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(A) Any employee of the Inspections Department, Community Affairs officer with the Police Department, or any other individual designated by the city, is vested with the duty of enforcing this section by inspecting any real
property located in the city for violations of Hammond Municipal Code Chapter 94, as well as the general maintenance requirements of Chapter 160, and determining that on that property there exists a nuisance due to vegetation in excess of 6 inches in height, nuisance trees, tree limbs, branches, stumps oi pails of trees or other conditions prohibited by § 94.090 and other parts of the Hammond Municipal Code.
(B) (1) Any person or department responsible for enforcing this section is charged, authorized and empowered to identify from the Lake County Auditor's records, or other records available to tile city, the owner of the real property, or the person leasing, occupying, controlling or managing the real property for the titled owner, and to provide written notice by first class mail, to the address of the real property as well as to the last known address in the city or county records of the owner of the real property, identifying in the notice: the address of the real property, the violation, the date of the notice, the phone number of the Inspections Department, and a warning that if the nuisance is not abated within 10 days the city will abate the nuisance and seek recovery of costs associated with same.
(2) The department may also provide additional notice by posting conspicuously on the real property that a violation of this chapter exists on the real property and must be abated within 10 days. The notice shall list the address of the real property, the date of the notice, the phone number of the Inspections Department, and a warning that if the nuisance is not abated within 10 days the city will abate the nuisance and seek recovery of costs associated with same. Any notice of violation issued under this section may be appealed to the Board of Public Works and Safety (“Board of Works”) if written notice of appeal is served upon the city’s Law Department within 7 calendar days of the notice. The timely appeal of a notice of violation shall toll the abatement period pending the issuance of a decision by the Board of Works and Safety.
(C) Upon the failure, neglect or refusal of the owner, his agents or tenants, to timely remedy the violation that exists at the real property, the landowner or person shown to have the right of exclusive possession of the property shall be deemed to have granted permission to the city or its contractors to enter the real property for the limited purpose of abating the nuisance located on that real property and which was identified in the violation notice by cutting, trimming and/or otherwise removing any offending vegetation, growth, or trees. Alternatively, the city may, in its discretion, file an action in the court having jurisdiction, or request an injunction in any superior or circuit court to abate the violation.
(D) Any person or department responsible for enforcing this section may issue 1 or more than 1 notice to any property owner, or in its discretion, may issue a continuous abatement notice, which serves as notice to the real property owner that each subsequent violation during the same calendar year for which the initial notice of the violation was provided may be abated by the city or its contractors without further notice to the property owner, tenant, occupant, manager or any other person having an interest in the real property.
(E) The city may bill the property owner or person shown to have the right of exclusive possession of the property for all costs incurred by the city in abating the violation, including administrative costs for mailing notice, inspection and re-inspection fees, title search costs, and all other costs of removal of the violation at the property location. Administrative costs shall be set in the amount of $200 and shall be collected in addition to the actual costs of removal/abatement of the violation, including the costs of manpower/equipment used by the city and/or the costs incurred by the city in retaining any contractor to abate the violation. The city's Controller, Law Department, or appropriate department head or his/her designee shall prepare an invoice reflecting the administrative and other costs incurred by the city in abating the nuisance. That invoice shall be served by regular mail on the property owner or person shown to have the right of exclusive possession of the real property An invoice may be appealed to the Board of Public Works and Safety if written notice of appeal is served on the city’s Law Department within 7 calendar days from the date of the invoice. The timely appeal of an invoice shall toll the obligation for payment pending the issuance of a decision by the Board of Public Works and Safety.
(F) If the property owner or person shown to have the right of exclusive possession of the property fails to pay the invoice within 30 days, the city’s Controller, Law Department, appropriate department head, or other designee shall certify to the Lake County Auditor the amount of the invoice, plus any additional administrative costs incurred in the certification, to be placed by the Auditor on the tax duplicate for the property at issue, and the total amount, including any accrued interest, shall be collected in the same manner as delinquent taxes.
(G) This section additionally authorizes the city, at its sole option and discretion, to bring a collection action for the amount of the abatement or removal, plus costs incurred for collection, including reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs, against the property owner and to obtain a lien in the amount of any judgment on any real or personal property of the owner.
(H) Funds collected pursuant to this section shall be disbursed to the general fund of the Inspections Department.
(I) The provisions of this section shall also apply to and be strictly enforced as to any real property subject to an order of demolition under the Indiana Unsafe Building Act. In addition to vegetation this section shall be enforced as to excessive debris, litter, garbage, trash, and other unsightly matter on the real property and shall be removed from such property as soon as practical in the same manner as vegetation is under this section.
(Prior Code, § 94.66) (Ord. 4673, passed 4-27-1981; Am. Ord. 4994, passed 1-13-1986; Am. Ord. 6035, passed 3-23-1987; Am. Ord. 7657, passed 2-28-1993; Am. Ord. 8435, passed 7-22-2002; Am. Ord. 9249, passed 4-28-2014; Am. Ord. 9258, passed 7-14-2014; Am. Ord. 9453, passed 11-18-2019) Penalty, see § 94.999