[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Pittsgrove 12-23-1992 by Ord. No. 15-1992. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof in the Township which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out-of-repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary 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 people of the Township and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or parts thereof.
The Zoning Officer and the Building Subcode Official of the Township are hereby appointed and designated as the public officers who shall exercise the powers described by this chapter.
The public officers are 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 Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive 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 they deem necessary to carry out the purposes of the chapter.
To delegate any of their functions and powers to such officers and agents as they may designate.
The public officers may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if they find that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township. Such conditions shall be deemed to include the following, without limiting the generality of the foregoing:
Defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities.
Lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities.
Disrepair and structural defects.
The public officers, in reaching such determination, shall be guided by, among other things, the standards set by the Building Code, the Zoning Ordinance and health ordinances of the Township and by the pertinent requirements of Title 26 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officers by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the public officers, on their own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officers shall, if their 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 public officers or their designated agent, at a place therein fixed, not less that seven 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 public officers.
Complaints or orders issued by the public officers 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 the same cannot be ascertained by the public officers in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the public officers 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 published in the Township or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one published in the county and circulating in the Township in which the buildings are located. 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 with the Clerk of the County of Salem.
If, after such notice and hearing, the public officers determine that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, they shall state, in writing, their 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 owner to make the repair, alteration or improvement of the building 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.
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 officers may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed, and the public officers may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: “This building unit is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful.”
[Amended 4-14-2009 by Ord. No. 05-2009]
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 pursuant to the provision of the Local Public Contracts Law unless the action is necessary to prevent imminent damage to life, limb or property.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq.
The amount of such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition shall be a lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. The detailed statement of the aforesaid costs shall be filed with the custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy of the detailed statement shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, they shall sell the marketable materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officers, 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 Township 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 30 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 amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.