Ordinance 05-05: Dangerous Buildings
DEFINITIONS – The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Dangerous Buildings: means all building or structures which have any or all of the following defects;
Those whose interior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean, buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show 33 percent or more of damage or deterioration of the supporting member or members, or 50 percent of damage or deterioration of the non-supporting enclosing or outside walls or covering.
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the same are overloaded, or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe, for the purpose used.
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other causes so as to have become dangerous to life, safety, morale, or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the town.
Those which have become or are so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe, unsanitary, or which so utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to living that they are unfit for human habitation, or are likely to cause sickness or disease, so as to work injury to the health, morale, safety, or general welfare of those living therein.
Those having light, air and sanitation facilities which are inadequate to protect health, morale, safety, or general welfare of human beings who live or may live therein.
Those having inadequate facilities for egress in case of fire or panic or those having insufficient stairways, elevators, fire escapes or other means of evacuation.
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure members of the public or property.
Those which because of their condition are unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous to the health, morale, safety, or general welfare of the people of the town.
The owners of any dangerous building who shall fail to comply with any notice or order to repair, vacate or demolish the building given by the town council shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be subject to punishment as provided in section 1-11 of this code
The occupant or lessee in possession who fails to comply with any notice to vacate or who fails to repair the building in accordance with any notice given by the town council as provided for in this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be subject to punishment as provided in section 1-11 of this code.
Any person removing the notice provided for in subsection 18-154(9) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be subject to punishment as provided in section 1-11 of this code for each offence.
STANDARDS FOR REPAIR, VACATION OR DEMOLITION
The following standards shall govern decisions by any town code enforcement official and/or the town council in ordering any repairs, vacation, or demolition of a building to be “dangerous” in violation of this article:
If, under all of the circumstances, it would be reasonable to repair the building so that it will no longer exist in violation of this article, it shall be ordered repaired. Factors that may be taken into consideration in determining whether it is “reasonable” to make repairs may include, but shall not be limited to: the extent and estimated cost of the repairs necessary in comparison to the fair market value or fair rental value of the building if such repairs were made; the practicality of making such repairs due to construction, engineering, safety, or similar constraints; the uniqueness of the building from an architectural or historic vantage point, and the financial ability of the owner, occupant, or lien holders to initiate such repairs and complete them in a workmanlike and timely manner.
If the building is in such condition, or if authorized repair work is such as to endanger the health, safety, or general welfare of the building’s occupants, it shall be ordered vacated.
In all cases where it is determined that it would be reasonable to repair the building so that it will no longer exist in violation of the terms of this section, it shall be ordered demolished.
In all cases where it is determined that a dangerous building is a fire hazard existing or erected in violation of the terms of this article or of any town ordinance or state statue, it shall be ordered demolished.
In any case where the building is determined to be damaged, decayed, or deteriorated to such an extent as to require replacement of 50 percent or more of:
Its major structural components. (e.g. foundation, supporting, structural members, floors, exterior walls, roof, windows and doors);
The total square footage of all enclosed floor area; or
The reasonable estimated current cost (including all labor, materials, engineering, building permits, insurance, and the like) of reconstructing the entire building then, in such case, the building shall be ordered demolished.
Provided however, anything herein to the contrary notwithstanding:
Whenever a building has been ordered repaired but the owner, occupants, or lien holders have not, within a reasonable time (not to exceed one year) properly completed all repairs necessary so that the building will no longer exist in violation of this provisions of this article, a rebuttable presumption shall arise that it is not reasonable to repair the building and the town building inspector shall re-initiate proceedings under this article to have the building demolished.
Whenever any building has been ordered demolished and any property owner, occupant, or lien holder provides this town with a written performance bond, in form acceptable to the town, with approved surety, to make all repairs, modifications, and replacement approved by the town’s code enforcement official as necessary so that the building will no longer exist in violation of this article, the property owner shall be allowed a reasonable period of time under the circumstances, not to exceed one year, to make such repairs, modifications, and/or replacements. Approved surety may include a completion bond issued in favor of the town by a reputable insurance company licenses to do business in the state, an irrevocable letter of credit in an amount equal to 125 percent of the estimated cost of the project from a bank with offices in the state, a first lien mortgage on real estate in the state having an appraised value of not less than 150 percent of the estimated cost of the project, or cash in an amount equal to 125 percent of the estimated cost of the project to be held by the town pending completion of the project. For purposes hereof, the “estimated cost of the project” shall be determined by a professional engineer and shall include all costs associated with the project including construction, permits, insurance, landfill charges, and landscaping/restoration.
All dangerous buildings are hereby declared to be public nuisances, and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished, as provided in this article.
BUILDING OFFICIAL’S DUTIES – The Building Official Shall:
Inspector cause to be inspected periodically, all public buildings, schools, halls, churches, theaters, hotels, tenements, commercial, manufacturing, or loft buildings for the purpose of determining whether any conditions exist which render such places a dangerous building.
Inspect any building, wall or structure about which complaints are filed by any person to the effect that a building, wall or structure is or may be existing in violation of the terms of this article.
Inspect any building, wall or structure reported (as provided for in this article) by the fire or police department of the town as probably existing in violation of the terms for this article.
Inspect such other buildings as shall from time to time come to his attention as possibly dangerous buildings.
Notify in writing the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgage, agent and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the recorder of deeds of the county, of any building found by him to be dangerous building that:
The owner must vacate, repair or demolish the building or may have it repaired in accordance with the notice and remain possession.
The occupant or lessee must vacate the building or may have it repaired in accordance with the notice and remain in possession.
The mortgage, agent or other persons having an interest in the building has shown by the land records of the recorder of deeds of the county may, at his own risk, repair, vacate or demolish the building or have such work or act done. Any person notified under this subsection to repair, vacate or demolish any building shall be given such reasonable time, not exceeding 30 days, as may be necessary to do, or have done, the work or act required by the notice.
Set forth in the notice provided for in subsection (E) of this section, a description of the building or structure deemed unsafe, a statement of the particulars which make the building or structure a dangerous building and order required the same to be put in such condition as to comply with the terms for this article within such length of time, not exceeding 30 days, as is reasonable.
Report to the town council any noncompliance with the notice provided for in subsections (E) and (F) of this section.
Appear at all hearings conduction by the town council and testify as to the condition of dangerous buildings.
Place a notice on all dangerous buildings reading as follows: “This building has been found to be a dangerous building by the building official. This notice is to remain on this building until it is repaired, vacated or demolished in accordance with the notice which has been given to the owner, occupant, lessee, mortgage or agent of this building, and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the Recorder of Deeds of New Castle County. It is unlawful to remove this notice until such notice is complied with.”
Prosecute all persons failing to comply with the terms of the order provided for in this chapter.
HEARING BEFORE TOWN COUNCIL – The Town Council Shall:
Upon receipt of a report the building official as provided for in this chapter, give written notice to the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the recorder of deeds of the county to appear before it on the date specified in the notice to show cause why the building or structure reported to be dangerous building should be repaired, vacated or demolished in accordance with the statement of particulars set forth in the building official’s notice provided for in this chapter.
Hold a hearing and hear such testimony as the building official or the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee or any other person having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the recorder of deeds of the county shall offer relative to the dangerous building.
Make written findings as fact from the testimony offered pursuant to subsection (B) of this section as to whether or not the building in question is a dangerous building.
Issue an order based upon findings of fact made pursuant to subsection (C) of this section commanding the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee, agent and all other persons having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the recorder of deeds of the county to repair, vacate or demolish any building found to be a dangerous building within the terms of this article, setting the time within which the building shall be repaired, vacated or demolished and provided that any person so notified, except the owners, shall have the privilege of either vacating or repairing the dangerous building; or any person not the owner or the dangerous building but having an interest in the building as shown by the land records of the recorder of deeds of the county may demolish the dangerous building at his own risk to prevent the acquiring of a lien against the land upon which the dangerous building stands by the town as provided in subsection (E) of this section.
If the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee fails to comply with the order provided for in subsection (D) of this section within ten days, the town council shall cause such building or structure to be repaired, vacated or demolished as the facts may warrant, under the standards provided for in this chapter, and shall with the assistance of the town solicitor cause the costs of such repair, vacation or demolition to be charged against the land on which the building existed as a municipal lien or cause such costs to be added to the costs to be added to the tax duplicate as an assessment, or to be levied as a special tax against the land upon which the building stands or did stand, or to be recovered in a suit at law against the owner, provided, that in cases where such procedure is desirable and any delay thereby caused will not be dangerous to the health, morals, safety, or general welfare of the people of this town, the town council shall notify the town solicitor to take legal action to force the owner to make necessary repairs or demolish the building.
Report to the town solicitor the names of all persons not complying with the order provided for in subsection (E) of this section.
DUTIES OF TOWN SOLICITOR – The Town Solicitor Shall:
When directed by the town council, prosecute all persons failing to comply with the terms of the order provided for in this chapter.
Appear at all hearings before the town council in regards to dangerous buildings
Bring suit to collect all municipal liens, assessments or costs incurred in repairing or causing to be vacated or demolished dangerous buildings.
Take such legal action as is necessary to carry out the terms and provisions of this article.
In cases where it reasonably appears that there is immediate danger to the life safety of any person unless a dangerous building is immediately repaired, vacated or demolished, the building official shall report such facts to the town council, which may cause the immediate repair, vacation or demolition of such dangerous building. The costs of such emergency repairs, vacation or demolition of such dangerous buildings shall be collected in the same manner as provided in this chapter.
PROCEDURES WHERE OWNER ABSENT
In cases, except emergency cases, where the owner, occupant, lessee or mortgage is absent from the town all notices or orders provided for in this article shall be sent by registered mail to the owner, occupant, mortgagee, lessee and other persons having an interest in such building as shown by the land records of the recorder of deeds of the county, to the last known address of each, and a copy of such notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the dangerous building to which it related. Such mailing and posted shall be deemed adequate service.
No officer, agent or employee of the town shall render himself personally liable for any damage that may occur to persons or property as result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of his duties under this article, and shall be defended by the town solicitor until the final determination of the proceeding therein.
DUTIES OF FIRE MARSHALL, FIRE DEPARTMENT, POLICE FORCE, OTHER TOWN EMPLOYEES
The fire marshal, all members of the fire department, all officers of the police force, and all other employees of the town shall report in writing to the building official all building or structure within the town which shall to their knowledge or attention as being dangerous buildings within terms of his article.
First & Second Reading: January 4, 2006 Public Hearing: January 4, 2006 Third & Final Reading: January 18, 2006 Signed by Mayor, David B. Raughley