The purposes of this chapter are:
To provide for the public health, safety and welfare.
To avoid, prevent and eliminate the maintenance and creation of hazards to the public health and safety.
To avoid, prevent and eliminate conditions which, if permitted to exist or continue, will depreciate or tend to depreciate the value of adjacent or surrounding properties.
To prevent the creation, continuation, extension or aggravation of blight.
To preserve property values in the township.
To prevent the physical deterioration or progressive downgrading of the quality of residential dwellings in the township.
To prevent and eliminate physical conditions in or on property which constitute nuisances and are thereby potentially dangerous or hazardous to the life, health or safety of persons on or near the premises where such conditions exist.
To establish minimum standards governing the maintenance and condition of lands, buildings, structures and premises in the township.
To fix responsibilities and duties therefor upon owners, lessees, operators and occupants of property.
To provide for administration, enforcement, and appeals.
To fix penalties for the violation of this chapter.
For the specific purposes of this chapter, the following terms, whenever used herein or referred to in this chapter, shall have the respective meanings assigned to them hereunder unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
EXTERIOR OF PREMISES — Shall mean building or structures which are exposed to public view or are visible from adjoining or adjacent lots, or a public street, including all outside surfaces and appurtenances thereto in a residential zone which is used all or in part or intended to be used for residential purposes and the open land space of any premises outside of any building or structure erected thereon.
NUISANCE — Shall mean:
Any public or private condition that would constitute a nuisance according to the statutes, laws and regulations of the State of New Jersey, its governmental agencies or the ordinances of the township.
Any physical conditions existing in or on the exterior of any premises which is potentially dangerous, detrimental or hazardous to the life, health or safety of persons on, near or passing within the proximity of premises where such condition exists.
OCCUPANT — Shall mean any person residing, living or sleeping in or on the premises or having actual possession, use of occupancy of a dwelling premises or unit or operating a business therein, or any person or entity in possession of or using any premises or party thereof, whether or not the owner thereof and regardless of the duration of time of such possession, use or occupancy.
OPERATOR — Shall mean any person, persons or entity not the owner, who has charge, care or control of a dwelling or premises or a part thereof and/or collector of rent with or without the knowledge, consent or authority of the owner.
OWNER — Shall mean any person, persons or entity who shall have legal or equitable title in any form whatsoever to any premises or part thereof, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof or who shall have charge, care or control of any lot, premises, building, structure or part thereof, as owner or agent of owner, or as a fiduciary, trustee, receiver, guardian, lessee or mortgagee in possession, regardless of how such possession was obtained. Any person, group of persons or entity who is a lessee, sublessee or assignee of a lease of any part or all of any building, structure or land shall be deemed to be a co-owner with the lessor for the purposes of this chapter and shall have responsibility over the portion of the premises so sublet, leased or assigned.
PREMISES — Shall mean a lot, plot or parcel of land, right-of-way or multiples thereof, including the buildings or structures thereon.
REFUSE or RUBBISH — Shall mean all discarded, useless, unusable, unused or worthless solid waste matter or materials, combustible or noncombustible, including but not limited to garbage; trash, ashes; paper, paper goods and products; wrappings; cans; bottles; containers; yard clippings; garden refuse; brush and containers of waste materials, chemicals or oil other than garbage containers used and intended to be picked up in the normal regular scavenger and recycling collection service; debris; junk; glass; boxes; crockery; wood; mineral matter; plastic; rubber; leather; household goods; fixtures; bedding; scrap lumber; pet droppings or biological waste; scrap metal; construction material; inoperable machinery or parts thereof; dead or rotting vegetation; excluding compost piles which are not otherwise prohibited in this chapter; and solid commercial or industrial waste.
WEATHERING — Shall mean the deterioration, decay or damage caused by exposure to the elements.
In any case where the provisions of this chapter impose a higher or stricter standard than set forth in any other ordinance or regulation of the Township of East Windsor or under the laws or regulations of the State of New Jersey or any of its agencies, then the standards as set forth herein shall prevail, but if the provisions of this chapter impose a lower or lesser standard than any other regulation or ordinance of the Township of East Windsor or the laws and regulations of the State of New Jersey or any of its agencies, then the higher standard contained in any such other ordinance, regulation or law shall prevail.
Compliance with this chapter shall not constitute a defense against any violation of any other ordinance of the township applicable to any structure or premises, nor shall any one act of compliance constitute a defense against any subsequent or other violation of this chapter.
Owners, operators and occupants shall have all the duties, obligations and responsibilities prescribed in this chapter, and no such person or entity shall be relieved of any such duty, obligation or responsibility hereunder nor be entitled to assert as a defense against any charge made against him or them for violation of this chapter. The fact that another owner, operator or occupant or any other third person or entity is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof does not relieve the first owner, operator, or occupant from compliance with this chapter.
Nothing contained in this chapter or any requirement of compliance herewith shall be deemed to alter, impair or affect the application of the Zoning Ordinance or zoning laws of the township, the commercial property maintenance code, or the housing code.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the municipality of its officers or agencies relating to the removal or demolition of any buildings or structures which are deemed to be dangerous, unsafe and unsanitary.
In furtherance of the purposes of this chapter, it shall be the duty and responsibility of the owner, operator or occupant of the premises to comply with any or all of the requirements and standards of this chapter, to keep the premises free of conditions which constitute violations hereof and to promptly remove, prevent or abate such conditions.
The vacant lots and exterior of all residential premises shall be kept free of the following matter, materials and conditions.
Refuse and rubbish, as hereinabove defined.
Abandoned, uncovered or structurally unsound wells, shafts, towers, exterior cellar openings, basement hatchways, foundations or excavations.
Abandoned appliances and indoor furniture.
Nuisances, as hereinabove defined.
Vehicles or parts thereof, licensed or unlicensed, registered or unregistered, which vehicles or parts thereof are or have been dismantled or are in a state of visible disrepair or are inoperable for a period of more than two weeks. This section shall take effect only where the conditions described herein are visible from surrounding or adjoining properties or a public street.
Dangerously loose and overhanging objects, including but not limited to dead trees or tree limbs, accumulations of ice or any object, natural or man-made, which could threaten the health and safety of persons if caused to fall, or other similar dangerously loose and overhanging objects which, by reason of their location above ground level, constitute an actual hazard to persons or vehicles in the vicinity thereof.
In any residential zone, except as provided herein, no person shall use private property or public streets for the parking of commercial vehicles over 8,000 pounds gross registered weight. It shall be unlawful for any person to use property in a residential zone for the parking of commercial vehicles over 8,000 pounds gross registered weight except if such commercial vehicles are temporarily parked on business calls to the subject property or if any such commercial vehicle is parked in an enclosed garage or parked in the side yard or backyard of the premises and suitably screened.
In residential zone districts and upon all properties used for residential purposes in whole or in part, parking spaces shall be on paved or gravel driveways constructed and installed and located pursuant to the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance and other applicable codes, rules and regulations of the Township of East Windsor.
General Building Maintenance.
The exterior of every structure or accessory structure, including signs and fences, shall be maintained in good repair. The same shall be maintained free of broken glass, loose shingles, crumbling stone or brick, excessive peeling paint or other conditions reflective of deterioration or inadequate maintenance, to the end that the property itself may be preserved, safety and fire hazards eliminated and adjoining properties and the Township of East Windsor be protected from blighting influences.
Inadequate or unsafe foundations, wall, piers and columns and other similar structurally unsound, damaged or defective load-bearing components which are incapable of bearing imposed loads safely at all points shall not be permitted.
Structurally unsound, loose, dangerous, crumbling, missing, broken, rotten or unsafe exterior portions of buildings or structures, including but not limited to porches, landings, balconies, stairways, handrails, steps, walls, overhangs, roofs, fences, supporting members, timbers, abutments, fire escapes, signs or loose, crumbling or falling bricks, stones, mortar or plaster shall not be permitted.
Exterior surfaces or parts of buildings or structures containing sharp, rough or projecting surfaces or objects which might cause injury to persons coming in contact therewith shall not be permitted.
Adequate run-off drains shall be provided and maintained in accordance with the ordinances of the township to eliminate any recurrent or excessive accumulation of storm water. All natural water courses flowing through or along the premises must be kept free of trash and debris to insure proper flow of water.
No owner, occupant and/or tenant of a residential property in the Township of East Windsor shall rake, blow, push, and/or drag leaves from his property onto the public streets of the township, except in the following manner: leaves may be stacked, piled or raked in rows running parallel to the curb of the premises in question. The outward edge of the rows shall not extend any further than three feet from the nearest curb line or grass line from the property.
The duty of administering and enforcing the provisions of this section is conferred upon the construction official, the zoning officer, housing officer, health officer, township police, and any other duly appointed representatives.
All buildings and premises subject to this section are subject to inspection from time to time by the enforcing officer of the township. At the time of inspections, parts of the premises must be available and accessible for inspections, and the owner, operator and occupant are required to provide the necessary arrangements to facilitate such inspections.
Whenever an enforcement officer determines that there is or has been a violation of any provision of this chapter, he shall give notice of such violation to the person, persons or entities responsible therefor under this chapter. Such notice shall be in writing and shall include a concise statement of the reasons for its issuance. Such notice shall be deemed to be properly and sufficiently served if a copy thereof is sent by registered or certified mail to the last known address of the person or entity upon which the same is served, as shown by the most recent tax lists of the township, or if a copy thereof is handed to such person or persons or a copy thereof left at the usual place of abode or office of such persons or entities. Notice shall be given as aforesaid within or without the township. The notice shall also state that unless the violation is abated, removed, cured, prevented or desisted from within ten days of the date of service of such notice (exclusive of the date of service) a summons shall be issued for such violation. The enforcement officer may, at the time he issues the notice, extend the period for compliance with the requirements stated in the notice for a period in excess of the aforesaid ten days if, in his judgment, the abatement, removal, prevention, cessation of or cure of the condition cannot reasonably be effected within the ten-day period; and in such cases the enforcement officer shall state such reasonably required extended period in the notice, which shall then be applicable instead of the aforesaid ten days. In the event the violation is not abated, removed, cured, prevented or desisted from or otherwise fully remedied within the ten-day period or within such extended period as set forth in the notice pursuant to the foregoing, a summons shall then issue against the person, persons, entity or entities notified.
Within five working days following receipt of the notice of violation, the person receiving such notice may file an objection, in writing, to the enforcement officer, and any such person shall be afforded a hearing before the township manager or designee as soon as is reasonably possible. The township manager or designee may, in his discretion, modify or withhold strict enforcement of this chapter.
If the decision rendered by the township manager or designee after the hearing upholds the decision of the enforcement officer, a second notification shall be issued and served allowing such time period as is established by the township manager or designee for correction of the violation and carrying notice of the penalties which will be imposed for failure to comply.
Where abatement of any nuisance, as defined herein, correction or a defect in the premises or work necessary to place the premises in a proper condition so as to conform to ordinances of the township or applicable laws of the State of New Jersey requires expending township monies, the township engineer, zoning officer, construction official or health officer or other duly appointed enforcement officer, shall present a report of work proposed to be done to accomplish the foregoing to the township manager with an estimate of the cost, along with a summary of the proceedings undertaken by the enforcement officer to secure compliance, including notices served upon the occupants, owners, operators or their agents, as the case may be. The township manager may thereupon, authorize the abatement of the nuisance, correction of the defect or work necessary to place the premises in proper condition and in compliance with this code. The township shall thereafter have the work performed at township expense, and shall, upon completion thereof, submit a report of the monies expended and costs to the township council. After review of the report, the township council may approve the expenses and costs, whereupon the same shall become a lien against the premises, collectible as provided by law. A copy of the resolution approving the expenses and costs shall be certified by the township clerk and filed with the tax collector of the township, who shall be responsible for the collection, and a copy of the report and resolution shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner of the effected premises.
Whenever the enforcement officer finds that an emergency condition in violation of this chapter exists, which condition requires immediate attention in order to protect the public health or safety, he may issue an order by service of notice as set forth in Section 25-13 of this chapter, reciting the existence of such an emergency condition and requiring that such action be taken by the violator as soon as is reasonably necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such an order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, but upon objection in writing to the enforcement officer any such person shall be afforded a hearing before the township manager or designee of the township as soon as is reasonably possible. After such a hearing and decision by the township manager or designee as to the existence or nonexistence of the emergency condition, the township manager or designee may continue such order in effect or modify or withdraw it, subject to issuance of a summons for violation thereof if such order is continued.
It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dwelling unit or structure who has received a compliance order, or upon whom a notice of violation has been served, to sell, contract for sale, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose of the structure or premises until the provisions of the compliance order or notice of violation have been complied with, or until such owner shall first furnish the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee, a true copy of the compliance order or notice of violation. Additionally, said owner shall furnish to the code official a signed and notarized statement from the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee, acknowledging the receipt of such compliance order or notice of violation and fully accepting the responsibility without condition for making the corrections or repairs required by the compliance order or notice of violation.
[Ord. No. 2015-05]
CREDITOR — Shall mean a State chartered bank, savings bank, savings and loan association or credit union, any person or entity required to be licensed under the provisions of the "New Jersey Residential Mortgage Act," P.L. 2009, c. 53 (C. 17:11C-51 et seq.), any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of C. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c. 127, Sec. 17, as amended from time to time) and any entity acting on behalf of the creditor named in the debt obligation including, but not limited to, servicers.
VACANT AND ABANDONED RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY — Shall mean, consistent with section 1 of P.L. 2010, c. 70 (C. 2A:50-73), residential real estate, where a notice of violation has been issued pursuant to paragraph e1 of this section and subsection b of section 1 of P.L. 2014, c. 35 (C. 40:48-2.12s). Residential property shall further be deemed vacant and abandoned where a mortgaged property is not occupied by a mortgagor or tenant and at least two of the following conditions exist:
Overgrown or neglected vegetation;
The accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers or mail on the property;
Disconnected gas, electric, or water utility services to the property;
The accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
The accumulation of junk, litter, trash or debris on the property;
The absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains or shutters;
The absence of furnishings and personal items;
Statements of neighbors, association management, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;
Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken and unrepaired;
Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;
A risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
An uncorrected violation of a municipal building, housing, or similar code during the preceding year, or an order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;
The mortgagee or other authorized party has secured or winterized the property due to the property being deemed vacant and unprotected or in danger of freezing;
A written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property;
Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
Registration of Vacant and Abandoned Properties.
A creditor filing a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a vacant and abandoned property, or a creditor who has previously filed a summons and complaint to foreclose on a residential property which subsequently becomes vacant and abandoned, shall within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant and abandoned or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant and abandoned property, whichever is later; or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice from the Township, and annually thereafter, file a registration statement for such vacant and abandoned property with the municipal clerk on forms provided by the Township for such purposes. Any failure to receive notice from the Township shall not constitute grounds for failing to register the vacant and abandoned property.
Each vacant and abandoned property having a separate block and lot number as designated in the official tax maps of the Township shall be registered separately.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and email address (if applicable) of a person 21 years or older, designated by the creditor as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding on behalf of such creditor in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and email address (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the vacant and abandoned property. The individual or representative of the firm responsible for maintaining the vacant and abandoned property shall be available by telephone or in person on a twenty-four-hour per day, seven-day per week basis. The two entities may be the same or different persons. Both entities shown on the statement must maintain offices in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration except for the initial registration which shall be valid through December 31st of the year in which it was filed. The creditor shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains vacant and abandoned and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in paragraph c of this section for each vacant and abandoned property registered.
The annual renewal shall be completed by January 1st each year. The initial registration fee shall be pro-rated for registration statements received less than 10 months prior to that date.
The creditor shall notify the Municipal Clerk within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Municipal Clerk for such purpose.
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the creditor.
The initial registration fee for each vacant and abandoned property under the provisions of this section shall be $500. The fee for the first annual renewal shall be $1,500 and the fee for the second annual renewal shall be $3,000. The fee for any subsequent annual renewal beyond the second renewal shall be $5,000.
Creditor Responsibility for Vacant and Abandoned Properties.
A creditor filing a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property within the Township shall be immediately responsible for the care, maintenance, security and upkeep of the exterior of the property, after the property becomes vacant and abandoned as defined in this section.
Where a creditor is located out-of-state, the creditor shall be responsible for appointing an in-State representative or agent to act on the creditor's behalf for the purpose of satisfying the requirements of Paragraph d. 1 of this section. Notice of said representative or agent shall be provided to the municipal clerk pursuant to paragraph b. 3 and 4 of this section and pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a of section 17 of P.L. 2008, c. 127 (C. 46:10B-51).
The enforcement officers designated in this section shall be authorized to issue a notice to a creditor that has filed a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property within the Township, if the enforcement officer determines that the creditor has violated this section by failing to provide for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of a vacant and abandoned property.
Where a creditor is an out-of-state creditor, the notice shall be issued to the representative or agent that has been identified by the creditor pursuant to paragraph d2 of this section and paragraph (1) of subsection a of section 17 of P.L. 2008, c. 127 (C. 46:10B-51).
The notice referenced in paragraph e. 1 of this section shall require the creditor to correct the violation(s) within 30 days of receipt of the notice, or within 10 days of receipt of the notice if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety.
The issuance of a notice pursuant to paragraph e. 1 of this section shall constitute proof that a residential property is vacant and abandoned for the purposes of this section.
Enforcement Officers. The duty of administering and enforcing the provisions of this section is conferred upon the Municipal Clerk, Construction Official, Zoning Officer, Housing Officer, Health Officer, Township Police, and any other duly appointed representatives.
Violations and Penalties.
A creditor subject to this section that is found by the Municipal Court of the Township, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to correct a care, maintenance, security, or upkeep violation cited in a notice issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to a fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed pursuant to this paragraph shall commence 31 days following the receipt of the notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to public health and safety, in which case any fines shall commence 11 days following receipt of the notice.
An out-of-state creditor subject to this section that is found by the Municipal Court of the Township, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to appoint an in-state representative or agent pursuant to this section shall be subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed on a creditor for the failure to appoint an in-state representative or agent shall commence on the day after the 10-day period set forth in paragraph (1) of subsection a of section 17 of P.L. 2008, c. 127 (C. 46:10B-51) for providing notice to the Municipal Clerk that a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage has been served.
A creditor subject to this section that is found by the Municipal Court of the Township, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to register a vacant and abandoned property pursuant to paragraph b of this section shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $2,000. Any fines imposed on a creditor under this paragraph shall commence 11 days following receipt of notice from the Township pursuant to paragraph b1 of this section.
No less than 20 percent of any money collected by the Township pursuant to this section shall be utilized by the Township for municipal code enforcement purposes.