Township of East Fallowfield, PA
Chester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
This chapter shall be entitled the "East Fallowfield Township Blighted Property Ordinance."
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
The Township Board of Supervisors shall, annually or at any time, appoint an individual or firm to serve as the Township Code Enforcement Officer. Such individual or firm shall serve at will, at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors. The Code Enforcement Officer shall provide a written report on a monthly basis or at such other time as directed by the Township Manager or Board of Supervisors, to describe and detail the complaints received, the work performed and the enforcement activities undertaken. It is the role of the Code Enforcement Officer to enforce the provisions of this chapter upon submission of a written complaint or discovery of a violation hereof, which the Township expects to be carried out in a cost-effective manner designed: to protect the public health, safety and welfare; and to assist residents in bringing their properties into compliance with the applicable code requirements.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
1. 
Grass and Weeds. Grasses and weeds shall be maintained and trimmed to a height of no more than 12 inches in the following locations: 1) all premises and exterior property located within 50 feet of an occupied building in areas visible from a neighboring property or roadway; or 2) within 50 feet of a driveway access of a property (measured at the point of interconnection with a public or private roadway). Such provisions shall not apply to agricultural operations, as defined by the Zoning Ordinance.[1] Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, no plantings along a roadway shall be permitted that impinge into or obstruct a clear sight triangle for the roadway and/or any driveways accessing a roadway. All noxious and invasive weeds or plants shall be prohibited. "Weeds" shall be defined as grasses, annual plants and vegetation, other than trees or shrubs; provided, however, this term shall not include cultivated flowers or gardens.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 27, Zoning.
2. 
Vehicles and Equipment. All premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from motor vehicle/equipment nuisances as defined below. Moreover, unregistered or inoperable vehicles, equipment, dismantled vehicles or equipment, and parts of vehicles and equipment shall not be stored in front yard areas or other areas where visible from the public right-of-way or from neighboring properties. A motor vehicle/equipment nuisance shall include any motor vehicle (or parts thereof) or any piece of mechanical equipment that has any of the following defects (including but not limited to cars, tractor trailers, campers, boats, farm equipment, etc.):
A. 
Broken windshields, mirrors or other glass with sharp edges;
B. 
One or more flat or open tires or tubes which could permit vermin harborage;
C. 
Missing doors, windows, hood, trunk or other auto-body parts that could permit animal harborage;
D. 
Any auto-body parts with sharp edges, including holes resulting from rust;
E. 
Missing tires resulting in unsafe suspension of the motor vehicle;
F. 
Upholstery that is torn or open which could permit animal and/or vermin harborage;
G. 
Broken headlamps or tail lamps with sharp edges;
H. 
Disassembled parts apart from a motor vehicle or equipment stored in a disorderly fashion or loose in or on the vehicle/piece of equipment;
I. 
Protruding sharp objects;
J. 
Broken vehicle frame suspended from the ground in an unstable condition;
K. 
Leaking or damaged oil pan, gas tank or other fluids, which are detrimental to the environment, the groundwater and/or nearby water resources;
L. 
An exposed battery containing acid;
M. 
Inoperable locking mechanism for doors, trunks or other enclosed spaces;
N. 
Open or damaged floorboards, including trunk and firewall;
O. 
Damaged bumpers pulled away from the perimeter of vehicle;
P. 
A broken grill with protruding edges;
Q. 
Loose or damaged metal trim and clips;
R. 
Broken communication equipment antennae; and
S. 
Such other defects or conditions that could threaten the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Township.
3. 
Personal Property/Garbage/Rubbish. Personal property, garbage or rubbish shall not be permitted to be stored or deposited on a property in a manner that causes a threat to the public health, safety or welfare, including, but not limited to, in a manner that could permit vermin harborage, the pooling of standing, stagnant water, or could promote the leakage, seepage or discharge of harmful materials into the soil, groundwater or air. Moreover, the personal property, landscaping waste, garbage, rubbish or other materials stored or deposited on a property shall be screened from view from any roadways and neighboring properties, and shall be maintained and stored in a manner so as to protect the materials, roadways and neighboring property owners from the effects of stormwater runoff.
4. 
Animals. Every person owning or occupying any property shall be responsible for the sanitary maintenance of the premises on which any animals or pets are housed, maintained or kenneled. Animal waste and excess animal food shall not be allowed to accumulate (and shall not be disposed of) in such manner so as to create a food source for bacteria, insects or rodents or in a manner that creates a threat to the public health, safety or welfare.
5. 
Swimming Pools. Private swimming pools, hot tubs and spas containing more than 24 inches in depth of water shall be completely surrounded by a fence or barrier at least 48 inches in height above the finished grade, with gates and/or doors being self-closing and self-latching. Spas or hot tubs with a safety cover that complies with ASTM F 1346-91 shall be exempt from the provisions of this section. Swimming pools, hot tubs and spas shall be maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of trash, leaves, or other materials, and shall not be maintained in a manner that promotes mosquito or insect breeding or other public health threats.
6. 
Unsafe Structures, Buildings and Equipment. Unsafe structures, buildings and equipment shall not be permitted. A structure, building or piece of equipment shall be unsafe when it poses a risk of harm to the public or occupants, including, but not limited to:
A. 
Structures, buildings or equipment that are in danger of collapse;
B. 
Structures or buildings which have collapsed or partially collapsed;
C. 
Structures, buildings or equipment with uncompleted siding, roofing, framing or other features which are open to the elements and allow for the intrusion of water, rodents and other animals.
D. 
Structures, buildings and equipment containing standing or stagnant water (excepting ponds, hot tubs (subject to Subsection 5 above), swimming pools (subject to Subsection 5 above) or duly approved stormwater management facilities);
E. 
Buildings with broken or malfunctioning gutters;
F. 
Buildings with exterior stairways, balconies and porches that are not structurally sound;
G. 
Buildings with windows, skylights and door frames that are not weather-tight; and
H. 
Basement stairways or hatchways that harbor or fail to prevent the entrance of rodents, rain and surface drainage water.
7. 
The Code Enforcement Officer may declare a building or structure unfit for human occupancy if the same fails to comply with the minimum safeguards necessary to protect or warn occupants of fire; or if the structure or building is so damaged, dilapidated, structurally unsafe or unstable that further occupancy constitutes a threat to the health of occupants thereof.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
Upon presentation of proper credentials, the Code Enforcement Officer may request of an owner the right to enter a property, at reasonable times, to inspect the same for compliance with this chapter. Nothing herein shall abrogate the right of the Township to enter onto such property as authorized by law (including, but not limited to, exigent circumstances). Further, nothing herein shall abrogate the right of the Township or Code Enforcement Officer to pursue enforcement of this chapter for those violations visible from the right-of-way, neighboring properties or other public portions of a property (including, but not limited to, the approach to the main entry doorway and all areas observable therefrom). To the extent that a landowner refuses to grant such access, the Township may take all necessary actions to obtain lawful access, pursue enforcement or take action pursuant to § 17-6 or 17-7 below.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
1. 
Notice of Violation. The Code Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to issue a notice of violation to any individual, tenant and/or property owner in violation of this chapter. The notice of violation shall describe the violations, with citation to the applicable provisions of this chapter and shall provide a description of the steps that must be taken to correct the violations. The notice of violation shall also reference the penalties imposed, as set forth below, and the right to appeal the notice to the Zoning Hearing Board. In the case of a property or structure occupied by a tenant, a copy of the notice of violation shall be provided to the tenant, noting that the ultimate responsibility for compliance with this chapter rests with the landowner of record.
2. 
Fines. Any person violating or permitting the violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 for each violation, recoverable with costs and attorneys' fees. The establishment of a violation for purposes of setting fines or penalties for such violation shall be in accordance with a citation to a magisterial district judge with jurisdiction and venue over the location of the violation. Such an action will be subject to the procedures provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. A separate offense shall arise for each day or portion thereof a violation is found to exist and may be determined for each section of this chapter which is found to have been violated.
3. 
Injunctive and Other Relief. In addition, the Township may, through its solicitor, institute injunctive, mandamus, or any other appropriate action or proceeding at law or in equity for the enforcement of this chapter. Any court of competent jurisdiction shall have the right to issue restraining orders, temporary or permanent injunctions, mandamus, or other legal or equitable forms of remedy or relief. Such relief may include costs, fees, and charges, including the Township's attorney's fees (charged at the hourly rate approved by the Board of Supervisors of the Township) and costs, as may be permitted by law.
4. 
Abatement. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, but pursuant to the strictures of the law, the Township shall have the right to enter upon a property within the Township to correct and abate a violation of this chapter, with all expenses associated with correcting the violation to be charged to the property owner responsible for the violation. Such expenses shall constitute liens against the property. To the extent that the violation of this chapter does not constitute an immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare, the property owner shall be provided a minimum of 20 days in which to abate the violation.
5. 
Revocation of Use and Occupancy. To the extent that the Code Enforcement Officer determines that an occupied building or structure poses a threat to the health, safety or welfare of the occupant(s) thereof, the Code Enforcement Officer may issue an order to declare the same unfit for human habitation; revoke the ability of the occupants to use and occupy the building or structure; and require the owner of the property to take all measures necessary to close up the premises, abate the unsafe conditions, and install all requisite temporary measures to address the same. To the extent that the property owner does not do so within a reasonable period of time, the Code Enforcement Officer may take all action necessary to abate all exigent risks to the public and occupant health and safety. In issuing an order pursuant to this subsection, the Code Enforcement Officer shall post the property as unfit for human habitation, "NOTICE - DECLARATION OF PROPERTY UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION." It shall thereafter be a violation of this chapter for any individual to continue to occupy such building or structure.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
The Township reserves all of its rights under and pursuant to the Abandoned and Blighted Property Act, including, but not limited to the right to deny or condition a permit application of an applicant who owns, operates or maintains a property in violation of this chapter.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
1. 
Any person aggrieved by any action of the Code Enforcement Officer may appeal to the Township Zoning Hearing Board (serving as the Property Maintenance Board of Appeals) within 30 days of the applicable action, determination or notice of violation issued by the Code Enforcement Officer. The failure of an individual to timely appeal a determination of the Code Enforcement Officer shall constitute a waiver of the right to contest the determination of a violation. The appeal shall be processed and pursued pursuant to Section 908(1), (1.1), (2)-(8), and (10) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, with the exception that the provisions therein related to deemed approvals shall not apply. Except on application and approval by the Township Zoning Hearing Board, the pendency of an appeal shall not toll the imposition of the penalties set forth below and shall not abrogate, stay or toll an individual's obligation to maintain their property in a safe, sanitary condition pursuant to this chapter.
2. 
Any person aggrieved by a final decision of the Zoning Hearing Board may appeal to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas within 30 days of the decision, failing which the person waives the right to contest the same.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
All ordinances, resolutions or parts of ordinances or resolutions that are directly inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
If any sentence clause section or part of this chapter is for any reason found to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid such unconstitutionality, illegality or invalidity shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions sentences clauses sections or parts of this chapter. It is hereby declared to be the intent of the Board that this chapter would have been adopted had such unconstitutional, illegal or invalid sentence, clause, section or part thereof not been included herein.
[Ord. No. 2018-04, 7/24/2018]
This chapter shall become immediately effective five days from the date of adoption.