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(A) Preliminary investigation; notice; hearing. Whenever a petition is filed with the Inspector by a public authority or by at least five residents of the town or its extraterritorial jurisdiction, charging that any dwelling or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation, or whenever it appears to the Inspector, upon inspection, that any dwelling or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation, he or she shall, if his or her preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling or dwelling unit a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Inspector at a place therein fixed, not less than ten nor more then 30 days after the serving of the 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 dwelling. Any person desiring to do so may attend such hearing and give evidence. Rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Inspector.
(B) Procedure after hearing.
(1) After such notice and hearing, the Inspector shall state in writing his or her determination as to whether the dwelling or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation, and, if so, whether it is deteriorated or dilapidated.
(2) If the Inspector determines that the dwelling or dwelling unit is deteriorated, he or she shall state in writing his or her findings of fact in support of such determination, and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof an order directing and requiring the owner to repair, alter or improve such dwelling or dwelling unit to comply with the minimum standards of fitness established by this chapter within a specified period of time, which shall be not less than 60 days. Such order may also direct and require the owner to vacate and close such dwelling or dwelling unit until such repairs, alterations and improvements have been made.
(3) If the Inspector determines that the dwelling is dilapidated, he or she shall state in writing his or her 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 either to repair, alter or improve such dwelling or dwelling unit to comply with the minimum standards of fitness established by this chapter, or else to vacate and remove or demolish the same within a specified period of time, which shall be not less than 60 days.
(4) For good cause shown, and prior to the expiration of the time specified in the original order of the Building Inspector, the owner of any dwelling or dwelling unit may petition the Building Inspector to allow an additional period of time to comply with the order hereinabove issued. The Building Inspector shall give the owners five days’ notice of a hearing on his or her petition and shall issue an order within ten days of the filing of the petition for additional time. Said order shall: grant additional time; or deny the request for additional time. If the request for additional time is denied, the owner shall not be subject to any penalties for violation of the original order until such time as the order of the Building Inspector has been served on him or her denying the request.
(C) Failure to comply with order.
(1) In personam remedy. If the owner of any deteriorated dwelling or dwelling unit shall fail to comply with an order of the Inspector to repair, alter or improve or to vacate and close the same within the time specified therein, or if the owner of a dilapidated dwelling or dwelling unit shall fail to comply with an order of the Inspector to repair, alter or improve or to vacate and close and remove or demolish the same 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).
(2) In rem remedy. After failure of an owner of a deteriorated or dilapidated dwelling or dwelling unit 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 the division (C) above, the Inspector shall submit to the Town Board an ordinance specifying the property and ordering the Inspector or authorized agent to cause such dwelling or dwelling unit to be repaired, altered, improved, vacated, closed, removed or demolished, as provided in the original order of the Inspector, and pending removal or demolition, to place a placard on such dwelling as provided by G.S. § 160A-443 and § 151.54 of this chapter.
(D) Appeals from orders of Inspector.
(1) An appeal from any decision or order of the Inspector may be taken by any person aggrieved thereby or by any officer, board or commission of the town. Any appeal from the Inspector shall be taken within ten days from the rendering of the decision or service of the order, and shall be taken by filing with the Inspector and with the Zoning Board of Adjustment a notice of appeal which shall specify the grounds upon which the appeal is based. Upon the filing of any notice of appeal, the Inspector shall forthwith transmit to the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the decision appealed from was made. When an appeal is from a decision of the Inspector requiring the person aggrieved to do any act, the appeal shall have the effect of suspending the requirement until the hearing by the Board, unless the Inspector certifies to the Board, after the notice of appeal is filed with him or her, that by reason of the facts stated in the certificate (a copy of which shall be furnished the appellant), a suspension of his or her requirement would cause imminent peril to life or property, in which case the requirement shall not be suspended, except by a restraining order, which may be granted for due cause shown upon not less than one day’s written notice to the Inspector, by the Board, or by a court of record upon petition made pursuant to G.S. § 160A-446(f) and division (E) of this section.
(2) The Board shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of all appeals, shall give due notice to all the parties, and shall render its decision within a reasonable time. Any party may appear in person or by agent or attorney. The Board may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision or order appealed from, and may make such decision and order as in its opinion ought to be made in the matter, and to that end it shall have all the powers of the Inspector, but the concurring vote of four-fifths of the members of the Board shall be necessary to reverse or modify any decision or order of the Inspector. The Board shall have power also in passing upon appeals, in any case where there are practical difficulties of unnecessary hardships in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the ordinance, to adapt the application of the ordinance to the necessities of the case to the end that the spirit of the ordinance shall be observed, public safety and welfare secured, and substantial justice done.
(3) Every decision of the Board shall be subject to review by proceedings in the nature of certiorari instituted within 15 days of the decision of the Board, but not otherwise.
(E) Petition to Superior Court by owner. Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Inspector or a decision rendered by the Board shall have the right, within 30 days after issuance of the order of rendering of the decision, 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).
(1991 Code, § 152.52) (Ord. passed 10-11-1988)