[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Essex Fells as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Abandoned property – See Ch. 205.
[Adopted 7-18-1989 by Ord. No. 89-552 (Ch. 8.32 of the 1992 Code)]
The ordinance codified in this chapter shall be known as the "Property Maintenance Ordinance of the Borough of Essex Fells."
Findings and declaration of policy. Experience and observations have shown that lack of maintenance of real property may lead to progressive deterioration and loss of property values. Through the establishment of the regulations and restrictions contained in this chapter, the desirability of residential and nonresidential uses and the amenities of neighborhoods will be enhanced and the general health, safety and welfare of all residents fostered and protected.
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety and welfare by establishing minimum standards governing the maintenance, appearance and condition of residential and nonresidential premises. It fixes certain responsibilities upon owners, operators, occupants and other persons. It authorizes and establishes procedures for the inspection of residential and nonresidential premises. It fixes penalties for the violations of this chapter and provides procedures for correcting violations in those cases requiring Borough action. This chapter is declared to be protective, preventive and essential for the public interest, and it is intended that this chapter be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes stated herein.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given in this section:
- The condition or appearance of a building or part thereof characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting or other evidence of physical decay or neglect, lack of maintenance or excessive use or abuse.
- EXPOSED TO PUBLIC VIEW
- Any premises, or any part of any premises, which may be lawfully viewed by the public or any member thereof.
- EXTERIOR OF THE PREMISES
- Those portions of a building which are exposed to public view and the open space of any premises outside of any building erected thereon.
- The control and elimination of insects, rodents and vermin.
- FRONT YARD
- That space on the same lot with a principal building situated between the front street line or lines and the front line of the building projected to the side property lines. The depth of the front yard shall be measured along a line perpendicular to the front street line from the point of the foundation of the structure.
- Putrescible animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
- The presence of rodents, vermin, insects or other pests on the premises which constitute a health hazard.
- A. Any condition so defined by common law, the statutes of the state or the ordinances of the Borough;
- B. Any condition which may prove attractive but detrimental to the health or safety of children, whether in a building, on the premises of a building or upon an unoccupied lot;
- C. Physical conditions dangerous to human life or detrimental to the health of persons on or near the premises where the conditions exist;
- D. Conditions which render air, food or drink unwholesome or detrimental to the health of human beings.
- Any person having actual possession of a premises.
- Any person who has charge, care or control of a dwelling or premises, or any part thereof, with or without the knowledge and/or consent of the owner.
- Any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others, has legal or equitable title in any form to any premises, with or without actual possession thereof; or shall have charge, care or control of any dwelling or premises as owner or agent of the owner, including, but not limited to, a fiduciary, executor, administrator, trustee, receiver or guardian of the estate or as a mortgagee in possession.
- A lot, plot or parcel of land, including but not limited
to the portion or portions thereof which are adjacent to or within
the public rights-of-way, and the trees, shrubbery, vegetation, buildings
or structures thereon.[Amended 7-17-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-933]
- All nonputrescible solid wastes, including, but not limited to, abandoned vehicles and recreational devices and parts thereof, abandoned machinery and parts thereof, household furnishings, debris, junk, appliances, rubbish, scrap lumber, stumps, tires, trash, grass and yard brush and pruning clippings. (See also "garbage.")
- A combination of materials to form a construction for occupancy, use or ornamentation, whether installed on, above, or below the surface of a parcel of land.
All structures and premises shall comply with the provisions of this chapter, whether or not those structures and premises have been constructed, altered or repaired before or after the enactment of the ordinance codified in this chapter and irrespective of any permits or licenses which may have been issued for their use or occupancy prior to the effective date of this chapter. Vacant lots, lands and premises are also required to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
In any case where the provisions of this chapter impose a higher standard than set forth in any other ordinance of the Borough or under the laws or regulations of the state, then the standards as set forth in this chapter shall prevail. If the provisions of this chapter impose a lower standard than any other ordinance of the Borough or of the laws and regulations of the state, then the higher standard contained in any such ordinance or law or regulation shall prevail.
No certification of compliance with this chapter shall constitute a defense against any violation of any other ordinance of the Borough applicable to any structure or premises.
Owners and operators. Owners and operators shall have all the duties and responsibilities as prescribed in this chapter, and no owner or operator shall be relieved from any such duties and responsibilities nor be entitled to defend against any charge of violation thereof by reason of the fact that the occupant is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
Occupants. Occupants shall have all the responsibilities and duties as prescribed in this chapter, and the occupant shall not be relieved from any such duties and responsibilities nor be entitled to defend against any charge of violation thereof by reason of the fact that the owner or operator is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
Contract not to alter responsibilities. Unless expressly provided to the contrary in this chapter, the respective obligations and responsibilities of the owner and operator on the one hand and the occupant on the other shall not be altered or affected by any agreement or contract by and between any of the aforesaid or between them and other parties.
It is the duty of the owner, operator and/or occupant to keep the exterior of the premises free of nuisances which include, but are not limited to, the following:
Garbage and/or refuse.
Natural growth, such as dead and dying or storm-damaged trees and limbs or other growth which, by reason of its conditions or nature, constitutes a hazard to persons lawfully in the vicinity. Trees shall be kept pruned and trimmed to prevent such conditions. Owners of vacant premises must keep them free of nuisances.
Overhanging objects and accumulations of ice and/or snow which by reason of their location above ground level constitute a danger of falling on persons lawfully in the vicinity.
Ground surface hazards, such as holes, excavations, breaks and projections on residential premises within five feet of an unfenced property line or on any part of a nonresidential premises to which the public has lawful access.
Sources of infestation, including all environments and conditions conducive to the increase or spread of vermin.
It is the duty of the owner, operator and/or occupant to keep and maintain the exterior of the premises and structures so that the appearance of the same shall not constitute a blighting factor, including, but not limited to, the following:
Landscaping. Premises shall be kept from becoming overgrown and/or unsightly. Vegetation along the public right-of-way shall be kept from becoming a visual or physical hazard to pedestrians and motorists.
General maintenance. Every structure shall be maintained in good repair for purposes of preservation and appearance and free from conditions reflective of deterioration or inadequate maintenance, including, but not limited to, broken glass, excessively peeling or deteriorated paint, loose or missing shingles or siding, crumbling stone or brick. During construction, renovation or repair, the work must proceed in an orderly and timely manner, and premises must be kept as free as possible of debris and stored equipment and materials and other unsightly condition, and sediment or soil from stormwater runoff must not be allowed to flow onto the public right-of-way or neighboring properties. All work on construction, renovation or repair must be completed under any circumstances within one year of the commencement of construction.
The penalty for a violation of this section shall be $100.
[Added 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the municipality or its officers or agencies relating to the removal or demolition of any building or structure which is deemed to be dangerous, unsafe or unsanitary.
Enforcement officer. The Construction Code Official of the Borough is designated as the officer charged with the enforcement of this code and is hereafter referred to as the "Enforcement Officer." The Building Subcode Official, all members of the Police Department and authorized inspectors of the Fire Department and Health Officers of the Borough are designated as assistant enforcement officers for the purposes of the enforcement of this code.
The Enforcement Officer shall cause to be made such inspections of premises within the Borough as he shall deem necessary to effect compliance with this chapter and shall have the authority to use the services of any public authority in the enforcement of this code.
Notice to owner, operator or occupant upon noncompliance. Following inspection, if the Enforcement Officer determines that the premises are not in compliance with this chapter, he shall then issue and cause to be served upon the owner, operator and/or occupant of the premises a written notification stating the nature of the violation and the corrective action sought and allowing 30 days (exclusive of the day of service) for its correction. In cases where the violation presents a clear and present danger to public health and safety, the complaint is to be turned over to the Police Department or the Board of Health for prompt action within its jurisdiction.
Service of notice. In the case of an owner or operator, the notice may be served personally upon him or by registered mail or certified mail, addressed to his last known address. If, after due diligence, the last known address cannot be ascertained, the notice may be posted on the outside front entrance of the structure. Personal service of the notice may be upon a member of the family of the owner or operator over 14 years of age, residing in the same dwelling unit with the owner or operator, as the case may be. In the case of the occupant, notice may be mailed or delivered to him at his place of business or posted to the door of the occupant's premises.
Where the violations or conditions existing on the premises are of such a nature as to constitute an immediate threat to life and limb unless abated without delay, the Enforcement Officer may either abate the violation or condition immediately or order the owner, occupant or operator to correct the violation or condition within a period of time not to exceed three days. Upon failure to do so, the Enforcement Officer shall abate the condition immediately.
Upon issuance of a notice of violation pursuant to this chapter, the property owner, operator or occupant shall correct the condition and notify the Enforcement Officer that the condition has been corrected. A compliance inspection shall then be made. Should full compliance not be achieved at the time of the inspection, the Borough shall be reimbursed by the property owner for the cost of reinspection. Failure to reimburse the Borough shall result in a lien for the cost being placed against the property in the same manner as real estate taxes.
[Amended 12-21-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-911]
There shall be no fee for an initial compliance inspection made following the issuance of a notice of violation required pursuant to this chapter. Fees for subsequent inspections to determine compliance shall be $35 for the first inspection and shall increase in increments of $50 for subsequent inspections.
Where any owner, operator or occupant fails to comply with an order issued pursuant to this chapter, he shall be deemed in violation of this chapter and shall be subject to the penalties provided in this chapter. It is the duty of the Enforcement Officer to cause a summons to be issued from the Municipal Court for such violations, but nothing contained in this chapter shall limit the power of the Enforcement Officer to take such further action under the criminal and civil laws of this state through any court of competent jurisdiction as may be necessary to remove or abate any nuisance.
Each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day the violation exists constitutes a separate and distinct offense and shall be punishable as provided in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty, per day and per offense, levied against the owner, operator or occupant.
[Amended 11-17-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-878]
Where abatement of any nuisance, as defined in this chapter, was accomplished and premises brought into compliance with this chapter through the expenditures of Borough funds, such costs shall be assessed against the premises cited as a lien in the same manner as real estate taxes.
[Adopted 8-21-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-1001]
Where it is necessary and expedient for the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare, or to eliminate a fire hazard, an owner or tenant of real property within the Borough of Essex Fells shall remove from such lands brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growth, filth, garbage, trash and debris within 10 days after notice to remove the same from the designated official of the Borough of Essex Fells.
If an owner or tenant who has received notice in accordance with the provisions of § 206-14 fails to remove from said lands the brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growth, filth, garbage, trash and debris, or fails to cut any brush, hedges, shrubs or other obstructions for which said person was cited within 10 days of notice to remove the same, then, and in that event, the Borough shall have the right to provide for the removal of the same by or under the direction of an officer of the municipality.
In all cases where any brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growth, filth, garbage, trash and debris are removed, or any brush, hedges, shrubs or other obstructions are cut by the Borough under the provisions of this article, the municipal officer of the municipality in charge of the removal of said material shall certify the cost thereof to the governing body. Upon receipt of the certificate of cost, the governing body shall examine the same and, if found correct, shall cause the cost as shown thereon to be charged against the property from which said material was removed. The amount so charged shall become a lien upon such lands and shall be added to and become and form part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon said lands, the same to bear interest at the same rate as other taxes and shall be collected and enforced by the Tax Collector of the Borough in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.27.