[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Franklin 7-9-2002 by Ord. No. 3305. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Township, its agents and employees are authorized, with the express consent of the owner, occupant or operator, to periodically enter, examine and survey all premises in the Township, during usual business hours if the premises are used for nonresidential purposes, for the purpose of performing their duties of safeguarding the health and safety of the persons occupying the same and of the general public; provided, however, that such entries are made in such a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession. Such inspections shall be made if the public official has reason to believe that any provision of this Code constituting an immediate threat to public health, safety or welfare is being violated or if the inspection is part of a regular program of inspection authorized by this Code or state law.
An inspection of the premises used for nonresidential purposes may be made at other times if the premises are not available during the foregoing hours for inspection, or if there is reason to believe that violations are occurring on the premises which can be determined and proved by inspection only during nonprescribed hours, or there is reason to believe a violation exists of a character which is an immediate threat to health or safety requiring inspection and abatement without delay.
The following procedure for the Township, its agents and employees seeking to gain access to the premises to be inspected shall be as follows:
The authorized public official or duly appointed inspector seeking access to the premises shall initially communicate verbally with the owner, occupant or operator of the premises and request permission to access the premises.
If permission to access cannot be obtained verbally, the enforcing public official shall send a letter to the owner, occupant or operator of said premises at the address disclosed by the Township's tax records, certified mail, return receipt requested, and advise of a date and time at which the official or officials will seek entry; said date shall be at least 10 days after the date of the aforementioned letter.
In the event that the owner, occupant or operator fails to respond or fails to respond affirmatively to Subsection B of this section, the Township Manager may direct the enforcing public official or officials to apply to the Superior Court of New Jersey for a search warrant pursuant to the Rules of Court. Said application will be made with the assistance of the Township Attorney, and will be made not later than 20 days after the date of the letter issued by the enforcing public official set forth in Subsection B of this section. The application for a search warrant shall be based upon the sworn testimony or certification of the enforcing public official, setting forth factually the actual conditions and circumstances that provide probable cause to believe that a nuisance or violation of the Township Code or state law exists on the premises. Probable cause permitting the issuance of the aforesaid search warrant may include, but is not limited to, the following:
The passage of time;
The nature of the building or buildings;
The condition of the entire property;
A valid public interest;
Belief that a nuisance is maintained; or
Belief that a violation of the Township Code is maintained, constituting an immediate threat to the public health, safety or welfare.
If the Judge is satisfied as to the matter set forth in the application, and if he finds that probable cause for issuance of the search warrant exists, he shall authorize the issuance of a search warrant permitting access to and inspection of the particularly described building or all the buildings in a particularly described area.
Emergency inspections may be authorized without warrant if the Township, its agents or employees have reason to believe that a condition exists which poses an immediate threat to life, health or safety. Such procedure shall only take place where the time taken to apply for and secure the issuance of a warrant would render ineffective the immediate action necessary to abate the condition.
Where any authorized public official or duly appointed inspector is refused entry or access or is otherwise impeded or prevented by the owner, occupant or operator from conducting an inspection of the premises, such person shall be in violation of this Code and subject to penalties as provided in Chapter 1, Article II, General Penalty.