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City of Trenton, NJ
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chapter 56. Commercial Structures

[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Trenton 9-7-1967 as § 12-19 of the Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Food-handling establishments — See Ch. 113.
Housing standards — See Ch. 132.
Solid waste — See Ch. 248.

§ 56-1. Findings; declaration of policy.

A. 
It is found and declared that there exists in the City of Trenton structures used for nonresidential purposes which are, or may become in the future, substandard with respect to structure, equipment and maintenance; further that such conditions, including, but not limited to, structural deterioration, lack of essential heating, plumbing, storage or refrigeration equipment, lack of maintenance or upkeep of essential utilities and facilities, existence of fire hazards, inadequate provisions for light and air, unsanitary conditions and overcrowding, constitute a menace to the health, safety, morals, welfare and reasonable comfort of the citizens and inhabitants of the City.
B. 
It is further found and declared that by reason of lack of maintenance and progressive deterioration, certain properties have the further effect of creating blighting conditions and initiating slums, and that if they are not curtailed and removed, such conditions will grow and spread and will necessitate in time the expenditure of large amounts of public funds to correct and eliminate the same, and that by reason of timely regulations and restrictions as contained in this chapter, the growth of slums and blight may be prevented and the neighborhood and property values thereby maintained, the desirability and amenities of residential and nonresidential uses and neighborhoods enhanced and the public health, safety and welfare protected and fostered.

§ 56-2. Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to protect public health, safely, morals and welfare by establishing minimum standards governing the maintenance, appearance, condition and occupancy of nonresidential premises; establish minimum standards governing utilities, facilities and other physical components and conditions essential to make the aforesaid facilities fit for human habitation, occupancy and use; fix certain responsibilities and duties upon owners and operators, and distinct and separate responsibilities and duties upon occupants; authorize and establish procedures for the inspection of premises; and provide for the repair, demolition or vacation of premises unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use. This chapter is declared to be remedial and essential for the public interest and it is intended that it be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes as stated herein.

§ 56-3. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ACCESSORY STRUCTURE
A structure, the use of which is incidental to that of the main building and which is attached thereto or located on the same premises.
AFFECTING INDUSTRY OR COMMERCE
Those structures or buildings upon which the prevalent land use or business conducted therein is industry, commerce, office or trade and not the provision or retail goods and services.
BUILDING
A structure adapted to permanent or continuous occupancy or use for public, institutional, business, industrial or storage purposes.
DETERIORATION
The condition of a building or part thereof characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting or other evidence of physical decay or neglect, lack of maintenance or excessive use.
A. 
Any device or condition likely to cause fire and which is so situated as to endanger either persons or property.
B. 
The creation, maintenance or continuance of any physical condition by reason of which there exists a use, accumulation or storage of combustible or explosive material sufficient in amount or so located or in such a manner as to put either persons or property in jeopardy in event of ignition.
C. 
The obstruction to or of fire escapes, ladders which may be used as escapes, stairways, aisles, exits, doors, windows, passageways or halls, which are likely in the event of fire to interfere with the operations of the Fire Department or of the safety and ready egress of occupants.
GARBAGE
All kitchen refuse of residences, hotels, restaurants or other places where food is prepared for human consumption, and all offal from fish, meat and vegetable markets, and all vegetable or organic substances unfit for food that are subject to immediate decay.
INFESTATION
The presence of insects, rodents, vermin or other pests on the premises which constitute a health hazard.
OPERATOR
Any person who has charge, care or control of a premises or a part thereof, whether with or without the knowledge and consent of the owner.
OWNER
Any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others, shall have legal or equitable title to any premises, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof; or shall have charge, care or control as owner or agent of the owner, or as executor, executrix, administrator, administratrix, trustee, receiver or guardian of the estate, or as a mortgagee in possession regardless of how such possession was obtained.
PLUMBING
All gas pipes, gas-burning equipment, water pipes, waste pipes, water closets, sinks, installed dishwashers, lavatories, bathtubs, shower baths, installed clothes washing machines, catch basins, vents and any other similar supplied fixtures, together with all connections to water, sewer or gaslines, and water pipes and lines utilized in conjunction with air-conditioning equipment.
PREMISES
A lot, plot or parcel of land, including the building or structures thereon.
REST ROOMS
An enclosed space containing one or more toilets and one or more lavatories or fixtures serving similar purposes.
RUBBISH
All combustible and noncombustible waste materials, except garbage; and shall include, but not be limited to, the residue from the burning of wood, coal, coke and other combustible material, paper, rags, cartons, boxes, wood, excelsior, rubber, leather, plastic or other synthetic materials, tree branches, yard trimmings, tin cans, metals, mineral matter, glass crockery, abandoned automobiles and dust.
STRUCTURES
Any combination of materials, whether fixed or portable, forming a construction, including buildings.
TRADE
The purchase and sale of goods or the provision of services between businesses, municipalities, states and nations.
VENTILATION
The supply and removal of air to and from any space by natural or mechanical means.
VENTILATION, MECHANICAL
Ventilation by power-driven devices.
VENTILATION, NATURAL
Ventilation by an opening to outer air through windows, skylights, doors or stacks, with or without wind-driven devices.
WEATHERING
Deterioration, decay or damage caused by exposure to the elements.

§ 56-4. Applicability.

Every building and the premises on which it is situated shall comply with the provisions of this chapter, whether or not such building has been constructed, altered or repaired before or after February 19, 1970, and irrespective of any permits or licenses which shall have been issued for the use or occupancy of the building or premises for the construction or repair of the building, or for the installation or repair of equipment or facilities prior to February 19, 1970.

§ 56-5. Minimum standards.

This chapter establishes minimum standards for the initial continued occupancy and use of all buildings and does not replace or modify standards otherwise established for the construction, repair, alteration or use of the building, equipment or facilities contained therein.

§ 56-6. Higher standard to prevail.

In any case where the provisions of this chapter impose a higher standard than that set forth in any other ordinance or law, then the standards as set forth herein shall prevail, but if the provisions of this chapter impose a lower standard than any other ordinance or law, then the higher standard contained in such other ordinance or law shall prevail.

§ 56-7. Enforcement of and compliance with other ordinances.

No license or permit or other certification of compliance with this chapter shall constitute a defense to any violation of any other ordinance of the City applicable to any structure or premises, nor shall any provision herein relieve any owner, operator or occupant from complying with any such other provision, nor any official of the City from enforcing such other provision.

§ 56-8. Responsibilities of owner, operator and occupant.

A. 
Owners and operators shall have all the duties and responsibilities as prescribed in § 56-9 and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, and no owner or operator shall be relieved from any such duty and responsibility nor be entitled to defend against any charge of violation thereto by reason of the fact that the occupant is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
B. 
Occupants shall have all the duties and responsibilities as prescribed in § 56-10 and all the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, and the occupant shall not be relieved from any such duty and responsibility nor be entitled to defend against any charge of violation therefor by reason of the fact that the owner or operator is also responsible therefor and in violation thereof.
C. 
Unless expressly provided to the contrary in this chapter, the respective obligations and responsibilities of the owner and operator on one hand, and the occupant on the other, shall not be altered or affected by any agreement or contract by and between any of the aforesaid or between them and other parties.

§ 56-9. Duties and responsibilities of owner and operator.

The following duties and responsibilities are imposed on every owner and operator of any building covered by the provisions of this chapter:
A. 
The exterior of the premises and all structures thereon shall be kept free of all nuisances and any hazards to the safety of occupants, pedestrians and persons utilizing the premises, and free of unsanitary conditions, and any of the foregoing shall be promptly removed and abated by the owner or operator. The items prohibited shall include, but not be limited to, brush, weeds, broken glass, stump roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash, refuse, debris, dead and dying trees and limbs or other natural growth, loose and overhanging objects, and ground surface hazards.
B. 
Foundation walls shall be kept structurally sound, free from defects and damage, and capable of bearing imposed loads safely.
C. 
Chimneys and all flue and vent attachments thereto shall be maintained structurally sound, free from defects and maintained at all times so as to capably perform the functions for which they were designed. Chimneys, flues, gas vents or other draft-producing equipment; shall provide sufficient draft to develop the rated output of the connected equipment shall be structurally safe, durable, smoketight and capable of withstanding the action of flue gases.
D. 
Exterior porches, landings, balconies, stairs and fire escapes shall be provided with banisters or railings properly designed and maintained to minimize the hazard of falling, and they shall be kept structurally sound, in good repair and free from defects.
E. 
The exterior of the premises and the condition of accessory structures shall be maintained so that the appearance of the premises and all buildings thereon shall reflect a level of maintenance in keeping with standards of the neighborhood.
F. 
Premises shall be kept landscaped and lawns, hedges and bushes shall be kept trimmed.
G. 
All permanent signs and billboards exposed to public view permitted by reason of other ordinances or laws shall be maintained in good repair. Any signs which have excessively weathered or faded or those on which the paint has been excessively peeled or cracked shall, with their supporting members, be removed forthwith or put in a good state of repair by the owner of the sign.
H. 
All display windows or storefronts constructed of plate glass shall be kept clean and free of cracks, and no storage shall be permitted therein unless shielded from public view.
I. 
All storefronts shall be kept in good repair, painted where required, and shall not constitute a safety hazard or nuisance. In the event repairs to a storefront become necessary, such repairs shall be made with the same, similar or comparable materials used in the construction of the storefront in such a manner as to permanently repair the damaged area or areas. Any cornice visible above a storefront shall be kept painted where required, and in good repair.
J. 
Except for "For Rent" and "For Sale" signs, any temporary sign or other paper advertising material glued or otherwise attached to a window, or otherwise exposed to public view, shall be removed at the expiration of the event or sale for which it was erected, or within 60 days after erection, whichever shall occur first.
K. 
Any awnings or marquees and their accompanying structural members which extend over any street, sidewalk or other portion of the premises shall be maintained in good repair and shall not constitute a nuisance or a safety hazard. In the event such awnings or marquees are not properly maintained in accordance with the foregoing, they shall, together with their supporting members, be removed forthwith. In the event awnings or marquees are made of cloth, plastic or similar materials, where exposed to public view the cloth or plastic shall be maintained in good condition and shall not show evidence of excessive weathering, ripping, tearing or other holes. Nothing herein shall be construed to authorize any encroachment on streets, sidewalks or other parts of the public domain.
L. 
The exterior of any structure or accessory structure shall be kept in good repair and painted where necessary for the purposes of preservation and appearance. All surfaces shall be maintained free of broken glass, loose shingles, crumbling stone or brick, excessive peeling paint or other condition reflective of deterioration or inadequate maintenance.
M. 
Rest rooms shall be surfaced with waterproof floors and shall be kept dry, clean and sanitary at all times. Sufficient rest rooms shall be installed and maintained for each sex commensurate with the use of the premises. Every rest room shall be provided with a permanently installed artificial lighting fixture and a wall switch therefor which is free from danger of short circuiting.
N. 
All premises shall be properly connected to and provided with electric power as requested for the operation of the structure. All such connections and electrical equipment shall be installed and maintained in conformity with the provisions of the Electrical Code and other applicable ordinances.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 42, Building Construction.
O. 
Maximum fuse sizes consistent with safety shall be posted conspicuously, and no fuse shall be installed in a fuse box in excess of the stated maximum, except that owners and operators shall not be responsible for violations in fuse installations without their knowledge where the correct maximum is stated and the fuse box is located within any part of the premises which is in exclusive possession of the occupant who shall be responsible for such violations.
P. 
It shall be the responsibility of the owner of a commercial establishment to supply suitable trash containers of a minimum size of 30 gallons at each entrance/exit to the establishment as a convenient means for customers to dispose of discarded products that were purchased within and to prevent the accumulation of trash and debris in front and around said commercial property.
[Added 6-20-2002 by Ord. No. 02-53]

§ 56-10. Duties of occupant.

The following duties and responsibilities are imposed on every occupant of any building covered by the provisions of this chapter:
A. 
Upon discovery by an occupant of any condition on the premises which constitutes a violation of the provisions of this chapter, (s)he shall first report it to the owner or operator, and upon failure of the owner or operator to act in five days, then the occupant shall immediately report the same to the Housing Inspector.
B. 
All parts of the premises under the control of the occupant shall be kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
C. 
Storage bins, rooms and areas shall not be used for the accumulation of garbage or refuse.
D. 
Every occupant shall be responsible for the elimination of infestation in and on the premises subject to his/her control.
E. 
No occupant shall install electrical fuses in a fuse box in excess of the posted limit.

§ 56-11. Licensing.

A. 
Required.
(1) 
The owner of any commercial structure which is let or rented to another for the purpose of conducting business therein shall apply for a license for such structure on an application to be provided by the Division of Housing Inspections and shall pay an annual nonrefundable license fee of $120 per structure, plus $25 for each individual business conducted within the structure. The owner shall include in the application his/her home and business addresses, day and evening telephone numbers, social security number and date of birth.
[Amended 10-17-2013 by Ord. No. 13-47]
(2) 
In the event the owner of the commercial structure designates an agent to act on his/her behalf and/or in his/her stead, including, but not limited to, accepting service of process and acting as the attorney-in-fact in any hearing, the application shall also include the agent's name, home and business addresses, day and evening telephone numbers, social security number and date of birth. The day telephone number where the owner or agent can be reached during regular business hours shall be equipped with an answering service or device.
(3) 
In the event the owner of the commercial structure is a corporation or entity other than an individual, the application shall include the names, home and business addresses, day and evening telephone numbers, social security numbers and dates of birth for all officers of the corporation or other entity and shall further include the foregoing information of the registered agent. The owner shall comply with the licensing provisions by March 1 of each calendar year. Failure to comply with this provision shall subject the owner to the penalties prescribed in § 132-88, in accordance with the provisions of Article IV of Chapter 132, Housing Standards.
B. 
Display of decal.
(1) 
Upon a determination by the Division of Housing Inspections that the owner and rental property are in compliance with all of the provisions of this chapter, including, but not limited to, Subsections A, C and E, a licensing decal will be issued for the commercial structure. This decal shall be prominently displayed within the commercial structure, and the license number shall be easily visible. Failure to display this decal shall be deemed by an officer or other employee of the City that the property is not licensed and the owner shall therefor be subject to the appropriate penalties as prescribed in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty, of the Code of the City of Trenton, and in accordance with the provisions of Article IV of Chapter 132, Housing Standards.
(2) 
In the event of loss or destruction of the decal, the commercial owner shall request a replacement decal from the Division of Housing Inspections. The first replacement decal in any calendar year shall be reissued at no cost. Subsequent replacement decals for commercial structures in the same calendar year shall be reissued at a cost of $20.
C. 
Required inspections. All commercial structures shall be inspected once every five years to ensure compliance with the Commercial Structure Code. Food-handling establishments, which must be inspected once each year, are expressly exempt from the requirements of this provision. In addition, all vacant commercial structures shall be inspected prior to occupancy. Those persons who fail to comply with this requirement shall be subject to the appropriate penalties as prescribed in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty of the Code of the City of Trenton, and in accordance with the provisions of Article IV, of Chapter 132, Housing Standards.
D. 
Failure to complete licensing process on due date. A late penalty of 1 1/2 times the cost of the license as set forth in Subsection A shall be imposed upon the owner for failure to complete the licensing process by March 1 of each calendar year. An additional penalty of 1 1/2 times the licensing fee shall be imposed on the first day of each month the licensing process remains incomplete.
E. 
Taxes and other municipal charges. All completed applications for licenses under this chapter shall have attached thereto a sworn affidavit that property taxes have been paid through the preceding quarter and that all water, sewer and any other municipal fees are current and up to date.
F. 
License revocation or suspension. Following a hearing in accordance with the provisions of Article IV of Chapter 132, Housing Standards, an owner who is found to be in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to revocation or suspension of the license by the Division of Housing Inspections and the imposition of the penalties prescribed in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty, of the Code of the City of Trenton.
G. 
Nontransferable license. No license issued under this chapter shall be transferred by the owner. Upon the sale, conveyance or other transfer of title and/or possession of the commercial structure, the new owner shall apply for a new license not later than 30 days after the closing date of the sale or other transfer. The fee required for obtaining the new license shall be waived for the remainder of the licensing year. Thereafter, the new property owner shall adhere to the licensing and fee requirement of Subsection A of this chapter.
H. 
Security measures. The Police Director and the Director of Inspections shall have the discretion to require the owner of any commercial structure to implement particular security measures where they have received reports during the licensing year which indicate that without such measures the property poses a risk to the safety and welfare of its occupants and the surrounding community.
I. 
Exceptions. The licensing requirements of this chapter shall not apply to the operation of any business affecting industry or commerce as that term is defined in § 56-3 and in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:52-1(m).

§ 56-12. Violations and penalties.

Violations of the provisions of this chapter shall be punishable as provided in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty.