[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Woodstock at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I). Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known the "Local Law Regulating Unsafe Buildings and Property in the Town of Woodstock."
Unsafe buildings pose a threat to the health and safety of the residents of the Town of Woodstock. Buildings may become unsafe by reason of fire, damage caused by other elements, age and/or general deterioration. Vacant buildings that are not properly secured serve as attractive nuisances for young children and provide a place for older children and transients to congregate unsupervised. A dilapidated building may also serve as a place of rodent or other infestation, creating a health menace to the community. The outdoor storage, accumulation, deposit or placement of abandoned, junked, discarded, wholly or partially dismantled or unlicensed or unregistered motor vehicles, rubbish, debris, solid waste or garbage upon private property likewise threatens the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of Woodstock. It is the purpose of this chapter to promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Town of Woodstock by providing for a procedure and process to deal with unsafe buildings by requiring that they be either repaired or demolished and removed and to deal with unsafe property by requiring that accumulated debris, junked motor vehicles, garbage and solid waste be removed.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Includes any building, structure or portion thereof used for residential, business, agricultural, industrial or other use.
- Includes all materials resulting from the construction, excavation, renovation, equipping, remodeling, repair or demolition of structures, property or roads, as well as materials consisting of vegetation resulting from land clearing and grubbing, utility line maintenance and seasonal storm-related cleanup. Such materials shall include, but not be limited to, bricks, concrete and other masonry material, soil, rock, wood, wall coverings, plaster, drywall, plumbing fixtures, nonasbestos insulation, roofing shingles, asphalt pavement, glass, window frames, electrical wiring and components, plastics, carpeting, foam padding, linoleum or vinyl flooring, metals or combinations thereof which are incidental to construction, excavation, renovation, equipping, remodeling, repair or demolition. Notwithstanding the foregoing, materials that are being used on the owner's premises for an ongoing improvement for which a building permit is in effect shall not be deemed to be debris, provided that, if stored outside, they are covered by tarps or the equivalent to protect the materials from the weather.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Code Enforcement Officer of the Town of Woodstock or such other person appointed by the Town Board to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
- Includes all putrescible animal and vegetable waste resulting from the growing, processing, marketing and preparation of food items, including containers in which packaged, and animal feces from household pets.
- JUNKED MOTOR VEHICLE
- Includes a motor vehicle which is wrecked, abandoned, dismantled or partially dismantled and which is in such a deteriorated condition that it cannot be legally operated upon the public highways without substantial repairs. With respect to any motor vehicle not required to be licensed or motor vehicles not usually used on public highways, the fact that such motor vehicle has remained unused for six months or more and is not in condition to be moved under its own power shall be presumptive evidence that such motor vehicle is a junked motor vehicle.
- SOLID WASTE
- Includes all putrescible and nonputrescible materials and substances discarded or rejected as having served their original intended use or as being spent, useless, worthless or in excess to the owner at the time of such discard or rejection, including but not limited to household and commercial garbage, industrial waste, rubbish, debris, litter and ashes.
- A. Buildings or other structures which have any of the following defects:
- (1) Those whose interior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
- (2) Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show 33% or more of damage or deterioration of the supporting member or members or 50% of damage or deterioration of nonsupporting enclosing or outside walls or covering.
- (3) Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the same are overloaded or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purpose used.
- (4) Those which have been damaged by fire, wind, snow load or other causes so as to have become dangerous to the life, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Town of Woodstock.
- (5) Those which have become or are so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe or unsanitary that they are unfit for occupation by humans or animals or for use for storage.
- (6) Those buildings intended or used for human occupation that are inadequate to protect the health, safety and general welfare of human residents living therein.
- (7) Those buildings that lack adequate facilities for ingress and egress in case of fire or other emergency or those having insufficient stairways, elevators, fire escapes or other means of escape.
- (8) Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure persons on the property or members of the general public or cause damage to other property.
- (9) Those buildings which violate the provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, the Zoning Law of the Town of Woodstock, the Property Maintenance Code of New York State, the Building Code of New York State, the Fire Code of New York State, the Residential Code of New York State, the Plumbing Code of New York State, the Mechanical Code of New York State, the Energy Code of New York State and any other applicable laws of the State of New York, County of Ulster or Town of Woodstock.
- (10) Any building which remains vacant and unattended continuously for a period of one year or longer, without adequate safeguards to prevent unauthorized entry.
- B. This Code provision shall be applicable to all properties in the Town of Woodstock, whether existing at the time of the adoption of this provision or constructed thereafter.
- UNSAFE PROPERTY
- Includes a property upon which debris, garbage, junked motor vehicles, rubbish and/or solid waste has been allowed to accumulate to the extent that its presence constitutes a hazard to public health by creating a hazardous condition for those persons entering onto the property, whether by invitation or in response to emergency calls, provides a habitat for rats and other undesirable animals or creates an eyesore to the community.
When a building has been damaged by a fire or explosion, it shall be the obligation of the owner to notify the Enforcement Officer of such occurrence within 72 hours after such occurrence. Notwithstanding this notification requirement, if the Enforcement Officer has already been notified of the damage, this notice provision shall be waived.
If fire, explosion or other natural disaster or general neglect shall render the building so damaged as to be incapable of being occupied or used in accordance with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and/or the Zoning Law of the Town of Woodstock, the owner of such building shall also, within 72 hours after such occurrence or, in the case of a building that has become deteriorated by general neglect, within 72 hours after being notified by the Enforcement Officer of the deterioration of the building into an unsafe condition, seal said building against access by unauthorized persons and shall clear the site of debris incident to the occurrence within two weeks after the occurrence.
Within 60 days after an occurrence as set forth in Subsection B above, the owner shall notify the Enforcement Officer in writing of his or her intent to either demolish the building and not rebuild or to rebuild the building. The owner shall have the right to request a sixty-day extension if the delay is caused by circumstances beyond his control, including but not limited to delay in settlement with his insurance company.
If the owner notifies the Enforcement Officer of his intent to demolish the building and not rebuild, the owner must commence demolition within 30 days thereafter and demolition must be completed and all debris removed within 30 days thereafter (60 days after notice of election to demolish).
If the owner notifies the Enforcement Officer of his intent to rebuild or reconstruct the building, application for a building permit must be obtained within 60 days after notice of election to rebuild. The owner shall have a total of six months to complete the rebuilding or reconstruction of the building but shall have the right to request an extension if necessary to finish the reconstruction; provided, however, that during such period the building must remain secured as to not present a hazard to the public. The Enforcement Officer shall grant an extension if it appears that rebuilding or reconstruction is continuing and that during such rebuilding or reconstruction the building is secured so as not to create a hazard to the public. Any extension granted by the Enforcement Officer shall not extend beyond one year following the election to rebuild, unless the consent of the Town Board to a further extension is granted.
Upon receipt of a report filed with the Enforcement Officer in accordance with § 36-4 above or when, in the opinion of the Enforcement Officer or upon receipt of information from another source that a building or structure is or may be an unsafe building as defined in § 36-3 hereof, the Enforcement Officer shall cause or make an inspection of the same and report in writing to the Town Board of his findings and any recommendations in regard to the unsafe building or structure, its repair or demolition and removal. The Enforcement Officer is authorized to enter onto the property for the purpose of inspecting the building or property and shall be required to identify himself to any reputed owner or occupant thereof. If in the opinion of the Enforcement Officer an interior inspection is warranted, the Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to obtain an administrative search warrant. It shall be a violation of this chapter to fail to cooperate with the Enforcement Officer or in any way prevent the Enforcement Officer from conducting the required inspection under this chapter.
Upon receipt of a complaint from a person indicating that a property may have been rendered an unsafe property due to the accumulation of debris, junked cars, rubbish and/or solid waste on a property or upon personal observation by the Enforcement Officer, the Enforcement Officer is authorized to enter onto the property for the purpose of inspecting it to determine whether the property has become an unsafe property due to the presence of the above-mentioned items and shall be required to identify himself to any reputed owner or occupant thereof. If, following an inspection, the Enforcement Officer believes that the property is in violation, the Enforcement Officer shall serve or caused to be served notice, in person or by certified mail, upon the owner or owner's agent and upon the occupant or lessee of the property, if applicable. Said notice shall specify the name of the owner, the address of the property where the violation exists, the tax map section-block-lot (SBL) number of the property, and a statement of the conditions that exist on the property that make the property in violation of this chapter and shall demand that the items which have resulted in the violation be removed within 10 days following receipt of written notice of violation. The Enforcement Officer shall inspect the property 10 days after the giving of written notice, as provided above, and if violations have been corrected, the matter shall be deemed closed. If the violations have not been corrected, the Enforcement Officer shall file a report with the Town Board.
The Town Board shall review the report submitted by the Enforcement Officer and by resolution determine if, in its opinion, based solely upon the report, it is indicated that the building is an unsafe building or that the property is an unsafe property, as defined herein, and, if it so finds, order that a hearing be held before the Town Board to determine whether the building is an unsafe building or the property is an unsafe property, as defined herein, with notice to the owner of the building or property.
The notice shall contain the following:
A description of the premises, including tax account number and street address.
A statement of the particulars in which the building or property is unsafe or dangerous.
An order outlining the manner in which the building is to be made safe and secure, or demolished and removed, or the manner in which the property is to be rendered safe.
A statement that the securing or removal of such building or the removal of the debris, junked motor vehicles, rubbish and/or solid waste shall commence within 30 days following a further decision of the Town Board rendered following the hearing specified hereafter and shall be completed within 60 days thereafter, unless for good cause shown the Town Board shall extend such time.
A date, time and place for a hearing set by the Town Board before the Town Board in relation to such dangerous or unsafe building, which hearing shall be scheduled not less than 15 business days from the date of service of the notice.
The notice shall further state that, in the event of the refusal or neglect of the person so notified to comply with the order of the Town Board following the hearing, the Town Board may provide for the repairing and securing or demolition and removal of such building or the removal of the debris, junked motor vehicles, rubbish and/or solid waste either by Town employees or by contract and that the expenses of such repairing and securing or demolition and removal will be assessed back against the owner in accordance with § 36-13 of this chapter.
As an alternative, the Town Board may, in its discretion, elect to direct the Enforcement Officer to apply to the Supreme Court of the State of New York for an order directing that the building be repaired and secured or demolished and removed or that the property be cleaned up.
Said notice shall be served personally upon the owner as shown by the records of the Town Assessor of the Town of Woodstock or the Ulster County Clerk's office. In the event that the reputed owner is deceased, service shall be made upon the owner's executors, legal representatives, agents, lessees, heirs or distributees, as determined after review of surrogate court or other relevant records. If no such person can be reasonably found, such notice shall be served by mailing, both by regular and certified mail addressed to the last known address, if any, of the owner or the owner's executors, legal representatives, agents, lessees, heirs or distributees. If such notice is served by regular and certified mail, a copy of such notice shall be posted on the premises.
A copy of the notice served as provided herein shall be filed in the Ulster County Clerk's Office in the same manner as provided for in the case of a notice of pendency pursuant to Article 65 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York and shall have the same effect as the filing of a notice of pendency as provided therein. A notice so filed shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing; provided, however, that it may be vacated upon an order of a judge or justice of a court of record or upon the consent of the Attorney for the Town. The County Clerk shall mark such notice and record or docket thereof as canceled of record upon the presentation and filing of such consent or a certified copy of such order. In addition, a copy of said notice shall be filed in the office of the Woodstock Town Clerk.
At the time and place specified in the notice issued pursuant to § 36-7 of this chapter, the Town Board shall conduct a hearing to review the report prepared by the Enforcement Officer, the testimony of the Enforcement Officer and such other evidence as the owner or Enforcement Officer shall introduce having relevance to the proceedings. At such hearing, the owner, his executor, legal representative, agent, lessees, heirs or distributees shall be entitled to introduce evidence to rebut the report submitted by the Enforcement Officer and his testimony, including but not limited to the owner's own testimony, photographic evidence, reports of licensed building inspectors and other relevant evidence. In addition, the owner shall have the right to request the Town Board to personally visit the building and/or the property.
At the close of the hearing, the Town Board shall by resolution affirm, modify or rescind its initial decision and order. If the initial order is affirmed or affirmed with modification, the Town Board shall issue an order directing that the owner shall, within 30 days following the service upon the owner of the Town Board's order following the hearing, commence with the repairing and securing of the building or the demolition and removal of the building in accordance with the order of the Town Board or, in the case of an unsafe property, that the owner shall remove and dispose of the items that have rendered the property unsafe and that such repairing and securing or demolition and removal shall be completed within 60 days thereafter.
If the owner shall fail to commence repairing and securing or demolishing and removal of the building or cleaning up of the property within 30 days following service upon the owner of the order of the Town Board following the hearing or fails to complete said repairing and securing or demolition and removal or cleaning up of the property within 60 days thereafter, the Town Board may provide for the repairing and securing of the building or the demolition and removal of the building or cleaning up of the property by Town employees or by contract and that said expenses be assessed back against the owner in accordance with § 36-13 hereof. Except in the case of an emergency as provided in § 36-12 hereof, any contract for the repairing and securing or the demolition and removal of a building in excess of the monetary limits established in § 103 of the General Municipal Law shall be awarded by the Town Board through competitive bidding.
As an alternative, the Town Board may, in its discretion, elect to direct the Enforcement Officer to apply to the Supreme Court of the State of New York for an order directing that the building be repaired and secured or demolished and removed or that the property be cleaned up and the items that render it unsafe be removed and disposed of properly.
Where the Town Board determines that there is a clear and imminent danger to the life, safety or health of persons and/or property unless an unsafe building is immediately repaired and secured or demolished and removed or unless an unsafe property is immediately cleaned up with items rendering it unsafe removed, the Town Board may by resolution authorize the Enforcement Officer to immediately cause the repair or demolition of such unsafe building and/or the cleaning up of the property and removal of the items that rendered the property unsafe. The expenses of any repair and securing or demolition and removal shall be a charge against the real property upon which such unsafe building is located and shall be assessed, levied and collected as provided for in § 36-13 hereof.
All expenses incurred by the Town in connection with proceedings to compel the repair and securing or demolition and removal of an unsafe building and any cost of the actual repair and securing or demolition and removal and the cost of cleaning up an unsafe property and removal of all items that have caused the property to become unsafe shall be assessed upon the real property upon which such unsafe building or the unsafe property is located and shall be levied and collected in the same manner as provided for in Article 15 of the Town Law for the levy and collection of special ad valorem assessments.
In addition to assessment of costs provided for in § 36-13, any person, firm or corporation who or which shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a maximum fine of $250 or a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 days, or both, for each offense.