[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Pemberton 12-20-2006 by Ord. No. 27-2006. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Township Council of the Township of Pemberton finds and resolves that building conditions exist within the Township of Pemberton rendering certain buildings unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use and are inimical to the welfare and public health and safety of the people of the Township of Pemberton. A public necessity exists for an ordinance to set forth a procedure for the repair, closing, or demolition of such building or buildings, or parts thereof, and to provide for remedies in connection with the cost of the demolition, including, but not limited to, an imposition of a municipal lien against the real property upon which those costs may have been incurred in connection with the removal or demolition of a building.
The Construction Official of the Township of Pemberton is hereby designated as the public officer to exercise the powers that are set forth in this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the enforcement official by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township of Pemberton charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the enforcement official on his own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the enforcement official shall, if his 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 enforcement official, or his designated agent, at a place therein fixed, not less than seven days, nor more than 30 days, after the serving of said complaint. 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. The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the enforcement official. For purposes of this chapter, the owner shall mean the holder or holders of the title to the property in fee simple. The parties in interest shall mean all individuals, associations, and corporations who have interest of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
A complaint or order issued by the enforcement official pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon the owner of and the parties in interest in such building personally or by registered mail. If the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the enforcement official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the enforcement official shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the service of such complaint or order upon such person may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Clerk of the Township of Pemberton.
After notice and hearing, if the enforcement official determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state in writing his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and the parties in interest an order that provides for the following:
Requiring the repair, alteration, or improvement of the building to be made by the owner or parties in interest, within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or at the option of the owner or the parties in interest, requiring the owner or parties in interest to vacate or to have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
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 or parties in interest fail to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner or parties in interest shall be required to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
If the owner or the parties in interest fail to comply with the order to repair, alter, or improve, or, at the option of the owner or parties in interest, to vacate and close the building, the enforcement official may cause such building to be repaired, altered, or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The enforcement official 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 occupancy of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner or parties in interest fail to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the enforcement official 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.
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter, determined in favor of the municipality and such 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 the 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. If the building is removed or demolished by the enforcement official, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, 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 cost exceeds the total amount of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amounts so due shall be filed with the municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner and the parties in interest by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in Superior Court by the enforcement official, 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. 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 reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the enforcement official 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.
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 cause their removal by abatement, by summary proceeding or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.