[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Boonton 6-13-2011 by Ord. No. 794. 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 shall include any appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- The holder of the 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 of branch of the government of the Township, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The Construction Official of the Township of Boonton.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority, or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer (on his own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or when any building or buildings or parts thereof, which have been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls, or parts of the walls and other supports, the public officer shall, if his 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 his designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint.
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. 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, occupancy or use, he shall state in writing his 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 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.
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.
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, occupancy or use; the use or occupancy 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 cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the court of any proceeding taken under this section determined in favor of the Township, 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 lien in favor of the Township against the real property with respect to which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such buildings. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof 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 assessor and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer all in accordance with the provision of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.5.
If an actual and immediate danger to 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.
The public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use upon finding that conditions exist in such building that 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 Township. 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; uncleanliness; or the failure to comply with the requirements of the building code or the certificate of occupancy.
Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant hereto shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and 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 in a newspaper printed and published in the Township, or in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the Township. A copy of the complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of the complaint or order shall also be recorded or lodged for recording in the office of the Morris County Clerk.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer under this section may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the public officer from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief.
The public officer is hereby authorized to 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, as warranted, the building conditions within the Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmation, 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 possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such agent or agents as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions or powers under this section to such agent or agents as he may designate.