[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Pittston 3-9-1988 by Ord. No. 1988-2. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and cited as the "City of Pittston Dangerous Structure and Maintenance Ordinance."
Recognizing the need within the City of Pittston to establish certain minimum health and safety requirements for those buildings, structures, or properties which are used or associated with human occupancy, this chapter hereby establishes standards which the City Council considers to be fair and effective in meeting those minimum requirements.
This chapter, and the objectives leading to its enactment, is authorized by the provisions of the Third Class City Code, 53 P.S. § 35101 et seq.
As used in this chapter, 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 dwellings, garages, barns, stables, sheds, greenhouses, mobile homes, plants, factories, warehouses, schools or similar structures.
- An open and unoccupied space on a lot enclosed on at least three sides by the walls of a building.
- DANGEROUS BUILDING
- 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 33% of the supporting member or members or damage or deterioration to 50% of the nonsupporting enclosing or outside walls or covering;
- (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 so as to be 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 those living therein;
- (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 the municipality.
- 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.
- Putrescible 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.
- Plot, tracts, premises or parcel of land, with or without improvements thereto.
- A person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
- (1) Shall have legal title to any building or dwelling unit, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof; or
- (2) Shall have charge, care or control of any dwelling or dwelling unit, 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 chapter and with rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto to the same extent as if he were the owner.
- Any individual, firm, corporation, association or partnership or other legal entity.
- A piece, parcel, lot or tract of land.
- All putrescible and nonputrescible solid wastes, including garbage, rubbish, ashes, dead animals and market and industrial wastes.
- 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.
- UNOCCUPIED HAZARD
- Any building, or part thereof, or man-made structure which remains unoccupied for a period of more than six months, with either doors, windows, or other openings broken, removed, boarded or sealed up, or any building under construction upon which little or no construction work has been performed for a period of more than six months.
- Any open space on the same lot with a building and for the most part unobstructed from the ground up.
Whenever the words "dwelling," "dwelling unit" or "premises" are used in this chapter, they shall be construed as though they were followed by the words "or any part thereof."
All dangerous buildings within the terms of § 165-4 of this chapter 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 enforcement officer of the City of Pittston in ordering repair, vacation or demolition:
If the dangerous building can reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this chapter, 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 enforcement officer. The enforcement officer shall remove such placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the placarding action was 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 chapter, or if a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this chapter or any ordinance of the municipality or statute of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it shall be ordered to be demolished, provided that the cost of repairs to rectify or remove the conditions constituting the nuisance exceed 50% of the market value of the building at the time demolition is proposed.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall inspect on a regular basis dwellings, buildings and structures to determine whether any conditions exist which render such premises dangerous buildings within the terms of § 165-4 above.
Whenever an inspection discloses that a dwelling, building or structure 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.
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 the City of Pittston, 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 the City of Pittston, 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 chapter and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall appear at all hearings conducted by the Code Enforcement Officer and testify as to the condition of dangerous buildings.
No owner of any building or structure shall fail to take steps and perform such maintenance thereto, as may be required from time to time, to ensure the property is safe, sound, sanitary and secure and does not present a health and/or safety hazard to surrounding properties and to the general populace.
No owner of any unoccupied building or structure shall fail to take such steps as may be required to insure that they are securely closed so as to prohibit and deter entry thereto and to insure that no health and/or safety hazard, or threat thereof, is precipitated due to a lack of maintenance or due to neglect.
Owners of any and all unoccupied buildings and/or structures which, through neglect, have deteriorated to the point of being classified as unoccupied hazards, and therefore constitute a severe health and/or safety hazard, shall, upon direction of the City Council, remove or cause the removal of the building and/or structure.
No person shall permit:
Fences and/or minor structures to be constructed and maintained so as to present a safety or health hazard to persons and/or property.
The development of accumulation of hazards, rodent harborage and/or infestation upon yards, courts and lots.
Objectionable materials to accumulate and to be blown about the surrounding neighborhood.
Wells, cesspools, cisterns, sedimentation ponds, stormwater management impoundment ponds and/or ponds of a similar nature to remain open without adequate fencing or barricades to prevent access thereto by the general public.
The accumulation of heavy undergrowth and/or vegetation which would impair the health and/or safety of the neighborhood, nor shall they permit any trees, plants or shrubbery, or any portion thereof, to grow on their property and which constitute a safety hazard to pedestrian and/or vehicular traffic.
Grounds, buildings and structures shall be maintained free of insect, vermin and rodent harborage and infestation.
Adequate sanitary facilities and methods shall be used for the collection, storage, handling and disposal of garbage and refuse.
Where there exists rodent and vermin infestation, corrective measures shall be undertaken by the property owner and/or occupant to alleviate the existing problem(s), to include screening, extermination and/or garbage and refuse control. Methods employed for extermination shall conform with generally accepted practices.
No person shall permit:
Roof, surface and/or sanitary drainage to create a safety and/or health hazard to persons and/or property by reason of inadequate and/or improper construction or maintenance or manner of discharge;
Roof gutters, drains, or any other system designed and constructed to transport stormwater to be discharged into any sanitary sewage system and/or any part thereof;
Any refrigerator, freezer and/or other similar storage chest to be discarded, abandoned or stored in any place or location which is accessible to the general public without first completely removing any and all locking devices and/or doors.
Any occupant of a premises shall be responsible for compliance with the provisions of this chapter with respect to the maintenance of that part of the premises which he occupies and/or controls in a safe, sound and/or sanitary condition pursuant to the terms of the contract/agreement under which he exercises occupancy and/or control thereof.
Owners of premises shall comply with the provisions of this chapter as well as operators and occupants, regardless of any agreements between owners and operators or occupants as to which party shall assume such responsibility.
In instances where an occupant is responsible, or shares responsibility with an owner, for the existence of one or more violations of this chapter, said occupant shall be deemed responsible and treated as if an owner within the true intent and meaning of this chapter.
The City Council may enter or may cause, through an authorized representative of the City of Pittston, entry onto premises for the purpose of inspection of any and all premises, properties, buildings and/or structures located within the City of Pittston for ascertaining the existence of violations. In those matters where the nature of an alleged violation is such that an inspection of the interior of a building or structure is necessitated, prior arrangements must be made with the owner, or his agent, to secure access thereof.
If noncompliance with the provisions of this chapter constitutes a nuisance, or if any condition, structure, or improvement poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, the enforcement officer shall issue a written notice to be served by registered or certified mail upon the owner of said premises or, if the owner's whereabouts or identity be unknown, by posting the notice conspicuously upon the offending premises.
Said notice shall specify the condition or structure or improvement complained of and shall require the owner to commence to remove or otherwise rectify the condition or structure or improvement as set forth therein within 10 days of mailing or posting of said notice and thereafter to fully comply with the requirements of the notice within a reasonable time.
If the owner does not comply with the notice to abate the conditions within the time limit prescribed, the City of Pittston shall have the authority to take measures to correct the conditions and collect the cost of such corrections, plus 10% of all costs. The City of Pittston, in such event and pursuant to its statutory or otherwise authorized police powers, shall have the right and power to enter upon the offending premises to accomplish the foregoing.
The provisions of this chapter shall supplement local laws, ordinances or regulations existing in the City of Pittston or those of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with any provision of a local law, ordinance, code or regulation or those of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the provision which is more restrictive or which establishes the higher standard shall prevail.
Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provision of this chapter may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the Building Code Appeals Board (see Chapter 7, Article II), 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 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 Building Code Appeals Board shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice. If the Building Code Appeals Board sustains or modifies such notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this chapter 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.
No person shall remove or deface the notice of dangerous building, except as provided in § 165-6C.
Whenever the 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 chapter, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, but, upon petition to the enforcement officer, shall be afforded a hearing as soon as possible. After such hearing, depending upon the findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter have been complied with, the enforcement officer shall continue such order in effect or modify or revoke it. The costs of such emergency repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building 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 enforcement officer within the time specified in the notice issued by the enforcement officer, the enforcement officer shall cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated, or demolished as the facts may warrant, under the standards hereinbefore provided. The City of Pittston 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 chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 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.
If the premises are owned by more than one owner, each owner shall severally be subject to prosecution for the violation of this chapter.
The remedies provided herein for the enforcement of this chapter, or any remedy provided by law, shall not be deemed mutually exclusive; rather, they may be employed simultaneously or consecutively, at the option of the City Council.