[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township of Washington (now Township of Robbinsville) 12-31-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-37 as § 11-6 of the 2001 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Construction Official be and is hereby designated as the public officer to exercise the powers described by this chapter.
[Amended 8-30-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-29]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Construction Official, by any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township or of the County of Mercer or of the State of New Jersey, relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning dwellings within the Township, or whenever a petition is filed with the Construction Official by at least five residents of the Township charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, or whenever it appears to the Construction Official that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, the Construction Official shall, in his/her preliminary investigations, disclose the basis for such charges and issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Construction Official, or his/her designated agents, at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after service of the 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, to give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Construction Official. If, after such notice and hearing, the Construction Official determines that the dwelling in consideration is unfit for human habitation, he/she shall state, in writing, his/her findings and facts 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 owner to repair, alter or improve the dwelling to render it fit for human habitation if the repair, alteration or improvement can be made at a cost not exceeding 50% of the value of the dwelling or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling as a human habitation.
Requiring the owner within a time specified in that order to remove or demolish such dwelling if the repair, alteration or improvement of the dwelling cannot be made for a cost of 50% of the value of the dwelling.
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 dwelling, the Construction Official may cause such dwelling to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The Construction Official may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any dwelling the following words: "THIS BUILDING IS UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION; THE USE OR OCCUPATION OF THIS BUILDING FOR HUMAN HABITATION IS PROHIBITED AND UNLAWFUL."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the dwelling, the Construction Official may cause such dwelling to be removed or demolished.
[Amended 8-30-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-29]
In the event that the Construction Official causes such building to be repaired, altered, improved, vacated, closed, removed or demolished, the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating, closing, or removal and demolition charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the municipality, 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 the cost was incurred.
If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he 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 Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the 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. 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 accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
[Added 8-30-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-29]
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.5 intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
The Construction Official may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if he/she finds that conditions existing in such dwelling are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of Robbinsville Township. Such conditions may include, but shall not be limited to, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; and uncleanliness. The Construction Official, in reaching such determination, shall be guided by, among other things, the standards set by Chapter 142, Land Use, and by the pertinent requirements of Title 26 of the Revised Statues of New Jersey.