Ordinance No. 10-16

Introduced: July 8, 2010
Public Hearing: August 26, 2010
Status: Tabled

An ordinance to replace Chapter 447 of the code of the Township of Vernon regarding property maintenance

BE IT ORDAINED by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon as follows:

Section 1. The Code of the Township of Vernon, Chapter 447, is hereby amended in its entirety as follows:

Chapter 447

Property Maintenance Code of the Township of Vernon.

447-1 Findings, declaration of policy. It is hereby found and determined that there exist in the Township of Vernon structures used for residential and nonresidential use which are or may become in the future substandard with respect to structure, equipment or maintenance. It is further found that conditions of the above-described property, including but not limited to structural deterioration, lack of maintenance and appearance of the exterior of premises, infestation, 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 , constitute a menace to health, safety, welfare and reasonable comfort of the citizens and inhabitants of the Township of Vernon. The Township Council of the Township of Vernon further finds and declares that, by reason of lack of maintenance and the existence of progressive deterioration, certain properties have the further effect and/or the further potential effect of creating blighted conditions that, if the same are not curtailed and removed, the aforesaid conditions will grow and spread and will necessitate, in time, the expenditure of public funds to correct and eliminate the same and that, by reason of timely regulation and restrictions as herein contained, the growth of depressed areas, slums and blight may be prevented. It is further found that such prevention will maintain neighborhood and property values, as well as the desirability and amenities of residential and nonresidential uses; and it is further found that such prevention will protect and foster the public health, safety and welfare.

447-2 Purposes. The purposes of this Property Maintenance Code are as follows:

  1. To protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Vernon by establishing minimum standards governing the maintenance, appearance, conditions and occupancy of property.
  2. To authorize and establish procedures for the enforcement of this code.
  3. To fix certain responsibilities and duties upon owners and operators and establish distinct and separate responsibilities and duties upon occupants; to authorize and establish procedures for the inspection of residential and nonresidential premises.
  4. To fix penalties for the violations of this code.

447-3 Effect on other ordinances and regulations. Nothing in this article shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the Township of Vernon to enforce any provisions of its ordinances or regulations or prevent or punish violations thereof, and the power conferred by this article shall be in addition to and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law or ordinance.

447-4 Property other than multiple dwellings.

  1. All structures and premises in the Township of Vernon shall be kept free of all the following conditions:
    1. Broken glass, excessive brush, weeds, stumps and roots, obnoxious growth, filth, garbage, trash, refuse, rubbish and debris.
    2. Dead and dying trees, limbs or other natural growths which by reason of rotting, deteriorating conditions, storm damage or weathering constitute a hazard to persons in the vicinity thereof. Trees shall be kept pruned and trimmed to prevent such conditions. Naturally wooded areas are exempt from this section which pertains to the vicinity of a residence.
    3. Loose and overhanging objects and accumulations of ice and snow which, by reason of location above ground level, constitute a danger of falling on persons in the vicinity thereof.
    4. Holes, excavations, breaks, projections, obstructions, icy conditions, and other safety hazards related to walks, driveways, parking lots, parking areas and other parts of the premises which are accessible to and used by persons on the premises. All such holes and excavations shall be filled and repaired, walks and steps replaced and other conditions removed where necessary to eliminate safety hazards or unsanitary conditions.
    5. Sources of infestation or potential infestation by rodents, mosquitoes, flies and other harmful vermin.
    6. Runoff drains shall be maintained to eliminate any recurrent or excessive accumulations of storm water.
  2. The exterior of every structure or accessory structure, including fences, shall be maintained in good repair, and all surfaces thereof shall be kept painted and finished where necessary for purposes of preservation and appearance. The same shall be maintained free of broken glass, loose shingles, crumbling stone or brick, excessive peeling of paint or other conditions reflecting weathering, deterioration or inadequate maintenance, to the end that the property itself may be preserved, safety and fire hazards eliminated and adjoining properties in the neighborhood protected from blighting influences. All accessory structures must have functional doors and windows where necessary.
  3. Outdoor storage will be allowed in accordance with part 330-192 of the Township Code.
  4. Natural vegetation, landscaping, lawns, hedges and bushes shall not be allowed to become overgrown and unsightly where exposed to public view. The length of lawn grass shall not exceed nine inches at any time.
  5. All tarps used to cover such firewood or stored trailers, boats, etc., shall be blue, dark green, brown, black or camouflage tarpaulin or canvas.
  6. All parts of the premises shall be kept in a clean and sanitary condition, free of nuisances and free from health, safety and fire hazards.

447-5 Enforcement procedure.

  1. Where a violation of this article or the regulations hereunder is found to exist, a written notice from the Code Enforcement Officer or County Health Officer shall be served upon the owner responsible for correcting such condition. The notice shall contain the following:
    1. A description of the property sufficient for identification;
    2. An identification of the conditions constituting the violation;
    3. The necessary corrective action;
    4. A time period not to exceed 10 days after service of the notice upon the owner to correct or abate the violation;
    5. A statement that the notice shall become an order of the Code Enforcement Officer in 10 days after service; and
    6. A statement of the penalty for violation of the notice.
  2. The notice may be served personally or by certified mail at the last known address of the owner alleged to be in violation. Where it is ascertained that the owner does not reside on the premises and the last known address cannot be ascertained, the notice may be posted on the outside front entrance of the affected building. Service upon any owner may also be achieved by service of any notice upon a member of the family of the owner, provided that such family member is 16 years of age or older and resides with such owner.
  3. After 10 days from the date of service of the notice, the notice shall constitute a final order. If the violation is not corrected or abated at the time the notice constitutes a final order, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a summons to the owner to appear in municipal court for violation of the final order, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2B:12-17a.
  4. The Code Enforcement Officer or Health Inspector may extend the time for correction and abatement of any violation of this article for an additional period of time not to exceed 30 days, except where major capital improvements or renovations are involved, in which case, the time for completion may be extended for such period of time as the Code Enforcement Officer may deem reasonably adequate.
  5. In the event that the Owner of the property does not respond to violation notices, fails to abate the subject of the violation notice, or can not be located after diligent inquiry and effort, the Township may take reasonable steps up to and including demolition of real property to abate or minimize the violations for the health, safety and welfare of the surrounding properties. In the case of failing to maintain a lawn constituting a violation, the Township may, at its sole discretion, cut the grass or hire a contractor to cut the grass. The owner shall be charged $100.00 per hour for grass cutting and the Township shall record the charges as a lien against the property. The Township may from time to time by resolution adopt a fee schedule to establish the cost charged to the owner for other measures of abatement. The Township is also enabled to hire contractors to accomplish abatement or demolition and lien the cost for the charges against the property.

447-6 Violations and penalties. A violation of this article by failure to comply with an order entered by the Code Enforcement Officer pursuant to the Property Maintenance Ordinance shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 for the initial violation, not to exceed $500 for the second violation and not to exceed $1,000 for the third violation committed hereunder. Each violation of a different section of this Code shall constitute a separate and distinct violation independent of any other section. Each day of noncompliance with any provision of this Code, and any subsequent violation, shall constitute a separate violation and shall be subject to a summons without further notification. An owner shall be considered “notified” of the violation for a period of two years after the initial notification.

Section 2. Severability: If any provision of this Ordinance or the application of this Ordinance to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the remainder of this Ordinance shall not be affected and shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 3. Effective Date: This Ordinance shall take effect after publication and passage according to law.