Township of West Windsor, NJ
Mercer County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee (now Township Council) of the Township of West Windsor 12-27-1979 by Ord. No. 79-39 as Sec. 10-2 of the Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fire prevention — See Ch. 89.

§ 100-1 Designation of enforcing officer; compensation.

The Health Officer of the township is hereby designated as the officer to exercise the powers prescribed in this chapter, and the Health Officer shall serve in such capacity without any additional salary.

§ 100-2 Powers of Health Officer.

[Amended 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 81-20]
A. 
The Health Officer is hereby authorized and empowered to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following, in addition to others herein granted:
(1) 
To investigate the building conditions in the township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
(2) 
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
(3) 
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examination, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
(4) 
To appoint and fix duties of such officers, agents and employees as deemed necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
(5) 
To delegate any functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as the Health Officer may designate.
B. 
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. III).
C. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.

§ 100-3 Unfit buildings; conditions constituting unfitness.

For the purpose of this chapter, the Health Officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if the Health Officer finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the township. Such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing):
A. 
Defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities.
B. 
Lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities.
C. 
Dilapidation.
D. 
Disrepair, structural defects or uncleanliness.

§ 100-4 Adoption of State Housing Code by reference. [1]

Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1, the New Jersey State Housing Code, except the part or parts thereof which are deleted and amended on the copy annexed thereto, is hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code is on file in the Clerk's office.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. III).

§ 100-5 Petitions by residents; preliminary investigation.

[Amended 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 81-20]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Health Officer by a public authority, as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4, or by at least five residents of the township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use as herein defined, or whenever it appears to the Health Officer (on the Health Officer's own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use as herein defined, the Health Officer shall, if said Health Officer's preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charge, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Health Officer (or the Health Officer's designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Health Officer.

§ 100-6 Statement of findings by Health Officer; service of order upon owner.

If after such notice and hearing the Health Officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use as herein defined, the Health Officer shall state, in writing, the findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
A. 
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of said building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or to have said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
B. 
If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the same building within the time specified in the order, requiring that the owner remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.

§ 100-7 Correction orders; noncompliance procedures; orders to remove.

A. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the Health Officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed, and the Health Officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
B. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Health Officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.

§ 100-8 Collection of costs incurred by township.

[Amended 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 81-20]
A. 
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the township and the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred.
B. 
If the building is removed or demolished by the Health Officer, said Health Officer shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the township Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Health Officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be initiated thereto by final order or judgment of such Court.

§ 100-9 Service of complaints and orders.

[Amended 6-8-1981 by Ord. No. 81-20]
Complaints or orders issued by the Health Officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Health Officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Health Officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the township or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in said township. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording officer of the county in which the building is located.

§ 100-10 Occupancy restrictions.

No person shall occupy or rent to another for occupancy any building or part thereof for human habitation or use after having been served with an order issued pursuant to § 100-6 relating to such building or part thereof and after failure of compliance with such order, but this section shall not apply to rental or occupancy under a temporary permit issued by the Health Officer authorizing rental or occupancy for a specified period during the making of repairs, alterations and improvements required by such order.

§ 100-11 Violations and penalties.

Any person, firm or corporation who shall fail to comply with any order of the Health Officer made pursuant to § 100-6 or who shall violate § 100-10 or who shall interfere in any way with the Health Officer or any other officer, agent or employee engaged in carrying out the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be liable to the penalty stated in Chapter 1, General Provisions, Article II, Penalty, § 1-3. Any penalty imposed pursuant to this section and any action taken to enforce any such penalty shall be in addition and supplemental to any other remedies, proceedings or actions taken or authorized to be taken pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

§ 100-12 Construal of provisions.

A. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this act intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
B. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the power of the township or any officer or department thereof to enforce any provisions of its ordinances or regulations or to prevent or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred upon the township by any other law or ordinance.