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Chapter 36 – Dilapidated & Dangerous Buildings

TITLE III   COMMUNITY PROTECTION 

CHAPTER 36

DILAPIDATED AND DANGEROUS BUILDINGS

 

3-36-1              Purpose
3-36-2              Scope
3-36-3              Enforcement
3-36-4              Definition of Terms
3-36-5              General
3-36-6              Repair, Vacation and Demolition
3-36-7              Notice to Vacate
3-36-8              General
3-36-9              Effect of Failure to Appeal
3-36-10            Scope of Hearing on Appeal
3-36-11            Staying of Order Under Appeal
3-36-12            Form of Notice of Hearing
3-36-13            Subpoenas
3-36-14            Conduct of Hearing
3-36-15            Inspection of the Premises
3-36-16            Hearing Before City Council
3-36-17            Form of Decision
3-36-18            Compliance
3-36-19            Extension of Time to Perform Work
3-36-20            Interference with Repair, Demolition Work Prohibited
3-36-21            Building Inspector’s Right of Entry 

 

SECTION 3-36-1                  PURPOSE.  The purpose of this ordinance is to establish certain minimum standards for buildings within the City of Belle Plaine which are structurally unsafe and which by reason of damage, inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment may constitute a fire hazard, attractive nuisance, a harbor for vagrants, criminals or other illegal activities or a harbor for rodents, birds or vermin.

SECTION 3-36-2                  SCOPE.  The provisions of this code shall apply to all dangerous buildings, as herein defined, which are now in existence or which may hereafter become dangerous in this jurisdiction.

SECTION 3-36-3                  ENFORCEMENT.  The Belle Plaine City Council may by its own initiative and when in receipt of a signed written statement alleging a structure to be dangerous or dilapidated shall be responsible for the enforcement of this ordinance and shall when necessary direct the building inspector to carry out those duties as may be required by this ordinance for the examination or inspection of various structures.

SECTION 3-36-4                  DEFINITION OF TERMS.   As used in this ordinance the following terms are defined as follows:

1.         Owner:   The person, firm, association or corporation shown to be the owner in records or indexes in the office of the Benton County Auditor.

2.         Dangerous Building or Structure: For the purpose of this code, any building or structure which has any or all of the conditions or defects hereinafter described shall be deemed to be a dangerous building, provided that such conditions or defects exist to the extent that the life, health, property or safety of the public or its occupants are endangered.

             (a)   Whenever any door, aisle, passageway, stairway or other means of exit is not of sufficient width or size or is not so arranged as to provide safe and adequate means of exit in case of fire or panic.

              (b)   Whenever the walking surface of any aisle, passageway, stairway or other means of exit is so warped, worn, loose, torn or otherwise unsafe as to not provide safe and adequate means of exit in case of fire or panic.

              (c)  Whenever the stress in any materials, member or portion thereof, due to all dead and live loads, is more than one and one half times the working stress or stresses allowed in the Building Code for new buildings of similar structure, purpose or location.

             (d)   Whenever any portion thereof has been damaged by fire, earthquake, wind, flood or by any other cause, to such an extent that the structural strength or stability thereof is materially less than it was before such catastrophe and is less than the minimum requirements of the Building Code for new buildings of similar structure, purpose or location.

             (e)   Whenever any portion or member or appurtenance thereof is likely to fail, or to become detached or dislodged or to collapse and thereby injure persons or damage property.

              (f)   Whenever any portion of a building, or any member, appurtenance or ornamentation on the exterior thereof is not of sufficient strength or stability, or is not so anchored, attached or fastened in place so as to be capable of resisting a wind pressure of one half of that specified in the Building Code for new buildings or similar structure, purpose or location without exceeding the working stresses permitted in the Building Code for such buildings.

         (g)   Whenever any portion thereof has wracked, warped, bucked or settled to such an extent that walls or other structural portion have materially less resistance to winds or earthquakes than is required in the case of similar new construction.

            (h)   Whenever the building or structure, or any portion thereof, because of (i) dilapidation, deterioration or decay; (ii) faulty construction, (iii) the removal, movement or instability of any portion of the ground necessary for the purpose of supporting or inadequacy of its foundation; or (v) any other cause, is likely to partially or completely collapse.

             (i)   Whenever, for any reason, the building or structure, or any portion thereof, is manifestly unsafe for the purpose of which it is being use.

             (j.)  Whenever the exterior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity does not fall inside the middle one third of the base.

             (k)  Whenever the building or structure, exclusive of the foundation, shows 33 percent or more damage or deterioration of its supporting member or members, or 50 percent damage or deterioration of its nonsupporting members, enclosing or outside walls or coverings.

             (l)  Whenever the building or structure has been so damaged by fire, wind, earthquake or flood, or has become so dilapidated or deteriorated as to become (i) an attractive nuisance to children; (ii) a harbor for vagrants, criminals or immoral person; or as to (iii) enable persons to resort thereto for the purpose of committing unlawful or immoral acts.

              (m)  Whenever any building or structure has been constructed, exists or is maintained in violation of any specific requirement or prohibition applicable to such building or structure provided by the building regulations of this jurisdiction, as specified in the Building Code or Housing Code, or any law or ordinance of this state or jurisdiction relating to the condition, location or structure of buildings.

                (n)  Whenever any building or structure which, whether or not erected in accordance with all applicable laws and ordinances, has in any nonsupporting part, member or portion less than 50 percent or in any supporting part, member or portion less than 66 percent of the (i) strength, (ii) fire-resisting qualities or characteristics, or (iii) weather-resisting qualities or characteristics required by law in the case of a newly constructed building of like area, height and occupancy in the same location.

                (o)  Whenever a building or structure, used or intended to be used for dwelling purposes, because of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, decay damage, faulty construction or arrangement, inadequate light, air or sanitation facilities, or otherwise, is determined by the health officer to be unsanitary, unfit for human habitation or in such a condition that is likely to cause sickness or disease.

                (p)  Whenever any building or structure, because of obsolescence, dilapidated condition, deterioration, damage, inadequate exits, lack of sufficient fire-resistive construction, faulty electric wiring, gas connections or heating apparatus,or other cause, is determined by the fire marshal to be a fire hazard.

                 (q)  Whenever any building or structure is in such a condition as to constitute a public nuisance known to the common law or in equity jurisprudence.

                 (r)  Whenever any portion of a building or structure remains on a site after the demolition or destruction of the building or structure or whenever any building or structure is abandoned for a period in excess of six months so as to constitute such building or portion thereof an attractive nuisance or hazard to the public.

                 (s)  Whenever any building or structure or portion thereof is abandoned for a period in excess of six months and because of open or broken out windows or open or broken doors becomes an attractive nuisance or hazard to the public because of infestation by bird, rodents, or other vermin.

SECTION 3-36-5                  GENERAL.

(1)   Commencement of Proceedings. When the building official has inspected or caused to be inspected any building and has found and determined that such building is a dangerous building, the building official shall commence proceedings to cause the repair, vacation or demolition of the building.

(2)   Notice and Order. The building official shall issue a notice and order directed to the record owner of the building. The notice and order shall contain:

               (a)   The street address and a legal description sufficient for identification of the premises upon which the building is located.

               (b)   A statement that the building official has found the building to be dangerous with a brief and concise description of the conditions found to render the building dangerous under the provisions of Section 3-24-4 of this code.

               (c)   A statement of the action required to be taken as determined by the building official.

                        i)   If the building official has determined that the building or structure must be repaired, the order shall require that all required permits be secured therefore and the work physically commenced within such time (not to exceed 60 days from the date of the order) and completed within such time as the building official shall determine is reasonable under all of the circumstances.

                        ii)   If the building official has determined that the building or structure must be vacated, the order shall require that the building or structure shall be vacated within a time certain from the date of the order as determined by the building official to be reasonable.

                        iii)   If the building official has determined that the building structure must be demolished, the order shall require that the building be vacated within such time as the building official shall determine is reasonable (not to exceed 60 days from the date of the order); that all required permits be secured therefore within 60 days from the date of the order; and that the demolition be completed within such time as the building official shall determine is reasonable.

              (d)   Statements advising that if any required repair or demolition work (without vacation also being required) is not commenced within the time specified, the building official (i) will order the building vacated and posted to prevent further occupancy until the work is completed, and (ii) may proceed to cause the work to be done and charge the costs thereof against the property or its owner.

              (e)   Statements advising (i) that any person having any record title or legal interest in the building may appeal from the notice and order or any action of the building official to the City Council, provided the appeal is made in writing as provided in this code and filed with the building official within 20 days from the date of service of such notice and order; and (ii) that failure to appeal will constitute a waive of all right to an administrative hearing and determination of the matter.

3.   Service of Notice and Order.  The notice and order, and any amended or supplemental notice and order, shall be served upon the record owner and posted on the property; and one copy thereof shall be served on each of the following if known to the building official or disclosed from official public records: the holder of any mortgage or deed of trust or other lien or encumbrance of record; the owner or holder of any lease of record; and the holder of any other estate or legal interest of record in or to the building or the land on which it is located. The failure of the building official to serve any person required herein to be served shall not invalidate any proceedings hereunder as to any other person duly served or relieve any such person from any duty or obligation imposed by the provisions of this section.

4.   Method of Service.  Service of the notice and order shall be made upon all persons entitled thereto either personally or by mailing a copy of such notice and order by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipts requested, to each such persons at their address as it appears on the last equalized assessment roll of the county or as known to the building official. If no address of any such person so appears or is known to the building official, then a copy of the notice and order shall be so mailed, addressed to such person, at the address of the building involved the proceedings and as shown by the records of the County Auditor. The failure of any such person to receive such notice shall not affect the validity of any proceedings taken under this section.  Service by certified mail in the manner herein provided shall be effective on the date of mailing.

5.   Proof of Service.  Proof of service of the notice and order shall be certified to at the time of service by a written declaration under penalty of perjury executed by the persons effecting service, declaring the time, date and manner in which service is made. The declaration, together with any receipt card returned in acknowledgment of receipt by certified mail shall be affixed to the copy of the notice and order retained by the building official.

SECTION 3-36-6                  REPAIR, VACATION AND DEMOLITION.     The following standards shall be followed by the building official (and by the City Council if an appeal is taken) in ordering the repair, vacation or demolition of any dangerous building or structure.

1.   The building declared a dangerous building under this code shall be made to comply with one of the following:

               a)   The building shall be repaired in accordance with the current building code or other current code applicable to the type of substandard conditions requiring repair; or                                                                   

                b)   The building shall be demolished at the option of the building owner; or

                 c)   If the building does not constitute an immediate danger to the life, limb, property or safety of the public it may be vacated, secured and maintained against entry.

2.   If the building or structure is in such condition as to make it immediately dangerous to the life, limb, property or safety of the public or its occupants, it shall be ordered to be vacated.

SECTION 3-36-7                  NOTICE TO VACATE.

1.   Posting.  Every notice to vacate shall, in addition to being served as provided in Section 3-24-5 (3), be posted at or upon each exit of the building and shall be in substantially the following form:

DO NOT ENTER

UNSAFE TO OCCUP 

It is a misdemeanor to occupy this building, or to remove or deface this notice.

Building Official

City of Belle Plaine

2.   Compliance. Whenever such notice is posted, the building official shall include a notification thereof in the notice and order issued under Section 3-24-5 (2), reciting the emergency and specifying the conditions which necessitate the posting. No person shall remain in or enter any building which has been so posted, except that entry may be made to repair, demolish or remove such building under permit. No person shall remove or deface any such notice after it is posted until the required repairs, demolition or removal have been completed and a certificate of occupancy issued pursuant the provisions of the Building Code.

SECTION 3-36-8                  GENERAL

1.   Form of Appeal.  Any person entitled to service under Section 3-24-5 (2) may appeal from any notice and order or any action of the building official under this code by filing with the City Clerk a written appeal containing:

            a)   A heading in the words, “Before the City Council of the City ofBelle Plaine,”

            b)   A caption reading “Appeal of ………” giving the names of all appellants participating in the appeal.

            c)   A brief statement setting forth the legal interest of each of the appellants in the building or the land involved in the notice and order.

            d)   A brief statement in ordinary and concise language of the specific order or action protested, together with any material facts claimed to support the contentions of the appellant.

            e)   A brief statement in ordinary and concise language of the relief sought and the reasons why it is claimed the protested order or action should be reversed, modified or otherwise set aside.

            f)   The signatures of all parties named as appellants and their official mailing addresses.

            g)   The verification (by declaration under penalty of perjury) of at least one appellant as to the truth of the matters stated in the appeal.

The appeal shall be filed within 20 days from the date of the service of such order or action of the building official; provided, however, that if the building or structure is in such condition as to make it immediately dangerous to the life, limb property or safety of the public or adjacent property and is ordered vacated and is posted in accordance with Section 3-24-7, such appeal shall be filed within 10 days from the date of the service of the notice and order of the building official.

2.   Scheduling and Noticing Appeal for Hearing.  As soon as practicable after receiving the written appeal, the City Council shall fix a date, time and place for the hearing of the appeal by the City Council. Such date shall not be less than 10 days nor more than 60 days from the date the appeal was filed with the building official. Written notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing to each appellant by the City Council either by causing a copy of such notice to be delivered to the appellant personally or by mailing a copy thereof, postage prepaid, addressed to the appellant at the address shown on the appeal.

SECTION 3-36-9                  EFFECT OF FAILURE TO APPEAL. Failure of any person to file an appeal in accordance with the provisions of Section 3-24-8 shall constitute a waive of the right to an administrative hearing and adjudication of the notice and order or any portion thereof.

SECTION 3-36-10                SCOPE OF HEARING ON APPEAL.  Only those matters or issues specifically raised by the appellant shall be considered in the hearing of the appeal.

SECTION 3-36-11                STAYING OF ORDER UNDER APPEAL.  Except for vacation orders made pursuant to Section 3-24-7, enforcement of any notice and order of the building official issued under this code shall be stayed during the pendency of an appeal there from which is properly and timely filed.

SECTION 3-36-12                FORM OF NOTICE OF HEARING. The notice to appellant shall be substantially in the following for, but may include other information.

“You are hereby notified that a hearing will be held before the Belle Plaine City Council at……………on the………….day of ……………….., 20.., at the hour………, upon the notice and order served upon you. You may be present at the hearing. You may be, but need not be, represented by counsel. You may present any relevant evidence and will be given full opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses testifying against you. You may request the issuance of subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, documents or other things by filing an affidavit therefore with the City Council.”

SECTION 3-36-13                SUBPOENAS

1.   Filing of Affidavit. The City Council may obtain the issuance and service of a subpoena for the attendance of witnesses or the production of other evidence at a hearing upon the request of a member of the City Council or upon the written demand of any party. The issuance and service of such subpoena shall be obtained upon the filing of an affidavit therefore which states the name and address of the proposed witness; specifies the exact things sought to be produced and the materiality thereof in detail to the issues involved; and states that the witness has the desired things in possession or under control. A subpoena need not be issued when the affidavit is defective in any particular.

2.   Penalties.  Any person who refuses without lawful excuse to attend any hearing or to produce material evidence which the person possesses or controls as required by any subpoena served upon such person as provided for herein shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

SECTION 3-36-14                CONDUCT OF HEARING.

1.   Rules.  Hearings need not be conducted according to the technical rules relation to evidence and witnesses.

2.   Oral Evidence.  Oral evidence shall be taken only on oath or affirmation. 

3.   Hearsay Evidence.  Hearsay evidence may be used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining any direct evidence, but shall not be sufficient in itself to support a finding unless it would be admissible over objection in civil actions in courts of competent jurisdiction in this state.

4.   Admissibility of Evidence.  Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if it is the type of evidence on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule which might make improper the admission of such evidence over objection in civil actions in courts of competent jurisdiction in this state.

5.   Exclusion of Evidence. Irrelevant and unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.

6.   Rights of Parties.  Each party shall have these rights, among others:

            (a)   To call and examine witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;

            (b)   To introduce documentary and physical evidence;

            (c)    To cross-examine opposing witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;

            (d)   To impeach any witness regardless of which party first called the witness to testify;

            (e)   To rebut the evidence; and

            (f)   To be represented by anyone who is lawfully permitted to do so.

SECTION 3-36-15                INSPECTION OF THE PREMISES. The City Council may inspect any building or premises involved in the appeal during the course of the hearing, provided that (i) notice of such inspection shall be given to the parties before the inspection is made, (ii) the City Council shall state for the record upon completion of the inspection the material facts observed and the conclusions drawn there from. Each party then shall have a right to rebut or explain the matters so stated by the City Council.

SECTION 3-36-16                HEARING BEFORE CITY COUNCIL. When a contested case is heard before the City Council, a member thereof who did not hear the evidence or has not read the entire record of the proceedings shall not vote on or take part in the decision.

SECTION 3-36-17                FORM OF DECISION. The decision shall be in writing and shall contain findings of fact, a determination of the issues presented, and the requirements to be complied with. A copy of the decision shall be delivered to the appellant personally or sent by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested. The effective date of the decision shall be as stated therein.

SECTION 3-36-18                COMPLIANCE.

1.   General.  After any order of the building official or the City Council made pursuant to this code shall have become final, no person to whom any such order is directed shall fail, neglect or refuse to obey any such order. Violation of this ordinance shall be deemed to be a municipal infraction and subject to penalties as prescribed by Chapter 364.22, 2007 Code of Iowa, with the minimum penalty for the first offense being $250.00 and the minimum penalty for repeat offense being $500.00.

2.   Failure to Obey Order.  If, after any order of the building official or City Council made pursuant to this code has become final, the person to whom such order is directed shall fail, neglect or refuse to obey such order, the building official may (i) cause such person to be prosecuted for a municipal infraction under Section 3-24-18 (1), (ii) institute any appropriate legal action to abate such building as a public nuisance; (iii) if the person notified to abate a nuisance or condition neglects or fails to abate as directed, the City may perform the required action to abate, keeping an accurate account of the expense incurred. The itemize expense account shall be filed with the Clerk who shall pay such expenses on behalf of the City.

                (a)   Collection of Costs.  The Clerk shall send a statement of the total expense incurred by certified mail to the property owner who has failed to comply with the provisions of Chapter 23, and if the amount shown by the statement has not been paid within thirty (30) days, the Clerk shall certify the costs to the County Treasurer and such costs shall then be collected with, and in the same manner, as general property taxes.

3.   Failure to Commence Work.  Whenever the required repair or demolition is not commenced within 30 days after any final notice and order issued under this code become effective:

                (a)   The building official shall cause the building described in such notice and order to be vacated by posing at each entrance thereto a notice reading:

DANGEROUS BUILDING

DO NOT OCCUPY

            It is a misdemeanor to occupy this building, or to remove or deface this notice.

Building Official

City of Belle Plaine

                (b)   No person shall occupy any building which has been posted as specified in this section. No person shall remove or deface any such notice so posted until the repairs, demolition or removal ordered by the building official have been completed and a certificate of occupancy issued pursuant to the provisions of the Building Code.  Failure to comply with this section shall be a misdemeanor.

                (c)   The building official may, in addition to any other remedy herein provided, cause the building to be repaired to the extent necessary to correct the conditions which render the building dangerous as set forth in the notice and order; or, if the notice and order required demolition, to cause the building to be sold and demolished or demolished and the materials, rubble and debris there from removed and the lot cleaned. Any such repair or demolition work shall be accomplished and the cost thereof paid and recovered in the manner hereinafter provided in this code Any surplus realized from the sale of any such building, or from the demolition thereof, over and above the cost of demolition and cleaning the lot, shall be paid over to the person or persons lawfully entitled thereof.

SECTION 3-36-19                EXTENSION OF TIME TO PERFORM WORK  Upon receipt of an application from the person required to conform to the order and by agreement of such person to comply with the order if allowed additional time, the building office may grant an extension of time, not to exceed an additional 120 days, within which to complete said repair, rehabilitation or demolition, if the building official determines that such extension of time will not create or perpetuate a situation imminently dangerous to life or property. The building official’s authority to extend time is limited to the physical repair, rehabilitation or demolition of the premises and will not in any way affect the time to appeal the notice and order.

SECTION 3-36-20                INTERFERENCE WITH REPAIR, DEMOLITION WORK PROHIBITED. No person shall obstruct, impede or interfere with any officer, employee, contractor or authorized representative of this jurisdiction of with any person who owns or holds any estate or interest in any building which has been ordered repaired, vacated or demolished under the provisions of this code; or with any person to whom such building has been lawfully sold pursuant to the provisions of this code, whenever such officer, employee, contractor or authorized representative of this jurisdiction, person having an interest or estate in such building or structure, or purchaser, is engaged in the work of repairing, vacating and repairing, or demolishing any such building, pursuant to this code, or in performing any necessary act preliminary to or incidental to such work or authorized or directed pursuant to this code.

SECTION 3-36-21                BUILDING INSPECTOR’S RIGHT OF ENTRY.   The City’s designated building inspector shall have the right of entry into any building or upon any premises within the corporate limits of the City of Belle Plaine at reasonable times and after reasonable notice to the occupant or owner. The building inspector’s right of entry shall also be extended to any engineer, building contractor (including electrical, plumbing and heating, and construction contractors) or material supplier when in the company of the building inspector, and such parties shall have the right to conduct such investigation or inspection as they consider to be necessary to carry out the provisions of any state law or the requirements of this ordinance.  The refusal of any owner or occupant to grant such right of entry shall constitute a misdemeanor.

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