[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Elk 9-1-1961. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Uniform Construction Codes — See Ch. 54.
The following terms whenever used or referred to in this chapter shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Committee of the Township of Elk.
- The holder or holders of title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township of Elk, County of Gloucester, State of New Jersey, relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township of Elk.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officers or body who is or are authorized to exercise the powers prescribed for it by this chapter. The Public Officer for the Township of Elk is hereby designated to be the governing body.
The Public Officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if it 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 of Elk. Such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing): defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; and uncleanliness.
[Amended 4-1-2010 by Ord. No. O-2010-21]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Public Officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township of Elk, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Public Officer (on its own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Public Officer shall, if its 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 its 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 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 such notice and hearing, the Public Officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, said Public Officer shall state in writing its 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 said 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 said 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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the said order of removal.
[Amended 4-1-2010 by Ord. No. O-2010-21]
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 building, the Public Officer may cause such building 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 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.
The amount of 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 of Elk, and the 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. If the building is removed or demolished by the Public Officer, said Public Officer 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 costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Tax Collector of the Township of Elk 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 of Elk 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 30 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.
If an actual and immediate danger of 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 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 Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this act intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or construction official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L.1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
[Added 4-1-2010 by Ord. No. O-2010-21]
Any action taken pursuant to this chapter using revenues derived from the local property tax shall be taken only after advertisement for, and receipt of, bids therefor, pursuant to the provisions of the Local Public Contracts Law, P.L.1971, c.198 (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq.), unless the action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, limb or property.
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 is 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 successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the Township of Elk or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the Township of Elk. 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 of Gloucester.
The Public Officer shall also 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 granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township of Elk in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of the chapter.
To delegate any of its functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as it may designate.
The governing body of the Township of Elk shall, as soon as possible hereafter, prepare an estimate of the annual expenses or costs to provide the equipment, personnel and supplies necessary for periodic examinations and investigations of the buildings in the Township of Elk for the purpose of determining the fitness of such buildings for human habitation or occupancy or use and for the enforcement and administration of this chapter. The Township Committee of Elk is authorized to make such appropriations from its revenues as it may deem necessary for this purpose and may 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 of any department of the Township of Elk to enforce any provisions of its charter or its ordinances or regulations nor to prevent or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this act shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law.
For the administration and enforcement of this chapter, the governing body of the Township of Elk is hereby designated as the Public Officer.