Township of Lawrence, MI
Van Buren County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Board of Trustees of the Township of Lawrence as Ord. No. 19 of the 2005 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
An ordinance to regulate dangerous structures injurious to life or health; to provide for a means by way of hearings for the making safe or demolition of such dangerous structures; to provide for the appointment of a hearing officer; to provide penalties for the violation of said ordinance; to provide for assessment of the cost of said making safe or demolition of dangerous structures.
This chapter shall be known and cited as the "Lawrence Township Dangerous Structures Ordinance."
It is the intent of this chapter to secure the public peace, health, safety and welfare of the residents and property owners of the Township of Lawrence, Van Buren County, Michigan, by regulation of dangerous structures injurious to life or health.
As used in this chapter, including in this section, the following words and terms shall have the meanings stated herein:
DANGEROUS STRUCTURE
Any building or structure, residential or otherwise, which has any of the following defects or is in any of the following conditions:
A. 
Whenever any door, aisle, passageway, stairway or other means of ingress or egress does not conform to the State Construction Code[1] enforced in Lawrence Township, it shall be considered that such structure does not meet the requirements of this chapter.
B. 
Whenever any portion has been damaged by fire, wind, flood or by any other cause in such a manner that the structural strength or stability is appreciably less than it was before such catastrophe and is less than the minimum requirements of the Building Code of Lawrence Township for a new building or similar structure, purpose or location.
C. 
Whenever any portion of a member or appurtenance is likely to fall or to become detached or dislodged, or to collapse and thereby injure persons or damage property.
D. 
Whenever any portion has settled to such an extent that walls or other structural portions have materially less resistance to winds than is required in the case of new construction by the Building Code of Lawrence Township.
E. 
Whenever the building or structure or any part, because of dilapidation, deterioration, decay, faulty construction, or because of the removal or movement of some portion of the ground necessary for the purpose of supporting such building or portion thereof, or for other reason, is likely to partially or completely collapse or some portion of the foundation or underpinning is likely to fall or give way.
F. 
Whenever, for any reason whatsoever, the building or structure or any portion is manifestly unsafe for the purpose for which it is used.
G. 
When the building or structure has been so damaged by fire, wind, or flood, or has become so dilapidated or deteriorated so as to become an attractive nuisance to children who might play therein to their danger, or as to afford a harborage for vagrants, criminals or immoral persons, or as to enable persons to resort thereto for the purposes of committing a nuisance or unlawful or immoral act.
H. 
Whenever a building or structure, because of dilapidation, decay damage or faulty construction or arrangement or otherwise, is unsanitary or unfit for human habitation or is in a condition that is likely to cause sickness or disease when so determined by the Health Officer, or is likely to cause injury to the health, safety or general welfare of those living or working within.
I. 
Whenever any building or structure becomes vacant, dilapidated and open at window or door, leaving the interior of the building exposed to the elements or accessible to entrance by trespassers.
J. 
Whenever a building or structure remains unoccupied for a period of 180 consecutive days or longer, and is not listed as being available for sale, lease or rent with a real estate broker licensed under Article 25 of the Occupational Code, Act No. 299 of the Public Acts of 1980, being MCLA § 339.2501 et seq., or is not publicly offered for sale by the owner. This section does not apply to either of the following:
(1) 
A building or structure as to which the owner or agent does both of the following:
(a) 
Notifies the County Sheriff's Department that the building or structure will remain unoccupied for a period of 180 consecutive days. The notice shall be given by the owner or agent not more than 30 days after the building or structure becomes unoccupied.
(b) 
Maintains the exterior of the building or structure and adjoining grounds in accordance with this chapter and the Township Building Code.
(2) 
A secondary dwelling of the owner that is regularly unoccupied for a period of 180 days or longer each year, if the owner notifies the County Sheriff's Department that the dwelling will remain unoccupied for a period of 180 consecutive days or more each year. An owner who has given the notice prescribed by this subsection shall notify the Sheriff's Department not more than 30 days after the dwelling no longer qualifies for this exception. As used in this subsection, "secondary dwelling" means a dwelling such as a vacation home, hunting cabin or summer home that is occupied by the owner or a member of the owner's family during part of the year.
ENFORCING AGENCY
Lawrence Township, through the Township Building Official and/or such other officials or agency as may be designated by the Township Board to enforce this chapter.
TOWNSHIP BUILDING CODE
The State of Michigan Building Code administered and enforced in Lawrence Township pursuant to the State Construction Code Act, Act No. 230 of the Public Acts of 1972, as amended, being MCLA § 125.1501 et seq.
[1]
Editor's Note: See MCLA § 125.1501 et seq.
It shall be unlawful for any owner or agent thereof to keep or maintain any building or part thereof which is a dangerous building or structure as defined in this chapter.
A. 
When the whole or any part of a building or structure is found to be in a dangerous condition, the Township Building Inspector shall issue a notice of the dangerous condition.
B. 
Such notice shall be directed to the owner of or party in interest in the building in whose name the property appears on the last local tax assessment record of the Township.
C. 
The notice shall specify the time and place of a hearing on the condition of the building or structure at which time and place the person to whom the notice is directed shall have the opportunity to show cause why the building or structure should not be ordered to be demolished, or otherwise made safe, or properly maintained.
D. 
All such notices required by this chapter shall be in writing and shall be served upon the person to whom they are directed personally or, in lieu of personal service, may be mailed by certified mail (return receipt requested), addressed to such owner or party in interest at the address shown on the tax records, at least 10 days before the date of the hearing described in the notice. If any person to whom a notice is directed is not personally served, in addition to mailing the notice, a copy thereof shall be posted upon a conspicuous part of the building or structure.
A. 
A hearing officer shall be appointed by the Township Board to serve at the pleasure of the Board.
B. 
The Building Inspector shall file a copy of the notice of the dangerous condition of any building with the hearing officer.
C. 
At any hearing held, the hearing officer shall take testimony of the Building Inspector, the owner of the property, and any other interested party. Upon the taking of such testimony, the hearing officer shall render his decision either closing the proceedings or ordering the building to be demolished, or otherwise made safe, or properly maintained.
D. 
If it is determined by the hearing officer that the building or structure should be demolished or otherwise made safe, or properly maintained, he shall so order, fixing a time in the order for the owner or agent to comply therewith. If the building is a dangerous building under § 19-4 of this chapter, the order may require the owner or agent to maintain the exterior of the building and adjoining grounds owned by the owner of the building, including, but not limited to, the maintenance of lawns, trees and shrubs.
E. 
If the owner or party in interest fails to appear or neglects or refuses to comply with the order, the hearing officer shall file a report of his findings and a copy of his order with the Lawrence Township Board and request that the necessary action be taken to demolish, or otherwise make safe, or properly maintain the building or structure. A copy of such findings and order of the hearing officer shall be served on the owner or party in interest in the manner prescribed in § 19-6.
Upon receiving the findings and order of the hearing officer, the Lawrence Township Board shall fix a date for a hearing, reviewing the findings and order of the hearing officer and shall give notice to the owner or party in interest in the manner prescribed in § 19-6D of the time and place of the hearing. At the hearing the owner or party in interest shall be given the opportunity to show cause why the building or structure should not be demolished, or otherwise made safe, or properly maintained, and the Township Board shall either approve, disapprove or modify the order for demolishing, making safe, or properly maintaining of the building or structure. If the order is approved or modified, the owner or agent shall comply with the order within 60 days after the date of the hearing under this section.
A. 
Implementation. In the event of the failure or refusal of the owner or party in interest to comply with the decision of the Lawrence Township Board, the Township Board may, in its discretion, contract for the demolition, making safe, or maintaining the exterior of the building or structure or grounds adjoining the building or structure.
B. 
Reimbursement. The cost of the demolition, making the building safe, or maintaining incurred by the Township to bring the property into compliance with this chapter shall be reimbursed to the Township by the owner or party in interest in whose name the property appears.
C. 
Notice of costs. The owner or party in interest in whose name the property appears upon the last local tax assessment records shall be notified by the Township of the amount of the costs of the demolition, of making the building safe, or of maintaining the exterior of the building or structure or grounds adjoining the building, by first class mail at the address shown on the Township records.
D. 
Lien for unpaid costs. If the owner or party in interest fails to pay the costs within 30 days after mailing of the notice of the amount of the cost, the Township shall have a lien against the real property for the costs incurred by the Township to bring the property into compliance with this chapter. The lien shall be reported to the assessing officer of the Township who shall assess the costs against the property on which the building or structure is located. The lien shall not take effect until notice of the lien has been filed or recorded as provided by law. The lien for the costs shall be collected in the same manner in all respects as provided for property tax liens under the General Property Tax Act, Act No. 206 of the Public Acts of 1893, as amended, being MCLA § 211.1 et seq.
E. 
Court judgment for unpaid costs. In addition to other remedies under this chapter, the Township may bring an action against the owner of the building or structure for the full cost of the demolition, of making the building safe, or of maintaining the exterior of the building or structure or grounds adjoining the building or structure. The Township shall have a lien on the property for the amount of a judgment obtained pursuant to this subsection. The lien provided for in this subsection shall not take effect until notice of the lien is filed and recorded as provided by law.
F. 
Enforcement of judgment. A judgment in an action brought pursuant to § 19-9E of this chapter may be enforced against assets of the owner other than the building or structure.
G. 
Lien for judgment. The Township shall have a lien for the amount of a judgment obtained pursuant to § 19-9E of this chapter against the owner's interest in all real property located in this state that is owned in whole or in part by the owner of the building or structure against which the judgment is obtained. A lien provided for in this subsection does not take effect until notice of the lien is filed or recorded as provided by law.
[Amended 4-12-2018]
A person who fails or refuses to comply with an order approved or modified by the Township Board under § 19-8 of this chapter within the time prescribed by the section is responsible for a municipal civil infraction under Chapter 25, Municipal Civil Infractions, of the Code of the Township of Lawrence.
An owner or party in interest aggrieved by any final decision of the Lawrence Township Board may appeal the decision or order to the Circuit Court for the County of Van Buren by filing a petition for an order of superintending control within 20 days from the date of such decision.
The provisions of this chapter are hereby declared to be severable, and if any clause, sentence, word, section or provision is hereafter declared void or unenforceable for any reason by any court of competent jurisdiction, it shall not affect the remainder of such chapter, which shall continue in full force and effect.
This chapter shall take effect 30 days after publication as required by law.