[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Mount Pocono 11-15-1999 by Ord. No. 13-1999. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Short title. This chapter shall be known as, and may be cited as, the “Dangerous Building Ordinance.”
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to require the repair or removal of a dangerous building which has been declared a public nuisance, and to protect against injury to persons and property, thereby ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the Borough of Mount Pocono.
Definitions. For the purpose of this chapter, certain terms, phrases, and words are defined as follows:
Words used in the present tense include the future; words in the masculine gender include the feminine and the neuter; the singular number includes the plural, and the plural, the singular.
The terms “shall,” “will,” or “must” are always mandatory. The words “used for” include “designed for,” “arranged for,” “intended for,” “maintained for,” or “occupied for.” The words “building” and “dwelling” shall be construed as if followed by the phrase “or part thereof.”
When terms, phrases or words are not defined, they shall have their ordinarily accepted meaning or such as the context may apply.
Specific terms. Terms or words herein, unless otherwise expressively stated, shall have the following meanings:
- Borough of Mount Pocono, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
- BOROUGH COUNCIL
- The Council of the Borough of Mount Pocono, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
- Any combination of materials forming any structure which is erected on the ground, designed, intended or arranged for the housing, shelter, enclosure or structural support of persons, animals or property of any kind. Structures divided by unpierced masonry division walls extended from the ground to the underside of the roof shall be separate buildings for the purpose of this chapter.
- DANGEROUS BUILDING
- Any building which meets any of the following criteria:
- (1) Those structures whose exterior or interior wall or other vertical structural member lists, leans, deflects, bows or buckles to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside or the middle third at its base.
- (2) Those structures which have been deemed by the Borough Engineer or other appropriate professional to be structurally unsound, such that under normal loading conditions a significant potential for structural failure exists.
- (3) Those structures which have improperly distributed loads upon the floor, roof or other load-bearing members resulting in overloading or in a condition where the floor, roof or other load-bearing members has insufficient strength to be reasonably safe as utilized.
- (4) Those structures which have been damaged by fire, wind, flood, vandalism, or other causes so as to be dangerous to life, safety or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the public.
- (5) Those structures which have a component which is improperly attached and which may fall and injure the occupants or the public or cause damage to property.
- (6) Those structures which lack illumination, ventilation or sanitation facilities or any other condition which is dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or threatens the health, safety, or general welfare of the occupants or the public.
- (7) Those structures which are vacant buildings which are not adequately secured against entry by animals or unauthorized entry by the public.
- (8) Those structures which are a fire hazard under Borough or state law or ordinance.
- A building arranged, intended, designed or used as living quarters and/or for sleeping by human occupants.
- A person having legal title to the property on which a dangerous structure is located with or without having actual possession of the property. For the purposes of this chapter, the term “owner” shall also include a person having legal responsibility for such property including, but not limited to, an agent of the titled owner, executor or administrator of an estate or guardian of the interests of a titled owner.
- Any individual, firm, trust, partnership, public or private association or corporation or other entity.
- Any man-made object having an ascertainable stationary location on or in land or water, whether or not affixed to the land. The term “structure” shall include buildings or dwellings as such terms are defined above. This definition shall include, but not be limited to, foundations, signs, decks, porches, swimming pools and the like.
- ZONING OFFICER
- The person or persons designated by the Borough Council to implement and enforce this chapter.
The following standards shall be followed by the Zoning Officer of the Borough in ordering repair, vacation, or demolition of a building found to be a dangerous building after an investigation and consultation with any necessary expert:
If the dangerous building can reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this chapter, it shall be ordered to be repaired.
If the dangerous building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health, safety, or general welfare of its occupants, or the public, and is so posted, it shall be ordered to be vacated within such length of time, not exceeding 30 days, as is reasonable.
No dwelling or dwelling unit which has been posted as unfit for human habitation shall again be used for human habitation until written approval is secured from, and such posting is removed by, the Zoning Officer. The Zoning Officer shall remove such posting whenever the defect or defects upon which the posting action were based have been eliminated.
In the event the Borough, after consultation with the Zoning Officer or the Borough Engineer, determines that a dangerous building cannot reasonably be repaired so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this chapter, it shall be ordered to be demolished. However, the owner may avoid demolition if he or she can prove to the satisfaction of the Borough, with appropriate professional evidence and/or testimony, that the structure can in fact be repaired so as to comply with chapter and agrees in writing to make all repairs required by the Borough within a time period not exceeding 90 days, established by the Borough; during such repairs the Borough may require the owner to take such precautions as the Borough deems necessary in order to prevent such structure from becoming an attractive nuisance or a potential danger to persons or property.
When the Borough becomes aware that a building may be dangerous, the Zoning Officer shall inspect the building to determine whether any of the conditions exist which render such building a dangerous building in accordance with this chapter. The property owner must permit access to a building or structure to the Zoning Officer, and all Borough representatives, officials and designees, where the Borough has determined in its discretion that competent evidence exists that a violation of this chapter exists.
The Zoning Officer may seek the advice of a consultant or expert if necessary to evaluate whether a structure is a dangerous building. Any determination regarding the structural stability of a structure must be made by the Borough Engineer or other appropriate professional.
Whenever an inspection reveals that a building is a dangerous building, the Zoning Officer shall issue a written notice to the owner or individual responsible for the property. The notice:
Shall include a statement of the reason it is being issued.
Shall state a reasonable time to rectify the conditions constituting the nuisance or to remove and demolish the dwelling, building or structure and the penalty for failing to comply with the notice as set forth in this chapter.
Shall be served upon the owner, or his or her agent, or other persons responsible for the property.
The notice of violation shall be deemed to be properly served upon the owner, or his or her agent, or other person responsible for the property if served by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery to the owner; or by personal service, at the address of the owner on file at the Monroe County Assessor’s Office.
If service as above described cannot be effected, service by publication may be accomplished after a good faith effort is documented of attempts to locate the owner, agent or other responsible party.
The notice shall also be prominently posted on the premises by the Zoning Officer.
May contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with provisions of this chapter.
May include a fine, which if not paid, shall be a summary offense under Pennsylvania law.
The Zoning Officer, and/or an expert or designee of the Borough, shall appear at all hearings conducted by Borough Council and testify as to the condition of a dangerous building.
The Zoning Officer or Borough designee shall post a copy of the notice of violation on the dangerous building in a conspicuous location. It shall be a violation of this chapter for any person to remove the posted notice.
Any owner aggrieved by any action of the Zoning Officer hereunder shall have a right of appeal directly to the Mount Pocono Borough Council.
Any owner may appeal in writing to the Council. All appeals shall state the basis of the relief requested.
Any appeal shall be filed within 10 days of receipt by the owner of notice from the Zoning Officer. An appeal shall either be personally delivered to the Borough Secretary or mailed to the Borough Secretary by certified mail, return receipt requested. The appeal must actually be received by the Borough Secretary within 10 days of receipt by the owner of notice of violation, unless mailed as above stated, wherein such appeal shall be considered timely filed if postmarked within said ten-day period.
Upon receipt of a notice of appeal, a hearing shall be scheduled before Borough Council within 10 days of receipt of such notice.
The Zoning Officer shall be present at the hearing and present evidence supporting the notice of violation. The owner may present evidence supporting the appeal, as well as cross-examine any Borough witnesses. The local agency shall govern all proceedings before the Borough Council.
Any appeal shall act as a stay of any action of the Zoning Officer hereunder unless the Zoning Officer certifies that there is an immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of any occupant or adjacent property owner. Such certification shall appear in the notice of violation, in what event any appeal shall not act as a stay of the Zoning Officer’s action.
Abatement by Borough. If the owner and/or occupant fails to comply with the order of the Zoning Officer within the time specified in the notice, and no request for a hearing is filed within 30 days, or following a hearing by the Borough Council sustaining the notice of violation, the Zoning Officer, upon receiving the approval of the Borough, shall cause such a building or structure to be repaired, vacated and/or demolished as determined by the Borough Council. The Borough may collect the cost of such repair, vacation or demolition together with a penalty determined by Borough Council, in the manner provided by law; and/or the Borough may seek injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Penalties. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter, upon conviction thereof in an action brought before a District Justice in the manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 per offense, plus costs, and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days. Each day that a violation of this chapter continues shall constitute a separate offense.
Owners severally responsible. If the building or structure is owned by more than one owner, such owners shall severally be subject to prosecution for the violation of this chapter.
Remedies not mutually exclusive. The remedies provided herein for the enforcement of this chapter, or any remedy provided by law, shall not be deemed mutually exclusive; rather, they may be employed simultaneously or consecutively, at the option of the Borough Council.