[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Harrison 12-7-1959 by Ord. No. 4-1959. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Township of Harrison, in the County of Gloucester, has found and hereby finds and declares that there exists in the Township of Harrison, in the County of Gloucester, building or buildings, or parts thereof, which are 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 building or buildings, 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 said Township, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or part thereof.
The following terms whenever used or referred to in this chapter shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building, or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Committee of the Township of Harrison, in the County of Gloucester.
- 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 Township of Harrison, in the County of Gloucester, relating to health, fire, building regulations, or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer, officers, board or body who is or are hereinafter authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
[Amended 12-28-1984 by Ord. No. 8-1984]
The Public Officer shall consist of the five members of the Township Committee, the Township Construction Official and the Township Health Official, and they shall be and are hereby designated and appointed as the Public Officer and are authorized to exercise the powers of the Public Officer prescribed by this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Public Officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the Public Officer (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 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 not less than 10 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.
[Amended 12-28-1984 by Ord. No. 8-1984]
If, after such notice and hearing, 2/3 of the Township officials composing the Public Officer determine that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, they shall state in writing their findings of facts in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interests 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 said 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 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 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 Township, and such cost 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 lieu 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 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 Township 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; provided, however, that nothing in this section 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.
Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 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.
The provisions of this chapter are not intended to repeal any existing ordinances of the Township of Harrison, in the County of Gloucester, but are intended to be in addition to and supplemental to any and all other existing ordinances of the Township.