Borough of Palmyra, NJ
Burlington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Palmyra 12-17-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-18. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
The Borough of Palmyra has experienced an increase in vacant and abandoned properties within its borders, due to a variety of reasons, including an increase in mortgage foreclosures, tax foreclosures, and lack of proper property maintenance.
B. 
Vacant and abandoned properties are having a detrimental effect on the public health, safety and welfare because:
(1) 
Many structures that are vacant, whether secured or not, are a blight on their neighborhoods due to improper maintenance and their unsightly appearance, causing deterioration and instability in their neighborhoods, and resulting in an adverse impact upon adjacent and nearby properties;
(2) 
Structures that are vacant and not properly secured are dangerous and unsafe in that they are extremely vulnerable to being set on fire by unauthorized persons;
(3) 
Structures that are vacant and not properly secured attract vagrants and criminals and are prime locations to conduct illegal activities, including vandalism, theft, arson and drug use;
(4) 
Structures that are vacant and not properly secured pose dangers to inquisitive minors from unsecured pools; abandoned wells, shafts, excavations, and abandoned appliances;
(5) 
Structures that are vacant are often structurally unsound and in danger of collapse which creates a great risk to the public;
(6) 
Structures that are vacant and the yards appurtenant thereto often contain rubbish, trash, and debris, or vegetation such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac;
(7) 
Structures that are vacant often have appurtenant grounds that are often poorly maintained and have particularly tall grass and weeds; and
(8) 
Structures that are vacant often have appurtenant grounds that attract rodents, snakes and undesirable insects such as ticks and fleas, creating unsanitary conditions for the community.
C. 
Communication between owners of vacant and abandoned buildings and the Borough is essential for effective allocation of public resources and the maintenance of public health, welfare, and safety in regard to such structures. Curtailment and elimination of these blighting conditions are necessary for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of the community.
This chapter is adopted pursuant to the authority of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 which permits governing bodies of municipalities of this state to enact and amend ordinances as deemed necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare and as may be necessary to carry into effect the powers and duties conferred to municipalities. Ancillary authority for the adoption of this chapter comes from N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.53; N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51; N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12a; N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12e; N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12f; N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s; N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.13; N.J.S.A. 40:48-1(4); and N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this chapter, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
ACCESSIBLE PROPERTY/STRUCTURE
A property that is accessible through a compromised/breached gate, fence, wall, etc., or a structure that is unsecured and/or breached in such a way as to allow access to the interior space by unauthorized persons.
APPLICABLE CODES
Includes, but are not limited to, the Borough of Palmyra Code, other Palmyra ordinances, and the current BOCA National Property Maintenance Code as published by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc., and any other State of New Jersey Construction Codes.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER or CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
Any law enforcement officer, building official, zoning inspector, code enforcement officer, fire inspector or building inspector, abandoned property list official, public official or other person authorized by the Borough of Palmyra to enforce the applicable code(s). More than one enforcement officer may be designated by the Borough of Palmyra.
GRAFFITI
Any drawing, painting or marking of any mark or inscription on public or private real or personal property without the prior written permission of the owner of the property.
NOTICE TO ABATE
The notice required to be provided pursuant to § 206A-10B below.
OWNER
Any person, legal entity or other party having any ownership interest, whether legal or equitable, in real property. This term shall also apply to any person, legal entity or agent responsible for the construction, maintenance or operation of the property involved.
REGISTERED PROPERTY
Any real property required to be registered pursuant to § 206-6 below, of this chapter.
REGISTRANT
A person or legal entity who has registered or who is required to register a registered property pursuant to this chapter.
STREET ADDRESS
The address at which the person resides or the legal entity maintains an office, which shall include a street name or rural delivery route in addition to any postal office box number which may be provided.
VACANT
For a residential building or structure to be vacant, it must not have been legally occupied for a period of 30 days. A commercial, industrial or mixed-use building or structure shall be deemed to be vacant unless at least 31% of its total square footage is legally occupied and the operations conducted must be in accordance with permitted uses under the applicable Palmyra land use ordinances.
Except as set forth below, this chapter shall be considered cumulative and not superseding or subject to any other law or provision for same, but rather be an additional remedy available to Palmyra above and beyond any other state, county or local provisions for same. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any property that is owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Palmyra shall create a registration program cataloging each registered property within Palmyra containing the information required by this chapter.
A. 
Registration. The following real property located in the Borough shall be registered annually with the Borough Code Enforcement Office:
(1) 
Real property which is non-owner-occupied commercial, industrial or mixed-use property, and which is vacant; and
(2) 
Real property which is non-owner-occupied residential property, and which is vacant.
B. 
Initial registration.
(1) 
If any property is vacant as of the effective date of this chapter (January 1, 2019) and has not been previously registered as required under Ordinance No. 2013-20, the owner shall register said vacant property pursuant to the terms of this chapter by January 31, 2019. If any property is vacant as of the effective date of this chapter (January 1, 2019) and has been previously registered as required under Ordinance No. 2013-20, the owner shall re-register said vacant property pursuant to the terms of this chapter by January 31, 2019. The full fee as set forth in § 206A-6E below shall be prorated as set forth in the attached Schedule A[1] for the year. If any property becomes vacant for the first time after the effective date of this chapter (January 1, 2019), the owner shall register said vacant property pursuant to the terms of this chapter within 30 days of the date the property becomes vacant. In subsequent years, if the property remains vacant, the full fee as set forth in § 206A-6E will be due and payable by January 31 of each subsequent year.
[1]
Editor's Note: Said schedule is on file in the Borough offices.
C. 
Annual registration. Once a vacant property is initially registered as set forth in Subsection B(1) above, the owner of the property so long as it remains vacant must re-register the property annually before January 31 of each subsequent year. Properties subject to the registration requirements shall remain under the annual registration requirement, and the security and maintenance standards as set forth in §§ 206A-7 and 206A-8 below as long as they meet the conditions requiring registration.
D. 
Contents of registration. Registration pursuant to this chapter shall be on forms which shall be provided for that purpose and which shall be obtained from the Borough Code Enforcement Office, and shall contain the following information:
(1) 
For persons:
(a) 
The street address, lot and block number of the registered property;
(b) 
The full name and street address at which the owner resides; and
(c) 
The owner's telephone number, facsimile number and email address.
(d) 
For residential property, the owner shall attach evidence showing that the property has homeowner's insurance or vacant homeowner's insurance coverage through an insurance company licensed by the State of New Jersey that provides liability insurance and dwelling coverage in an amount no less than the assessed value of the property as set forth on the tax records of the Borough of Palmyra. For commercial, industrial, or mixed-used property, the owner shall attach evidence showing that the property has insurance coverage through an insurance company licensed by the State of New Jersey that provides liability insurance and building/structure coverage in an amount no less than the assessed value of the property as set forth on the tax records of the Borough of Palmyra.
(2) 
For legal entities other than persons:
(a) 
The street address, lot and block number of the registered property;
(b) 
The full name and street address at which the owner maintains an office;
(c) 
The owner's telephone number, facsimile number and email address; and
(d) 
The name, telephone number, facsimile number and email address of an in-state representative of the legal entity who is responsible for receiving complaints of property maintenance and code violations, and/or who is responsible for the security and maintenance of the registered property.
(e) 
For residential property, the owner shall attach evidence showing that the property has homeowner's insurance or vacant homeowner's insurance coverage through an insurance company licensed by the State of New Jersey that provides liability insurance and dwelling coverage in an amount no less than the assessed value of the property as set forth on the tax records of the Borough of Palmyra. For commercial, industrial, or mixed-used property, the owner shall attach evidence showing that the property has insurance coverage through an insurance company licensed by the State of New Jersey that provides liability insurance and building/structure coverage in an amount no less than the assessed value of the property as set forth on the tax records of the Borough of Palmyra.
E. 
Registration fee.
(1) 
The fee for the initial registration and all subsequent annual registrations shall be $500. All of the registration fees shall be nonrefundable and shall be due and payable at the time that the initial and each annual registration form or website registration is filed with Palmyra.
(2) 
All registration fees must be paid directly from the registrant. Third-party registration fees are not allowed without the consent of the Code Enforcement Office. The registration fees paid hereunder shall be for the purposes of covering the cost of registering the properties through this program, for periodic inspections, and for administrative costs associated with ensuring compliance with the property maintenance and security requirements mandated under this chapter as well as other public safety obligations of the Borough of Palmyra.
(3) 
In the event that a property would otherwise be subject to the provisions of this chapter is purchased or is acquired by an individual or an entity that previously had no ownership interest in the property, that person or entity can apply to the Code Enforcement Officer for up to two deferment(s) (each up to 90 days in duration) of the registration fees payable pursuant to this chapter. Any deferment granted shall not eliminate the need to file a timely registration but solely avoids the need to pay the registration fee during the time of the deferral. The application for a deferment shall be made at least 10 days prior to the date that the registration and registration fee are otherwise due. In determining whether the aforesaid deferment shall be granted, the Code Enforcement Officer should consider the following criteria:
(a) 
Whether permit(s) have been applied for and issued.
(b) 
Whether the property creates an imminent risk to the health, safety, and welfare of any person(s).
(c) 
Whether architectural plans or drawings have been presented with specified time schedules for improvements/reconstruction.
(d) 
Whether interim measures have been taken to secure the property, eliminate fire safety hazards, and remediate infestation, vermin and wildlife concerns.
(e) 
Whether any renovation, reconstruction or remediation has occurred.
(f) 
Whether the property was recently purchased.
(g) 
If the property contains residential rental units, whether the rental units have been registered, inspected and fees paid as required by the applicable provisions of the Palmyra Code.
(h) 
The extent to which the property is compliant with all applicable codes.
(i) 
Whether the property is being actively marked for sale or lease.
F. 
Amended registration. If at any time the information contained in the initial registration and/or annual registration is no longer valid or has changed, the property owner shall file a new registration containing the corrected information, within 10 days of said change. Any person or legal entity who acquires title to a registered property that continues to meet the requirements for registration under this chapter shall amend the registration filed by the prior registrant within 10 days of the transfer of title. No registration fee shall be required for an amended registration.
Registrants shall maintain his/her/its registered property as follows:
A. 
Registered property shall be kept free of weeds, overgrown brush, dead vegetation, trash, junk, debris, building materials, any accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, notices, except those required by federal, state or local law, discarded personal items, including, but not limited to, furniture, clothing, large and small appliances, printed material or any other items that give the appearance that the property is vacant or abandoned. All registrants shall comply with all provisions of the Borough of Palmyra Code (the "Code") including but not limited to Chapter 203 of the Code, titled "Property Maintenance."
B. 
Registered property shall be maintained free of graffiti by removal or painting over with an exterior grade paint that matches the color of the exterior structure.
C. 
Front, side, and rear yards, including landscaping, of registered property shall be maintained in accordance with the Code. Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, cutting and mowing of required ground cover or landscape and removal of all trimmings.
D. 
Pools and spas shall be maintained so the water remains free and clear of pollutants and debris and shall comply with any other applicable regulations and/or codes. Pools and spas shall also be secured so as to restrict unauthorized access to them. All fences required shall be maintained in accordance with standards set forth in the Code.
E. 
Fences shall be maintained in a state of good repair, safe and secure condition, with all braces, bolts, nails, supporting frame, fastenings and other components free from deterioration, termite infestation, rot, rust damage or loosening, and able to withstand at all times the wind pressure for which they were designed. Fences shall be maintained in sound structural condition as a whole, including post(s), and shall not lean more than 15° out of vertical alignment.
F. 
Snow and ice removal shall be performed in accordance with the provisions of the Code.
G. 
Registered property shall comply with all other applicable provisions of the Code.
A. 
Registered property shall be maintained in a secure manner so as not to be accessible to unauthorized persons.
B. 
A "secure manner" shall include, but not be limited to, the closure and locking of windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure. There shall be no unsecured openings in the walls. Broken windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure must be repaired. Broken windows shall be secured by reglazing of the window. All doors shall be without openings, or such openings shall be securely covered. "Locking" includes measures that require a key, keycard, tool or special knowledge to open or gain access.
C. 
Particle board shall not be used as a means of securing any registered property.
D. 
Immediate action shall be taken to secure any registered property that becomes an accessible property/structure.
E. 
Additional security measures must be taken immediately if signs of vandalism or unauthorized entry begin to appear. Such additional security measures must be reasonably designed to provide adequate and long-term protection against future vandalism and/or authorized access, and shall include, at minimum, weekly inspections or monitoring to alert the registrant of future vandalism and/or unauthorized access.
All registered property, which is not maintained as required in § 206A-7 above and/or not secured as required by § 206A-8 above is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, the abatement of which, pursuant to the police power, is hereby declared to be necessary for the health, welfare and safety of the residents of Palmyra. In addition, the enforcement officer may declare any vacant and/or abandoned real property a nuisance if it meets one or more of the criteria set forth in N.J.S.A. 55:19-82.
A. 
Enforcement measures. The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Code Enforcement Officer. The Code Enforcement Officer is hereby authorized to conduct all inspections as may be necessary to ensure compliance. Adherence to this chapter does not relieve any person, legal entity or agent from any other obligations set forth in any applicable code which may apply to the registered property.
B. 
Notice to abate. Where any enforcement officer duly designated shall have determined that any registered property is in violation of this chapter, the enforcement officer shall issue a notice to abate directing the registrant to correct the violation and abate the nuisance within the time set forth in the notice to abate. The time for abatement shall not be less than 30 days from the registrant's receipt of the notice to abate, except that if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety, the time for abatement shall be within 10 days of receipt of the registrant's receipt of the notice to abate.
C. 
Service of notice. Service of the notice to abate shall be made by regular mail and certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address set forth in the registration for receipt of complaints of property maintenance and code violations.
D. 
Failure to comply. If the registrant fails to comply with the notice to abate within the time set forth in the notice to abate for compliance, the enforcement officer shall be permitted to enter upon said lands for the purposes of correcting the violation and abating the nuisance, take the necessary action to ensure compliance with the notice to abate and place a lien on the registered property for the cost of the work performed to benefit the registered property and bring it into compliance.
E. 
Additional rights. The enforcement officer shall be entitled to take any other action authorized by law to obtain compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall limit the rights of the enforcement officer to pursue any other action permitted in the Borough Code or any other law against the registrant for failing to comply with any provision(s) of this chapter.
F. 
Failure to register. Failure of any creditor, person, owner or legal entity to properly register or to modify the registration form from time to time to reflect a change of circumstances as required by this chapter is a violation of the chapter and shall be subject to enforcement.
Whoever opposes, obstructs, or resists any Code Enforcement Officer or any person authorized by the Code Enforcement Officer in the discharge of duties as provided in this chapter shall be punishable pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 upon conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction.
A. 
Failure to register. Any person or legal entity who fails to register a registered property as required pursuant to this chapter, as it may be amended, and/or pay the required registration fee, upon conviction in the Municipal Court of the Borough of Palmyra, or such other court having jurisdiction, shall be subject to a civil penalty for a first offense in an amount of $600 per day for each unregistered registered property; for a second offense in the amount of $800 per day for each unregistered property; and for a third or subsequent offense in an amount of $1,000 per day for each unregistered offense. In addition to the above, a period of up to 90 days in jail may be imposed at the discretion of the Palmyra Municipal Court Judge.
B. 
Failure to appoint an in-state agent. Any owner who shall fail to appoint an in-state representative or agent as required in this chapter as it may be amended, upon conviction in the Municipal Court of the Borough of Palmyra, or such other court having jurisdiction, shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount of $500 per day of the violation, provided no such penalty shall commence until the day after the ten-day period provided for the initial registration. In addition to the above, a period of up to 90 days in jail may be imposed at the discretion of the Palmyra Municipal Court Judge.
C. 
Failure to maintain/secure property. Any registrant who shall fail to comply with a notice to abate, upon conviction in the Municipal Court of the Borough of Palmyra, or such other court having jurisdiction, shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount of $500 per day of the violation, provided no such penalty shall commence until the day after the time for compliance set forth in the notice to abate, except that if the violation involved an imminent risk to the public health, safety and welfare, the penalty may commence 11 days following the receipt of the notice to abate. In addition to the above, a period of up to 90 days in jail may be imposed at the discretion of the Palmyra Municipal Court Judge.
A. 
Emergency abatement. If the enforcement officer has reason to believe that a registered property is posing an imminent and serious risk to the public health, safety and welfare for which immediate action is necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare, the enforcement officer may take immediate action to temporarily address the conditions of the property and shall issue a notice to abate as soon as possible thereafter. The enforcement officer shall place a lien on the registered property for the costs incurred for the work performed to address the condition of the registered property.
B. 
Additional security measures. If the enforcement officer has reason to believe that there is evidence of unauthorized entry despite the fact that the registrant has taken measures to secure the registered property, the enforcement officer shall have the authority to require the registrant to implement additional security measures to prevent such access, including, but not limited to, securing any and all doors, windows or other openings with a different material than what was used by the registrant, employing an on-site security guard or other measures as may be reasonably required to help prevent unauthorized access. Notice of the need to take additional measures shall be given by way of a notice to abate issued as set forth above.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall be immune from prosecution, civil or criminal, for reasonable, good faith entry upon real property while in the discharge of duties imposed by this chapter, pursuant to the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, and any other applicable law providing for immunity.
A. 
This chapter shall take effect as of January 1, 2019.
B. 
Ordinance No. 2013-20, as codified in Chapter 203, Article II, §§ 203-3 to 203-9 of the Code shall remain in full force and effect for all vacant properties subject thereto from September 1, 2013, through December 31, 2018, and any violations under Ordinance No. 2013-20 may continue to be enforced. Except as set forth above, Ordinance No. 2013-20 is repealed to the extent of its inconsistency with this chapter.
If any provisions of this chapter is deemed unlawful by a Court or is found to be contrary to law by a court of competent jurisdiction, such provision shall be of no force or effect; but the remainder of this chapter shall continue in full force and effect.