[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Westville as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 8-26-1985 (Ch. 42 of the 1974 Code)]
The owner, tenant or occupant of lands lying within the limits of the Borough of Westville shall remove from such lands or destroy brush, weeds, including ragweed, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash and debris where it shall be necessary and expedient for the preservation of the public health, safety and general welfare or to eliminate a fire hazard.
[Amended 7-8-1986; 7-11-1989; 2-9-2000]
In the event that an owner, tenant or occupant of lands fails to remove such objects from the lands owned or rented, the Superintendent of Public Works and/or the designated Borough inspection representative of the Borough of Westville may direct that the same be removed or destroyed and direct a notice to the owner or tenant to remove or destroy or to provide for the removal or destruction of the same.
The designated representative of the Borough of Westville or his or her designated agent is hereby authorized and directed to make the necessary inspections to determine the condition of the properties within the Borough of Westville in order that they may perform their duty of safeguarding the health and safety of the general public pursuant to this section. For the purpose of making such inspections, the designated representative or his or her designated agent is hereby authorized to enter the properties in the Borough of Westville and to examine and survey, at all reasonable times, such premises. The owner or occupant of every property, or the person in charge thereof, shall give the designated representative or his or her designated agent free access to such property at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspection, examination and survey. Every occupant of the property shall give the owner thereof, or his or her agent or employee, access to any part of the property at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such corrections to the property as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this section or with any lawful rule or regulation adopted or any lawful order issued pursuant to the provisions of this section.
[Amended 7-8-1986; 7-11-1989; 2-9-2000]
In the event that the owner, tenant or occupant fails to remove or destroy the items set forth within 10 days of notice from the Superintendent of Public Works and/or designated Borough inspection representative of the Borough of Westville, then and in that event the Borough of Westville shall destroy or remove from the lands in question the brush, weeds, including ragweed, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash and debris by or under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Works and/or designated Borough inspection representative of the Borough of Westville, and the Superintendent of Public Works and/or designated Borough inspection representative shall certify the cost thereof to the governing body of the Borough of Westville, who shall examine the certificate, and, if it is found to be correct, the governing body shall cause the cost as shown thereon to be charged against the lands in question; the amount so charged shall forthwith become a lien upon such lands and shall be added to and become and form part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such lands, the same to bear interest at the same rate as taxes and shall be collected and enforced by the same officers and in the same manner as taxes.
The notice required shall contain a description of the property affected sufficiently definite in terms to identify the same, as well as a description of the manner in which such removal or destruction is to be carried out, and said notice shall further contain a statement that, unless such removal or destruction is completed within 10 days after service of such notice, the Borough of Westville will proceed with such removal or destruction or cause the same to be proceeded with pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.14, or any amendments thereto, and will charge the costs and expenses thereof against said property.
Such notice may be served upon the owner(s), tenant(s) or occupant(s) resident in the Borough of Westville, in person or by leaving the same at their usual place of residence with a member of their family above the age of 14 years. In case any such owner shall not reside in the Borough of Westville, or in the case any such tenant shall not reside in the Borough of Westville, notice may be served upon him or her personally or mailed by certified letter to the last known post office address, or it may be served upon the occupant of the property or upon the agent of the owner or tenant in charge thereof. In case the owner or tenant of such property is unknown or service cannot for any reason be made as above directed, notice thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the property affected and shall be published at least once, not less than 10 days before the proposed removal or destruction, in a newspaper circulating within the Borough of Westville. There may be inserted in said advertisement notice to the owner or owners of several different parcels of land. Notice to infant owners or tenants or owner or owners or tenants of unsound mind shall be served upon their guardians. Where lands are held in trust, service shall be made upon the trustee. Where lands are held by two or more joint tenants, tenants in common or tenants by the entirety, service upon one of such owners or tenants shall be sufficient and shall be deemed and taken as notice to all.
[Amended 7-8-1986; 7-11-1989; 2-9-2000]
Proof of service of such notices shall be filed within 10 days thereafter with the Superintendent of Public Works and/or designated Borough inspection representative of the Borough of Westville, but failure to file the same shall not invalidate the proceedings if service has actually been made as herein provided.
Any person who is convicted of violating the provisions of this chapter within one year of the date of a previous violation of the same chapter and who was fined for the previous violation shall be sentenced by the court to an additional fine as a repeat offender. The additional fine imposed by the court for a repeated offense shall not be less than the minimum or exceed the maximum fine fixed for a violation of this chapter, but shall be calculated separately from the fine imposed for the original violation of this chapter. The continuation of such violation for each successive day shall constitute a separate offense.
[Adopted 10-27-2004 by Ord. No. 18-04]
[Amended 2-13-2013 by Ord. No. 2-2013]
The Borough Administrator is hereby directed to identify abandoned properties within the Borough, place said properties on an abandoned property list established as provided in Section 36 of P.L. 1996, c. 62 (N.J.S.A. 55:19-55), as amended, and provide such notices and carry out such other tasks as are required to effectuate an abandoned property list as provided by law.
The Borough of Westville Administrator is hereby designated as the public officer for the purposes of carrying out the responsibilities established by this article and shall have all of the responsibilities and powers provided by law.
The abandoned property list shall apply to the Borough of Westville as a whole and in its entirety.
The public officer herein designated shall exercise the authority by the Borough, pursuant to Section 13, P.L. 2003, c. 210 (N.J.S.A. 55:19-90), to designate qualified rehabilitation entities to act as the designee of the Borough with respect to the provisions of that section.
The public officer shall provide a report to the Mayor and governing body every six months with respect to the number and location of properties on the abandoned property list, the status of those properties, and any actions taken by the municipality or by any qualified rehabilitation entity designated pursuant to the authority granted to the public officer with respect to any property or list or any other abandoned property within the Borough of Westville.
[Added 7-8-2013 by Ord. No. 11-2013]
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED PROPERTY
- Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-81 is defined as follows: Any property that has not been legally occupied for a period of six months and which meets any one of the following additional criteria may be deemed to be abandoned property upon a determination by the public officer that:
- (1) The property is in need of rehabilitation in the reasonable judgment of the public officer, and no rehabilitation has taken place during that six-month period;
- (2) Construction was initiated on the property and was discontinued prior to completion, leaving the building unsuitable for occupancy, and no construction has taken place for at least six months as of the date of a determination by the public officer pursuant to this section;
- (3) At least one installment of property tax remains unpaid and delinquent on that property in accordance with Chapter 4 of Title 54 of the Revised Statutes of the date of the determination by the public officer pursuant to this section; or
- (4) The property has been determined to be a nuisance by the public officer in accordance with Section 5 of P.L.2003, c. 210 (N.J.S.A. 55:19-82). A property which contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned pursuant to P.L. 2003, c. 210 (N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et al.) so long as 2/3 or more of the total net square footage of the building was previously legally occupied as residential or commercial space and none of the residential or commercial space has been legally occupied for at least six months at the time of the determination of abandonment by the public officer and the property meets the criteria of either Subsection (1) or (4) of this definition.
- Shall include the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant/abandoned property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c. 127, Sec. 17 as amended by P.L. 2009, c. 296), or any other entity determined by the Borough of Westville to have authority to act with respect to the property.
- VACANT PROPERTY
- Any building used or to be used as a residence, commercial or industrial structure which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or occupancy has ceased, and which is in such condition that it cannot legally be reoccupied without repair or rehabilitation, including but not limited to any property meeting the definition of abandoned property in N.J.S.A. 55:19-54, 55:19-78, 55:19-79, 55:19-80 and 55:19-81; provided, however, that any property where all building systems are in working order, where the building and grounds are maintained in good order, or where the building is in habitable condition, and where the building is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental, shall not be deemed a vacant property for purposes of this section.
Registration requirements. Effective August 1, 2013, the owner of any vacant property as defined herein shall, within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, file a registration statement for such vacant property with the Property Maintenance Inspector on forms provided by the Borough for such purposes. Failure to receive notice by the municipality shall not constitute grounds for failing to register the property.
Each property having a separate block and lot number as designated in official records of the municipality shall be registered separately.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of a person 21 years or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceedings on behalf of such owner or owners in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code; and the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the property. The individual or representative of the firm responsible for maintaining the property shall be available by telephone or in person on a twenty-four-hour per day, seven-day-per-week basis. The two entities may be the same or different persons. Both entities shown on the statement must maintain offices in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration except for the initial registration which shall be prorated through December 31. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains a vacant and/or abandoned property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in Subsection E of this section, for each vacant property registered. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains a vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in Subsection E of this section, for each vacant property registered.
The annual renewal shall be completed by January 1 each year. The initial registration fee shall be prorated for registration statements received less than 10 months prior to that date.
The owner shall notify the Property Maintenance Inspector within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Property Maintenance Inspector for such purpose.
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Borough against the owner or owners of the building.
Access to vacant properties. The owner of any vacant property registered under this section shall provide access to the Borough to conduct exterior and interior inspections of the building to determine compliance with municipal codes, upon reasonable notice to the property owner or the designated agent. Such inspections shall be carried out on weekdays during the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or such other time as may be mutually agreed upon between the owner and the Borough.
Responsible owner or agent.
An owner who meets the requirements of this section with respect to the location of his or her residence or workplace in the State of New Jersey may designate him or herself as agent or as the individual responsible for maintaining the property.
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this section, the owner consents to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered vacant property and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered building by service of the notice or process on the authorized agent. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purposes of this section until the owner notifies the Borough in writing of a change of authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement.
Any owner who fails to register vacant/abandoned property under the provisions of this section shall further be deemed to consent to receive, by posting on the building, in plain view, and by service of notice at the last known address of the owner of the property on record within the Borough by regular and certified mail, any and all notices of code violations and all process in an administrative proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the building.
Fee schedule. The initial registration fee for each building shall be $500. The fee for the first renewal is $1,500, and the fee for the second renewal is $3,000. The fee for any subsequent renewal beyond the second renewal is $5,000.
Requirements of owners of vacant/abandoned properties. The owner of any building that has become vacant/abandoned property, and any person maintaining or operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant shall, within 30 days thereof:
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Borough Code, or as set forth in the rules and regulations supplementing those codes; and
Post a sign affixed to the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process, and the person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the building, if such person is different from the owner holding title or authorized agent. The sign shall be of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than eight inches by 10 inches; and
Secure the building from unauthorized entry and maintain the sign until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
Ensure that the exterior grounds of the structure, including yards, fences, sidewalks, walkways, rights-of-way, alleys, retaining walls, attached or unattached accessory structures and driveways, are well-maintained and free from trash, debris, loose litter, and gross and weed growth; and
Continue to maintain the structure in a secure and closed condition, keep the grounds in a clean and well-maintained condition, and ensure that the sign is visible and intact until the building is again occupied, demolished, or until repair and/or rehabilitation of the building is complete.
Any person who violates any provision of this section or the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be fined not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for each offense. Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this section shall be recoverable from the owner and shall be a lien on the property.
For purposes of this section, failure to file a registration statement within 30 calendar days after a building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of a vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, and failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, or failure to comply with the provisions of such provisions contained herein shall be deemed to be violations of this section.