For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
   BOARDED. A building or structure subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to be “boarded” if in place of one or more exterior doors, other than a storm door, or of one or more windows, there is a sheet or sheets of plywood or similar material covering the space for such door or window.
   EXTERIOR MAINTENANCE AND MAJOR SYSTEMS. The safe and lawful maintenance of the facade, windows, doors, roof, and other parts of the exterior of the structure and the maintenance of its major systems consisting of the roof, electrical and plumbing systems, water supply system, sewer system, and sidewalk, driveway, if any, area of the lot, as applicable and as enforced by the ECDD, particularly in connection with codes adopted by the city as well as all applicable local, state, and federal laws.
   LAWFUL BUSINESS. Any business not forbidden by federal, state, or municipal laws. The term LAWFUL BUSINESS shall also mean that the business owner has acquired and maintains a business license issued by the city.
   OCCUPY/OCCUPIED/OCCUPIES. Any building or structure shall be deemed to be “occupied” if one or more persons actually conducts a lawful business or lawfully resides in the building or structure as the licensed business occupant, or as the legal or equitable owner/occupant(s) or tenant(s) on a permanent, non-transient basis, or any combination of the same. For purposes of this section, evidence offered to prove that a building or structure is so OCCUPIED may include, but shall not be limited to, the regular receipt of delivery of regular mail through the United States Postal Service; proof of continual telephone, electric, gas, heating, water, and sewer services; a valid city business license, or the most recent federal, state, or city income tax statements indicating that the subject property is the official business or residence address of the person or business claiming occupancy; or proof of bona fide pre- rental inspection.
   OPEN. A building or structure subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to be “open” if any one or more exterior doors other than a storm door is broken, open, and/or closed, but without a properly functioning lock to secure it, or if one or more windows is broken or not capable of being locked and secured from intrusion, or any combination of the same.
   OWNER. An owner of the freehold of the premises or any lesser estate therein, a mortgagee, a vendee-in-possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, agent, or any other person, firm, or, corporation that is directly or indirectly in control of a building subject to the provisions of this chapter, and as set forth below.
      (1)   A building or structure shall be deemed to be vacant if:
         (a)   No person or persons actually currently conducts a lawfully licensed business, including city business, on the premises;
         (b)   Lawfully resides, dwells, or lives in any part of the building as the legal or equitable owner(s) or tenant-occupant(s), or owner-occupant(s), or tenant(s) on a permanent, non-transient basis; and/or
         (c)   A building or structure shall be deemed vacant and subject to the registration and possible penalty provisions provided herein if the exterior maintenance and other relevant systems of the building and the surrounding real property thereof are in violation of the city building codes or applicable city health and sanitation codes and if there is not proof of continual utility service evidencing actual use of electric, gas (e.g., applicable heating sources), water service, and the like. “Continued” is meant to be without more than one 30-day interruption in any given 360-day period. In order for such continual utility service to be considered as being actually in use as described in this chapter, it must be more than merely registered to the owner for purposes of billing and must be utilized, at a minimum, in order to keep the property and the major systems of the building in compliance with building and safety codes. The person or entity asserting that there has been continued utility service has the burden to produce actual bills evidencing utility service for the relevant period.
      (2)   All vacant structures shall also comply with the following criteria:
         (a)   Exterior property areas are to be mowed regularly and non-cultivated gardens maintained at no more than six inches of growth. All noxious weeds are prohibited;
         (b)   Structure is to be broom swept and cleared of all contents, not including building materials or components to be used in the future renovation at that structure;
         (c)   Electrical service is to be provided to the building via temporary pole service on the exterior of the structure or create a permanent service for the structure and install two GFCI protected receptacles;
         (d)   NEC and OSHA compliant string lighting is to be provided to the entire structure so that it may be illuminated as needed to view the structure;
         (e)   Unstable interior and exterior surfaces and components are to be removed. Unstable or unsound accessory buildings are to be razed or renovated;
         (f)   Using wood sheet goods: all loose, deteriorated, and broken windows and doors are to be covered to eliminate the danger of their falling and to prevent the unwanted entry of trespassers. Such wood sheet goods are to be cut and neatly fit, not just nailed over the opening;
         (g)   All loose or deteriorated trim, gutter, or overhang extensions (masonry or frame) are to be removed or reattached to prevent falling;
         (h)   Regular routine monitoring of the structure is to occur by the owner to ensure that the building is being kept in compliance with the above items;
         (i)   Utilities need to be connected to the structure;
         (j)   The Building Code Official may allow, at his or her discretion, deviations from these requirements if the situation and fairness allow such deviation(s); and
         (k)   The property or structure shall not be deemed as occupied simply because the above measures have been taken or are being taken to conform to these requirements.
   VACANT PROPERTY/VACANT LOT. Any real estate on which no building is erected and no routine activity occurs; provided, however, that proper routine maintenance of a vacant lot whereon no property violations exist shall constitute as routine activity for the purposes of this chapter, whether or not that VACANT PROPERTY/LOT is used in conjunction with improved adjacent real estate. For further provisions, see the definition of “vacant building/vacant structure” above.
(Ord. 2022-06, passed 3-7-2022)