[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Bridgeton 2-21-1995 by Ord. No. 94-23. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The definition of the terms used in this chapter shall be the same as they appear in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4, as may be amended and therefore are:
- Any building, or structure, of part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouse, and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The City Council of the City of Bridgeton.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the municipality, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations, or to other activities concerning buildings in the municipality.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer, officers, board or body who is authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed herein and by N.J.S.A. 40:48-3 et seq. The public officer authorized to enforce this chapter and exercise the powers herein is the Director of the Division of Housing and Inspections.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the municipality charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the public officer or any employee or agent of the Division of Housing and Inspections (on his own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer shall, if his 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 a notice/complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer (or his designated agent) at a place therein fixed no 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 public officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use he shall state in writing his findings of fact 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 repair, alteration or improvement of the 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 said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
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 said building within a reasonable time as specified in the 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 public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The public 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."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for, and receipt of, bids therefor.
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 municipality, and such cost of such repairs, alterations of 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 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 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 certificate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public 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 and the imposition of costs as a lien on the real property.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the City to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter 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.
Complaints or orders issued by a public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by certified mail.
If the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality, or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the municipality in which the buildings are located.
A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order.
A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording officer of the county in which the building is located.
The public officer shall have the right 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 the others granted herein:
To investigate the building conditions in the City in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use;
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence;
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 appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of the this chapter;
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
Any action taken using revenues derived from the local property tax shall be taken only after advertisement for, and receipt of, bids therefor, pursuant to the provisions of the Local Public Contracts Law, P.L. 1971, c. 198, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq., unless the action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life, limb or property.
A public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such a building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the City. Such conditions shall be deemed to include the standards of habitability of N.J.A.C. 5:28-1.1 et seq. and the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing):
Defects herein increasing the hazards of fire, accident, or other calamities.
Lack of adequate ventilation, light, or sanitary facilities.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the Building Code or the certificate of occupancy.
A vacant structure, which is not in danger of structural collapse, may be deemed a public nuisance and an unsafe structure, inimical to the welfare of the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the City, and the public officer may cause the boarding of the structure or the abatement of the unsafe condition pursuant to the procedures within this chapter.
A building or buildings, or parts thereof, which have been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls, or parts of the walls and other supports, shall, regardless of the safety and sturdiness of those remaining walls or parts thereof, be deemed inimical to the welfare of the residents of the City, and the public officer may cause the repair or the demolition of the building, buildings or parts thereof pursuant to the procedures within this chapter.
The public officer may use any additional standards in any building or structures code adopted by the City of Bridgeton.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by a public officer under this chapter may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the public officer from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. The remedy herein provided shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the public officer shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant thereto, or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the public officer.
Whenever the City undertakes the removal or demolition of any building or structure which is dangerous to human life or the public welfare or which constitutes a fire hazard, the City may, in addition to assessing the cost of such removal or demolition as a municipal lien against the premises, authorize the institution of an action at law for the collection thereof in the Superior Court.
Any building or buildings, or parts thereof, which have come into a state of disrepair through neglect, lack of maintenance or use, fire, accident or other calamities, or through any other act rendering the building or buildings, or parts thereof, in a state of disrepair, to the extent that the building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, shall be deemed inimical to the welfare of the residents of the City of Bridgeton, and the public officer may exercise his powers to repair, demolish, or cause the repairing or demolition of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to Subsections B and C of this section.
The public officer, to finance the costs of accomplishing the purpose of Subsection A shall have the power to accept gifts or grants from private or public agencies.
All funds received pursuant to Subsection B shall be placed in separate municipal fund designated as the "Emergency Demolition Fund" to be used for demolition-related activities. The public officer shall have the sole discretion in determining which funds will be accepted and the time and manner of all expenditures necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.