[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Lower by Ord. No. 76-28 (Sec. 9-5 of the 1975 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Licensing of builders and contractors — See Ch. 191.
Moving of buildings — See Ch. 199.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 235.
Construction permits — See Ch. 254.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 291.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 340.
Housing standards — See Ch. 374.
Numbering of buildings— See Ch. 448.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 500.
It is hereby found and determined that there exists in the Township a building or buildings 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 other conditions rendering such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe or unsanitary, or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety, or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing, or demolition of such building or buildings or part thereof.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., as the same may presently exist or be hereafter amended, the Building Subcode Official of the Township is hereby designated and appointed as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter; provided, however, that the Township Committee may, by resolution, designate or appoint additional persons, boards, or bodies as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter, as provided by statute.
Whenever the public officer of the Township designated herein finds that there exists in the Township any building or buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or part thereof, unsafe or unsanitary, or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township, the public officer shall exercise the power vested under this chapter and under its police powers to repair, close or demolish, or cause the repairing, closing, or demolition of such building or buildings or part thereof, in the manner provided.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by the Health Officer, Police Chief, Fire Chief, or any other officer in charge of any department of the Township relating to health, fire, building regulations or activities concerning buildings in the Township, or by at least five residents of the Township, charging that any building within the Township is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer that any building is unfit for human habitation or 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 building 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 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the 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 officer.
If, after notice and hearing, the public officer 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 parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the 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 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 fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within the reasonable time specified in the order of removal.
If the owner shall fail to comply with the order to repair, alter or improve, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; and the public officer 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 officer 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.
[Amended 10-4-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-10]
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the Township, 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 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. An administrative lien fee in the amount of $500 shall be imposed in conjunction with the creation of a lien. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof 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 costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Township Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer, 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 Township 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 accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
The public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds 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 the Township; such conditions may include the following:
Defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident, or other calamities;
Lack of adequate ventilation, light, or sanitary facilities;
Failure to have included in the building running water or inside toilet facilities; failure to have serving the building a sewerage disposal system which meets the minimum standards of any applicable ordinance or statute.
A complaint or order 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 is unknown and 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 shall be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in the official newspaper of the Township. 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 in the office of the Cape May County Clerk.
The public officer or other official designated under this chapter may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the following powers, in addition to the others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, in accordance with applicable ordinances and statutes; provided, however, that entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the 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.
The public officer shall not contract for, nor proceed with, the repair, alteration, improvement, removal or demolition of any building or buildings unless and until the Township Committee, by appropriate resolution, directs that such action be taken.