[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Medford 6-21-1961 as Ord. No. 1961-4. Sections 52-4A, B and G, 52-6 and 52-7 amended and § 52-4H and I added at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Other amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared pursuant to the general authority contained in Title 40 of the Revised Statutes of the State of New Jersey and N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., that the existence and occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof in the Township of Medford which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the residents of the Township of Medford, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or part thereof.
Whenever the proper officials of the Township of Medford designated herein find that there exists in the Township of Medford a building or buildings or part thereof unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings or parts thereof unsafe or insanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township of Medford, the officials designated shall exercise the power vested under this chapter and under the law of the State of New Jersey to repair, close or demolish, or require the repairing, closing or demolition of, such building or buildings or part thereof in the manner set forth in this chapter and under the laws of the State of New Jersey.
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, buildings, structure, structures or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or intended to be so used or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Council of the Township of Medford.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations or corporations who have interest 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 municipality relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the municipality.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer or officers, board or body who is or are authorized under this chapter to exercise the powers set forth in this chapter and in the laws of the State of New Jersey.
Whenever it appears to the public officer on his own motion, or whenever a petition is filed with said public officer by the Building Inspector, Health Inspector or any other officer in charge of any department of the municipality relating to health, fire, building regulations or activities concerning any building in the Township of Medford, or by at least five residents of the township, charging that any building in the Township of Medford is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or inimical to the welfare and dangerous to the health and safety of the residents of the Township of Medford, the public officer shall, if a preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charge or charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and the 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 said public officer or his designated agent at a place set forth in said notice and at a time that shall not be less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint. 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 time and place fixed in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer or his designated agent.
After notice and hearing as above, if said public officer or his agent determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or 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 and parties in interest an order:
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of said building, requiring the owner within a reasonable time (which time shall be set forth in said order) to repair, alter or improve the said building to render it fit for human habitation, occupancy or use, 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. For the purpose of determining what may be a reasonable cost of repair for the above purpose, the percentage is fixed at 50% of the value of the building.
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building, requiring the owner within a certain time to remove or demolish such building. For the purpose of determining what may be a reasonable cost of repair for the above purpose, the percentage is fixed at 50% of the value of the building.
If the owner shall fail to comply with the 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 so as to make it fit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or to be vacated and closed, and the said 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, 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 proceedings taken under this chapter or the laws of the State of New Jersey 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, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, 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 credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court of New Jersey by the public officer 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. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court of New Jersey to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
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, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq., or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
The public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of occupants of such building, occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of such municipality, and such conditions may include but shall not be limited to the following: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; or uncleanliness.
A complaint or order issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the public officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the Township of Medford, or in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the County of Burlington and circulating in the Township of Medford. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record in the office of the Clerk of Burlington County.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer under this chapter or any laws of the State of New Jersey may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the public officer from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. The remedy herein provided shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the public officer shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant thereto or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the public officer.
The public officer or other official designated under this chapter may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the following powers in addition to the others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township of Medford in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive facts and evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries 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 he deems necessary to carry out the purpose of this chapter and the laws of the State of New Jersey pertinent hereto.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter and the pertinent laws of the State of New Jersey to such officers and agents as he may designate.