[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Tuckerton 9-3-1962 by Ord. No. 139; amended in its entirety 10-16-1978 by Ord. No. 8-1978. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that there exist certain structures in this Borough which are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use and are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of this state and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such structures.
It is further found and determined that there exist in this Borough certain structures which are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to the partial destruction of structures by fire without said structures having been subsequently repaired, or due to the other conditions rendering such structures unsafe or insanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of this Borough, and that the police powers of this Borough to repair, close or demolish the aforesaid structures or any other dwellings or structures of a similar character which shall hereafter appear in this Borough should be exercised for the public good and welfare.
The words "governing body," "public officer," "public authority," "owner," "parties in interest" and "building," as used in this chapter, shall be defined and construed to respectively mean and have the same definitions as are set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4 for said terms, except for the word "structure," which is defined in accordance with the Uniform Construction Code.
[Amended 8-6-1979 by Ord. No. 5-1979]
This chapter shall relate to structures or parts thereof; the public officer hereby designated to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter is the Construction Code Official of this Borough.
[Amended 8-6-1979 by Ord. No. 5-1979]
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or at least five residents of the Borough charging that any structure is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer, on his own motion, that any structure is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the public officer 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 structure a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer, 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; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer and appear in person 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 officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the structure under consideration is unfit for human habitation, 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 parties in interest an order.
If the repair, alteration or improvement of said structure can be made at a reasonable cost 50% in relation to the value of the structure, the owner shall, to the extent and within the time specified in the order, repair, alter or improve said structure to render it fit for human habitation, occupancy or use or, at the option of the owner, vacate or close the structures as unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use.
If the repair, alteration or improvement of said structure cannot be made at a reasonable cost 50% in relation to the value of the structure, the owner shall, within the time specified in the order, remove or demolish such structure.
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 structure, the public officer may cause such structure to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The public officer may cause to be posted, on the main entrance of any structure so closed, a placard with the following words: "This structure is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this structure is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the structure, the public officer may cause such structure to be removed or demolished.
Recovery of costs; demolition of fire-damaged property.
The amount of such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition shall be a Borough lien against the real estate upon which such cost shall be incurred. If the structure is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such structure if the same are salable and shall credit the proceeds of such sale, if any, against the costs of removal or demolition and the cost of the clearance and leveling of the site, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court of New Jersey by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such court and shall be distributed according to the order or judgment of the court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by the order or judgment of said court; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Borough to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
[Amended 8-6-1979 by Ord. No. 5-1979]
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make the building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
[Added 8-6-1979 by Ord. No. 5-1979]
The public officer may determine that a structure is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such structure which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such structure, the occupants of neighboring structures or other residents in the Borough. Such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing): defects therein increasing the hazards of fire; natural defects; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; uncleanliness; lack of heating facilities to properly heat said structure in the season or seasons of the year requiring artificial heat for the structure to make the same habitable for human beings; or that said structure and premises around the same do not have adequate and healthy drinking water or the structure does not have adequate and proper toilet facilities.
Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public officer 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 consecutive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the Borough in which the structures are located. 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 county recording officer of the county in which the structure is located.
[Amended 6-8-1979 by Ord. No. 5-1979]
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by a public officer under this act may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the public officer from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. The remedy herein provided shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the public officer shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant hereto or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the public officer.
The public officer is 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 or by law granted:
To investigate the structure conditions in the Borough in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entry shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
The governing body of this Borough shall, as soon as possible after the effective date of this chapter, prepare an estimate of the annual expenses or costs to provide the equipment, personnel and supplies necessary for periodic examinations and investigations of the structures in said Borough for the purpose of determining the fitness of such structures for human habitation, occupancy or use and for the enforcement and administration of its ordinances adopted under this act, and this Borough is authorized to make such appropriations from its revenue as it may deem necessary for said purpose and to accept and apply grants or donations to assist it in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the courts or any department of the Borough to enforce any provisions of its charters or its ordinances or regulations, nor to prevent or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any law of this state or any ordinance of this Borough.