[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Secaucus 5-28-57. Amended in its entirety 12-10-91 by Ord. No. 91-42. Further amendments noted where applicable.]
The following terms whenever used or referred to in this chapter shall have the following respective meanings for the purpose of this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses, and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Town Council charged with governing the municipality.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations, and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the municipality, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Town of Secaucus.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer, board or body who is or are authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
The Mayor and Town Council shall by resolution appoint one person who is hereby designated the Public Officer to exercise the powers described by this chapter.
The Public Officer is hereby authorized to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following powers in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience for the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of the ordinances.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as they may designate.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Public Officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the municipality charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Public Officer shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charge, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Public Officer or his designated agent at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, or otherwise, and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Public Officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Public Officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state in writing his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order or at the option of the owner to vacate or have the said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises, and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the said order of removal.
All buildings which are deemed to be vacant, unguarded, or abandoned, shall be closed/sealed in the following manner:
Buildings with exterior walls constructed of brick or other masonry:
All exterior openings, including doors or other openings to the cellar, to the street level, or to the second floor, shall be sealed with concrete block, except that one door opening, visible conspicuously from the street, may, at the discretion of the owner, be sealed with a door. Such door shall be of solid wood covered with 26 gauge metal or constructed of one inch by six inch tongue and groove board with cross and diagonal battons of one inch barris and covered on the outside with 26 US gauge galvanized steel with edging turned over and nailed with flat head galvanized nails. The door shall be hung in such a manner that no screws are exposed on the outside of the door on either hinges or the hasps. Such hinges shall not have removable hinge pins; such two hasps and locks shall be provided, located so as to divide the height of the door in equal sections. The foregoing shall be in conformity with the following:
Concrete blocks shall conform to the provisions of B.O.C.A. in accordance with the N.J. State Code in all respects.
All door and window frames shall be removed before concrete blocks are installed. Only new, undamaged concrete blocks shall be installed and abut; such blocks shall be cleaned and thoroughly wetted before blocks are installed.
Doors and windows, not exceeding six feet in width, shall be sealed with concrete blocks at least four inches in thickness. Openings exceeding six feet in width shall be sealed with concrete blocks at least eight inches in thickness.
Concrete blocks shall be laid in masonry cement mortar with a mix of not more than three parts of sand for each part of masonry cement by volume. Joints in masonry shall be broken. Masonry cement shall be approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals. Joints on the exterior faces shall be strucks and shall be provided with a smooth finish.
Buildings with exterior walls constructed of material other than masonry:
All exterior openings in walls of buildings which do not have walls constructed of masonry shall be sealed with boards covered by sheet metal in the manner specified in this chapter.
Openings in roofs shall be sealed as follows:
Roof bulkheads, skylights, ventilating equipment and similar structures shall be completely removed. Openings remaining after removal of such structures shall be sealed with one inch tongue and groove boards not less than six inches in nominal width, laid on three inch by six inch joists, not more than 16 inches on center. Joists shall be secured to the roof timbers framed about tie openings in a sound and secure manner. Boards shall be covered with roofing to provide a watertight durable cover.
Sealing of openings by boards covered with sheet metal, where permitted under Subsection A,(5) in masonry walls and under Subsection B in walls of material other than masonry shall be done in the following manner:
Boards shall be one inch by six inch cut to a length to fit the height and width of the wall opening with cross and diagonal batters of one inch boards on the inside, or shall be exterior grade plywood at least five-eighths (5/8) inches in thickness, cut to fit the wall opening on the inner side of the window frame.
Outside or exposed surfaces of the boards or plywood shall be covered with 26 US gauge galvanized steel with edging turned over and nailed with flat head galvanized nails.
Boards shall be nailed to the sides, top and bottom of the window frame with 16 penny three-and-a-half (3 1/2) inch nails, where the window frame is in good, firm condition. Where the window frame is loose or defective, the boards shall be securely fastened to the brick wall.
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the Public Officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed; that the Public Officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Public Officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished.
The amount of such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. The detailed statement of the aforesaid costs shall be filed with the custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy of the said detailed statement be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the building is removed or demolished by the Public Officer he shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Public Officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
The Public Officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Town of Secaucus; such conditions may include the following, without limiting the generality of the foregoing: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects; or uncleanliness. The Public Officer in reaching such determination shall be guided by, among other things, the standards set by the Building Code, Zoning Ordinance and health ordinances of the Town of Secaucus and by the pertinent requirements of Title 26 of the Revised Statutes of New Jersey.
Complaints or orders issued by the Public Officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Public Officer, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Public Officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the municipality in which the buildings are located. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording officer of the county in which the building is located.