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(A) The Mayor shall appoint a Hearing Officer to conduct a public hearing at which the owner shall be granted an opportunity to show cause why the hearing officer should not order the building or structure be demolished or otherwise made safe and properly maintained. The Hearing Officer may not be the City Manager or any officer or employee of the city. The Hearing Officer shall be a person who has expertise in housing matters.
(B) In any proceedings under this section, the Hearing Officer has the power to administer oaths and affirmations and to certify official acts. The Hearing Officer shall proceed with reasonable dispatch to conclude any matter before him or her. Due regard shall be shown for the convenience and necessity of the parties and their representatives.
(C) The Hearing Officer shall cause a record of the entire proceeding to be made by tape recording or by other means of permanent recording determined appropriate by the Hearing Officer. A transcript of the proceedings or copy of the recording shall be made available to all parties upon request and upon payment of a fee prescribed therefor. The fee may be established by the Hearing Officer but shall not be greater than the cost of making the transcript.
(D) The hearing need not be conducted according to the technical rules of evidence adopted for the Courts of Record in the state.
(1) The Hearing Officer shall take testimony from the Chief Inspector, or his or her representative, the owner of the property and any interested person. Oral evidence shall be taken only upon oath or affirmation of the party offering the testimony.
(2) Hearsay evidence may be used under the following guidelines.
(a) Hearsay evidence may be used to explain other direct evidence.
(b) Hearsay evidence may be used to support other direct evidence.
(c) Hearsay evidence shall not be used in itself to support a finding, unless it would be admissible in civil action in courts of competent jurisdiction.
(3) Any relevant evidence shall be admitted. RELEVANT EVIDENCE shall be defined, for the purposes of this section, as the type of evidence upon which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs. Such relevant evidence shall be admitted regardless of whether or not it may be admissible in civil actions in courts of competent jurisdiction.
(4) Irrelevant and unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.
(E) Each party shall have these rights:
(1) To call and examine witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;
(2) To introduce documentary and physical evidence;
(3) To cross-examine opposing witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;
(4) To impeach any witness regardless of which party first called the witness to testify;
(5) To refute the evidence;
(6) To represent himself or herself or to be represented by anyone of his or her choice who is lawfully permitted to do so; and
(7) To make a closing statement at the conclusion of the evidentiary portion of the hearing.
(F) Failure of the owner or his or her representative to appear at the hearing may be deemed to be an admission by the owner that the building or structure, or part thereof, that is the subject of the hearing is a dangerous building. Consideration shall be given to the following when rendering a decision:
(1) The evidence presented;
(2) The condition of the building or structure as a whole;
(3) The extent of the deterioration of the building or structure;
(4) The cost of demolishing the building or structure;
(5) The cost of making the building or structure safe;
(6) Whether a reasonable person exercising prudent business judgement would determine the cost of making the building or structure safe would exceed the market value of the structure after the repairs were completed;
(7) Whether there are any conflicts with other ordinances, state laws, or federal statutes;
(8) The effect the completion of the demolition and removal or of making the building or structure safe would have upon the health, safety and welfare of the area immediately surrounding the building or structure in question; and
(9) Whether actual substantial progress has been made by the owner to make the building safe. In determining whether substantial progress has been made, the Hearing Officer considers such factors as whether a building permit has been obtained relative to the repairs, whether the owner has contracted for necessary materials or services, and the extent to which the repairs or demolition has progressed.
(G) At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall make written findings of fact based upon the competent evidence and testimony admitted during the hearing. If applicable, the Hearing Officer may conduct an on-site inspection of the building or structure.
(H) Not more than five business days after completion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall render a decision either closing the proceedings or determining that the building is a dangerous building. He or she shall then order the building or structure to be demolished or made safe and properly maintained, as the facts determined by the Hearing Officer shall dictate. The Hearing Officer shall fix a time by which the owner of the building or structure shall complete the demolition or make the building or structure safe and properly maintained. The Hearing Officer’s notice of findings and order shall be given to the owner in the manner set forth in this subchapter. The effective date of the Hearing Officer’s notice of findings and order shall be upon service as provided in this subchapter.
(I) The authority of the Hearing Officer ceases upon the service of the Hearing Officer’s notice of findings and order as set forth in this subchapter. Upon such service, the Hearing Officer shall have no authority to reverse his or her decision, to grant an extension of time, or to entertain a request to reopen the hearing or to grant any other request of the owner or the owner’s agent. Each written notice of findings and order of the Hearing Officer shall contain a statement advising the owner, or the owner’s agent, of the limitations of the Hearing Officer as set forth in this section.
(Prior Code, § 151.115) (Ord. D-1668, passed 11-9-1992, effective 11-19-1992; Ord. D-1711, passed 3-7-1994, effective 3-17-1994; Ord. D-1886, passed 2-19-2001, effective 3-1-2001; Ord. O-182, passed 6-6-2016, effective 6-16-2016)