Skip to code content (skip section selection)
A. Inspection: Within ten (10) days of receiving a signed written complaint, or otherwise making determination that, a condition of community decay exists, the designated enforcement agency shall conduct an inspection of the premises alleged to be in violation of this chapter to determine whether a violation exists. Whenever appropriate, such reports of violation as well as subsequent inspections shall be shared and coordinated with the Richland County Sanitarian.
B. Notice: If the designated enforcement agency determines that a violation of this chapter exists, the agency shall notify the owner of the premises in violation, in writing of the violation and order the abatement or mitigation of the violation within ten (10) days from the date of the notice. The property owner and/or occupant of the premises may request an extension in writing submitted to the Director of Public Works. The Director of Public Works shall have the authority to grant an extension of not more than thirty (30) days in which to bring the premises into compliance. Any additional extensions or extensions longer than thirty (30) days must be approved by the committee.
C. Service Of Notice: The notice shall be served by the enforcement agency on the property owner and/or occupant(s) of the premises by posting the notice on the door of the premises and by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the property owner. In addition to the mailed and posted notice, a Public Notice of Hearing shall be published in a newspaper of general local circulation no later than fifteen (15) calendar days prior to the public hearing.
D. Contents Of Notice: The notice of violation shall:
1. Include a statement specifically describing the violation;
2. Specify that the owner of the property has ten (10) days from the date of the written notice to bring the premises into compliance with community standards;
3. Advise the owner of the premises that if the violation is not abated within ten (10) days from the date of the written notice, the enforcement agency may undertake abatement or mitigation and assess the costs thereof to the owner of the premises;
4. Advise the owner of any building constituting a public nuisance which cannot be abated under the terms of this chapter, and that has become uninhabitable or which has been found to represent a dangerous condition to members of the public, that abatement of said nuisance must be accomplished by demolition.
E. Emergency Abatement:
1. Whenever the City, the committee, or the enforcement agency has reason to believe that a public nuisance exists, and that such public nuisance constitutes an emergency presenting imminent danger of serious injury to persons or property, the committee, an authorized representative appointed by the committee, a Fire Marshal, or police officer may immediately enter into any building or upon any premises within the jurisdiction for purposes of abatement.
2. Whenever a public nuisance exists which constitutes an emergency presenting imminent danger of serious injury to persons or property, the committee may order, without notice or judicial action, that the public nuisance be immediately abated by removal, destruction, or mitigation. If the owner or responsible party fails to comply with such an order immediately, or cannot be located, the committee shall cause the structure to be demolished and removed, or the nuisance otherwise be abated, either through available public agency or by contract or arrangement with private persons. The cost of such abatement shall be paid by the owner of the property upon which the nuisance existed, pursuant to subsection G of this section.
F. Fines: Violations of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100.00), and every day subsequent to the date the notice of violation was provided in which the property owner shall fail to comply with this chapter shall be deemed as a separate offense; provided that any fine imposed shall not exceed a maximum fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00) pursuant to Montana Code Annotated section 7-5-109.
G. Abatement And Collection Of Costs:
1. Determination Of Compliance: Upon expiration of the property owner's ten (10) day time-frame for abatement, the enforcement agency shall conduct an inspection of the premises to determine whether abatement or mitigation has occurred.
2. Judicial Sanctions: In the event the enforcement agency has determined that no abatement or mitigation has occurred within ten (10) days after the date of the notice, the following procedure shall apply:
a. The City may cause a complaint, which shall be verified or supported by an affidavit, to be filed with the Municipal Court to have the nuisance declared as such by the court and for an order enjoining the nuisance or authorizing its restraint, removal, termination, or abatement. A summons shall be served upon the respondent setting a hearing on a date not less than twenty one (21) days from the date of service of the summons and complaint at which the respondent be required to show cause why he should not be found to be in violation of the terms of this chapter and be assessed a fine and compelled by court order to abate the violation with which he is charged;
b. The respondent shall file a response on or before the appearance date;
c. Upon the date and time set for the hearing, if the respondent has filed no response and fails to appear, and if the City proves that proper service was made on the respondent at least twenty one (21) days prior to the appearance date, the court may grant such orders as are requested by the City; except that the court shall order the enforcement by the City be stayed for seven (7) days and that a copy of the court's order be mailed to the respondent;
d. Whenever the court shall find any person to be in violation of the terms of this chapter, the court shall order the violator to abate the violation to the standards set forth in this chapter within ten (10) days and shall authorize the enforcement agency to undertake abatement in the event of the violator's failure to comply with the terms of the court's order, with all court costs, fines, and costs of abatement to be assessed against the offending party, together with any fine imposed by the court, as set forth herein.
3. Procedure For Determining And Assessing Costs Of Abatement: The property owner shall be sent an abatement expense report for the subject property and be given notice that any assessment that is not paid shall become a lien upon the property and is enforceable in the same manner as the nonpayment of Property Taxes. A summary listing of the assessments and property owners will be kept by the Clerk through June 30 of each year, and the list shall be presented to the Treasurer for billing on the next Real Property Tax statement. A special Abatement Fund shall be established to account for costs, collections, and transactions necessary to the efficient operation of enforcement procedures. Assessment funds collected shall be returned to the designated abatement account for future use on other involuntary property abatements or for transfer back to the City General Fund. The City shall determine the actual costs of abatement and document such costs. The following expenses will be assessed as the actual costs of abatement:
a. Planning staff time, mileage, and costs;
b. Police Department staff time, mileage, and costs;
c. Other involved City staff time, including attorney's fees, mileage, and costs;
d. Postage and mailing costs;
e. Other direct costs associated with abatement;
f. An interest fee of six percent (6%) per annum computed on the above costs, which will be waived if the total cost of abatement is paid by the property owner within thirty (30) days of notice. (Ord. 574, 9-4-2018)