Town of Lansing, NY
Tompkins County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Lansing 6-16-2004 by L.L. No. 5-2004. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter is adopted pursuant to the authority granted the Town of Lansing in § 10 of the Municipal Home Rule Law and in § 130, Subdivision 16, of Town Law.
[Added at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
The provisions of this chapter shall be in addition to, and in furtherance of, the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
This chapter shall be known as the "Town of Lansing Unsafe Buildings Law."
By adoption of this chapter, the Town of Lansing declares its intent to regulate and control unsafe, abandoned, hazardous, dilapidated or derelict buildings and structures (herein "unsafe buildings," as defined in § 112-6, below). The Town of Lansing hereby declares that a clean, wholesome, and attractive environment is of vital importance to the continued general welfare of its citizens, and that unsafe buildings can constitute a hazard to property and persons and can be a public nuisance. Unsafe buildings may be highly flammable and sometimes explosive. Unsafe buildings can constitute attractive nuisances to children and certain adults. The presence of unsafe buildings is injurious to the public welfare, unsightly, and tends to detract from the value of surrounding properties.
This Chapter 112, Unsafe Buildings, shall replace and supersede any and all prior existing unsafe buildings ordinances or local laws of the Town of Lansing, if any, except that this chapter shall not repeal any building codes or regulations that may address building safety issues.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meaning ascribed to them in this section.
EMERGENCY
A determination by the Enforcement Officer of a condition in a hazardous building that presents an imminent or immediate danger to the life, health, or safety of any person.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
Any person appointed by the Town Board of the Town of Lansing to represent the Town of Lansing in particular matters pertaining to this chapter.
HAZARDOUS BUILDING
Any unsafe building that presents or poses an imminent or immediate danger of failure or collapse, or an imminent or immediate danger to the life, health, safety or welfare of any person. A single building or structure can be both a hazardous building and an unsafe building, and all hazardous buildings are and shall be deemed unsafe buildings.
OWNER
Any person or entity that owns or holds any interest in fee to real property as shown by the records of the County Tax Assessor.
OWNER'S ADDRESS
An owner's mailing or residence address as shown by the records of the County Tax Assessor.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, or entity or organization of any kind.
TOWN OF LANSING
Unless otherwise specified, the Town Board of the Town of Lansing, all elected officials, all employees, all committees and committee members, the Enforcement Officer, the Town Justice Courts, its judges, clerks and employees, and all agents of the Town.
UNSAFE BUILDING
Any building or structure which:
A. 
Is abandoned, dilapidated, derelict, structurally unsafe, or unsanitary; or
B. 
Constitutes a fire hazard; or
C. 
Is not provided with sufficient means of egress or exits in the case of a fire; or
D. 
Is otherwise dangerous to human life; or
E. 
Which constitutes a hazard to safety or health by reason of inadequate maintenance, infestation, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment.
All unsafe buildings are hereby declared to be illegal and shall be abated by repair or demolition in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
The Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to order the immediate evacuation of any unsafe building. The Enforcement Officer shall order the immediate evacuation of any hazardous building.
Whenever the Enforcement Officer shall determine that any building or structure, or portion thereof, is an unsafe building, the Enforcement Officer shall cause service of notice upon the owner either personally or by registered mail to the owner's address. If service is made by registered mail, the Enforcement Officer shall cause the posting of a copy of such notice on the premises. Such notice shall be called and labeled as a "Defective Conditions Notice" (herein abbreviated as DCN). Such DCN shall contain:
A. 
A brief description of the premises, and for this purpose a street address is sufficient; and
B. 
A statement of the particulars concerning the Enforcement Officer's determination that the building or structure is an unsafe building; and
C. 
An order of the Enforcement Officer requiring the unsafe building to be repaired or removed; and
D. 
The time within which the owner shall commence the repair or removal of such unsafe building; and
E. 
The time within which the owner shall complete the repair or removal of such unsafe building; and
F. 
A date by which the owner may object to the notice, which objection(s) shall be deemed to be a request for a hearing; and
G. 
A time and place for a hearing, if an objection is filed, to be held between five and 20 days after the objection is filed, before the Town Board; and
[Amended 6-17-2015 by L.L. No. 6-2015]
H. 
If a hazardous building, and order of the Enforcement Officer to all persons requiring that they immediately vacate the hazardous building.
[Amended 6-17-2005 by L.L. No. 6-2015]
In the event of an emergency, the hearing date may be accelerated by order of the Town Board, which such order may be granted ex parte upon a showing of good cause by any party. At any appeal or hearing under this chapter (except those arising under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules), the initial burden of proof shall be upon the Town of Lansing, which shall be required to show by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the building or structure is an unsafe building, a hazardous building, or that an emergency exists. If that burden is met, the owner, or other aggrieved person, may rebut the Town of Lansing's showing by the introduction of evidence that establishes by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the building or structure is not an unsafe building, hazardous building, or that an emergency does not exist. At any criminal hearing or trial, the Town of Lansing shall have the burden of proof to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that any person charged with a violation of this chapter violated any one or more terms or requirements of this chapter.
A. 
If the Enforcement Officer finds that an unsafe building is a hazardous building, the Enforcement Officer shall post a copy of the DCN upon such hazardous building. No hazardous building may be occupied, nor may a hazardous building be re-occupied until each and all unsafe and hazardous conditions are remediated. In addition to posting the DCN, the Enforcement Officer shall cause the following to be posted at each entrance to a hazardous building that is found to pose an imminent or immediate danger:
CONDEMNED: THIS BUILDING IS HAZARDOUS AND UNSAFE. ENTRY, USE, AND OCCUPANCY OF THIS BUILDING HAVE BEEN PROHIBITED BY THE TOWN OF LANSING.
B. 
Such notice shall remain posted until all required repairs are made or demolition of the hazardous building is completed. It shall be unlawful for any person to remove such notice without written permission of the Enforcement Officer, or for any person to enter a hazardous building except for the purpose of evaluating the building condition, making the required repairs, or to demolish such hazardous building. Further, if the Enforcement Officer determines that an emergency exists in relation to such hazardous building, the Enforcement Officer is also hereby empowered, but not required, to:
(1) 
Enter any such premises for the purposes of inspection and investigation;
(2) 
Promptly cause any hazardous building or portion thereof to be made safe or removed;
(3) 
Order the vacation of adjacent structures; and
(4) 
Protect the public by appropriate barricades or such other means as may be necessary, including the closure of public or private ways.
The DCN may also be filed in the office of the County Clerk, which notice shall be filed by the Town of Lansing in the same manner as a notice of pendency pursuant to Article 65 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (herein CPLR). The DCN shall have the same effect as a notice of pendency as therein provided, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. A DCN so filed shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing; provided, however, that it may be vacated upon the order of a Judge or Justice of a court of record or upon the consent of the Town Board of the Town of Lansing. The County Clerk shall mark such notice and any record or docket thereof as canceled of record upon the presentation and filing of such consent or of a certified copy of such order canceling the DCN.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
Upon notification given by the Enforcement Officer to the Town Supervisor that an owner has failed or refuses to repair or demolish any unsafe building, the Town Supervisor shall cause the repair or removal of the unsafe building. After the work has been completed, the Town Supervisor shall file in the office of the Town Clerk a verified statement (herein, the "verified statement") of all the direct costs of the same, together with a 20% surcharge as compensation to the Town of Lansing for administering, supervising and handling said work in accord with the provisions of this chapter. Any person aggrieved by the filing of a verified statement may file an objection thereto and request a hearing to determine the actual or reasonable costs of such removal or repair by the Town of Lansing. Such objection must be filed within 10 days of the filing of the verified statement by the Town Supervisor.
Upon receipt of the verified statement prepared pursuant to § 112-13, the Town Clerk:
A. 
Shall enter the same in the records of the Town Clerk as a lien against the premises; and
B. 
Shall add the same to the next assessment roll of general Town taxes; and
C. 
Shall collect and enforce the assessment in the same manner, by the same proceedings, at the same time, and under the same penalties as the general Town tax, and as a part thereof.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
Notwithstanding any provision herein to the contrary, the Town of Lansing may, at its election, institute suit against the owner of said premises for the direct costs and the 20% surcharge, and enter judgment thereupon against any owner. The imposition and collection of any fine or penalty hereinafter prescribed shall not bar the right of the Town of Lansing to otherwise collect the cost of the removal or repair of any unsafe building as herein prescribed.
A transfer of title (or any interests therein) by the owner shall be no defense to any proceeding under this chapter. No assignment of any obligations imposed by this chapter shall be a defense to any proceeding under this chapter.
Any person ordered to repair, remove, or vacate any unsafe building who disagrees with the DCN (or other determination of the Enforcement Officer) may appeal to the Town Board of the Town of Lansing by filing a written statement setting forth the reasons for such appeal. Such appeal must be filed within 10 days of service of the DCN (or other order of the Enforcement Officer) upon such person. Upon receipt of such appeal, the Town Board of the Town of Lansing shall hold a hearing within 30 days and, after a review of all evidence, shall affirm, modify or annul the action of the Enforcement Officer.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
Before the demolition or removal of any unsafe building is commenced, a demolition permit application (herein DPA) shall be prepared by the owner, or the owner's architect, builder or contractor, on forms available from the Enforcement Officer. A processing fee as set by resolution of the Town Board from time to time must accompany each DPA. All information requested in such form must be provided before the DPA is deemed completed. The DPA shall be filed with the Enforcement Officer at least 20 working days before the proposed demolition or removal, except in the case of hazardous buildings, which shall require that a DPA be filed as soon as possible. If a DPA is approved by the Enforcement Officer, the Enforcement Officer shall issue a demolition and removal permit (herein DRP). All work must be completed within the time stated upon the DRP. All DRPs are valid only until the date stated on the face of the DRP. Upon expiration of a DRP prior to the completion of the demolition or removal of an unsafe building, a new DPA shall be filed, and a new DRP must be issued before the continuation of any work. No DPA or DRP shall be required for single-story non-occupied structures consisting of less than 100 square feet of total floor space, such as sheds.
Before any DRP is issued and before making any repairs pursuant to a DCN, and when required by the Enforcement Officer, a performance bond, money, or another undertaking in a form approved by the Enforcement Officer, in an amount sufficient to complete all proposed or necessary operations, shall be required. The determination as to whether to require any undertaking, and in what amount or form, shall be at the sole discretion of the Enforcement Officer, without recourse. The Enforcement Officer may require additional sums to be posted, paid, or bonded as may be necessary from time to time to ensure adequate financial security for the completion of the work.
Before any DRP is issued and before making any repairs pursuant to a DCN, and prior to the commencement of any work thereunder, the owner and all person(s) engaged in the work of demolition or removal shall file proof of insurance for all operations with the Enforcement Officer, including proof of public liability, personal injury, and property damage insurance or coverages, which insurance shall also contain general all-risk coverage.
A. 
Such insurance policy or policies shall provide:
(1) 
For a minimum coverage of not less than $1,000,000 per person per incident; and
(2) 
That the Town of Lansing be named an additional primary insured; and
(3) 
That the Town of Lansing be required to be notified at least 30 days prior to any change of coverage, change in endorsements, or cancellation of coverage.
B. 
All insurance coverages and policies shall be subject to the approval of the Enforcement Officer prior to the issuance of any DRP.
The owner and each person working upon any demolition or removal work, including all persons acting in furtherance of the performance of any work pursuant to or under any DRP, shall indemnify and keep and save harmless the Town of Lansing from and against any and all losses, costs, damages, expenses, judgments, claims, or liabilities of any kind whatsoever which may accrue against or be charged to or recovered from the Town of Lansing from or by reason of or on account of accidents to persons or damage to property during any operations and from or by reason of or on account of any thing done under or by virtue of any DRP granted for any such operations. This indemnity provision shall be construed and applied to the maximum extent permitted by law.
In demolishing any building or structure, or any part thereof, story after story shall be completely removed in a sequential manner commencing with the roof, and then the top floor, and moving to the next lower floor, etc., unless such building is demolished in a single phase through the lawful and properly permitted use of explosive or implosive devices. No material shall be placed upon a floor of any building in the course of demolition, and the bricks, timbers and other parts of each story shall be lowered to the ground immediately upon displacement. All material to be removed shall be properly wet to lay the dust incident to its removal. All demolition and removal work shall be undertaken with a diligent regard to and a diligent application of all applicable safety standards, rules, laws and regulations, in accord with the safest practice and customs in such industry.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
A. 
All provisions of New York State law generally applicable to misdemeanors shall apply to any criminal proceeding brought under this chapter, and any misdemeanor shall be deemed an unclassified misdemeanor. For purposes of this chapter, the Town's justice court is hereby vested and imbued with jurisdiction to issue administrative and other warrants in compliance with the New York Criminal Procedure Law and administrative codes of the State of New York, as well as to hear and adjudicate allegations relating to the criminal or civil violation of this chapter and thereafter, if appropriate, impose any fine, penalty, or sanction.
B. 
Any person or entity that violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a criminal violation and subject to a fine of not more than $500, or subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 be recovered by the Town in a civil action. Each week that any noncompliance or violation continues is and may be charged as a separate violation.
C. 
The application or pursuit of any civil or criminal fine, sanction, or penalty shall not preclude the pursuit of any other lawful remedy by the Town, including, but not limited to, the right to seek equitable relief.
(1) 
Whenever the Town shall believe from evidence satisfactory to it that there is a violation of this chapter, the Town may bring an action to enjoin and restrain the continuation of such violation and in any such action:
(a) 
Preliminary relief may be granted under Article 63 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules; and
(b) 
The Town shall not be required to post any bond or undertaking; and
(c) 
The Town need not prove that:
[1] 
There is or will likely be irreparable harm; or
[2] 
That the Town has no adequate remedy at law.
(2) 
In such action, the court may also award any damages or other relief requested, including declaring the rights and interests of any parties and imposing any civil penalties. The remedies provided by this chapter shall not be in lieu of, and shall be in addition to, any other right or remedy available to the Town, whether sounding in enforcement or otherwise.
In addition to the provided fines and/or penalties stated in § 112-23 above, the Town of Lansing may also commence and maintain an action or proceeding in the name of the Town of Lansing in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with or restrain by injunction (or other equitable relief) the violation of any provision of this chapter.
A. 
Where the Town of Lansing finds that due to special circumstances of the particular case, a waiver of certain provisions of this chapter is justified, then a waiver may be granted by the Enforcement Officer. No waiver shall be granted, however, unless the Town Board of the Town of Lansing finds, and records in its minutes, that:
(1) 
Granting the waiver would be keeping with the intent and spirit of this chapter, and is in the best interests of the community; and
(2) 
There are special circumstances involved in the particular case, and such circumstances are recited in the minutes; and
(3) 
Denying the waiver would result in undue hardship to the applicant, provided that such hardship has not been self-imposed; and
(4) 
The waiver is to the minimum degree necessary and does not interfere with the purposes of this chapter.
B. 
Additionally, the Town Board of the Town of Lansing and/or the Enforcement Officer may state terms and conditions applicable to the waiver, including conditions precedent to the effectiveness or validity of the waiver. The Enforcement Officer may revoke a waiver upon reasonable cause should the owner fail to comply with any nonwaived provision of this chapter, or fail to comply with the terms and conditions stated in any granted waiver. If the owner believes the revocation was improper, the owner may file an objection thereto within five days of such revocation, whereupon, a hearing shall be held by the Town Board of the Town of Lansing within 30 days, and whereat a determination will be made to affirm, modify, reverse, or annul the decision of the Enforcement Officer. Notice of the hearing shall be made in the Town of Lansing's designated official newspaper at least five days prior to the date thereof. The person holding the waiver (the "waiver holder") shall be notified of the hearing by certified mail at least five days prior to the hearing. At the hearing, the Town Board of the Town of Lansing shall hear the waiver holder and all other persons wishing to be heard concerning the revocation of the waiver.
The Town of Lansing shall not be liable or responsible for any injury to persons or damage to property due to its actions, or failures to act, under or pursuant to this chapter, unless it be proven to a reasonable degree of certainty that such injury or damage was solely caused by a willful or intentional act of the Town of Lansing.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, or section of this chapter shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or article thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.
The determinations of the Town Board referenced in §§ 112-9, 112-10, 112-17, and 112-25 of this chapter shall be deemed "final determinations" for purposes of Article 78 of the CPLR.