[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Bridgewater 11-3-2006 by Ord. No. 06-44. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.13 and 48-2.14, the owner or tenant of a dwelling or lands lying within the limits of the Township shall be required to remove from such lands or dwelling or destroy brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash and debris, where it shall be necessary and expedient for the preservation of the public health, safety, general welfare or to eliminate blighted conditions or a fire hazard. For purposes of this chapter, "blight" is hereby defined as land with debris, litter and/or accumulation of trash or junk upon it, which tends to depress the aesthetic value of the neighborhood. However, "blight" shall not include brush, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, or other natural debris which results from a hurricane, tornado or other natural disasters or other acts of God.
[Amended 8-17-2015 by Ord. No. 15-33]
The owner or tenant of lands abutting or bordering upon the public sidewalks and roadways in the Township shall remove or cause to be removed all grass, weeds, brush or other impediments from that part of said highway abutting or bordering upon their respective lands, where necessary for purposes of traffic safety or to otherwise protect the health, safety and welfare of the public traveling along such highway.
Such removal or destruction, as outlined above, shall be accomplished by the property owner or tenant, as the case may be, within 10 days after notice to remove or destroy the same or within such extended time period as may be granted by the investigating Township official. Such extended time period may be granted based on the substantive and exigent circumstances present in each case. However, in no case shall this time period exceed 30 calendar days beyond the date of the initial notice. In addition, no such extension shall be granted except upon the written request of the affected property owner or tenant stating, with specificity, the reasons why an extension is sought, the remedial steps proposed by the property owner or tenant to eliminate the conditions specified in the notice and a date certain by which such remediation shall take place.
In the event such removal or destruction, as outlined above, is not accomplished by the property owner or tenant to the satisfaction of the investigating Township official within the ten-day period or any extended time period granted, that Township official shall cause a summons to issue to such property owner or tenant returnable before the Township Municipal Court for a violation of this chapter. The matter shall be prosecuted by the Township municipal prosecutor and the investigating Township official.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof in the Municipal Court, be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both. A separate offense may be deemed committed for each day during or on which a violation occurs or continues.
If such removal or destruction does not occur because the owner or tenant has refused or neglected or otherwise determined not to remove or destroy same, despite the notice of violation warning set forth in § 146-2A and the summons and Municipal Court procedure set forth in § 146-2B, the Township, itself, as an additional remedy, may see to the removal or destruction of such brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash and debris and other impediments where it shall be necessary and expedient for the preservation of the public health, safety, general welfare or to eliminate blighted conditions or a fire hazard, by utilizing the procedures set forth in § 146-6 hereinbelow.
The Township may proceed to remediate the condition itself in accordance with the self-help civil remedy authorized by N.J.S.A.40:48-2.14 after due process as hereafter defined. It may authorize the investigating Township official to remove from such lands or dwelling or destroy brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash and debris, where it shall be necessary and expedient for the preservation of the public health, safety, general welfare or to eliminate blighted conditions or a fire hazard, subject to the due process procedure delineated herein.
The property owner or tenant shall be entitled to a hearing before the Township Council. Service of notice of this hearing shall be made upon such owner, lessor or its agent by the Township. This service of notice, provided to the owner, lessor or agent, shall state the remediation action which may be taken by the Township Council at that meeting.
In the event of an inability to serve the owner, lessor or agent, after reasonable effort, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.14. sufficient notice shall be deemed to have been given if such notice is posted on the premises in a conspicuous place
Within 14 days of receipt of this service of notice or any extension of time granted thereto by the Township Council, a public hearing shall be held by the Township Council, at which time, after the presentation of evidence by the appropriate Township official and the property owner/tenant, it may, if the evidence warrants it, adopt a resolution authorizing the remediation of the condition in accordance with § 146-7 hereinbelow.
Pursuant to resolution, the appropriate Township official shall oversee and direct the removal and destruction of the aforementioned brush, weeds, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash and debris and other impediments. Such Township official shall then certify the cost thereof to the Township Council, which shall examine the certificate and, if found correct, shall cause the cost as shown thereon to be charged against said dwelling or lands.
The amount so charged shall forthwith become a lien upon such dwelling or lands and shall be added to and become and form part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such dwelling or lands, the same to bear interest at the same rate as taxes, and shall be collected and enforced by the same officers and in the same manner as taxes.
The investigating / enforcement Township officer for this chapter may be the Township Construction Official, Township Engineer, Township Health Officer, Township Fire Official, Township Environmental Officer or Township Zoning Officer, or their designated agent, as these officials may determine in their collective judgment, with the collaboration and approval of the Township Administrator.