It is hereby found that there exists within the town dwellings that are unfit for human habitation due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to other conditions rendering the dwellings unsafe or unsanitary and abandoned structures which the board of commissioners finds to be hazardous to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the town due to the attraction of insects or rodents, conditions creating a fire hazard, dangerous conditions constituting a threat to children, or frequent use by vagrants as living quarters in the absence of sanitary facilities. Therefore, pursuant to the authority granted by G.S. 160A-441, it is the intent of this article to provide for the repair, closing or demolition of any such abandoned structures in accordance with the same provisions and procedures as are set forth by law for the repair, closing or demolition of dwellings unfit for human habitation.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 1)
The county building inspector is hereby designated as the officer to inspect buildings under the terms of this article, with the town manager designated to carry out his orders to enforce the provisions of this article, since the town has no qualified building inspector. It shall be the duty of the building inspector to:
Locate abandoned structures within the town and to determine which structures are in violation of this article;
Take such action pursuant to this article as may be necessary to provide for the repair, closing or demolition of such structures;
Keep an accurate record of all enforcement proceedings begun pursuant to the provisions of this article; and
Perform such other duties as may be prescribed in this article or assigned to him by the board of commissioners.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 2)
The building inspector is authorized to exercise such powers as may be necessary to carry out the intent and the provisions of this article, including the following powers in addition to others granted in this article:
To investigate the condition of buildings within the town in order to determine which structures are abandoned and in violation of this article;
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making inspections;
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses, and receive evidence; and
To designate such other officers, agents and employees of the town as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this article.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 3)
Every abandoned structure within the town shall be deemed in violation of this article whenever such structure constitutes a hazard to the health, safety or welfare of the town citizens as a result of:
The attraction of insects or rodents;
Conditions creating a fire hazard;
Dangerous conditions constituting a threat to children; or
Frequent use by vagrants as living quarters in the absence of sanitary facilities.
In making the preliminary determination of whether or not an abandoned structure is in violation of this article, the building inspector may, by way of illustration and not limitation, consider the presence or absence of the following conditions:
Holes or cracks in the structure's floors, walls, ceilings or roof which might attract or admit rodents and insects, or become breeding places for rodents and insects;
The collection of garbage or rubbish in or near the structure which might attract rodents and insects, or become breeding places for rodents and insects;
Violations of the state building code, the state electrical code or the Fire Prevention Code which constitute a fire hazard in such structure;
The collection of garbage, rubbish or combustible material which constitutes a fire hazard in such structure;
The use of such structure or nearby grounds or facilities by children as a play area;
Violations of the state building code which might result in danger to children using the structure or nearby grounds or facilities as a play area; and
Repeated use of such structure by transients and vagrants, in the absence of sanitary facilities, for living, sleeping, cooking or eating.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 4)
Preliminary investigation; notice; hearing. Whenever a petition is filed with the inspector by at least five residents of the town charging that any structure exists in violation of this article, or whenever it appears to the inspector, upon inspection, that any structure exists in violation of this article, he shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such structure, a complaint stating the charges and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the inspector at a place therein fixed, not less than ten nor more than 30 days after the serving of such complaint. The owner or any party in interest shall have 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. Notice of such hearing shall also be given to at least one of the persons signing a petition relating to such structure. Any person desiring to do so may attend such hearing and give evidence relevant to the matter being heard. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the inspector.
Procedure after hearing. After such notice and hearing, the inspector shall state in writing his determination as to whether such structure violates this article. If the inspector determines that the structure is in violation, he shall state in writing his findings of fact to support such determination, and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof an order directing and requiring the owner to either repair, alter and improve such structure or else remove or demolish such structure within a specified period of time not to exceed 90 days.
Failure to comply with order.
In personam remedy. If the owner of any structure shall fail to comply with an order of the inspector within the time specified therein, the inspector may submit to the town board at its next regular meeting a resolution directing the town attorney to petition the superior court for an order directing such owner to comply with the order of the inspector, as authorized by G.S. 160A-446(g).
In rem remedy. After failure of an owner of a structure to comply with an order of the inspector within the time specified therein, if injunctive relief has not been sought or has not been granted as provided in subsection (c)(1), the inspector shall submit to the town board an ordinance ordering the inspector to cause such structure to be removed or demolished, as provided in the original order of the inspector, and pending such removal or demolition, to placard such dwelling as provided in G.S. 160A-443.
Petition to superior court by owner. Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the inspector shall have the right, within 30 days after issuance of the order, to petition the superior court for a temporary injunction restraining the inspector pending a final disposition of the cause, as provided by G.S. 160A-446(f).
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 5)
Complaints or orders issued by the inspector shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered or certified mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and such whereabouts cannot be ascertained by the inspector in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the inspector shall make an affidavit to that effect, and the serving of such complaint or order upon such person may be made by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the town at least once, no later than the time at which personal service is required under section 6-35. Where service is made by publication, a notice of the pending proceedings shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 6)
After failure of an owner of a structure to comply with an order of the inspector issued pursuant to the provisions of this article, and upon adoption by the board of commissioners of an ordinance authorizing and directing him to do so, as provided by G.S. 160A-443(5) and section 6-35(c) of this article, the inspector shall proceed to cause such structure either to be repaired or else removed or demolished, as directed by the ordinance of the board of commissioners, and shall cause to be posted on the main entrance of such structure a placard prohibiting the use or occupation of the structure. Use or occupation of a building so posted shall constitute a misdemeanor.
Each ordinance directing the repair, removal or demolition of a structure, as provided in subsection (a), shall be recorded in the office of the county register of deeds, and shall be indexed in the name of the property owner in the grantor index, as provided by G.S. 160A-443(5).
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 7)
As provided by G.S. 160A-446(6), the amount of the cost of any removal or demolition caused to be made or done by the inspector pursuant to this article shall be a lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. Such lien shall be filed, have the same priority, and be enforced and the costs collected as provided by G.S. 160A-216 et seq.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 8)
Neither this article nor any of its provisions shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the town to define and declare nuisances and to cause their abatement by summary action or otherwise, or to enforce this article by criminal process, and the enforcement of any remedy provided in this article shall not prevent the enforcement of any other remedy or remedies provided in this article or in other ordinances or laws.
(Ord. of 9-14-89, § 9)
(10) State Law reference— Minimum housing standards, G.S. 160A-441 et seq. (Back)