Town of Union, NY
Broome County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Union as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 83.
Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 88.
Drainage — See Ch. 102.
Fire prevention and building construction — See Ch. 118.
Nuisances — See Ch. 141.
Solid waste — See Ch. 174.
Inoperative vehicles — See Ch. 194.
[Adopted 5-17-2000 by L.L. No. 3-2000]

§ 155-1 Findings; declaration of policy.

It is hereby found and declared that there exist in the Town of Union premises of the aforesaid category which are, or may become, unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such premises or part thereof unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Town of Union and persons upon or having access to the premises.
It is further found and declared that, by reason of lack of maintenance and progressive deterioration, the condition of certain premises has the further effect of creating blighting conditions and initiating slums, and that, if the same are not curtailed and removed, the aforesaid conditions will grow and spread and will necessitate in time the expenditure of large amounts of public funds to correct and eliminate the same, and that, by reason of timely regulations and restrictions as herein contained, the growth of slums and blight may be prevented and neighborhood and property values thereby maintained, the desirability and amenities of premises and neighborhoods enhanced and the public health, safety and welfare protected and fostered.

§ 155-2 Purpose.

The purpose of this article is to protect the public health, safety and welfare by establishing minimum standards governing the maintenance, appearance and condition of premises situated in the Town used or intended to be used or designed to be used, in whole or in part, for commercial, business, industrial or any other nonresidential occupancy. This article is hereby declared to be remedial and essential for the public interest, and it is intended that this article be liberally construed to effectuate the purpose as stated herein.

§ 155-3 Applicability; effect on other laws.

Buildings affected by this article. Each and every building, and the premises on which it is situated in the Town, used or intended to be used or designed to be used, in whole or in part, for commercial, business, industrial or any other nonresidential occupancy shall comply with the provisions of this article, whether or not any such building shall have been constructed, altered or repaired before or after the enactment of this article and irrespective of any permits or licenses which shall have been issued for the use or occupancy of any such building or premises for the construction, alteration or repair of any such building or for the installation or repair of equipment or facilities therein or thereon prior to the effective date of this article. This article establishes minimum standards for the initial and continued occupancy and use of all such buildings and premises and does not replace, modify or lessen standards otherwise established for the construction, repair, alteration or use of such buildings and premises, equipment or facilities contained therein or thereon, except as provided in Subsection B hereof. Where there is mixed occupancy of such buildings and premises, the residential and nonresidential uses thereof shall be regulated by and be subject to the applicable provisions of this article.
Higher standards to prevail in case of conflict with other ordinances or laws. In any case where the provisions of this article impose a higher standard than set forth in any other ordinance of the Town or laws of the State of New York applicable thereto, then the standards, as set forth herein, shall prevail, but if the provisions of this article impose a lesser standard than such other ordinance of the Town or law of the State of New York, then the higher standard contained in such other ordinance or law shall prevail.
Enforcement and compliance with other ordinances. Compliance with this article shall not constitute a defense against the violation of any provisions of any other ordinance of the Town applicable to any building or premises, nor shall compliance with any provision of this article relieve any owner, operator or occupant from complying with any such other provision nor relieve any official of the Town from enforcing any such other provision.

§ 155-4 Responsibility of owners and operators.

Owners and operators shall have all the duties and responsibilities prescribed in § 155-5 hereof and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, and no owner or operator shall be relieved from such duties or responsibilities nor be entitled to defend against any charge of violation thereof by reason of the fact that the other of them or the occupant is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.

§ 155-5 Standards.

The provisions of this section shall constitute the standards to guide the Building Official and his agents in determining the fitness of premises for human habitation, use and occupancy and in determining whether premises are being maintained in such condition as not to constitute a blighting effect upon neighboring properties nor an element leading to a progressive deterioration and downgrading of neighboring properties with an accompanying diminution of property values.
Words defined. The words, terms or phrases listed below, for the purposes of this article, are hereby defined and shall have the meanings indicated:
Any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outbuildings and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
The duty appointed Building Official of the Town of Union.
The condition of a building, or part thereof, characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting or other evidence of physical decay, neglect, lack of maintenance or excessive wear.
Failing out of repair or decayed.
Any premises, or part thereof, which may be lawfully viewed by the public, or any member thereof, from a sidewalk, street, alleyway, parking lot or from any adjoining or neighborhood premises.
Any part of the premises not occupied by any building thereon;
Any open space on the outside of any building; or
Any part of any building which is exposed to the elements.
The control and elimination of insects, rodents and vermin by eliminating their harborage places, or by removing or making inaccessible material that may serve as their food, or by poisoning, spraying, fumigating, trapping or any other approved means of pest elimination.
The animal and vegetable and other organic waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food or other products.
The presence, on or within a premises, of any insects, rodents or other pests.
Any building containing one or more dwelling units, rooming units or hotel or motel accommodations and also having a portion thereof devoted to nonresidential uses.
Any public nuisance known at public law or in law or equity jurisprudence or as provided by the statutes of the State of New York or the ordinances of the Town of Union.
Any inadequately protected well, shaft, basement, excavation, abandoned or nondrivable motor vehicle or equipment, structurally unsound fence or building, lumber, trash, debris or vegetation, such as poison ivy, oak or sumac, or other condition which is or may be detrimental to the safety or health of persons.
Physical conditions dangerous to human life or detrimental to health of persons on or near the premises where the conditions exist.
Whatever renders air, food or drink unwholesome or detrimental to the health of human beings.
Fire hazards.
Any person or persons, including the owner, in actual possession of and using an entire building or an occupancy unit in a building.
Any person who has charge, care or control of a premises, or part thereof, whether with or without the knowledge and consent of the owner.
The holder or holders of the title to premises in fee simple.
A lot, plot or parcel of land and any buildings located thereon.
All putrescible and nonputrescible solid waste (except body wastes), including but not limited to garbage, rubbish, ashes, street cleanings, dead animals, abandoned automobiles and solid market and industrial wastes.
Includes all combustible and noncombustible waste material, except garbage.
An assembly of materials forming a construction, including but not limited to buildings, stadiums, gospel and circus tents, reviewing stands, platforms, stagings, observation towers, radio towers, water tanks, trestles, open sheds, bins, shelters, fences and display racks and signs.
Deterioration, decay or damage caused by exposure to the elements.
An opening in the wall or roof of a building for the admission of light, which opening may be closed to the elements by casements or sashes containing glass or other transparent material.
Word usage. Whenever, in describing or referring to any person, party, matter or thing, any word importing the singular number or masculine gender is used, the same shall be understood to include and to apply to several persons or parties as well as to one person and to females as well as males and to bodies corporate as well as individuals and to several matters and things as well as one matter or thing. The word "shall" shall be applied retroactively as well as prospectively.
Maintenance of exterior of the premises. The premises shall be kept free of litter (including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, discarded, windblown, deposited, dropped or strewn paper, wrappings, cardboard, bottles, cans, boxes and broken glass) and of all nuisances and hazards to the safety of tenants, occupants, pedestrians and other persons having access to the premises and free of unsanitary conditions, and any of the foregoing shall be promptly removed and abated. The word "hazards" shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
Refuse. Brush, weeds, broken glass, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash, rubbish, refuse and debris of any description.
Natural growth. Dead and dying trees and other natural growth which, by reason of rotting or deteriorating conditions or storm damage, are or may be dangerous to persons in the vicinity thereof. Trees shall be kept pruned and trimmed to prevent such conditions.
Overhangings. Loose, overhanging and projecting objects and accumulations of ice and snow which, by reason of location above ground level, constitute a danger to persons in the vicinity thereof.
Ground surface and unsanitary conditions. Holes, excavations, breaks, projections, obstructions and excretion of pets or other animals on paths, sidewalks, walks, driveways, parking lots and parking areas and other parts of the exterior of the premises which are accessible to and used by persons having access to such premises.
Recurring accumulation of stormwater. Adequate runoff drains shall be provided and maintained to eliminate recurrent accumulations of stormwater.
Sources of infestation.
Foundation walls. Foundation walls shall be kept structurally sound, free from defects and damage and capable of bearing imposed loads safely.
Chimneys and flue and vent attachments thereto. Chimneys and flue and vent attachments thereto shall be maintained structural sound, free from defects and so maintained as to capably perform, at all times, the functions for which they were designed and constructed. Chimneys, flues, gas vents and other draft-producing equipment shall provide sufficient draft to develop the rated output of the connected equipment and shall be structurally safe, durable, smoketight and capable of withstanding the action of flue gases.
Appearance of exterior of the premises and window display areas. The exterior of the premises shall be maintained so that the appearance thereof shall reflect a level of maintenance in keeping with the standards of the neighborhood or such higher standards as may be adopted by the Town of Union and such that the appearance thereof shall not constitute a blighting effect upon neighboring properties nor an element leading to a progressive deterioration and downgrading of neighboring properties with an accompanying diminution of property values, including the following:
Landscaping. Where exposed to public view, the landscaping of premises shall be maintained in an orderly state with lawns and bushes trimmed and free from becoming overgrown, littered and unsightly where such would constitute a blighting effect, depreciating adjoining and nearby property. Open areas shall be graded evenly to eliminate holes, depressions, gullies, mounds, accumulations of debris or other unsightly or unsafe conditions.
Sealing of unoccupied buildings.
Whenever the Department shall find an unoccupied building which has openings, including but not limited to doors, doorways, windows and window openings, through which children, trespassers or other unauthorized persons may make entry to the building, then this section shall apply.
Notice; sealing requirements.
Notice. The Department shall serve a notice in writing upon the owner by one of the methods provided for in this article, directing the owner to complete the work of enclosing the building as shall be specified in said notice within 10 days of service of such notice. Said notice shall further inform the owner that upon failure by the owner to complete the enclosing of the building, the Town of Union shall have the right to enclose the building and that all costs and expenses incurred by the Town will be recovered by action or by local assessment, or both.
Permissible materials. Such openings as the Department shall specify in said notice for enclosure shall be enclosed with one-half-inch or thicker weatherproof plywood or other weatherproof material which will secure the building in an equivalent manner. All such plywood or other material must be painted.
Screen/storm windows. The owner may, in the alternative, enclose such openings with screen/storm window combinations, provided that said storm windows are made with unbreakable glass or plastic.
Fastening. Such enclosures shall be fastened to the building so as to secure them from removal by unauthorized persons.
Appearance. Such enclosures shall be properly fitted and be of such material and surface that they are neither unsightly nor will materially detract from the general appearance of the building and neighborhood.
Repair and painting of exteriors of buildings. All storefronts and the exteriors of all buildings shall be kept in good repair, painted where required or otherwise provided with protective treatment sufficient to prevent deterioration and shall not constitute a safety hazard or nuisance.
Awnings and marquees. Any awning or marquee and its accompanying structural members which extend over any street, sidewalk or other portion of the premises shall be maintained in good repair and shall be so maintained as not to constitute a nuisance or a safety hazard. In the event that any such awning or marquee is not properly maintained in accordance with the foregoing, it shall, together with its supporting members, be removed forthwith. In the event that any such awning or marquee is made of cloth, plastic or of similar materials, said material, where exposed to public view, shall be maintained in good condition and shall not show evidence of excessive weathering, discoloration, ripping, tearing or other deterioration. Nothing herein shall be construed to authorize any encroachment of an awning, marquee or its accompanying structural members on streets, sidewalks or other parts of the public domain.
Scaffolding. No temporary painting scaffold or other temporary equipment used for construction, repair or maintenance shall be permitted to remain in place beyond a period of six months after erection or placement thereof without permission of the Building Official.
Landscaping, curbing and sidewalks. The owner or occupant shall be responsible for the maintenance of the area abutting such property between the street property line and pavement or roadway, including landscape ground cover, construction of curbing and/or sidewalk, and reconstruction and/or replacement of defective or hazardous curb and sidewalk. The aforementioned area shall not be paved by the owner or occupant unless specifically authorized by the Building Official in writing.
Structural soundness and general maintenance, exterior. The exterior of every building shall be maintained in good repair, and all exterior surfaces thereof shall be kept painted or otherwise provided with a protective treatment where necessary for purposes of preservation and appearance. All exterior surfaces thereof shall be maintained free from broken glass, loose shingles or siding, crumbling masonry, excessively peeling paint or other condition reflective of deterioration or inadequate maintenance to the end that the building itself may be preserved, safety and fire hazards eliminated and adjoining properties and the neighborhood protected from blighting influences.
General sanitation and safety.
Floors shall be maintained in a structurally sound condition capable of safely bearing imposed loads and shall be maintained at all times in a condition so as to be free of hazards.
All portions of any structure shall be kept structurally sound, free from deterioration and capable of safely bearing imposed loads.
Such rubbish is stored in nonleaking receptacles of metal or other material approved by the Building Official.
Such storage bins, rooms and areas are of smooth, easily cleanable construction and are kept in a sanitary condition.
Such areas, if located outside of a building and visible from any public walk, street or public parking area, are shielded by a method approved by the Building Official and constructed in compliance with the applicable provisions of the Building Code of the Town.
Such area is of fireproof construction.
Rubbish and garbage shall be placed or kept on the property within the building located thereon or not nearer to the street line than the building line or nearer to the street line than the face of the building, whichever distance from the street line is the greater.
Inflammable or combustible liquids or other materials shall not be stored on the premises unless they are of a type approved for storage by regulation of the Fire Prevention Code and then only in such quantities and in such fireproof storage containers as may be prescribed by applicable Fire Prevention Code regulations.
Duties and responsibilities of occupants.
Upon discovery by an occupant of any condition on the premises which constitutes a violation of this article, the occupant shall report the same to the Building Official responsible for enforcement of this article.
All parts of the premises under the control of an occupant shall be kept in a clean, sanitary and safe condition by the occupant, and the occupant shall refrain from performing any acts which would render other parts of the premises unclean, unsanitary or unsafe or which would prevent the owner or operator from performing any duty required hereunder.

§ 155-6 Administration.

Building Official. The Building Official shall be appointed by the Town Board annually, and he shall exercise the powers prescribed by this article.
[Amended 1-16-2002 by L.L. No. 1-2002]
Inspection of premises. All premises within the Town covered by this article shall be subject to inspection from time to time by the Building Official to determine the condition thereof in order that he may perform his duty of safeguarding the health and safety of the persons occupying the same and of the general public. For the purpose of making such inspections, the Building Official is hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey at all reasonable times all such premises; provided, however, that such entries are made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession. The owner, operator and persons occupying the same shall give the Building Official free access to the same at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspection. Every person occupying such premises shall give the owner and operator thereof access to that portion of the premises occupied by or in the possession of such person at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs, alterations or corrections as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this article or with any lawful rule or regulation adopted or any lawful order issued pursuant to the provisions of this article.
Determination of unfitness for use or occupancy. For the purposes of this article, the Building Official may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation, use or occupancy if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of persons occupying or using the same or neighboring buildings or to other residents of the Town. 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 sanitation facilities, dilapidation, deterioration, disrepair, structural defects, uncleanliness or failure to comply with the standards established by § 155-5 of this article.

§ 155-7 Penalties for offenses.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to one or more of the following: imprisonment in the county jail or in any other place provided by the municipality for the detention of prisoners for any term not exceeding 90 days or by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by a period of community service not exceeding 90 days, to become effective on the effective date of this section.

§ 155-8 Service of orders.

The service of orders for the correction of violations of this article shall be made upon the owner, occupant or other person responsible for the conditions, either by delivering a copy of the same to such person or by delivering the same to and leaving it with any person in charge of the premises or by sending it by mail to the owner, occupant or operator.

§ 155-9 Removal by Town; priority lien on premises.

[Amended 9-18-2013 by L.L. No. 2-2013; 3-1-2017 by L.L. No. 1-2017]
The Town Board, by resolution, may cause any nuisance, hazard or litter as herein defined to be removed from any property within the unincorporated area of the Town of Union upon the failure of such owner, tenant or occupant to comply with the written notice aforementioned within the time limit. Said removal may be performed by the Superintendent of Highways or other designee, including a private contractor. The Town Board shall ascertain the cost of such removal, and such cost shall be charged and assessed against the owner, tenant or occupant of the property. The expense so assessed shall constitute a lien and charge on the real property on which it is levied until paid or otherwise satisfied or discharged and shall be collected in the same manner and at the same time as other Town charges.
The removal of any nuisance, hazard or litter by the Town of Union or its designee shall not operate to excuse such owner, tenant or occupant from properly maintaining his property as hereinabove set forth, and such owner, tenant or occupant shall, notwithstanding, be subject to the penalties above mentioned.
In addition, the total cost to the Town of attorneys fees, engineering fees, consultant fees and/or court or litigation costs to enforce the provisions of this article shall be an expense and obligation of the owner of the property, including its individual officers, managers, partners, members, and shareholders, and alternatively or in conjunction herewith, shall be assessed and levied upon the real property as a lien and charge until paid or otherwise satisfied or discharged and shall be collected as otherwise provided in the Town Law in the same manner and at the same time as other Town charges.
Priority lien.
The Town shall have a priority lien to the extent of all costs and expenses incurred by the Town in connection with the proceedings and/or work efforts noted in the above subsections, and/or the elimination of any unlawful condition. Such costs and expenses as part of said priority lien shall include all attorneys' fees, engineering fees, consultant fees, contractor fees, Town employee/equipment costs, and/or court or litigation costs to investigate and/or inspect the subject building, land or premises, and to otherwise enforce the provisions of this chapter. There shall be filed in the office of the Town Clerk one or more records of all such costs and expenses caused to be performed by or on behalf of the Town under this chapter. Such records of the priority lien shall be kept on a building-by-building or street-address basis and shall be accessible to the public during business hours. Such record may be made and maintained electronically. Such entry at the Town Clerk's office shall constitute notice to all parties and the public.
All such costs and expenses incurred by the Town for the work efforts pursuant to this chapter, or any other applicable provision of law, shall constitute a priority lien upon the land or premises when such charge is due and payable, which, notwithstanding any other provision of law, shall be due and payable upon filing at the Town Clerk's office with a certified copy filed at the Broome County Clerk's office. Such lien shall have a priority over all other liens and encumbrances, including mortgage liens, on the premises except for the lien of taxes and assessments. However, no priority lien created pursuant to this chapter shall be enforced against a subsequent purchaser in good faith or a mortgagee in good faith unless the requirements of Subsection D(1) of this section are satisfied; this limitation shall only apply to transactions occurring after the date such record of priority lien should have been entered pursuant to Subsection D(1) and (2) herein, and the date such entry was actually made.
If such charge is not paid by the date when such charge is due and payable in accordance with above, the said priority lien shall accrue interest thereon at the statutory rate, to be calculated to the date of filing with the Town Clerk.
Such charge and the interest thereon shall continue to be, until paid, a priority lien on the premises for a period of 10 years. Said priority lien may be renewed for an additional ten-year period upon the filing of an extension of priority lien in both the Town Clerk's office and the Broome County Clerk's office. The priority lien may be sold, enforced or foreclosed in any manner. Such priority lien may also be considered to be a tax lien and may be sold, enforced or foreclosed in any manner.
[Adopted 9-10-2010 by L.L. No. 10-2010]

§ 155-10 Manager required; registration; penalties for offenses.

Required. Every owner of a multiple dwelling who does not reside therein, and every corporate owner, shall designate a manager thereof who shall be responsible for maintaining said dwelling in compliance with the provisions of this chapter and who can be contacted by the enforcement officer at any time. Said manager must be a resident of said dwelling, or a unit thereof, or maintain a business office in Broome County and employed by the owner for that purpose.
Registering of manager's name, address and phone number. The owner shall register the name, address and phone number of said designated manager with the enforcement officer on such forms and in such manner as the enforcement officer may establish and maintain. It shall be the responsibility of the owner and every designated manager of a multiple dwelling to contact the Code Enforcement Officer to update any change in the building manager and/or manager's address or phone number.
Penalty. An owner and any designated manager who violates this article for a continuous period of 30 days or more after notice of the violation is mailed by the enforcement officer shall be subject to a fine of $50 for a first violation and $100 for any subsequent violation.