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City of Fredericksburg, VA
 
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[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012; Ord. No. 12-29, 11-27-2012]
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
ABATEMENT COSTS
The City's cost of labor, equipment and supplies for, or the contract price of and any charges to the City with respect to, the abatement of a nuisance upon a property or premises.
AFFIDAVIT
A sworn written statement prepared by the City Manager in accordance with Article III of this chapter.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
Has the same meaning as provided in Code of Virginia, § 54.1-3401.
CORRECTIVE ACTION
For purposes of Article III means the taking of steps which are reasonably expected to be effective to abate drug blight on real property, such as removal, repair or securing of any building, wall or other structure.
[Added 2-10-2015 by Ord. No. 15-02]
A. 
(verb) To dispose of, deposit, spill, pour, inject, dump, leak, drain, or place by any means;
B. 
(noun) Any substance which is discharged.
DRUG BLIGHT
A condition existing on real property which tends to endanger the public health or safety of residents of the City, caused by the regular presence on the property of persons under the influence of controlled substances or the regular use of the property for the purpose of illegally possessing, manufacturing or distributing controlled substances.
ILLICIT DISCHARGE
Any discharge into the City's storm sewer system that is not entirely stormwater, except discharges:
[Added 2-10-2015 by Ord. No. 15-02]
A. 
Under a NPDES or VPDES permit;
B. 
From firefighting; and
C. 
Discharges exempted in § 59-401.
MUNICIPAL SEPARATE STORM SEWER SYSTEM
The system of conveyances (including sidewalks, roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, or storm drains) owned and operated by the City and designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater, and that is not part of the sanitary sewer system.
[Added 2-10-2015 by Ord. No. 15-02]
NUISANCE
The doing of any act or the omission to perform any duty, or the permitting of any condition or thing to exist that endangers life or health, obstructs or interferes with the reasonable or comfortable use of public or private property, tends to depreciate the value of the property of others, or in any way renders other persons insecure in the life or the use of property. Wherever the term nuisance is used in this chapter, it shall be deemed to mean a public nuisance.
OWNER
The owner of record.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, owner, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association, executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, agent, occupant or other legal entity.
SANITARY SEWER SYSTEM
The underground conduit that collects and delivers sanitary wastewater to the City's wastewater treatment plant.
[Added 2-10-2015 by Ord. No. 15-02]
STORMWATER
Any surface flow, runoff, and drainage consisting entirely of water from any form of natural precipitation and resulting from that precipitation.
[Added 2-10-2015 by Ord. No. 15-02]
WEEDS
Includes any plant, grass or other vegetation (herbaceous or woody) over 12 inches in height, excluding trees, ornamental shrubbery, vegetable and flower gardens, purposefully planted and maintained by the property owner or occupant free of weed hazard or nuisance, cultivated crops, or undisturbed woodland not otherwise in violation.
[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012]
The existence of any of the following activities or conditions are hereby declared to be public nuisances, provided, however, this enumeration shall not be deemed or construed to be conclusive, limiting or restrictive:
A. 
Accumulation of rubbish, trash, refuse, junk and other abandoned materials, metals, lumber or other things that cause a blighting problem, an obstruction or hindrance to the safe movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic upon streets, alleys, or sidewalks abutting such property, or constitute a fire hazard, or adversely affect the public health or safety.
B. 
Outside storage on a residential property of abandoned, discarded or unused objects or equipment, including but not limited to tires, household furniture, appliances, lawn equipment, tools, motor vehicle parts, mattresses, wood or lumber not neatly stacked or piled, that cause a blighting problem, or constitute a fire hazard, or adversely affect the public health or safety.
C. 
Outside storage on a residential property for more than 60 consecutive days of more than five yards of any used or unused building materials which are visible from an adjacent property or road, provided, that nothing herein shall prohibit such storage when done in conjunction with a construction project for which a building permit has been issued and which, in the opinion of the City, is being pursued diligently to completion or, when the proposed construction does not require a building permit, the construction, in the opinion of the City, is being diligently pursued to completion.
D. 
Permitting any property, either vacant or developed, to allow weeds to reach a stage of growth so as to provide cover or harborage or potential cover or harborage for rodents or vermin, or to cause a blighting problem, or adversely affect the public health or safety.
E. 
Any condition which provides harborage for rats, mice, snakes and other vermin.
F. 
The collection of standing or stagnant water where mosquitoes breed or are likely to breed. "Stagnant water" shall mean any water that is absent of flow or filtration by natural or mechanical means.
G. 
Any condition or action which unlawfully interferes with, obstructs or tends to obstruct or renders dangerous for passage any public or private street, highway, sidewalk, stream, ditch or drainage area, including, but not limited to, obstructions to line of sight, obstructions of roadside signs, using Federal Highway Administration Safety standards as a guideline.
H. 
Any unsecured vacant or abandoned building.
[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012]
A. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to create, cause, permit or maintain a public nuisance. The owner or occupant of each premises shall abate the public nuisance at such time as may be prescribed in the notice.
B. 
Each day a public nuisance shall continue after the date set by the City for its abatement shall constitute a separate offense.
C. 
Failure to comply with a notice issued pursuant to this article shall be subject to a civil penalty of $50 for the first violation, or violations arising from the same set of operative facts.
D. 
The civil penalty for subsequent violations not arising from the same set of operative facts within 12 months of the first violation shall be $200.
E. 
In no event shall a series of specified violations arising from the same set of operative facts result in civil penalties that exceed a total of $3,000 in a twelve-month period.
F. 
Civil penalties provided herein shall be in addition to liability for the City's costs of abatement.
[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012]
This article shall be enforced and administered by the City Manager, who may designate one or more City departments to carry out this task. The City Manager or designee shall conduct investigations of alleged public nuisances, give the necessary notices to abate public nuisances, make the necessary arrangements to abate public nuisances, prepare the statements of costs and expenses incurred by the City in the abatement of public nuisances and take whatever action is necessary to eliminate the presence of public nuisances within the City. The City Manager may also make arrangements with other individuals and agencies to assist in the enforcement of the nuisance ordinance. The City Manager is authorized to initiate civil proceedings to enjoin a violation of this article.
[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012; Ord. No. 12-19, 8-14-2012]
A. 
Whenever a nuisance is found to exist within the City, a duly designated officer of the City shall give written notice to the owner or owners, occupant or occupants of the property or premises.
B. 
The officer shall provide notice in a manner reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances known to the officer, to apprise the responsible party of the enforcement action. The notice may be delivered by hand-delivery, posting the notice prominently upon the property, or first-class mail to the owner at the owner's address of record, or to the occupant at the address of the premises. Proof of such delivery, posting or mailing shall be sufficient evidence of the service of such notice. One notice per growing season is hereby deemed reasonable notice to owners of property to authorize the City to remove or contract for the removal of any excessive growth of weeds for the entire growing season, from April 1 until November 1 of the same year in which the notice was sent.
C. 
The notice shall contain the following:
(1) 
The location of the nuisance.
(2) 
A description of what constitutes the nuisance.
(3) 
A statement of acts necessary to abate the nuisance.
(4) 
A deadline reasonable under the circumstances, by which the nuisance shall be abated.
(5) 
A statement that if the nuisance is not abated as directed and no request for hearing is made within the prescribed time, the City will abate such nuisance and assess the cost thereof against such person.
D. 
When, in the opinion of the designated officer, a nuisance constitutes an imminent, substantial or compelling threat to the public health or safety, the notice requirement shall be dispensed with, and the City may abate the nuisance as provided herein.
E. 
Upon request, a hearing shall be held before a designated officer of the City other than the officer who initially determined the existence of the nuisance. If, after hearing evidence, the hearing officer finds by a preponderance of the evidence that such nuisance exists, he shall order its abatement; otherwise, he shall dismiss the notice. A hearing must be requested in writing at least 48 hours prior to the date given for the abatement of the nuisance. The hearing shall be held promptly and shall not unreasonably delay the abatement of the nuisance. Attendance at the hearing is the responsibility of the requesting party. The hearing shall be informal, and while each party shall have the opportunity to present pertinent information, the rules of evidence shall not apply. The decision of the designated officer is final.
[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012]
A. 
Upon the failure of the owner or occupant to abate the nuisance, the City shall proceed to abate the nuisance and shall prepare a statement of costs incurred in the abatement thereof. When, in the opinion of the designated officer, a nuisance constitutes an imminent, substantial or compelling threat to the public health or safety, the officer may have the necessary work done to abate the nuisance whether or not notice to require the owner or occupant of the premises to abate the nuisance has been given.
B. 
In order to abate a nuisance, the City may revoke any permit or license issued by the City to the owner or occupant of the offending property and which is required by law to conduct the business or activity which gives rise to the nuisance.
[Ord. No. 11-35, 1-10-2012]
A. 
In the event the City takes steps to abate the nuisance, the City Manager shall assess the costs and expenses thereof, plus 15% to cover administrative costs, to the owner or owners, occupant or occupants of the property.
B. 
The City Treasurer shall collect the abatement costs from the owner or owners, occupant or occupants of the property, as provided in § 2-511 of this Code.
C. 
Every charge authorized by this section in excess of $200 which has been assessed against the owner of any such property and which remains unpaid for a period of 30 days shall constitute a lien against such property. Such liens shall have the same priority as other unpaid local taxes and shall be enforceable in the same manner as provided for in Articles 3 and 4 of Chapter 39 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia. All such liens shall remain a personal obligation of the owner of the property at the time the liens were imposed.