[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Warren as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 6-20-2016 by Ord. No. 1871]
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 317, Nuisances, adopted 3-21-2006 by Ord. No. 1867.
This article is to implement in the City of Warren the provisions of the Act of October 27, 2010 (P.L. 875, No. 90), 53 Pa.C.S.A. Ch. 61, known as the "Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act."
The following words and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- The Act of October 27, 2010 (P.L. 875, No. 90), 53 Pa.C.S.A. Ch. 61, known as the Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act.
- A residential, commercial, or industrial building or structure and the land appurtenant to it.
- The City of Warren, Warren County, Pennsylvania.
- A building, housing, property maintenance, fire, or other public safety ordinance enacted by the City of Warren. The term does not include a subdivision and land development ordinance or a zoning ordinance enacted by the City of Warren.
- The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- The Court of Common Pleas of Warren County, Pennsylvania.
- MORTGAGE LENDER
- A business association defined as a "banking institution" or "mortgage lender" under 7 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 61 (relating to mortgage loan industry licensing and consumer protection) that is in possession of, or holds title to, real property pursuant to, in enforcement of, or to protect rights arising under a mortgage, mortgage note, deed of trust, or other transaction that created a security interest in the real property.
- MUNICIPAL PERMITS
- Privileges relating to real property granted by the City of Warren, including, but not limited to, building permits, certificates of occupancy, and exceptions to the City of Warren Zoning Ordinance. The term includes approvals pursuant to land use ordinances other than decisions on the substantive validity of a zoning ordinance or map or the acceptance of a curative amendment.
- A city, borough, incorporated town, township, home rule or optional charter municipality, or municipal authority in this commonwealth and any entity formed pursuant to the Act of December 19, 1966 (P.L. 1158, No. 177, Section 1, 53 Pa.C.S.A. Ch. 23 relating to intergovernmental cooperation).
- A holder of the title to residential, commercial, or industrial real estate, other than a mortgage lender, who possesses and controls the real estate. The term includes, but is not limited to, heirs, assigns, beneficiaries, and lessees, provided that this ownership interest is a matter of public record, including lessees under leases for which a memorandum of lease is recorded in accordance with the Act of June 2, 1959 [P.L. 254 (vol.1), No. 86], 21 P.S. § 405.
- PUBLIC NUISANCE
- Property which, because of its physical condition or use, is regarded as a public nuisance at common law or has been declared by the City of Warren a public nuisance in accordance with the International Property Maintenance Code adopted by the City of Warren or by the court.
- REMEDIATION PLAN
- A plan for the correction of violations of state law or code that is part of an agreement between the owner and the City of Warren.
- SERIOUS VIOLATION
- A violation of a state law or a code that poses an imminent threat to the health and safety of a dwelling occupant, occupants in surrounding structures, or passersby; or that is a building ordered vacated in accordance with the Department of Labo and Industry's Regulations, 34 Pa. Code § 403.84, as amended, implementing the Uniform Construction Code, the Act of November 10, 1999 (P.L. 491, No. 45), as amended, 35 P.S. §§ 7210.101 to 7210.1103; or a building placarded as unfit for human habitation so as to prevent its use under the City of Warren Property Maintenance Code adopted by Ordinance No. 1870; or a vacant building whose exterior violates the Property Maintenance Code or any successor statute of the City of Warren.
- STATE LAW
- A statute of the Commonweal of Pennsylvania or a regulation of an agency charged with the administration and enforcement of commonwealth law.
- SUBSTANTIAL STEP
- An affirmative action as determined by the City Code Official or Officer of the Court on the part of a property owner or managing agent to remedy a serious violation of a state law or City of Warren Code, including, but not limited to, physical improvements or repairs to the property, which affirmative action is subject to appeal in accordance with applicable law.
- TAX DELINQUENT PROPERTY
- Tax delinquent real property as defined under:
- A. The Act of July 7, 1947 (P.L. 1368, No. 542), known as the "Real Estate Tax Sale Law"; or
- B. The Act of May 16, 1923 (P.L. 207, No. 153), referred to as the "Municipal Claim and Lien Act"; or
- C. The Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act, 53 Pa.C.S.A. § 6103 et seq.; or
- D. Any successor law to any of the above statutes.
- UNIFORM CONSTRUCTION CODE
- The Act of November 10, 1999 (P.L. 491, No. 45), as amended, 35 P.S. §§ 7210.101 to 7210.1103, as adopted by the City of Warren.
Actions. In addition to any other remedy available at law or in equity, the City of Warren may institute the following actions against the owner of any real property that is in serious violation of a code or for failure to correct a condition which causes the property to be regarded as a public nuisance:
In personam action.
An in personam action may be initiated for a continuing violation for which the owner takes no substantial step to correct within six months following receipt of an order to correct the violation, unless the order is subject to a pending appeal before an administrative agency or court.
As authorized by the Act, the City of Warren reserves the right to recover, in a single action under this section, an amount equal to any penalties imposed against the owner and any costs of remediation lawfully incurred by or on behalf of the City of Warren to remedy any Code violation including reasonable attorney's fees and costs and costs of collection.
A proceeding in equity.
General rule. A lien may be placed against the assets of an owner of real property that is in serious violation of a code or is regarded as a public nuisance after a judgment, decree or order is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction against the owner of the property for adjudication under § 317-3A (relating to actions).
Limitations under the Act. In proceedings under the Act, except as otherwise allowed by law, where the owner is an association or trust, no lien shall be imposed upon the individual assets of any limited partner, shareholder, member or beneficiary of the association or trust.
Duty of out-of-state owners of properties in the commonwealth. A person who lives or has a principal place of residence outside the commonwealth, who owns property in the commonwealth against which Code violations have been cited and the person is charged under 18 Pa.C.S.A. (relating to crimes and offenses), and who has been properly notified of the violations, may be extradited to the commonwealth to face criminal prosecution to the full extent allowed and in the manner authorized by 42 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 91 (relating to detainers and extradition).
Duty of association and trust owners. Where, after reasonable efforts, service of process for a notice or citation for any Code violation for any real property owned by an association or trust cannot be accomplished by handing a copy of the notice or citation to an executive officer, partner or trustee of the association or trust or to the manager, trustee or clerk in charge of the property, the delivery of the notice or citation may occur by registered, certified or United States express mail, accompanied by a delivery confirmation:
To the registered office of the association or trust;
Where the association or trust does not have a registered office, to the mailing address used for real estate tax collection purposes if accompanied by the posting of a conspicuous notice to the property or by handing a copy of the notice or citation to the person in charge of the property at that time.
Reservation of rights and remedies under law other than the Act. The City of Warren reserves all rights and remedies existing under statutes other than the Act, its ordinances implementing them, and applicable case law to obtain recovery for the costs of preventing or abating Code violations and public nuisances to the fullest extent allowed by law from mortgage lenders; trustees, and members of limited liability companies, limited partners who provide property management services to the real property as well as general partners of owners; and officers, agents, and operators that are in control of a property as an owner or otherwise hold them personally responsible for Code violations as well as owners themselves. Such owners, mortgage lenders, partners, members of limited liability companies, trustees, officers, agents and operators in control of a real property with Code violations shall be subject to all actions at law and in equity to the full extent authorized by such statutes, ordinances and applicable case law. Such action may be joined in one lawsuit against responsible parties with an action brought under the Act.
Permit application form.
In addition to the requirements set forth in the governing ordinance, regulations or rules for the specific municipal permit being applied for, all applications for a City of Warren permit shall include:
If the owner is an individual, the home address of the owner.
If the owner is an entity, its registered office and principal place of business, type of entity, in what state it was formed and whether the entity has qualified to do business as a foreign entity in Pennsylvania by filing with the Corporation Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of State under Title 15 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The home address of at least one responsible officer, member, trustee, or partner shall also be included.
The application shall also include a provision requiring the owner to disclose real properties owned by the owner both inside of the City of Warren as well as in all other municipalities of the Commonwealth:
In which there is a serious violation of state law or a code and the owner has taken no substantial steps to correct the violation within the time allotted following notification of the violation; and
For which fines or other penalties or a judgment to abate or correct were imposed by a Magisterial District Judge or municipal court or a judgment at law or in equity was imposed by a Court of Common Pleas; and
Real property owned in the commonwealth by the owner for which there is a final and unappealable tax, water, sewer, or refuse collection delinquency on account of the actions of the owner. This provision shall require the owner to disclose the street address, tax parcel number, municipality, and county of each such real property. The provision shall require the disclosure be under penalty as provided in 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4904(a) for an unsworn falsification to a government officer or employee (public servant) performing official functions.
Municipal permit denials and appeals.
The proper officer of the City of Warren may deny issuing to an applicant a City permit if the applicant owns real property in any municipality for which there exists on the real property:
A final and unappealable tax, water, sewer or refuse collection delinquency on account of the actions of the owner; or
A serious violation of state law or a code and the owner has taken no substantial steps to correct the violation within the requisite period following notification of the violation and for which fines or other penalties or a judgment to abate or correct were imposed by a Magisterial District Judge or Municipal Court, or a judgment at law or in equity was imposed by a Court of Common Pleas. However, no denial shall be permitted on the basis of a property for which the judgment, order or decree is subject to a stay or supersedeas by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction or automatically allowed by statute or rule of court until the stay or supersedeas is lifted by the court or a higher court or the stay or supersedeas expires as otherwise provided by law. Where a stay or supersedeas is in effect, the property owner shall so advise the City.
The proper officer of the City of Warren shall not deny a municipal permit to an applicant if the municipal permit is necessary to correct a violation of state law or a code, provided that all other conditions for the issuance of a municipal permit have been met.
The municipal permit denial shall not apply to an applicant's delinquency on taxes, water, sewer, or refuse collection charges that are under appeal or otherwise contested through a court or administrative process.
In issuing a denial of a municipal permit based on an applicant's delinquency in real property taxes or municipal charges or for failure to abate a serious violation of state law or a code on real property that the applicant owns in this commonwealth, the City of Warren shall issue the denial in writing and indicate the street address, municipality, and county in which the property is located and the court and docket number for each parcel cited as a basis for the denial. The denial shall also state that the applicant may request a letter of compliance from the appropriate state agency, municipality or school district, in a form specified by such entity as provided in the Act. The denial shall be delivered by U.S. Certified, Registered, or Express Mail, return receipt requested, personal service in manner provided by the Pennsylvania Rules of Court for Civil Procedure for original process; hand delivery by a member of the Codes Enforcement staff; or a private delivery service that provides for a receipt, and such receipt is obtained or delivery refused.
The information on the real property forming the basis for a municipal permit denial may be obtained by the proper officer of the City of Warren, or other employee or agent of the City of Warrern, from the information disclosed by the owner in accordance with § 317-4A herein, or any other reliable information obtained through a search of records using governmental systems online or through direct contact with the office maintaining the systems such as the court docket systems maintained by the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, County/City Department of Records, Office of the Recorder of Deeds, Municipal and County Tax Collectors and Treasurers, County Tax Claim Bureaus, Prothonotary and Clerk of Court, private online fee-based search services, and free searches on the Internet. Prior to making a determination on whether to deny a municipal permit, the proper officer of the City of Warren using the services of other municipal staff or contracted service provider may conduct a search using the sources described in this Subsection B(1)(e).
Boards of Appeal.
Municipal permits may be denied by a board in accordance with the requirements of this section to the extent that approval of the municipal permit is within the jurisdiction of the Board. For purposes of this section, "Board" shall mean the City of Warren and/or the Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals and/or the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals or any successor boards as applicable.
In any proceeding before a board other than the governing body of the City of Warren, the City of Warren may appear to present evidence that the applicant is subject to a denial by the board in accordance with this section.
Applicability of other law. A denial of a municipal permit shall be subject to the provisions of 2 Pa.C.S.A. Chs. 5, Subch. B (relating to practice and procedure of local agencies), and 7, Subch. B (relating to judicial review of local agency action), or the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, for denials subject to the Act.
The Building Codes Official, or designee, shall review the disclosure form and the searches, if any, prior to any plan or construction reviews for inspections to determine if such a review or inspection is unnecessary due to a municipal permit being denied.
Right of appeal. The owner shall have a right to appeal the denial of a municipal permit in accordance with the applicable law governing such municipal permit. In the case of a denial by the City's Building Code Official, or designee, the appeal shall be made within 30 days of the denial to the Board of Appeals established under the Uniform Construction Code unless the owner has submitted to the Board of Appeals proof before the expiration of the 30 days that the owner is seeking proof of compliance, in which case the municipal permit and the denial shall be held in abeyance until the forty-five-day period for obtaining proof of compliance has expired. In case of a denial by the Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals, the appeal shall be to the Court of Common Pleas. In the case of a denial by the City's Zoning Administrator, or designee, the appeal shall be made within 30 days of the denial to the Zoning Hearing Board of Appeals unless the owner has submitted to the Board of Appeals proof before the expiration of the 30 days that the owner is seeking proof of compliance, in which case the municipal permit and the denial shall be held in abeyance until the forty-five-day period for obtaining proof of compliance has expired. In case of a denial by the Zoning Hearing Board, the appeal shall be to the Court of Common Pleas.
With respect to a denial under the grounds authorized by the Act, the denial may only be reversed for the following reasons:
Evidence of substantial steps taken to remedy a serious violation set forth on the denial confirmed by an order of the Court.
Evidence of an approved remedial plan to address a serious violation set forth on the denial.
Evidence of a timely appeal or administrative contest of a tax, water, sewer, or refuse collection delinquency.
A failure of a state agency, school district, or municipality to issue a proof of compliance within 45 days of a request.
Any other verifiable evidence that establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that a serious violation or collection delinquency of tax, water, sewer, or refuse accounts does not exist.
With respect to denials for reasons other than those authorized by the Act, the provisions of the Uniform Construction Code or applicable zoning law shall govern.
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 10101 et seq.
Proof of compliance.
All municipal permits denied in accordance with this subsection shall be withheld until an applicant obtains a letter from the appropriate state agency, municipality, or school district indicating the following:
The property in question has no final and unappealable tax, water, sewer, or refuse delinquencies;
The property in question is now in state law and code compliance;
The owner of the property has presented, and the appropriate state agency or municipality has accepted, a plan to begin remediation of a serious violation of state law or a code. Acceptance of the plan may be contingent on:
Beginning the remediation plan within 30 days following acceptance of the plan or later, if mutually agreeable to both the property owner and the City.
Completing the remediation plan within 90 days following commencement of the plan or sooner, if mutually agreeable to both the property owner and the City.
In the event that the appropriate state agency, municipality, or school district fails to issue a letter indicating tax, water, sewer, refuse, state law or code compliance or noncompliance, as the case may be, within 45 days of the request, the property in question shall be deemed to be in compliance for the purpose of this section, provided that a copy of the request has been delivered to the municipality from which the municipal permit was requested. The appropriate State agency, municipality, or school district shall specify the form in which the request for a compliance letter shall be made.
Letters required under this section shall be verified by the appropriate City officials before issuing a municipal permit to the applicant.
An owner seeking to obtain a proof of compliance in order to obtain a municipal permit that would otherwise be denied shall submit a copy of the owner's request for proof of compliance within five days of the date that request is sent to the appropriate state agency, the municipality, or school district, to City or submit the copy of the request with the application for the City permit if such application is made at a later date.
Conflict with other law. In the event of a conflict between the requirements of this article and federal requirements applicable to demolition, disposition or redevelopment of buildings, structures or land owned by or held in trust for the government of the United States and regulated pursuant to the United States Housing Act of 1937 (50 Stat. 888, 42 U.S.C. § 1437 et seq.) and the regulations promulgated thereunder the Federal requirements shall prevail.
Relief for inherited property. Where property is inherited by will or intestacy, the devisee or heir shall be given the opportunity to make payments on reasonable terms, to correct code violations, or to enter into a remediation plan in accordance with Section 6131(b)(1)(iii) of the Act and § 317-4C(2)(a)(iii) (relating to municipal permit denial) with the City of Warren to avoid subjecting the devisee's or heir's other properties to asset attachment or denial of permits and approvals on other properties owned by the devisee or heir.
Editor's Note: See 53 Pa.C.S.A. § 6131(b)(1)(iii).
Nothing in this article shall be construed to abridge or alter the remedies now existing at common law or by statute, but the provisions of this article are in addition to such remedies.
Ordinance No. 1867 and all other ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith be and are hereby repealed, except any ordinance or parts of ordinances that authorize greater remedies than this article are preserved.
The provisions of this article shall be severable, and if any of its provisions are found to be unconstitutional or illegal, the validity of any of the remaining provisions of this article shall not be affected thereby.