[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Dover as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Abandoned and Vacant Property
[Adopted 12-12-2012 by L.L. No. 8-2012]
Editor's Note: The provisions of this local law were originally adopted as Ch. 123, but were renumbered to maintain the organizational structure of the Code.
This article is enacted pursuant to § 10 of the Municipal Home Rule Law to provide for the health, safety, appearance, and general welfare of the public, the residents of the Town of Dover, and the owners of real property located within the Town of Dover.
The Town Board of the Town of Dover hereby finds that properties that are not properly maintained and repaired constitute a public nuisance since they may serve as an attractive nuisance, may result in injuries therein, may be a point of congregation by vagrants and transients, may attract rodents or insects, and may also attract illegal drug activity. The Town Board of the Town of Dover further finds that properties that are not adequately maintained and repaired tend to diminish or lessen the appearance of adjoining properties, which may lead to the progressive deterioration of a neighborhood. It is further found and declared that if the same are not curtailed, remediated and/or removed, the aforesaid conditions will grow and spread and will necessitate in time the expenditure of large amounts of public funds to correct and eliminate the same, and that by reason of the regulations and restrictions as herein contained, the growth of blight may be prevented, the desirability and amenities of neighborhoods enhanced, and the public health, safety and welfare protected and fostered.
The purpose and intent of this article is to provide a method whereby properties within the Town are properly maintained and landscaped, properly repaired, kept clean, and kept free from vermin, nuisances, hazards, debris and litter which negatively impact their appearance.
This article applies to the following properties:
All lots, plots or parcels of land on which residential, nonresidential or mixed-use buildings are located, which buildings are vacant, unoccupied or abandoned.
Principal and accessory buildings and structures used for or intended to be used for residential, nonresidential or mixed-use occupancies, which buildings or structures are vacant, unoccupied or abandoned.
This article sets forth a number of maintenance duties and obligations applicable to all properties within the Town, which duties and obligations are set forth elsewhere within Town Law, and within the New York State Property Maintenance Code. Those duties and obligations are recited again herein, for purposes of underscoring their applicability to vacant, unoccupied, and/or abandoned buildings, structures, and properties, which are the subject of this article. The provisions of §§ 116-5 through 116-8 relate solely to vacant, unoccupied, and/or abandoned buildings, structures, and properties. This article applies to such buildings, structures, or properties, notwithstanding whether such buildings, structures, or properties shall have been established, constructed, altered or repaired before or after the enactment of this article, and irrespective of any permits or licenses which shall have been issued for the use or occupancy of the buildings, structures or premises, or for the installation of equipment or facilities, or for the installation or repair of accessory structures and improvements, prior to the effective date of this article.
This article establishes minimum standards for the initial and continued occupancy and use and for the maintenance of all such buildings, structures or uses, and the premises on which they are situated, and does not replace or modify standards otherwise established for their construction, repair, alteration, maintenance, or use, or for the equipment or facilities contained therein.
The provisions of this article shall supplement the local laws, codes and regulations of the Town of Dover. When a provision of this article is found to be inconsistent with any provision of any other local law, code or regulation of the Town, the provision or requirement which is the more restrictive or which establishes the higher standard shall prevail. A greater penalty shall not be considered as more restrictive or a higher standard.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDON or ABANDONED
- To withdraw or give up by leaving the premises or ceasing to operate or inhabit the premises; to relinquish or renunciate an interest, claim, privilege, possession or right in a real property or improvement on real property especially with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting it; more than a seasonal absence from the premises.
- ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any motor vehicle situated on private property other than that of its owner, which has not been moved or used for 30 consecutive days or more and is apparently deserted; any vehicle in whatever condition which does not have valid registration; any junk car.
- EXTERIOR PROPERTY
- The open space on the premises and on adjoining property under the control of owners or operators of such premises.
- The control and elimination of insects, rats or other pests by eliminating their harborage places; by removing or making inaccessible materials that serve as their food; by poison spraying, fumigating, trapping or by any other approved pest elimination methods.
- INOPERABLE MOTOR VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle which cannot be driven upon the public streets for reasons including but not limited to being unlicensed, unregistered, wrecked, abandoned, in a state of disrepair, or incapable of being moved under its own power.
- JUNK CAR
- Any motor vehicle in such condition or state of repair which renders the vehicle incapable of being driven or operated upon the public highway in its condition immediately without extensive repairs; any motor vehicle which has been abandoned or junked.
- The owner of record of a tract, lot or parcel.
- PERSON IN CONTROL
- The owner, the attorney for the owner, the trustee in bankruptcy, a referee of foreclosure or a real estate broker or any other person exercising implied or express control of the premises, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
- PRIVATE PROPERTY
- Any real estate or part thereof, yard or driveway, other than that used as a public place, road, street or highway, situated in the Town.
- SWIMMING POOL
- Any structure, basin, chamber or tank which is intended for swimming, diving, recreational bathing or wading and which contains, is designed to contain, or is capable of containing water more than 24 inches (610 mm) deep at any point. This includes in-ground, aboveground and on-ground pools; indoor pools; hot tubs; spas; and fixed-in-place wading pools.
- Lack of habitual presence of human beings.
- Any unoccupied land, structure, building or part thereof, that is available and suitable for occupancy.
It shall be the duty of any owner, trustee, lessee, occupant or person in control of any premises to which this article applies to ensure that the minimum standards set forth in the New York State Property Maintenance Code and the Code of the Town of Dover are complied with, including, but not limited to:
All exterior property and premises shall be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition.
All premises shall be graded and maintained to prevent the erosion of soil and to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, or within any structure located thereon.
All premises and immediate exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or plant growth in excess of 10 inches (254 mm). All noxious weeds shall be prohibited. 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.
All structures and exterior property shall be kept free from rodent harborage and infestation. Where rodents are found, they shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes which will not be injurious to human health. After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to eliminate rodent harborage and prevent reinfestation.
All accessory structures, including detached garages, sheds, fences and walls, shall be maintained structurally sound and in good repair.
Swimming pools shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, in good repair, and properly and lawfully fenced and secured.
The exterior of a structure shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary so as not to pose a threat to the public health, safety or welfare.
All vacant structures and premises thereof or vacant land shall be maintained in a clean, safe, secure and sanitary condition as provided herein so as not to cause a blighting problem or adversely affect the public health or safety.
No unregistered vehicles may be parked on the property.
All dead, damaged or diseased trees or shrubs, or any portion thereof, which present any hazard to life or property shall be removed.
Any owner, tenant or occupant or person in control of any premises to which this article applies, which premises have been determined to be in violation of this article, shall cure or remove such violation when ordered to do so by the Building Inspector, Zoning Administrator, Fire Inspector or designee, within 30 days of the service of written notice as provided in § 116-5B.
All written notices under this section shall either be served on the owner, tenant or occupant or person in control by mailing a copy of such notice by mail to the owner, tenant or occupant or person in control of the property as shown on the current assessment records of the Town, and by posting a copy of such violation notice upon the front portion of the property or upon the main structure.
Upon the failure of an owner, tenant or occupant or person in control with notice to correct a condition complained of, the Town Board shall hold a public hearing. The public hearing shall be held upon notice published in the official paper, posted conspicuously on the affected property and, if obtainable, forwarded to the last known address of the property owner, as it appears on the current assessment records of the Town, by certified mail, return receipt requested. Posting, forwarding and publication shall be made not less than 10 days prior to the date of the public hearing.
The Town Board, after a public hearing as provided by Subsection A, may cause and continue to cause the securing of any broken or missing window, door or other penetrations; cause the abatement or remediation of any nuisance or hazard; cause the abatement or remediation or extermination of any vermin infestation; cause the removal and disposal of any debris or litter; cause the removal of any vehicle parked or stored in violation of Chapter 139; and, in extraordinary circumstances, cause the razing of any structure or improvement. The Town Board may, but need not, order and direct the owner, tenant or occupant, or person in control to perform the abatement, remediation, removal, or extermination (as the case may be) within some time frame set by the Board, failing which the Town or its designee or agent will itself perform same. Alternately, the Town Board may instead direct and order that the abatement, remediation, removal, or extermination (as the case may be) be performed or undertaken forthwith, by the Town or its agent or designee, without need for additional time to be afforded the owner, tenant, occupant, or person in control. The costs of publication and mailing of the notice set forth in § 116-5, and the fees and costs incurred by the Town in connection with any remedial actions undertaken by the Town or its designees or agents, shall be assessed against the record owner of the property. The fees, costs, and expenses 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.
The removal of any building, structure, nuisance, hazard, vehicle or litter by the Town of Dover or its agents shall not operate to excuse such owner, tenant or occupant from properly maintaining the premises as required by this article, and such owner, tenant or occupant shall, notwithstanding such action, be subject to any other penalties as provided for herein.
Whenever the Building Inspector, Zoning Enforcement Officer, or Fire Inspector at any stage of the proceedings instituted under the provisions of this code finds that a violation of this code exists which, in his reasonable opinion, requires immediate action to abate a direct hazard or immediate danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the occupants of a building or of the public, he may, without prior notice or hearing, issue an order citing the violation and directing that such action be taken as is necessary to immediately (or on such other time frame as is specified in the order) remove or abate the hazard or danger. Such order may include, but is not limited to, an order to vacate. Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, such an order shall be effective immediately upon service and shall be complied with immediately or as otherwise provided. In the event of failure to comply with the order within the time frame therein specified, the Town or its designee or agent may enter upon the property for purposes of undertaking such actions as are necessary to remove or abate the hazard or danger. Any fees, costs, and expenses thus incurred by the Town shall be recoverable in accordance with § 116-6B supra.
Any notice or order issued pursuant to this code shall "run with the land," i.e., shall be binding upon, and enforceable against, any subsequent purchaser, transferee, grantee, mortgagee, or lessee.
If any provision, paragraph, word, or section of this article is invalidated by any court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining provisions, paragraphs, words, sections and article shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect.
All other chapters, ordinances or local laws and any parts thereof which are inconsistent or conflict with any part of this article are hereby superseded, to the extent of any inconsistency or conflict herewith, but shall otherwise remain in full force and effect.
Penalties for violations of this article are as follows: