[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Franklin 8-9-1994 by Ord. No. 1844 (Ch. 94 of the 1990 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof in the Township which are so old, dilapidated, unclean or have become so out-of-repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of the Township and that a public necessity exists for the repair, boarding up, securing of, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or parts thereof.
The Construction Official and/or Health Officer are 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 Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
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 to the persons in possession.
To give notice to the property owners, lending institutions and/or insurance companies in accordance with this chapter.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officer, agents and employees as they deem necessary to carry out the purposes of the ordinances.
To delegate any of their functions and powers to such officers and agents as they may designate.
The Construction Official and/or Health Officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if it is found 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 Township, or the building is not in compliance with the requirements of the Building Code or the certificate of occupancy. Such conditions may include the following, without limiting the generality of the foregoing:
[Amended 2-11-1998 by Ord. No. 2054]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Construction Official and/or Health Officer by at least five residents of the Township of Franklin charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the Construction Official and/or Health Officer (on his/her own motion) that any building is unfit for habitation or occupancy or use, the Construction Official and/or Health Officer shall, if his/her 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 by regular and certified mail return receipt requested a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Construction Official and/or Health Officer (or his/her designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than seven 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 Construction Official and/or Health Officer.
If, after such notice and hearing as set forth in Subsection A, the Construction Official and/or Health Officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he/she shall state in writing his/her findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest by regular mail and certified mail return receipt requested an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of 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.
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 Construction Official and/or Health Officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed, and the Construction Official and/or Health 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."
The Construction Official and/or Health Officer may grant an extension to any requirement set forth in Subsections A, B and C if, in his discretion, the property owner or party in interest shall present evidence to the Construction Official and/or Health Officer that steps have been taken to correct the deficiencies and/or remove or demolish the building and the reason for any delay is not attributed to anything within the property owner's or party in interest's control and that such deficiencies will be corrected or the building removed or demolished within a reasonable period of time.
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Construction Official and/or Health Officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished in accordance with the Local Public Contracts Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq., unless immediate action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, limb or property.
[Added 2-11-1998 by Ord. No. 2054]
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the Construction Official and/or Health Officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
[Amended 2-11-1998 by Ord. No. 2054]
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the Township, and such costs of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the Construction Official and/or Health Officer, he/she shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by regular and certified mail return receipt requested. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Construction Official and/or Health 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. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 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 inaccuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.