[Adopted 5-22-2018 by Ord. No. 861]
The purpose of this article requiring the registration of all vacant buildings and the payment of registration fees is to assist the Borough in protecting the public health, safety and welfare, to monitor the number of vacant buildings in the Borough, to assess the effects of the condition of those buildings on nearby businesses and the neighborhoods in which they are located, particularly in light of fire safety hazards and to promote substantial efforts to rehabilitate such vacant buildings. The provisions of this section are applicable to the owners of such vacant buildings as set forth herein and are in addition to and not in lieu of any and all other applicable provisions of the ordinances of the Borough of Clifton Heights and all relevant codes and/or regulations adopted therein.
Administration and enforcement of this section shall be under the control of the Code Enforcement Officials of the Borough.
For the purposes of this article, where terms are not defined, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies. The following words shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them as follows:
- A building, structure or dwelling unit subject to the provisions of this section if in place of one or more exterior doors, other than a storm door, or of one or more windows, there is a sheet or sheets of plywood or similar material covering the space for such door or window.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
- Written notice of a violation or requirement under this article mailed, pursuant to first class mail, to the last known address of the owner of the property in question.
- As applied to a building or structure subject to the provisions of this article means where one or more persons actually conduct a lawful business or reside in all or any part of the building as the licensed business-occupant, or as the legal or equitable owner/occupant(s) or tenant(s) on a permanent, nontransient basis, or any combination of the same. For purposes of this section, evidence offered to prove that a building is so occupied may include, but shall not be limited to, the regular receipt of delivery of regular mail through the U.S. Postal Service; proof of continual telephone, electric, gas, heating, water and sewer services; a valid Borough business license, or the most recent, federal, state, or Borough tax statements indicating that the subject property is the official business or residence address of the person or business claiming occupancy; or proof of tenant occupied property license inspection.
- A building or structure or dwelling unit subject to the provisions of this article in which any one or more exterior doors, other than a storm door, is broken, open and/or closed, but, without a properly functioning lock to secure it, or if one or more windows is broken or not capable of being locked and secured from instrusion or any combination of the same.
- Any person, agent, operator, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in the property; or recorded in the official records of the state, county or Borough as holding title to the property; or otherwise having control of the property, including the guardian of the estate of any such person, and the executor or administrator of the estate of such person if ordered to take possession of real property by a court.
- As applied to a building or structure subject to the provisions of this article means no person or persons actually, currently conducts a lawfully licensed business, or lawfully resides or lives in any part of the building as the legal or equitable owner(s) or tenant-occupant(s), or owner-occupants, or tenant(s) on a permanent nontransient basis.
The requirements of this article shall be applicable to each owner of any building whether governmental, commercial, residential or institutional or owned by a nonprofit or a for-profit organization in which the building in total shall have been vacant for more than 30 days. Each such owner shall cause to be filed a notarized registration statement in a form prescribed from time to time by the Borough, which form shall include the street address and parcel number of each such vacant building, the names and addresses of all owners, as hereinafter described, and any other information deemed necessary by the Borough Code Enforcement Officials. The registration statement and, where applicable, registration fee(s) as required by § 250-34 shall be billed by the Borough and such registration statement and, where applicable, registration fee(s), shall be filed with and/or paid to the Borough on or before September 15, or if September 15 falls on Saturday or Sunday by the preceding Friday, of each year. For purposes of this article, registration application(s) initially shall be due on September 15, 2018. For purposes of this section, the following shall also be applicable:
If the owner is a corporation, the registration statement shall provide the names and residence addresses of all officers and directors of the corporation and shall be accompanied by a copy of the most recent relevant filing with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
If an estate, the name and business address of the executor of the estate;
If a trust, the name and addresses of all trustees, grantors and beneficiaries;
If a partnership, the names and residence addresses of all partners with an interest of 10% or greater;
If any other form of unincorporated association, the names and residence addresses of all principals with an interest of 10% or greater;
If an individual person, the name and residence address of that individual person.
If none of the persons listed in § 250-33 is shown at an address within the state, the registration statement also shall provide the name and address of a person who resides within the state and who is authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the owners and who shall be designated as a responsible, local party or agent, both for purposes of notification in the event of an emergency affecting the public health, safety or welfare and for purposes of service of any and all notices or registration statements as herein authorized and in connection herewith.
Registration shall be required for all vacant buildings, whether vacant and secure, vacant and open or vacant and boarded, and shall be required whenever any building has remained vacant for 30 consecutive days or more. In no instance shall the registration of a vacant building and the payment of registration fees be construed to exonerate the owner, agent or responsible party from responsibility for compliance with any other Borough Code or ordinance requirement. One registration statement may be filed to include all vacant buildings of the owner so registering.
The owner of the vacant property as of September 15th of each calendar year shall be responsible for the filing of his/her registration statement and, where applicable, registration payment of the nonrefundable registration fee. Said fee shall be billed by the Borough and shall be established from time to time by resolution of the Borough Council.
Upon the registration of a property, the Borough Code Enforcement officials may conduct an inspection of the property to determine if it complies with the applicable Borough Codes and ordinances. If the inspection finds violations of Borough Codes or ordinances, the Borough shall issue a notice of violation as per the requirements of those Borough Codes or ordinances and give notice to the owner to comply.
Registration fees shall become dedicated to a line item in the budget for the Borough's enforcement and administration of the vacant property registration requirements within this article. Fines for violations of this article shall go to the Borough's General Fund.
The owner shall have the right to appeal the imposition of the registration fees to the Borough Council upon filing an application in writing to the Borough Secretary no later than 15 calendar days after the date of the billing statement. On appeal, the owner shall bear the burden of providing satisfactory objective proof of "occupied" status as defined in this article.
A one-time, six-month waiver of the registration fee may be granted by the Borough Council upon application of the owner and upon review and advice of the Borough Code Enforcement Officials within 15 calendar days of the date of the bill for the registration fee, if the owner:
Demonstrates with satisfactory proof that he/she has submitted valid architectural plans, based on the Borough's permits and planning application procedures, and otherwise has shown good faith efforts to efficiently rehabilitate, demolish, or otherwise substantially repair or improve said vacant building; or
Demonstrates with satisfactory proof that he/she is actively marketing the property for sale/lease. Actively marketing will be defined as an owner has placed a "for sale" or a "for lease" sign on the property with accurate contact information, which is also provided and has done at least one of the following:
Within 60 days after the waiver application is received by the Borough Secretary, the Borough Council shall grant or deny the waiver in writing, and dispatch the written decision by mail to the owner.
After the owner is given notice of the amount of the registration fee due, except for those owners that have properly perfected and pursued to successful result, an appeal pursuant to § 250-36 of this article and the owner fails to pay the amount due, said amount shall constitute a debt due and owing to the Borough, and the Borough may enter a lien on the property as provided by law.
If the status of the registration information changes during the course of any calendar year, it is the responsibility of the owner, responsible party or agent for the same to contact the Borough within 30 days of the occurrence of such change and advise the Borough in writing of those changes.
The failure or refusal for any reason of any owner, or agent of an owner acting on behalf of the owner, to file a registration statement or to pay any fees required to be paid pursuant to the provisions of this section, within 30 days after notice, shall constitute a violation punishable upon conviction thereof by a fine in the amount of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 for the first two continual and uncorrected failures or refusals to register, or for each failure or refusal to pay and not exceeding $5,000 for the third and any subsequent continual and uncorrected failure or refusal to register or for each subsequent failure or refusal to pay or imprisonment for any term not exceeding 90 days or both. Unpaid fines shall be registered as a lien against the violating building.