[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Westampton 3-19-1963. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Board of Health of the Township of Westampton is hereby designated the "Public Officer" pursuant to N.J.S.A 40:48-2.4(b), who shall exercise the powers hereafter prescribed.
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 (on its own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Public Officer shall, if its preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner or any 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 its 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.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Public Officer determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, it shall state, in writing, its 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 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; 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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the 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; and 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 and legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this act and determined in favor of the municipality, 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 lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the Public Officer, it 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 Municipal 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 exceeds 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 municipality 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.
It is hereby provided that the Public Officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if it finds that one or more of the following conditions exists:
The Public Officer is hereby authorized 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 others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the municipality 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 examination, provided that such entry 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 it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of its functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as it may designate.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the courts or of any department of any municipality to enforce any provisions of its charter or its ordinances or regulations, nor to prevent or punish violations thereof; and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law.