[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Butler as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Dangerous Structures, Buildings and Premises
[Adopted 9-21-2009 by Ord. No. 843]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- 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.
- DANGEROUS BUILDING or STRUCTURE
- All buildings or structures which have any or all of the following defects shall be deemed dangerous buildings:
- (1) 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;
- (2) Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show damage or deterioration to 10% of the supporting member or members, or damage or deterioration to 25% of the nonsupporting enclosing or outside walls or covering, including roofs;
- (3) 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;
- (4) Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other causes, and the Code Enforcement Officer, Township Engineer, Township Fire Marshal and/or a structural engineer hired by the Township determines that the dangerous building or structure is dangerous to life, safety, or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the public;
- (5) 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 the occupants or the public;
- (6) Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure property or members of the public;
- (7) 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;
- (8) Those which because of their location are unsanitary, or otherwise dangerous, to the health or safety of the occupants or the public;
- (9) Those existing in violation of any provision of the building code, fire prevention code, or other ordinances of Butler Township.
- DANGEROUS PREMISES
- Any premises or property that is in violation of Chapter 127 or Chapter 278 of the Butler Township Code of Ordinances, or that has an unreasonable accumulation of rubbish or garbage thereon, or there is a significant infestation of insects, rodents, vermin and/or other pests, or that has a physical condition upon the land, whether man-made or not, that possesses a significant risk of injury to any person whether on or off the property.
- 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.
- 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.
- Animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
- Presence, within or around a dwelling, of any insects, rodents or other pests.
- Person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
- (1) Shall have legal title to any building, structure or premises, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof, including, but not limited to, any bank, mortgage company or other financial institution; or
- (2) Shall have charge, care or control of any building, structure or premises, 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 article and with rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, to the same extent as if he were the owner; or
- (3) In the case of property that is in the process of being foreclosed, the bank, mortgage company, or other financial institution if legal title has not yet passed to the bank, mortgage company or other financial institution and the property is not occupied by or has been abandoned by the former person who had legal title.
- Any individual, firm, corporation, association or partnership, or other legal entity.
- PREMISES or PROPERTY
- A piece, parcel, lot or tract of land.
- 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.
- Any thing 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.
Whenever the words "building," "structure" or "premises," are used in this article, they shall be construed as though they were followed by the words "or any part thereof."
All dangerous buildings or structures within the terms of § 210-1 of this article are hereby declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated, or demolished as herein provided.
The following standards shall be followed in substance by the Code Enforcement Officer of Butler Township in ordering repair, vacation, or demolition:
If in the opinion of the Township Engineer or a structural engineer the dangerous building can reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this article, it shall be ordered to be repaired.
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.
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.
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 article; or if a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this article or any ordinance of the municipality or statute of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it shall be ordered to be demolished; provided, the cost of repairs to rectify or remove the conditions constituting the nuisance exceed 50% of the assessed value converted to fair market value of the building at the time demolition is proposed.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall inspect on an as-needed basis dwellings, buildings, structures and premises to determine whether any conditions exist which render such premises dangerous buildings, structures or premises which have been determined to be a dangerous building, structure and/or premises.
Whenever an inspection discloses that a dwelling, building, structure or premises has become a public nuisance, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a written notice to the person or persons responsible therefor. The notice:
Shall be in writing; and
Shall include a statement of the reasons it is being issued;
Shall state a reasonable time to rectify the conditions constituting the nuisance or to remove and demolish the dwelling, building or structure;
Shall be served upon the owner, or his agent, or the occupant, as the case may require.
Except in emergency cases and where the owner, occupant, lessee, or mortgagee is absent from Butler Township, 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.
Except emergency cases, in all other cases where the owner, occupant, lessee, or mortgagee is absent from Butler Township, 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.
May contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with the provisions of this article and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
Appear at all hearings and testify as to the condition of dangerous buildings.
Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provision of this article may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the UCC Board of Appeals, provided that such person shall file with the Code Enforcement Officer 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 Code Enforcement Officer shall set a time and place for such hearing before the UCC Board of Appeals 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 20 days after the day on which the petition was filed.
After such hearing, the UCC Board of Appeals shall sustain, modify or reverse the notice issued by the Code Enforcement Officer. If the UCC Board of Appeals sustains or modifies such notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this article shall automatically become an order if a written petition for a hearing is not filed with the Code Enforcement Officer within 10 days after such notice is served.
Any aggrieved party may appeal the final order of the UCC Board of Appeals to the Common Pleas of Butler County, Pennsylvania within 30 days of such final order.
No person shall remove or deface the notice of dangerous building, except as provided in § 210-3C.
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 article, 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 before the UCC Board of Appeals. After such hearing, depending upon the findings as to whether the provisions of this article have been complied with, the UCC Board of Appeals shall continue such order in effect, or modify, or revoke it. The costs of such emergency repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building or structure and the costs of such emergency correction, maintenance or abatement of such dangerous premises shall be collected in the same manner as provided herein for other cases.
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 the Code Enforcement Officer, the Code Enforcement Officer shall cause such building, structure or premises to be repaired, vacated, demolished, corrected, or maintained as the facts may warrant, under the standards hereinbefore provided. Butler Township 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.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this article shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding $300, and/or to undergo imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days. Each day that a violation continues beyond the date fixed for compliance shall constitute a separate offense.
Any penalty assessed and any costs, expenses, charges, including attorneys’ fees, shall be a municipal lien upon the premises or property, which lien shall be deemed to be a lien upon and secured by the premises or property
The remedies provided herein for the enforcement of this article, or any remedy provided by law or in equity, shall not be deemed mutually exclusive; rather they may be employed simultaneously or consecutively, at the option of the Township
All ordinances or parts of ordinances which are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed. The following ordinances or parts thereof are specifically not repealed: