[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Hanover as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 9-12-2019 by Ord. No. 33-19]
The Township Committee has reviewed public safety records and consulted with first responders, and has determined that public nuisances may exist on and about properties within the Township, resulting in the excessive utilization of municipal services by these properties.
The Township Committee has determined that the cost and expense incurred by the Township as a result of providing excessive services to nuisance properties should be paid by the respective owners of these properties, and not paid through general tax funding.
This article is intended to establish regulations and procedures identifying and providing for the assessment and payment of the costs and expenses of excessive consumption of municipal services associated with these nuisance properties.
As used in this article, the following terms are defined as set forth herein:
- DWELLING UNIT
- Living accommodations designed and used for occupancy by one family only.
- EXCESSIVE MUNICIPAL SERVICES
- Any qualifying calls made to a property while that property is on probationary nuisance status.
- NUISANCE PROPERTY
- Properties on which activities occur that result in qualifying calls for municipal services during any sixty-consecutive-day period in excess of the number of calls listed on the schedule in § 180-5 are considered nuisance properties and are subject to the penalties and procedures as set forth in this article.
- PROBATIONARY NUISANCE STATUS
- A designation that applies to properties which, as determined by a public officer, have received the requisite number of qualifying calls from the Township within a sixty-consecutive-day period. Probationary nuisance status is effective for a twelve-month period beginning on the date of the public officer's determination. During probationary nuisance status, the property owner is responsible to the Township for user charges from each qualifying call.
- QUALIFYING CALLS
- Calls resulting from complaints, or violations of state or local laws, regulations, or ordinances, including, but not limited to, those concerning:
- A. The sale, service, or consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- B. Disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, littering or excessive noise.
- C. Damage to property or injury to a person.
- D. Improperly parking a vehicle, or any motor vehicle violation, on private property.
- E. Possession of a barking, howling, biting, or dangerous animal.
- F. Possession, distribution, or use of a controlled substance.
- G. Prostitution.
- H. Public urination, defecation, or indecent exposure.
- I. Criminal activity.
- J. Township property maintenance, zoning, construction, fire, and health codes.
- K. Activity specifically determined to be qualifying by the Municipal Judge.
- USER FEE
- A per-call fee starting at $500 and increasing by $100 per call, for each additional qualifying call made to a nuisance property, as defined herein above, within the twelve-month period following the date a complaint is issued for excessive consumption of municipal services.
Each Township department, division, agency, or authority, including the Fire Districts, providing municipal services to properties shall designate, either on a permanent or as-needed basis, one or more officials to serve as a public officer to administer and enforce this article. Officials that may serve in this capacity include, but are not limited to: the Township Administrator; code enforcement officers; the Construction Code Official or his or her designee; the Chief of Police or his designee; an investigating police officer; the Health Officer; the Zoning Officer; the Property Maintenance Officer; or the Fire Inspector.
Each department, division, agency, or authority of the Township, including the Fire Districts, providing municipal services to properties in the Township, must keep and maintain records documenting the following information concerning those properties serviced:
The exact address and Tax Map designation of the subject property.
The name and address of property owners and tenants, if known and applicable.
The dates of the incident.
A full description of the nature of the incident and the violations.
The identity of the public employee providing the services.
The department providing the excessive municipal services shall coordinate, as needed, with other municipal agencies and the Police Department.
During any sixty-consecutive-day period, properties that necessitate qualifying calls for municipal services that exceed the amounts set forth in the following schedule are designated nuisance properties and subject to the penalties and procedures established under this article.
Residential properties of one through four dwelling units eight qualifying calls.
Convenience, grocery, liquor and retail stores: 10 qualifying calls.
Restaurants, bars, and adult entertainment establishments: 30 qualifying calls.
All properties not included in the preceding categories: 10 qualifying calls.
Whenever the public officer determines that any property has become a nuisance property based on excessive consumption of municipal services, he or she shall issue a summons and complaint reciting the location of the property and the allegations supporting the officer's finding of excessive use, the potential penalties, and setting forth the time and location of a Municipal Court hearing on the matter.
The complaint shall also provide notice to the property owner:
That the property is on probationary nuisance status for the 12 months following the date of the complaint.
That during the probationary nuisance status period, each additional qualifying call to the property will be subject to a user fee, which fee shall equal $500 for the first such call and shall increase by $100 for each subsequent call.
Listing the dates and the nature of the qualifying calls made to the subject property that give rise to the determination of excessive use.
Directing that the offending activities be immediately abated.
The summons and complaint shall be served on the property owner, as identified in the Township's tax records. Service shall be made by regular mail and either certified mail return receipt requested, or overnight delivery service to the last known address of the recipient as it appears in Township records.
If the whereabouts of the property owner are unknown and cannot be ascertained by reasonable diligence, service of the summons and complaint shall be effectuated as follows:
Whenever an individual dwelling unit within a multifamily dwelling has received five qualifying calls within a sixty-consecutive-day period, the public officer shall notify the property owner as provided hereunder so that the property owner can take action to abate the nuisance. This notice shall be issued notwithstanding that the multifamily dwelling did not receive the required number of qualifying calls that would trigger a notice of violation.
A hearing shall be held on the allegations recited in the complaint. The Municipal Court of the Township shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine in a summary manner proceedings for violations of any of the provisions of this article.
The public officer or officers involved shall present evidence and testify at the hearing and may produce witnesses in support of the allegations recited in the complaint. The property owner and any interested party shall have the right to appear at the hearing and testify, produce witnesses, and be represented by an attorney.
The Municipal Court is charged with determining whether, in a sixty-consecutive-day period, the subject property received qualifying calls in excess of those permitted under § 180-5. If so, the Municipal Judge shall confirm that the property was on probationary nuisance status from the date of the complaint. If the Municipal Judge also determines that qualifying calls were made to the subject property during the probationary period, that fact shall be so noted in the Municipal Judge's findings. Based on these findings, the Municipal Judge shall enter an order sustaining or dismissing the charges.
The following shall be memorialized in the Municipal Judge's order:
A finding of whether or not the subject property was on probationary nuisance status.
A determination as to whether or not an excessive number of qualifying calls were made to the subject property during the probationary nuisance status period, in accordance with the schedule herein above.
If sustained, an assessment of the reasonable costs of litigation, including, but not limited to, the costs of a court reporter and transcript, and an administrative fee of $100.
If sustained, an assessment of a user fee, starting at $500 per call and increasing by $100 per call, for each qualifying call in excess of the permitted number.
Following an affirmative Municipal Court judgment that a property is on probationary nuisance status, additional qualifying calls to the subject property following the hearing and within a one-year period from the date of the complaint constitute a further violation of this article and are subject to the aforementioned user fee, starting at $500 per call and increasing by $100 for each call thereafter. A summons and complaint shall be filed in the Hanover Township Municipal Court for each subsequent qualifying call, each being a separate violation, with the per-call penalty to be imposed upon a guilty plea or conviction. Notice of this provision shall be incorporated in the Municipal Judge's order.
The Municipal Judge's order shall be served upon the appropriate parties in the same manner as service of the complaint and notice of hearing; except that, in the event the whereabouts of the property owner cannot be ascertained, then the order shall also be recorded in the Morris County Clerk's office.
Any fees, costs, or penalties that remain unpaid 60 days from the date of an order issued pursuant to this article shall be assessed as a lien against the subject property, enforceable and collectible in the same manner as liens for delinquent real property taxes and municipal service charges.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:52-1.2, municipal licenses, permits, and certificates of occupancy applied for or issued to the subject property may be revoked, suspended, withheld, or denied renewal for failure to comply with and satisfy any payment obligations under an order imposed pursuant to this article.