Township of Ralpho, PA
Northumberland County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 1]
1. 
As used in this Part, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
BUILDING
An independent structure having a roof supported by columns or walls resting on its own foundation and includes dwelling, garage, barn, stable, shed, greenhouse, mobile home, plant, factory, warehouse, school or similar structure.
CODE
The building, housing, property maintenance, fire, health or other public safety ordinances enacted by Ralpho Township. The term does not include the Ralpho Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance [Chapter 22] or Zoning Ordinance [Chapter 27].
[Added by Ord. 181, 7/8/2014]
DANGEROUS BUILDING
All buildings or structures which have any or all of the following defects shall be deemed dangerous buildings:
A. 
Those whose interior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
B. 
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show damage or deterioration of 33% of the supporting member or members, or damage or deterioration to 50% of the nonsupporting enclosing or outside walls or covering.
C. 
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the same are overloaded, or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purpose used.
D. 
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other causes so as to be dangerous to life, safety or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the public.
E. 
Those which are so damaged, dilapidated, decayed, unsafe, unsanitary, vermin-infested or which so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living that they are unfit for human habitation, or are likely to cause sickness or disease, so as to work injury to the health, safety or general welfare of those living therein.
F. 
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure property or members of the public.
G. 
Those which lack illumination, ventilation or sanitation facilities or because of another condition are unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous to the health, safety or general welfare of the occupants or the public.
H. 
Those which because of their location are unsanitary, or otherwise dangerous, to the health or safety of the occupants or the public.
I. 
Those existing in violation of any provisions of the building code, fire prevention code or other ordinances of the Township of Ralpho.
DWELLING
Any building which is wholly or partly used or intended to be used for living or sleeping by human occupants.
DWELLING UNIT
Any room or group of rooms located within a dwelling and forming a single habitable unit with facilities which are used or intended to be used for living or sleeping by human occupants.
EXTERMINATION
Control and elimination of insects, rodents or other pests by eliminating their harborage places, removing or making inaccessible materials that may serve as their food, poisoning, spraying, fumigating, trapping or by any other recognized and legal pest elimination methods.
GARBAGE
Animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handing, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
INFESTATION
Presence, within or around a dwelling, of any insects, rodents or other pests.
MUNICIPAL PERMITS
Privileges relating to real property granted by Ralpho Township, including, but not limited to, building permits, approvals pursuant to land use ordinances, exceptions to zoning ordinances and occupancy permits.
[Added by Ord. 181, 7/8/2014]
OWNER
A person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
A. 
Shall have legal title to any dwelling, or dwelling unit, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof.
B. 
Shall have charge, care or control of any dwelling or dwelling unit, as owner or agent of the owner, or as executor, executrix, administrator, administratrix or guardian of the estate of the owner. Any such person thus representing the actual owner shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this Part and with rules and regulations adopted pursuant hereto to the same extent as if he were the owner.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, corporation, association or partnership or other legal entity.
PROPERTY
A piece, parcel, lot or tract of land.
PUBLIC NUISANCE
Property which, because of physical condition or use, is regarded as a public nuisance at common law or has been declared a public nuisance in accordance with the Ralpho Township Code.
[Added by Ord. 181, 7/8/2014]
RUBBISH
Combustible and noncombustible waste materials, except garbage, including residue from the burning of wood, coal, coke and other combustible material, paper, rags, cartons, boxes, wood excelsior, rubber, leather, tree branches, yard trimmings, tin cans, metals, mineral matter, glass, crockery and dust.
SERIOUS VIOLATION
A violation of state law or the Code that poses an imminent threat to the health and safety of a dwelling occupant, occupants in surrounding structures, or passersby.
[Added by Ord. 181, 7/8/2014]
STRUCTURE
Anything constructed or erected with a fixed or ascertainable location on the ground or in water, whether or not affixed to the ground or anchored in the water, including buildings, walls, fences, platforms, docks, wharves, billboards, signs and walks.
SUBSTANTIAL STEP
An affirmative action, as determined by the Code Enforcement Officer or other appropriate official, to remedy a serious violation of state law or the Code, including, but not limited to, physical improvements or repairs to the property.
[Added by Ord. 181, 7/8/2014]
2. 
Whenever the words "dwelling," "dwelling unit" or "premises" are used in this Part, they shall be construed as though they were followed by the words "or any part thereof."
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 2]
All dangerous buildings within the terms of § 101 of this Part are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished as herein provided.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 3]
The following standards shall be followed in substance by the Code Enforcement Officer of the Township of Ralpho in ordering repair, vacation or demolition:
A. 
If the dangerous building can reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this Part, it shall be ordered to be repaired.
B. 
If the dangerous building is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health, safety or general welfare of its occupants or the public and is so placarded, it shall be ordered to be vacated within such length of time, not exceeding 30 days, as is reasonable.
C. 
No dwelling or dwelling unit which has been placarded as unfit for human habitation shall again be used for human habitation until written approval is secured from, and such placard is removed by, the Code Enforcement Officer. The Code Enforcement Officer shall remove such placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the placarding action were based have been eliminated.
D. 
If a dangerous building is 50% or more damaged or decayed, or deteriorated from its original condition; if a dangerous building cannot be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this Part; or if a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this Part or any ordinance of the Township of Ralpho or statute of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it shall be ordered to be demolished, provided the costs of repairs to rectify or remove the conditions constituting the nuisance exceed 50% of the market value of the building at the time demolition is proposed.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 4]
1. 
The Code Enforcement Officer shall inspect on a regular basis dwellings, buildings and structures to determine whether any conditions exist which render such premises dangerous buildings within the terms of § 101 above.
2. 
Whenever an inspection discloses that a dwelling, building or structure has become a public nuisance, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a written notice to the person or persons responsible therefor. The notice:
A. 
Shall be in writing.
B. 
Shall include a statement of the reasons it is being issued.
C. 
Shall state a reasonable time to rectify the conditions constituting the nuisance or to remove and demolish the dwelling, building or structure.
D. 
Shall be served upon the owner, or his agent or the occupant, as the case may require.
(1) 
Except in emergency cases and where the owner, occupant, lessee or mortgagee is absent from the Township of Ralpho, all notices shall be deemed to be properly served upon the owner, occupant or other person having an interest in the dangerous building if a copy thereof is served upon him personally, or if a copy thereof is posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure affected by the notice, or if he is served with such notice by any other method authorized or required under the laws of the commonwealth.
(2) 
Except in emergency cases, in all other cases where the owner, occupant, lessee or mortgagee is absent from the Township of Ralpho, all notices or orders provided for herein shall be sent by registered mail to the owner, occupant and all other persons having an interest in said building, as shown by the records of the County Recorder of Deeds, to the last known address of each, and a copy of such notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the dangerous building to which it relates. Such mailing and posting shall be deemed adequate service.
E. 
May contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with the provisions of this Part and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
3. 
Appear at all hearings conducted by the Ralpho Township Supervisors and testify as to the condition of dangerous buildings.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 5]
1. 
Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provision of this Part may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the Ralpho Township Supervisors, provided that such person shall file with the Township Clerk a written petition requesting such hearing and setting forth a brief statement of the grounds therefor within 10 days after the day the notice was served. Upon receipt of such petition, the Township Clerk shall set a time and place for such hearing and shall give the petitioner written notice thereof. At such hearing, the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to be heard and to show why such notice should be modified or withdrawn. The hearing shall be commenced not later than 30 days after the day on which the petition was filed.
2. 
After such hearing, the Ralpho Township Supervisors shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice. If the Ralpho Township Supervisors sustain or modify such notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this Part shall automatically become an order if a written petition for a hearing is not filed with the Township Clerk within 10 days after such notice is served.
3. 
Any aggrieved party may appeal the final order to the Court of Common Pleas in accordance with the provisions of the Judicial Code.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 6]
No person shall remove or deface the notice of dangerous building, except as provided in § 103, Subsection C.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 7]
Whenever the Code Enforcement officer finds that an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health, he may, without notice or hearing, issue an order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as is necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Part, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, but upon petition to the Code Enforcement Officer shall be afforded a hearing as soon as possible. After such hearing, depending upon the findings as to whether the provisions of this Part have been complied with, the Code Enforcement Officer shall continue such order in effect, or modify or revoke it. The costs of such emergency repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building shall be collected in the same manner as provided herein for other cases.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 8]
If the owner, occupant, mortgagee or lessee fails to comply with the order of the Code Enforcement Officer within the time specified in the notice issued by him and no petition for a hearing is filed within 10 days thereafter, or following a hearing by the Ralpho Township Supervisors where the order is sustained thereby, the Code Enforcement Officer shall cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated or demolished, as determined by the Ralpho Township Supervisors in accordance with the standards hereinbefore provided. The Township of Ralpho may collect the cost of such repair, vacation or demolition together with a penalty of 10% of such cost, in the manner provided by law. Or the Township of Ralpho may seek injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to the rules of civil procedure.
[Ord. 103, 3/8/1994, § 9; as amended by Ord. 112, 6/11/1996, §§ 1,2; by Ord. 119, 4/14/1998; and by Ord. 181, 7/8/2014]
1. 
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this Part, upon conviction thereof in an action brought before a District Justice in the manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 plus costs and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days. Each day that a violation of this Part continues or each section of this Part which shall be found to have been violated shall constitute a separate offense.
2. 
In addition to any other remedy available at law or in equity, the Township of Ralpho may institute the following actions against the owner of any real property that is in serious violation of a code or for failure to correct a condition which causes the property to be regarded as a public nuisance:
A. 
An in personam action may be initiated for a continuing violation which the owner takes no substantial step to correct within six months following receipt of an order or notice to correct the violation, unless the order is subject to a pending appeal before the Township or court. Notwithstanding any law in the form of action for the recovery of penalties by the Code, Ralpho Township may recover, in a single action under this section, an amount equal to any penalties imposed against the owner and any costs of remediation lawfully incurred on behalf of Ralpho Township to remedy any code violations.
B. 
A proceeding in equity.
C. 
A lien may be placed against the assets of an owner of real property that is in serious violation of the Code or is regarded as a public nuisance after a judgment, decree, or court order is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction against the owner of the property. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize, in the case of an owner that is an association or trust, a lien on the individual assets of the general partner or trustee, except as otherwise allowed by law, limited partner, shareholder, member or beneficiary of the association or trust.
3. 
Permit Denial for Delinquency in Any Municipality or Other Jurisdiction.
A. 
The Township of Ralpho may deny issuing an applicant a municipal permit if the applicant owns real property in any municipality for which there exists on the real property:
(1) 
Tax and/or municipal services delinquencies on account of the actions of the owner; or
(2) 
A serious violation and the owner has taken no substantial step to correct the serious violation within six months following the notification of the violation and for which fines or other penalties or a judgment to abate or correct were imposed by a Magisterial District Judge or municipal court, or a judgment in law or equity was imposed by a court of common pleas. However, no denial shall be permitted on the basis of a property for which the judgment, order or decree is subject to a stay or supersedeas by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction or automatically allowed by statute or rule of court until the stay or supersedeas is lifted by the court or a higher court or the stay or supersedeas expires as otherwise provided by law. Where a stay or supersedeas is in effect, the property owner shall so advise Ralpho Township. Ralpho Township shall not deny a municipal permit to an applicant if the municipal permit is necessary to correct a violation of state law or a code.
B. 
The municipal permit denial shall not apply to an applicant's delinquency on taxes, water, sewer, or refuse collection charges that are under appeal or otherwise contested through a court or administrative process.
C. 
All municipal permits withheld in accordance with this subsection may be withheld until the applicant obtains a letter from the appropriate state agency, municipality, or school district indicating the following:
(1) 
The property in question has no final and unappealable tax, water, sewer, or refuse delinquencies;
(2) 
The property in question is now in compliance with state law and/or the code;
(3) 
The owner of the property has presented and the appropriate state agency or municipality has accepted a plan to begin remediation of a serious violation of state law or the code. Acceptance of the plan may be contingent on:
(a) 
Beginning the remediation plan with no fewer than 30 days following the acceptance of the plan or sooner, if mutually agreeable to both the property owner and the municipality.
(b) 
Completing the remediation plan within no fewer than 90 days following commencement of the plan or sooner, if mutually agreeable to both the property owner and the municipality.
(4) 
In the event that the appropriate state agency, municipality or school district fails to issue a letter indicating tax, water, sewer, refuse, state law, or code compliance or noncompliance, as the case may be, within 45 days of the request, the property in question shall be deemed to be in compliance for the purpose of this section. The appropriate state agency, municipality or school district shall specify the form in which the request for a compliance letter shall be made. Letters required under this section shall be verified by the appropriate municipal officials before issuing to the applicant a municipal permit.
[Ord. 51, 11/10/1981, § 1]
The word "building," as used in this Part, shall mean any structure used or intended to be used as a dwelling or place of business or industry, or any other use requiring a location identity, but shall not include any accessory building located upon a lot where there is also a main building.
[Ord. 51, 11/10/1981, § 2; as amended by Ord. 119, 4/14/1998]
The map known as "Ralpho Township Street Number Plan" is hereby incorporated into this Part. The map shall be maintained current by the addition of new buildings as constructed, by the Code Enforcement Officer.
[Ord. 51, 11/10/1981, § 3]
It shall be the duty of the Township to notify present owners of properties of the number which has been assigned to said properties which will require a number, and it shall the duty of such owners so notified within 30 days to comply with the future provisions of this Part.
[Ord. 51, 11/10/1981, § 4]
Numbers, as assigned to each building in the Township according to the provisions of this Part, shall be affixed to or painted upon or carved upon such building within three feet on either side of the main entrance or other entrance which faces the main street, or upon a permanent standard base or support between such building and street. Each number shall be at least three inches high, shall be of such color and material as to be visible from the street and shall be constantly maintained in complete and legible form. The property owners shall reaffix or renew all numbers that shall not continue to conform to the requirements of this section; provided that, in the case of buildings occupied by other than the owner thereof, the occupant, rather than the owner, shall be responsible for maintaining numbers upon such building as hereby required.
[Ord. 51, 11/10/1981, § 5; as amended by Ord. 119, 4/14/1998]
Whenever a building shall hereafter be erected in the Township, the owner thereof shall forthwith apply to the Code Enforcement Officer for the official number thereof, unless the structure is situate on a rural route, in which case application must be made to the U.S. Postmaster. The number shall be assigned by the Code Enforcement Officer in conformity with the requirements set forth in this Part for numbers for existing buildings and shall, within 30 days after being assigned to such building, be affixed by the owner thereof in the manner required by this Part in the case of existing buildings and shall thereafter be maintained as hereby required for the numbers of existing buildings.
[Ord. 51, 11/10/1981, § 6; as amended by Ord. 112, 6/11/1996, §§ 1,2; and by Ord. 119, 4/14/1998]
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this Part, upon conviction thereof in an action brought before a District Justice in the manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 plus costs and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days. Each day that a violation of this Part continues or each section of this Part which shall be found to have been violated shall constitute a separate offense.