[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Woodstown 8-26-63 as Ord. No. 201. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Be it ordained by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Woodstown, in the County of Salem and State of New Jersey:
[Amended 9-12-95 by Ord. No. 495]
A public officer, to be known as the Housing Officer, shall be appointed by the Borough Council of the Borough of Woodstown to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter. The words "he", "his", or "him" whenever used in this chapter shall not be interpreted to preclude the appointment of a female person to the position of Housing Officer. These words shall be interpreted and modified for the appropriate gender whenever this section is interpreted and applied to a female person holding the position of Housing Officer.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Housing Officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Borough of Woodstown, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Housing Officer, on his own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Housing Officer shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, 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 Housing 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. 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. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Housing Officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Housing 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:
If the repair, alteration or improvements of the said building can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building, requiring the owner, to the extent and within the time specified in the order, to repair, alter or improve the said building to render it fit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building; or,
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building, requiring the owner, within the time specified in the order, to remove or demolish such building.
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 Housing Officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The Housing 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 Housing 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. If the building is removed or demolished by the Housing 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 Housing Officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed by such Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order of such Court.
The Housing 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 the residents of the Borough of Woodstown. 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 or structural defects, or uncleanliness.
[Amended 9-12-95 by Ord. No. 495]
The Housing Officer shall have all of the power and authority set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:48-1, et seq., and 40:48-2, et seq., and may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the following:
To investigate the building conditions in the Borough of Woodstown in order to determine which buildings 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 minimal inconvenience to the persons in possession.