[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Newton 6-8-1970 as Sec. 11-3 of the Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto.
- 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 Town, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations, or to other activities concerning buildings in the Town of Newton.
Any building within the Town that is declared to be unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if conditions exist in the building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of the building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Town including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, defects in the building increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; and dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, uncleanliness or failure to conform to other laws of the state or ordinances of the Town or of the Board of Health regulating the safety and sanitation of buildings.
When a petition is filed with the Construction Official by a public authority or by not less than five residents of the Town charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Construction Official that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for the charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner or the parties in interest in the building, a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that the 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 serving the complaint.
Complaints or orders issued by the Construction Official pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of the persons are unknown and cannot be ascertained by the Construction Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Construction Official has made an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of the complaint or order upon the persons may be made by publishing the order once each week for two successive weeks in the official newspaper of the Town. A copy of the complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of the complaint or order shall also be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Clerk.
The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or by attorney and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the notice of hearing.
The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Construction Official, except as may otherwise be provided by law.
At the time and place stated in the notice or at the time and place to which the hearing shall be adjourned from time to time, the Construction Official shall hold a hearing at which complaints, if any, and the owner and parties in interest and witnesses shall be heard and at which the Construction Official shall publicly state the results of his investigation.
If, after notice and hearing, the Construction Official 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 the determination and issue and cause to be served upon the owner 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 a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
The amount of the cost of repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, shall be a municipal lien against the real property against which the cost was incurred. A detailed statement of the costs shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the record of tax liens, and a copy of the statement shall be forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the building is removed or demolished by the Construction Official, he shall sell the materials of the building and credit proceeds of the sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Construction Official and be secured in such manner as may be directed by the court, to 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 the court. Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Town 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.
In addition to the powers in this chapter granted to the Construction Official, he shall also have the following powers:
To investigate building conditions in the Town in order to determine which buildings 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 the entries shall be made in a manner so as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of the 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.