[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Edgewater 5-19-2008 by Ord. No. 1388-2008 (Ch. 159 of the 1975 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any letters, numbers, word or words, writing, inscription, symbol, drawing, carving, etching or any other marking of any nature whatsoever which defaces, obliterates, covers, alters, damages or destroys the real or personal property of another. This chapter shall not be construed to prohibit easily removable chalk markings on the public sidewalks and streets used in connection with traditional children's games.
- Any person under the age of 18 years.
- SPRAY PAINT CONTAINER
- Any container or other device which contains paint or other pigmented substance, which is intended to expel the paint or pigment without the aid of additional devices or substances, and includes an aerosol spray paint, as it is commonly known.
- WIDE FELT-TIP MARKERS
- A marking pen or instrument of which the surface used for writing or marking purposes is equal to or greater than 1/8 of an inch.
It is the express intent of this chapter to impress upon the general public the necessity of removing graffiti from any and all buildings as not only does it devalue the property, but devalues the Borough of Edgewater as a whole. The Mayor and Council further find and declare that the prompt removal of graffiti is the responsibility of all property owners and that, in the event a property owner should fail or refuse to remove such graffiti, it is appropriate for the Borough of Edgewater to abate such a nuisance and to charge the cost thereof as a lien against the property.
Graffiti prohibited. No person shall write, draw, paint, print or place with ink, paint, chalk, or other substance, graffiti or other markings, whether obscene or not and whether intended to offend or not, on the real or personal property of another, whether such property is publicly or privately owned, unless the owner of said property shall have, prior to the drawing, writing, printing or placing of such markings, specifically consented to the same; nor shall any person willfully or maliciously damage, deface or vandalize the property of another by inscribing or placing graffiti or any other markings on a public or private street, or on public or private property, whether real or personal; provided, however, that nothing contained herein shall prohibit the occasional and temporary marking of public streets or sidewalks with chalk for traditional children's games.
Notice required with sale of certain items. No person shall knowingly sell or offer for sale to the general public any spray paint or other pigmented substance in an aerosol or similar spray container, or any wide felt-tip marker, as defined above, unless a sign is exhibited, either where the product is displayed or where it is paid for, warning that in the Borough of Edgewater a conviction for an act of graffiti carries a minimum mandatory fine of $100 for a first offense and carries additional fines, restitution, and community service for subsequent violations. See Chapter 1, Article II, General Penalty, of this Code.
Possession prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess a spray paint container, liquid paint in cans, a wide felt-tip marker or any other pigmented substance in an aerosol or similar spray container in any public building or upon any public facility or private property with the intent to use the same to deface said building, facility or property. A person who possesses a spray paint container, liquid paint in cans, a wide felt-tip marker or any other pigmented substance in an aerosol or similar spray container in any public building, or upon any public facility or private property, with no legitimate or lawful purpose therefor, shall be presumed to have possessed the same with the intention of using such container, marker, can or paint to deface said building, facility or property, the said presumption being rebuttable by the possessor demonstrating a lawful, legitimate use for the container, marker, can or paint.
Parents of minors. It shall be unlawful for any parent, legal guardian or other person having custody or in the presence of any minor child under the age of 18 years to assist, aid, abet, allow, permit or encourage said minor to violate the provisions of this chapter, as defined herein, either by words, overt act or by failing to act or by lack of proper supervision and control over said minor child.
Time limit for removal. The Borough shall provide written notice of an order to remove graffiti to the owner of the property on which the graffiti is located by certified and regular mail. The notice sent to the property owner shall provide a form to be utilized by a property owner to inform the municipality that the graffiti has been removed. The form shall contain a provision stating that by affixing a signature to the form, indicating that graffiti has been removed, the owner is certifying that the facts set forth therein are true and that the certification shall be considered as if made under oath and subject to the same penalties as provided by law for perjury. The property owner shall remove the graffiti within 90 calendar days of the date on which the notice is sent.
Response by owner. An owner who has been ordered to remove graffiti shall respond to the Borough by personal delivery or by certified mail:
Objection to order. An owner who objects to an order to remove graffiti, pursuant to Subsection B(1) of this section, may institute an action challenging the order before a court of competent jurisdiction within 60 days of the date of the order.
Failure to remove graffiti. If a property owner does not undertake the removal of graffiti within 90 days of the date of the order, or in the case of the Department of Transportation, within 120 days of the date of the order, unless an action challenging the order to remove graffiti is still pending pursuant to Subsection C of this section, the Borough may remove the graffiti from that property and present the property owner with a detailed itemization of the costs incurred by the Borough, by certified and regular mail, for reimbursement from the property owner.
Cost chargeable to owner. Whenever the Borough undertakes the removal of graffiti from any building, structure or other exposed surface, the Mayor and Council, in addition to assessing the cost of removal as a municipal lien against the premises, may enforce the payment of such assessment, together with interest, as a debt of the owner of the property and may authorize the institution of an action at law for the collection thereof. The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of any such action.
Additional penalties. In addition to any other penalty imposed by the court, any person convicted of a violation of this chapter may, at the discretion of the Judge of the Municipal Court, be required to pay to the owner of the damaged property monetary restitution in the amount of the pecuniary damage caused by the act of graffiti or, as part of such person's community service, to remove the graffiti from the property.
If, at the time of the offense charged, any person apprehended for a violation of this chapter shall be under the age of 18 years, the Bergen County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of the trial of such infant or infants, and such infant or infants shall be surrendered to that Court, and the case, including all papers, reports, and process thereto, shall be transferred to said Court as provided for by N.J.S.A. 2C:4-11.