[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Kingwood 11-16-1957. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Amended 7-21-1978 by Ord. No. 4-7-78]
Pursuant to the authority of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., L. 1942, c. 112, as amended L. 1956, c. 197, the Township Committee of the Township of Kingwood is hereby designated as the public body which is authorized to exercise the powers prescribed in this chapter. Wherever the term "public officers" is used in this chapter, the term shall mean and refer to the members of the Township Committee.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officers by a public authority or by at least five residents of the municipality, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officers (on their own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officers shall, if their preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, 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 public officers (or their designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said 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 place and time fixed in the complaint, and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officers.
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officers determine that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, they shall state in writing their 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:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the 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 have the said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
Providing that 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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the said order of removal.
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 public officers may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; and the public officers 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."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officers may cause such building to be removed or demolished.
The amount of the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. The detailed statement of the aforesaid costs shall be filed with the custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy of the said detailed statement shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officers, they shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officers, 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 entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section 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. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 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 amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
The public officers may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if they find 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 Kingwood Township. Such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing): defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair, structural defects; uncleanliness. The public officers in reaching such determination, shall be guided by, among other things, the standards set by the Building Code, zoning ordinances and health ordinances of the Township of Kingwood and by the pertinent requirements of Title 26 of the Revised Statutes of New Jersey.
Complaints or orders issued by the public officers pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officers in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the public officers 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 each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality, or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the municipality in which the buildings are located. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. 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.
The public officers are hereby authorized 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 powers in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the person in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as they deem necessary to carry out the purposes of the ordinances.
To delegate any of their functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as they may designate.