Town of Elma, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Elma 1-3-1990.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 52.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 71.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 79.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 82.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance superseded former Ch. 56, Buildings, Unsafe, adopted 12-3-1969 by Ord. No. 11.

§ 56-1 Legislative findings and purpose.

It is the finding of this Board that vacant and abandoned buildings and structures which are not properly secured at entrances, windows and other openings serve as attractive nuisances for children who may and oftentimes are injured therein. Dilapidated or collapsed buildings and structures are frequently infested with rodents, thereby creating a significant health hazard to the community. Such buildings are, in addition, places of congregation by vagrants, transients and other trespassers. Also, buildings which may be approved for specific uses and are not maintained and kept in compliance with federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations provide significant safety and health hazards to the public and any employees. The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the safety, health, protection and general welfare of persons and property within the Town of Elma by requiring the repair, securing or removal and demolition of unsafe buildings and collapsed structures within said Town, in accordance with the provisions of Subdivision 16 of § 130 of the Town Law and § 78-b of the General Municipal Law, as now enacted or hereafter amended.

§ 56-2 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth in this section, unless otherwise expressly stated:
BUILDING INSPECTOR
The Building Inspector of the Town of Elma, his assistant or such other person as may be appointed by the Town Board to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
UNSAFE BUILDING
Any building, structure or portion thereof which is determined by the Building Inspector to be structurally unsound, unsanitary or not provided with adequate ingress and egress or which constitutes a fire hazard or which has become unsafe by reason of damage by fire, the elements, age or general deterioration or which, in relation to an existing use, constitutes a hazard to public health, safety or welfare by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment or for any other cause which is otherwise dangerous or unsafe to the public or to human life.

§ 56-3 Inspections; report.

A. 
Where, in his own opinion or upon receipt of information of the possible existence and location of an unsafe building or collapsed structure or a building in need of repair in the Town of Elma which is or may become dangerous or unsafe to the general public or to human life, the Building Inspector shall cause or make an investigation of the premises, and an inspection report shall be prepared containing the following:
(1) 
A description of the premises.
(2) 
A statement of the particulars, if any, in which the building or structure is unsafe.
(3) 
A recommendation with respect to the building's or structure's repair or demolition and removal.
B. 
Said report shall be filed in the office of the Building Inspector and with the Clerk of the Town Board.

§ 56-4 Town Board action upon consideration of report.

The Town Board shall thereafter consider such report and by resolution determine, if in its opinion the report so warrants, that such building is potentially unsafe and dangerous and order that the Building Inspector cause a written notice to be prepared and served in the manner provided herein.

§ 56-5 Notice of unsafe building.

Upon Town Board resolution determining the existence of a potentially unsafe building, the Building Inspector shall cause a written notice to be prepared containing the following:
A. 
A description of the premises.
B. 
A statement of the particulars in which the building or structure is unsafe or dangerous.
C. 
A date, time and place for a hearing before the Town Board in relation to such dangerous or unsafe building, which hearing shall be scheduled not less than five business days from the date of personal service or mailing of the written notice.
D. 
A statement that an order may issue from the hearing requiring repair or demolition, that failure to appear may result in an order of repair or demolition and that the person served has the right to be represented by legal counsel at the Town Board hearing.

§ 56-6 Service of notice.

A. 
The aforementioned written notice shall be served on the owner of record or one of the owner's executors, legal representatives, agents, lessees or any other person having a vested or contingent interest in the subject property, either personally or by registered mail addressed to the intended recipient's last known address, if any, as shown by the records of the Town's receiver of taxes or the records in the office of the County Clerk. In addition, a copy of said notice shall be securely affixed or posted on the unsafe building in a conspicuous location.
B. 
In the event that one or more adult persons are actually residing and have a lawful interest in the unsafe building at the time of issuance of the Town Board's order aforementioned hereinabove in this chapter, a copy of the written notice provided herein shall be served upon any one such adult person if such person can reasonably be found.
C. 
In the event that the whereabouts, last known address or tax address of the owner of the unsafe building and any other person having an interest therein, as defined in Subsection A hereinabove, are unknown and cannot be ascertained after the exercise of reasonable diligence by the Building Inspector, the Building Inspector shall execute an affidavit to that effect which shall be filed in the office of the Building Inspector and a copy with the Clerk of the Town Board. In such case, notice shall be served by the affixing or posting of a copy of the aforementioned written notice on the unsafe building in a conspicuous location.

§ 56-7 Hearing findings.

A. 
After the holding of a hearing before the Town Board in relation to such dangerous or unsafe building as provided for in § 56-5, Notice of unsafe building, the Town Board shall, within 20 days of the hearing, make a finding that the potentially unsafe building is not unsafe or dangerous or otherwise under the provisions of this chapter or that the unsafe building must be repaired, secured or demolished and removed.
B. 
In the event that the unsafe building is determined to require repair, securing or demolition, the Town Board shall direct the Building Inspector to cause a written notice to be prepared containing the following:
(1) 
A description of the premises.
(2) 
A statement of the particulars in which the building or structure is unsafe or dangerous as determined by the Town Board at a public hearing of such Board on the date so held.
(3) 
An order requiring that the building or structure be made safe and secure or demolished and removed, which order may outline the manner in which the building or structure is to be made safe and secure.
(4) 
An order requiring that the repair, securing or demolition of the building or structure be commenced within 10 days of the date of personal service or mailing of the written notice and that such repair or demolition and removal be completed within 30 days after the date required for the commencement of the repair or demolition, unless the Town Board, for good cause shown and in its discretion, extends such time.
(5) 
A statement that in the event of the failure, neglect or refusal to make safe and secure or demolish and remove the unsafe building and in the event that any such building is being or shall be used for any purpose requiring a permit, license or other Town Board approval, the Town Board is empowered and authorized to revoke any said approval, permit or license as well as to provide for the security and repair of the unsafe building or for its demolition and removal, to assess all expenses thereof against the land on which it is located and to institute legal action to recover the costs of repair and/or securing or demolition and removal of said unsafe building, as well as legal fees and any expenses incidental to the securing of the unsafe building, including but not limited to surveying, engineering and architectural expenses.

§ 56-8 Filing of notice ordered pursuant to hearing.

A. 
A copy of the written notice ordered pursuant to § 56-7, Hearing findings, served as provided in § 56-6, shall be filed in the office of the County Clerk of the County of Erie. The filing of said notice shall have the same effect as the filing of a notice of pendency as provided in this section or Subdivision 16 of § 130 of the Town Law.
B. 
A notice filed in accordance with Subsection A hereinabove shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing; provided, however, that it may be vacated upon the order of a judge or justice of a court of record or upon consent of the Town Attorney or his deputy. Upon the presentation and filing of such consent or a certified copy of such order in the office of the County Clerk of the County of Erie, the aforementioned notice and any record or docket thereof shall be marked as canceled of record by said County Clerk.

§ 56-9 Failure to comply; repair or removal by Town.

In the event that the owner of record of the unsafe building or any other person as may have been served with notice pursuant to § 56-6 fails or refuses to comply with the order to make safe and secure or demolish and remove said unsafe building and after a hearing has been held before the Town Board as provided in §§ 56-6 and 56-7, the Town Board may, by resolution duly adopted, provide for the security and repair or demolition and removal of said building either by employees of the Town or by contract.

§ 56-10 Emergency powers.

If the Town Board finds that there presently exists 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 and removed, the Town Board may, by resolution, authorize the Building Inspector to immediately cause the securing and/or repair or demolition and removal of such unsafe building either by employees of the Town or by contract.

§ 56-11 Reimbursements for costs incurred by Town.

The Town shall be reimbursed for all costs and expenses, including but not limited to attorney's fees, engineer's fees and architect's fees, incurred by it in connection with the proceedings to make safe and secure or demolish and remove any building or structure pursuant to this chapter, in addition to the actual cost of securing and/or repairing or demolishing and removing said building or structure. Such costs and expenses may be assessed against and recovered from the land on which the building or structure was located in the same manner as provided in Article 15 of the Town Law for the levy and collection of a special ad valorem levy. The Town may also institute a civil action to recover all said costs and expenses from the owner of the affected property.

§ 56-12 Interference with officials.

It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not interested in the property affected by this chapter, to interfere with, obstruct or hinder the Building Inspector or his representative or any person acting on his behalf in performing his duties as set forth in this chapter.

§ 56-13 Penalties for offenses.

Any person or persons, other than those duly authorized by the Building Inspector, removing from a building or structure any notice prescribed by this chapter or committing an offense against the provisions of § 56-12 hereof are guilty of a violation punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 15 days for each such offense, or by both such fine and imprisonment or such other fine or period of imprisonment as may be established by resolution of the Town Board from time to time.