[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Westfield 10-19-1998 by L.L. No. 10-1998. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Fire prevention and building construction — See Ch. 85.
Editor's Note: This local law superseded former Ch. 74, Unsafe Buildings, adopted 10-30-1995 by L.L. No. 5-1995.
Unsafe buildings pose a threat to life and property in the Village of Westfield, New York. Buildings and structures may become unsafe by reason of damage by fire, the elements of nature, age, general deterioration and lack of maintenance. Vacant buildings not properly secured at doorways and windows also serve as nuisances and hazards for young children who may be injured therein. A dilapidated building also serves as a place for rodent infestation and as an attractive habitat for other forms of wildlife, thereby creating a health menace to the community. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide for the safety, health protection and general welfare of persons and property in the Village of Westfield by requiring such unsafe buildings to be repaired or demolished and removed.
This chapter shall be known as the "Village of Westfield Unsafe Building Law."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A structure wholly or partially enclosed within exterior walls and a roof, affording shelter to persons, animals or property.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Code Enforcement Officer of the Village of Westfield or such other person appointed by the Board of Trustees to enforce the provisions of this chapter and/or the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
- An assembly of materials forming a construction framed of component structural parts for occupancy or use, including buildings.
"Dangerous/unsafe buildings" shall mean any building or structure which has any or all of the following conditions:
Those where any interior wall or walls or other structural load-bearing members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line, passing from any overhead supporting member through the center of gravity, falls outside the middle third of its base.
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the floors or roofs are overloaded or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purpose used and which do not meet the minimum standards prescribed by the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
Those having inadequate or insufficient facilities for ingress and egress in the event of fire, panic or other emergency, or those having insufficient stairways, elevators, fire escapes, aisles, passageways, corridors or other means of access and which do not meet the standards prescribed by the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached or connected in such a manner that they fall, collapse or cause damage and injury to the occupant thereof or other persons or property.
Those which, in whole or in part, are used for residential, mercantile, industrial, storage, assembly, institutional or other purpose, which for need of repair, lack of insufficient fire escapes or exits or by reason of age, fire or dilapidated condition or from any other cause may now be or shall at any time hereafter become unsafe or dangerous structurally or a fire hazard or a nuisance to the general public.
A vacant building, unguarded or open at a door or a window.
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind, act of vandalism or other causes so as to have become dangerous to life, safety or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the Village of Westfield.
Those which have become so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe or unsanitary or which fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living that they are unfit for human habitation and are likely to cause sickness or disease so as to injure the health, safety or general welfare of those living therein.
Those having sanitary facilities which are inadequate to protect the health, safety or general welfare of human beings who live or may live therein.
Those buildings or structures in which there exist violations of any provisions of any code, ordinance or law of the Village of Westfield or any governmental agency having jurisdiction so as to have become dangerous to life, safety or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the Village of Westfield.
Those which, in whole or in part, have an existing electrical wiring system which is defective or which fails to meet the requirements as prescribed by applicable provisions of law or which have plumbing, sewage or drainage facilities that are not in conformity with applicable building or plumbing codes or which are overcrowded.
All dangerous buildings within the terms of § 74-4 of this chapter are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be vacated and/or repaired, secured, demolished and removed as hereinafter provided.
When it shall come to the attention of the Code Enforcement Officer that any building within the Village of Westfield may be dangerous or unsafe as defined in this chapter, the Code Enforcement Officer or his designee shall cause or make an inspection thereof and report, in writing, to the Board of Trustees his findings and recommendations in regard to its repair or demolition and removal.
The Board of Trustees shall thereafter consider such report and, if in its opinion the report so warrants, determine by resolution that such building is unsafe and dangerous as defined in this chapter and order its repair if the same can be safely repaired or its demolition and removal and further order that a notice be served upon the persons in the manner provided in this chapter.
The notice shall contain the following:
A description of the premises.
A statement of the particulars in which the building is unsafe or dangerous.
An order describing the manner in which the building is to be made safe and secure or demolished and removed.
A statement that the securing, repair or removal of such building shall commence within 30 days of the service of the notice and shall be completed within 60 days thereafter, unless, for good cause shown, such time shall be extended.
A statement that the owner or other persons receiving this notice shall, within 10 days of the receipt of this notice, either:
Certify his acceptance of the particulars contained in said notice, in writing, and serve such acceptance either personally on the Code Enforcement Officer or a person designated by him to accept service on his behalf or by certified mail to the officer; or
Certify his rejection of the particulars contained in said notice and request a hearing, in writing, and serve such rejection either personally on the Code Enforcement Officer or a person designated by him to accept service on his behalf or by certified mail to the officer. Such hearing shall be held before the Village Justice acting as an administrative hearing officer or, if he shall excuse himself, before any other attorney or person appointed by the Village Board of Trustees within a reasonable time, not to exceed 60 days.
A statement that, in the event of neglect or refusal to respond to the notice to secure or demolish and remove the building within 10 days, the Village is authorized to provide for its demolition and removal, to assess all expenses thereof against the land on which it is located and to institute a special proceeding to collect the costs of demolition and removal, including but not limited to architectural fees, engineering fees and legal expenses.
Said notice shall be served:
By personal service of a copy thereof upon the owner, executor, administrator, agent, lessee or any other person having a vested or contingent interest in such unsafe building, as shown by the records of the receiver of taxes (or Tax Collector) or of the County Clerk, or, if no such person can be reasonably found, by mailing to such owner by certified mail a copy of such notice directed to his last known address, as shown by the above records;
By personal service of a copy of such notice upon any adult person residing in or occupying said premises if such person can be reasonably found; and
At the hearing conducted pursuant to the request of the owner, the Code Enforcement Officer and the owner or any other person having an invested or contingent interest in the building shall have an opportunity to be heard and to present evidence. Following the hearing, the hearing officer shall make a finding confirming, modifying or rescinding the order for the repair or demolition and removal of the building. Any person appearing at the hearing in opposition to the order made pursuant to this chapter shall provide the hearing officer with his or her name and a mailing address. In the event that the hearing officer makes a decision confirming or modifying the order made pursuant to this chapter, a copy of said decision shall be immediately forwarded by ordinary mail to such person or persons at the address or addresses provided. A copy of any decision shall also be delivered to the Board of Trustees, the Code Enforcement Officer and the Village Clerk.
In the event of refusal or neglect of the person so notified to comply with said order of the Board of Trustees or with any decision issued by a hearing officer after a hearing conducted pursuant to this chapter, the Village shall provide for the demolition and removal of such building or structure either by Village employees or by contract. Except in an emergency, as provided in § 74-12 of this chapter, any contract for demolition and removal of a building in excess of $10,000 shall be awarded through competitive bidding.
Whenever the Code Enforcement Officer finds a building or structure or part thereof to be an imminent danger to life and safety as a result of structural instability, fire, explosion or other hazardous situation, in lieu of the procedures set forth in §§ 74-6 through 74-10, the Code Enforcement Officer may order it to be made safe and secure or demolished and removed by the owner thereof.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall require the occupants of any such building or structure or part thereof to vacate the premises forthwith. No person shall use or occupy such building or structure or part thereof until it is made safe.
Except for the owner, no person shall enter the premises which have been ordered vacated unless authorized to perform inspections or repairs or to demolish and remove such buildings or structure or part thereof.
The Village of Westfield shall also have a right to bring an action against the owner of the real property for the costs involved in the demolition and removal, in addition to levying the amount against such property on the tax roll. If recovery is had in this manner, the amount levied on the tax roll shall be removed.
Any owner who certifies his acceptance of a notice to repair, pursuant to § 74-8E(1), and fails to commence repair or removal of such building within 30 days or fails to complete within 60 days shall be considered in violation of this chapter.
Any person who, after a hearing pursuant to § 74-8E(2), fails to follow the decision of the hearing officer shall be in violation of this chapter.
Any person, pursuant to § 74-8F, who neglects or refuses to respond to the notice shall be in violation of this chapter.
A violation of this chapter shall be enforced by either:
Fines or imprisonment.
For a conviction of a first offense: a fine not exceeding $250 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both.
For a conviction of a second offense, both of which were committed within a period of five years: a fine of not less than $350 nor more than $700 or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both.
Upon a conviction of a third or subsequent offense, all of which were committed within a period of five years: a fine of not less than $700 nor more than $1,000 or imprisonment for a period not to exceed 60 days, or both.
For the first offense: a civil penalty not exceeding $350.
For the conviction of a second offense, both of which were committed within a period of five years: a civil penalty of not less than $350 nor more than $700.
Upon a conviction of a third or subsequent offense, all of which were committed within a period of five years: a civil penalty of not less than $700 nor more than $1,000.
Each week's continued violation shall constitute a separate additional violation for which separate and additional fines and punishment or civil penalties may be imposed and recovered.
In the event that the penalty sought is within the monetary jurisdiction of the Justice Court, as established in Article 18 of the Uniform Justice Court Act, such action to recover such penalty may and shall be determined by an attorney representing the Village and may be commenced as a small claim pursuant to the provisions of Article 18 of the Uniform Justice Court Act.
If any of the other provisions of this chapter are held unconstitutional or otherwise invalid by any court of a competent jurisdiction, the remaining provisions of the chapter shall remain in effect.
This chapter shall take effect upon filing with the Secretary of State.