[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough of Rutherford Council 9-11-2012 by Ord. No. 3268-12. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The use of broad-tipped pens, paint, spray cans, pencils, pens, crayons or other marking devices to write graffiti on the walls or other spaces of public or private buildings, vehicles, areas or facilities causes serious defacement and contributes to the deterioration of property values. Such practices exhibit contempt for the property rights of private citizens as well as governmental authority, contribute to erosion of respect for authority and depreciate the quality of life in the community.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Includes any unsightly, offensive or defacing writings or other written or pictorial matter by any method or device and of any content which contributes to the defacement of real or personal property and which contributes to the ugliness and unsightliness of its object, space, area or community and which is detrimental to the attractiveness, neatness, and good order of the municipality. This definition includes all writings or other written or pictorial matter which is commonly understood and accepted by a reasonable person as "graffiti" and is not intended to infringe upon any protected artistic expression.
The writing or placing of any graffiti on any public or private real or personal property, or a mixture of both, without the express knowledge and consent of the owner is prohibited.
The marking or defacing of any property, real, personal or mixed, by an owner thereof in such a manner as to constitute graffiti is likewise prohibited.
To the extent permitted by law, any parent, guardian, or custodian in charge of a minor who is convicted of violating this chapter who has neglected to properly supervise such minor shall be presumed to have aided and assisted, allowed, and/or permitted said minor in violation of the provisions of this chapter.
It shall be unlawful for any person who applied graffiti not to remove it within 24 hours of its application. To the extent permitted by law, parents shall be responsible for the costs of removal when the graffiti has been applied by his and/or her minor child. To the extent otherwise permissible by law, should community service be ordered by the Municipal Court of the Borough of Rutherford or the Family Part of the Superior Court, the parents and child shall both be involved in said community service project
In enforcement of this chapter, all persons directly or indirectly involved shall be as equally responsible and guilty as the individual who actually defaces the object or area. Any individuals who encourage and participate in such activity, as well as individuals who make available the tools, writing materials, ladders, lookouts, material, or assistance or who knowingly supply funds to acquire materials for such purposes, including parents and friends, shall be equally guilty and liable for punishment under this chapter.
It shall be the duty and responsibility of all property owners to keep the exterior of their premises and structures free of all nuisances and hazards, including, without being limited to, all graffiti on the outside of their premises. Any property owner upon whose property graffiti is placed shall be required to remove the graffiti within a reasonable amount of time after the owner receives written notice from the Borough of Rutherford of said condition and the requirement of removal. A reasonable amount of time shall be determined by the Code Enforcement Official based on the extent and volume of the graffiti, and such amount of time shall be set forth in the notice served on the property owner.
A violation of the within provision shall only be deemed to exist upon the occurrence of the following:
The owner of the property is provided with written notice from the Borough in accordance with the preceding subsection; and
The owner fails to remove the graffiti after having received such notice; or
The owner fails to provide the Code Enforcement Official access to the property for the purpose of removal in accordance with this chapter.
Subject to the provisions of this chapter, the Code Enforcement Official and/or Borough Administrator is hereby authorized to hire an independent contractor, if necessary, to remove graffiti from publicly and privately owned structures. Prior to causing the removal, however, the Code Enforcement Official shall make a finding that the graffiti violates the intent of this chapter. The property owner shall be provided with the opportunity to first remove the graffiti. The property owner shall be required to grant the Borough consent to remove the graffiti and consent to enter upon the premises in order to complete the removal.
Notwithstanding anything set forth herein to the contrary, the property owner, if he or she fails to remove the graffiti voluntarily, shall be responsible for all reasonable costs incurred by the Borough of Rutherford for such removal, including the manpower costs to be calculated by the Borough Administrator whose determination as to the cost shall be deemed final.
The governing body hereby authorizes the Borough Administrator to provide for a reward up to $500 leading to the identification, apprehension and conviction of any person who applies graffiti within the Borough of Rutherford.
The provisions of this chapter may be enforced by the Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Health Department, the Property Maintenance Department, or the Building Department of the Borough of Rutherford.
Any person found guilty of violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000, or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days, or both. Each day that a violation continues after due notice has been served shall be deemed a separate offense.
In addition, the Municipal Court is urged to require appropriate corrective measures and restitution by requiring the offender to remove the graffiti under the supervision of such municipal employee or other person designated by the Court.
Any minor child under the age of 18 years shall be brought before the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, and shall be subject to the penalties provided by said Court.
This chapter shall not be construed to prohibit easily removable chalk markings on public sidewalks or streets in connection with traditional children's games or any lawful business or public purpose or activity.
In the event that any portion of this chapter is found to be invalid for any reason by any court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall be limited in its effect only to that portion of the Ordinance actually adjudged to be invalid, and the remaining portions of this chapter shall be deemed severable therefrom and shall not be affected.
Any provisions of the Rutherford Code that are inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter are repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.
This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon the approval and publication of notice of adoption as provided by law.