Town of Cortlandt, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt 4-4-1967. Section 135-4F added and §§ 135-4J and 135-6 amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Other amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 131.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 175.
Sewers — See Ch. 241.
Water — See Ch. 297.
[1]
Editor's Note: See also Article H of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.

§ 135-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DANGEROUS BUILDINGS
All buildings or structures which have any or all of the following defects:
A. 
Those whose exterior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
B. 
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show thirty-three percent (33%) or more of damage or deterioration of the supporting member or members, or fifty percent (50%) of damage or deterioration of the nonsupporting enclosing or outside walls or covering.
C. 
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the same are overloaded or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purpose used.
D. 
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other causes so as to have become dangerous to life, safety, morals or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the Town of Cortlandt.
E. 
Those which have become or are so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe, insanitary or which so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living that they are unfit for human habitation or are likely to cause sickness or disease, so as to work injury to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of those living therein.
F. 
Those having light, air and sanitation facilities which are inadequate to protect the health, morals, safety or general welfare of human beings who live or may live therein.
G. 
Those having inadequate facilities for egress in case of fire or panic or those having insufficient stairways, elevators, fire escapes or other means of communication.
H. 
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure members of the public or property.
I. 
Those which because of their condition are unsafe, insanitary or dangerous to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of the people of this town.
J. 
Those buildings existing in violation of any provision of the Building Code of this town or any provision of the Fire Prevention Code[1] or other ordinance of this town.
[1]
Editor's Note: See the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.

§ 135-2 Standards for repair, vacation or demolition.

The following standards shall be followed in substance by the Building Inspector and the Town Board in ordering repair, vacation or demolition.
A. 
If the dangerous building can reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this ordinance, it shall be ordered repaired.
B. 
If the dangerous building is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of its occupants, it shall be ordered to be vacated.
C. 
In any case where a dangerous building is fifty-percent damaged or decayed or deteriorated from its original value or structure, it shall be demolished, and in all cases where a building cannot be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this chapter, it shall be demolished. In all cases where a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this chapter or any ordinance of the town or statute of the State of New York, it shall be demolished.

§ 135-3 Dangerous buildings declared nuisances.

All dangerous buildings within the terms of § 135-1 of this chapter are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished as hereinbefore and hereinafter provided.

§ 135-4 Duties of Building Inspector.

The Building Inspector shall:
A. 
Inspect or cause to be inspected semiannually all public buildings, halls, churches, theaters, hotels, tenements and commercial, manufacturing or loft buildings for the purpose of determining whether any conditions exist which render such places dangerous buildings within the terms of § 135-1 of this chapter.
B. 
Inspect any building, wall or structure about which complaints are filed by any person to the effect that a building, wall or structure is or may be existing in violation of this chapter.
C. 
Inspect any building, wall or structure reported, as hereinafter provided for, by the Fire Department as probably existing in violation of the terms of this chapter.
D. 
Notify, in writing, the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee, agent and all other persons having an interest in said building, as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk, of any building found by him to be a dangerous building within the standards set forth in § 135-1 of this chapter that:
(1) 
The owner must vacate or repair or demolish said building in accordance with the terms of the notice and this chapter.
(2) 
The occupant or lessee must vacate said building or may have it repaired in accordance with the notice and remain in possession.
(3) 
The mortgagee, agent or other person having an interest in said building as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk may, at their own risk, repair, vacate or demolish said building or have such work or actdone, provided that any person notified under this subsection to repair, vacate or demolish any building shall be given such reasonable time, not exceeding thirty (30) days, as may be necessary to do or have done the work or act required by the notice provided herein.
E. 
Set forth in the notice provided for in Subsection D hereof a description of the building or structure deemed unsafe, a statement of the particulars which make the building or structure a dangerous building and an order requiring the same to be put in such condition as to comply with the terms of this chapter within such length of time, not exceeding thirty (30) days, as is reasonable.
F. 
File a copy of the notice provided for in Subsection D herein with the office of the County Clerk.
[Added 8-17-1993 by L.L. No. 2-1993]
G. 
Report to the Town Board any noncompliance with the notice provided for in Subsections D and E.
H. 
Appear at all hearings conducted by the Town Board and testify as to the condition of dangerous buildings.
I. 
Place a notice on all dangerous buildings reading as follows: "This building has been found to be a dangerous building by the Building Inspector. This notice is to remain on this building until it is repaired, vacated or demolished in accordance with the notice which has been given the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgagee or agent of this building and all other persons having an interest in said building as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk. It is unlawful to remove this notice until such notice is complied with."
J. 
Before a building is declared a dangerous building by the Building Inspector, he shall call upon the Director of Code Enforcement to inspect the premises in question, and they shall together determine that the premises is a dangerous building within the terms of this chapter.
[Amended 6-20-1978 by Res. No. 221-78; 8-17-1993 by L.L. No. 2-1993]

§ 135-5 Duties of Town Board.

A. 
The Town Board shall:
(1) 
Upon receipt of a report of the Building Inspector as provided for in § 135-4G hereof, give written notice to the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent and all other persons having an interest in said buildings, as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk, to appear before said Town Board 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, vacated or demolished in accordance with the statement of particulars set forth in the Building Inspector's notice provided for herein in § 135-4E.
(2) 
Hold a hearing and hear such testimony as the Building Inspector or the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee or any other person having an interest in said building, as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk, shall offer relative to the dangerous building.
(3) 
Make written findings of fact from the testimony offered pursuant to Subsection B as to whether or not the building in question is a dangerous building within the terms of § 135-1 hereof.
(4) 
Issue an order, based upon findings of fact made pursuant to Subsection C, commanding the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent and all other persons having an interest in said building, as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk, to repair, vacate or demolish any building found to be a dangerous building within the terms of this chapter, provided that any person so notified, except the owners, shall have the privilege of either vacating or repairing said dangerous building or that any person not the owner of said dangerous building but having an interest in said building, as shown by the land records of Westchester County Clerk, may demolish said dangerous building at his own risk to prevent the acquiring of a lien by the town against the land upon which said dangerous building stands, as provided in Subsection E hereof.
(5) 
If the owner, occupant, mortgagee or lessee fails to comply with the order provided for in Subsection D hereof within ten (10) days, the Town Board shall cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated or demolished, as the facts may warrant, under the standards hereinbefore provided for in § 135-2 of this chapter and shall, with the assistance of the Town Attorney, cause the costs of such repair, vacation or demolition to be charged against the land on which the building existed as a municipal lien or cause such acts to be added to the tax duplicate as an easement or to be levied as a special tax against the land upon which the building stands or did stand or cause the costs to be recovered in a suit at law against the owner, provided that, in cases where such procedure is desirable and any delay thereby caused will not be dangerous to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of the people of this town, the Town Board shall notify the Town Attorney to take legal action to force the owner to make all necessary repairs or to demolish the building.
(6) 
Report to the Town Attorney the names of all persons not complying with the order provided for in Subsection D hereof.
B. 
An owner or lessee will be granted the privilege of a hearing, upon request, within ten (10) days after service of violation from the Building Inspector. This hearing will be conducted by the Town Board, and the Board's decision will be final.

§ 135-6 Penalties for offenses.

[Amended 8-17-1993 by L.L. No. 2-1993]
A. 
Penalty for disregarding notices or orders. The owner of any dangerous building who shall fail to comply with any notice or order to repair, vacate or demolish said building given by any person authorized by this chapter to give such a notice or order shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.) or up to fifteen (15) days in jail or by a civil penalty not exceeding three thousand dollars ($3,000.) for each offense.
B. 
The occupant or lessee in possession who fails to comply with any notice to vacate and who fails to repair said building in accordance with any notice given as provided for in this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.) or up to fifteen (15) days in jail or by a civil penalty not exceeding three thousand dollars ($3,000.) for each offense.
C. 
Any person removing the notice provided for in § 135-4I hereof shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.) or up to fifteen (15) days in jail or by a civil penalty not exceeding three thousand dollars ($3,000.) for each offense.

§ 135-7 Duties of Town Attorney.

The Town Attorney shall:
A. 
Prosecute all persons failing to comply with the terms of the notices provided for herein in § 135-4D and E and the order provided for in § 135-5A(4).
B. 
Appear at all hearings before the Town Board in regard to dangerous buildings.
C. 
Bring suit to collect all municipal liens, assessments or costs incurred by the Town Board in repairing or causing to be vacated or demolished dangerous buildings.
D. 
Take such other legal action as is necessary to carry out the terms and provisions of this chapter.

§ 135-8 Emergencies.

In cases where it reasonably appears that there is immediate danger to the life or safety of any person unless a dangerous building, as defined herein, is immediately repaired, vacated or demolished, the Building Inspector shall report such facts to the Town Board, and the Town Board 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 in the same manner as provided in § 135-5A(5) hereof.

§ 135-9 Absentee owners.

In cases, except emergency cases, where the owner, occupant, lessee or mortgagee is absent from the town, all notices or orders provided for herein shall be sent by registered mail to the owner, occupant, lessee or mortgagee and all other persons having an interest in said building as shown by the land records of the Westchester County Clerk, to the last-known address of each, and a copy of such notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the dangerous building to which it relates. Such mailing and posting shall be deemed adequate service.

§ 135-10 Disclaimer of liability.

No officer, agent or employee of the Town of Cortlandt shall render himself personally liable for any damage that may accrue to persons or property as a result of any act required or permitted in the furtherance of this chapter.