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(a) Unless otherwise specifically provided, violation of any provision of this Code or any other town ordinance shall subject the offender to the remedies hereinafter provided; except, that where the General Statutes of North Carolina provide specific civil remedies for violations of provisions of this Code adopted pursuant to such statutes, such remedies available to the town for enforcement of this Code shall be in addition to the remedies hereinafter stated; provided, that no criminal penalties shall be applicable unless hereinafter stated in this section as being applicable to specific chapters or provisions of this Code.
(b) Violation of any provision of the following chapters and sections of this Code shall be a misdemeanor and punishable as provided by section 14-4 of the General Statutes:
(c) Violations of the following provisions of this Code shall subject the offender to a civil penalty upon the issuance of a citation for such violation as hereinafter provided. The civil penalty, if not paid to the town within fifteen (15) days of the issuance of a citation, may be recovered by the town in a civil action in the nature of debt. Unless otherwise provided by a specific provision of this Code, such civil penalties shall be in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each violation, and each day any single violation continues shall be a separate violation; except, that for violations of parking ordinances of this Code, the civil penalty provisions and procedures therein shall apply. The provisions of this Code which shall subject the offender to a civil penalty are as follows: All provisions of this Code of Ordinances except those enumerated in subsection (b) of this section or any violation of this Code which is declared to be a misdemeanor by the State of North Carolina.
(d) In addition to any civil or criminal penalties set out in this section, any provision of this Code or any other town ordinance may be enforced by an appropriate equitable remedy issuing from a court of competent jurisdiction. In such case, the general court of justice shall have jurisdiction to issue such orders as may be appropriate, and it shall not be a defense to the application of the town for equitable relief that there is an adequate remedy at law.
(e) In addition to any civil or criminal penalties set out in this section, any provision of this Code or any other town ordinance that makes unlawful a condition existing upon or use made of real property may be enforced by injunction and order of abatement, and the general court of justice shall have jurisdiction to issue such orders. When a violation of such a provision occurs, the town may apply to the appropriate division of the general court of justice for a mandatory or prohibitory injunction and order of abatement commanding the defendant to correct the unlawful condition upon or cease the unlawful use of the property. The action shall be governed in all respects by the laws and rules governing civil proceedings, including the Rules of Civil Procedure in general and Rule 65 in particular.
(f) In addition to an injunction, the court may enter an order of abatement as a part of the judgment in the cause. An order of abatement may direct that:
(1) Buildings or other structures on the property be closed, demolished or removed;
(2) Fixtures, furniture or other movable property be removed from buildings on the property;
(3) Grass and weeds be cut;
(4) Improvements or repairs be made; or
(5) Any other action be taken that is necessary to bring the property into compliance with this Code or such ordinance.
If the defendant fails or refuses to comply with an injunction or with an order of abatement within the time allowed by the court, he may be cited for contempt, and the town may execute the order of abatement. The town shall have a lien on the property for the cost of executing an order of abatement in the nature of a mechanic's and materialman's lien. The defendant may secure cancellation of an order of abatement by paying all costs of the proceedings and posting a bond for compliance with the order. The bond shall be given with sureties approved by the clerk of superior court in an amount approved by the judge before whom the matter is heard and shall be conditioned on the defendant's full compliance with the terms of the order of abatement within a time fixed by the judge. Cancellation of an order of abatement shall not suspend or cancel an injunction issued in conjunction therewith.
(g) The provisions of this Code and any other town ordinances may be enforced by one (1), all or a combination of the remedies authorized and prescribed by this section; except, that any provision the violation of which incurs a civil penalty shall not be enforced by criminal penalties.
(h) Except as otherwise specifically provided, each day's continuing violation of any provision of this Code or any other town ordinance shall be a separate and distinct offense.
(i) Any ordinances hereafter adopted by the council of the town, the violation of which shall incur a penalty, shall specify whether the enforcement shall be pursuant to the civil penalty or criminal penal provisions of this section.
(j) Upon determination of a violation of any section of this Code, the penalty for which is a civil penalty, the town shall cause a warning citation to be issued to the violator, setting out the nature of the violation, the section violated, the date of the violation and an order to immediately cease the violation or, if the violation is in the nature of an infraction for which an order of abatement would be appropriate in a civil proceeding, stating a reasonable period of time in which the violation must be abated. The warning citation shall specify that a second citation shall incur a civil penalty.
(k) Upon failure of the violator to obey the warning citation, a civil citation shall be issued by the appropriate official of the town and either served directly on the violator or his duly designated agent, or registered agent if a corporation, in person or posted in the United States mail service by first class mail addressed to the last known address of the violator as contained in the records of the town, or obtained from the violator at the time of issuance of the warning citation. The violator shall be deemed to have been served upon the mailing of such citation. The citation shall direct the violator to appear before the town treasurer, located in the town hall, within fifteen (15) days of the date of the citation or alternatively to pay the citation by mail. The violation for which the citation is issued must have been corrected by the time the citation is paid; otherwise, further citations shall be issued. Citations may be issued for each day the offense continues until the prohibited activity is ceased or abated.
(l) If the violator fails to respond to a citation within fifteen (15) days of its issuance and pay the penalty prescribed therein, the town may institute a civil action in the nature of debt in the appropriate division of the North Carolina General Court of Justice for the collection of the penalty.
(Code 1977, § 1-10)
State law reference— Similar provisions, G.S. 160A-175; penalty for violation of town ordinances, G.S. 14-4.