[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Alpine as § 13-3 (Ord. No. 191) of the 1970 Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Mayor is designated to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Mayor by a public authority or by at least five residents of the borough charging that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Mayor on his own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the Mayor 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 Mayor, or his designated agent, at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the 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 Mayor.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Mayor determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, 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 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 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 the 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 Mayor may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The Mayor 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 Mayor 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.
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 borough and the 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 Mayor, 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 credits or if the sum total of the costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Borough Tax Assessor or other custodian of the record of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds the costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Mayor, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by the 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 the court; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the borough 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 Mayor may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of the building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the borough. Such conditions may include, without limitation thereto, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair, structural defects and uncleanliness.
Any building, wall or structure which is or may become dangerous to life or health, or might tend to extend a conflagration, shall be taken down, destroyed and removed or made safe and secure, and the cost thereof may be assessed as a municipal lien against the lot, tract or parcel of land or premises upon which the unsafe and dangerous structure stands or stood.
Immediately upon the receipt of a report from either the Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Health Officer or Building Inspector that a building, wall or structure, or any part thereof, is or may become dangerous to life or health, or might tend to extend a conflagration, the Mayor shall report the same at the next meeting of the Council and a copy of his report shall be included in the minutes of that meeting. He shall forthwith cause to be served on the owner, executor, administrator, agent, lessee or any other person who may have a vested or contingent interest in the structure or premises, a written notice containing a description of the structure or premises and a statement of the particulars in which the structure or premises are deemed to be dangerous to life or health or which may become dangerous to life or health, or might tend to extend a conflagration, together with an order requiring the structure or premises to be made safe and secure, or removed and destroyed. The notice shall require the person to certify to the borough his acceptance or rejection of the order.
If the person served with a notice and order shall immediately certify his assent to the securing or removal and destruction of the unsafe or dangerous structure and premises, he shall be allowed 24 hours from the time of service of the notice and order within which to commence the abatement of the unsafe and dangerous conditions. He shall employ sufficient labor and assistance to secure or remove and destroy the unsafe or dangerous conditions as expeditiously as the Mayor considers it reasonable to require.
Upon the refusal or neglect of the person served with the notice and order, as provided in § 85-8, to comply with any of the requirements thereof, a further written notice shall be served upon him to the effect that a survey of the premises will be made at a specific time and place. The survey shall be made by three competent persons, one of whom shall be the Borough Engineer, another a licensed architect, and the third a practical builder, each of whom shall be appointed by the Mayor. The owner or any other person interested in the premises shall have the right to designate some person to represent him in making the survey.
The notice shall also set forth that if the premises referred to are reported by the surveyors to be dangerous to life or health, or likely to become so, or might tend to extend a conflagration, their report will be placed before the Council and that a hearing upon the allegations and statements contained therein will be held before the Council at a specific time and place, to determine whether the unsafe or dangerous structure or premises shall be repaired and secured, or taken down, removed and destroyed, and that the report of the survey shall constitute the issue to be placed before the Council.
After the hearing by the Council on the report of the surveyors, the Council may condemn any building, wall or structure as dangerous to life or health or likely to become so, or that might tend to extend a conflagration, and order the Mayor to remove or destroy such structure, who shall keep accurate account of the cost and make reports thereof as required by law.
Whenever any building or part thereof in the borough, in the opinion of the Mayor, is dangerous to life or health, or is so unfit for human habitation, and cannot be remedied by repairs or otherwise, except by the destruction of such building or portion thereof, the Mayor may make an order to vacate such building.