[HISTORY: Derived from Sec. 10-3 of the 1999 Code of the Township of Clinton. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Township Council finds that the existence of vacant or abandoned structures to which access is easily obtainable by reason of broken windows or doors or other physical deterioration constitutes a potential threat to the safety, health, morals and general welfare of the residents of the Township. Such structures may serve as sites for unlawful and immoral activities. Furthermore, persons attracted to them, such as transients and children, stand the risk of serious injury therein due to dilapidated and dangerous conditions. In addition, use of these structures by such persons also poses serious fire hazards from the careless use of matches and cigarettes. It is the intent of this chapter to prohibit the owner of any vacant or abandoned structure within the Township from allowing it to remain open so as to provide unobstructed access thereto by the general public.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CONSTRUCTION OFFICIAL
- The Construction Official of the Township of Clinton.
- The person or persons, firm, corporation or other entity which, either by conveyance or inheritance or otherwise, is vested with the title to the property on which the structure is situate or with the exclusive control of such structure in his/her capacity as a legal representative, such as administrator, executor, trustee, etc.
- A building or structure which is not currently inhabited or occupied and to which access to the interior thereof may be gained by reason of open, unlocked or broken windows or doors or because of other physical deterioration or damage thereof.
No owner shall maintain or suffer, permit or allow the existence of a structure after notice by the Construction Official as provided in § 242-4.
If the Construction Official shall determine that a building constitutes a structure, he/she shall notify the owner thereof, by certified mail, of such determination and shall direct the owner to board up the structure or take whatever other action may be appropriate to seal off the entrance or entrances thereto. The notice shall also advise the owner that, upon his/her failure to comply with the direction of the Construction Official within 30 days from the date of the receipt thereof by the owner, he/she shall be subject to prosecution for violation of this chapter and subject to a fine. The notice shall also advise that, in lieu of or in addition to such fine and subsequent to said 30 days, the Township may itself secure the structure and assess the cost thereof as a lien against the premises.
In order to properly seal off the entrance or entrances to a structure, the owner shall cause all doors and windows therein to be closed, using plywood which shall be at least 3/8 inch thick and shall be cut and fitted to cover the door frames and windows. The plywood shall be securely nailed to the building and prime painted.
The owner shall have 30 days from the date of the posting of the structure and the mailing of a copy of the notice to the last known owner of record or of the personal service of notice upon the owner to abate the violation. Failure to comply shall constitute a violation of this chapter. A conviction of an owner shall not bar further prosecutions for noncompliance with this chapter subsequent to such conviction. An offense against this chapter shall constitute a violation.
Subsequent to the notice provided for in § 242-4 or 242-8, as the case may be, and the failure of the owner to abate the violation, the Township, in lieu of or in addition to prosecution of the owner, may undertake to secure the structure, utilizing either Township personnel or independent contractors for the performance of the work. The cost thereof shall be assessed as a lien against the property in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey.
If the owner cannot be ascertained or is not locatable, then a notice may be published once in each of two consecutive weeks in the official newspaper of the Township, advising of the existence of a structure and that, if the same is not secured within 30 days from the date of the last publication, the Township will secure the structure and assess the cost thereof as a lien against the premises, which lien may be enforced as prescribed by law.
If the structure is owned by more than one owner, each owner shall jointly and severally be subject to prosecution for the violation of this chapter. Where one or more of the joint owners cannot be located or are without the jurisdiction of the court, the joint owner or owners who are within the jurisdiction nevertheless may be prosecuted.