Town Council within the time prescribed, the Town Council shall authorize the Town Solicitor to file suit in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain the necessary order to enforce the directions of the Town Council or to have the building demolished at the cost and expense of the owner. The cost of the razing and removal of such building or structure shall become a tax lien pursuant to 25 Del. C. Chapter 29.
In cases of great emergency, where the delay of proceedings as herein before provided would result in probable loss of life or property, the Town Council shall have the power to proceed at once to take such action as is needed to guard the safety of persons and property. In such cases, the Town Council shall have the full power and authority to provide all necessary means therefor, and all expenses therefor shall become a tax lien pursuant to 25 Del. C. Chapter 29.
Whenever a property is investigated due to being reported as a dangerous building, the costs associated with the investigation, reporting, filing, attorney, engineer or any other additional costs associated with the investigation of this building will be paid by the property owner. Any unpaid bills or notices shall become a tax lien pursuant to 25 Del. C. Chapter 29.
Any person affected by an order issued by the Town Council pursuant to this chapter may, within 30 days after service of such order, apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to appeal such order or seek an injunction restraining the Town Council from razing the structure.
Any person, persons, partnerships, corporations, or other entity who shall in any way violate the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, forfeit and pay to the Town of Millville a fine not exceeding the sum of $1,000 for each and every offense, together with the costs of prosecution. Each day or part of the day a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.