Matawan targets maintenance of vacant properties in new ordinance

MATAWAN – The Borough Council has adopted an ordinance that will place more responsibility for vacant property maintenance on Matawan’s property maintenance officer.

“The purpose of this ordinance is part of the borough’s overall plan to make our services and functions more efficient. This ordinance takes the municipal clerk out of the process and keeps everything with the property maintenance officer,” Mayor Joseph Altomonte said.

“This change will streamline the process of dealing with property maintenance issues around Matawan. It also adds a fee to cover administrative costs to the borough,” he said.

The council adopted the ordinance on June 16.

Borough officials said they want to maintain and provide residents with a safe, pleasant environment and to that end, structures that are abandoned or vacant distract from their goal to do so.

In many cases, owners and/or other responsible parties do not maintain or secure a structure to adequate standards, or restore abandoned and vacant structures to productive use, according to council members.

Municipal officials said Matawan incurs costs associated with addressing problems that occur at vacant and abandoned structures. They said it is in the public interest to impose a fee to recover those costs, in conjunction with a registration fee for vacant and abandoned properties.

A vacant property is defined as a property that is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful commercial, business and construction operations or residential occupancy has ceased, or the structure is in such condition that it cannot legally be occupied without repair, renovation or rehabilitation.

The owner of a vacant property and/or structure will be required to file a registration statement with the property maintenance officer.

The initial registration fee for each building is $500. The fee for the first renewal is $1,000 and the fee for the second renewal is $1,500. The fee for any subsequent renewal beyond the second renewal is $2,000, according to the ordinance.

According to the ordinance, the owner of a vacant property must:

• Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry;

• Post a permanent sign indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner’s authorized agent for the purpose of service of process, and the person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the building;

• Secure the building from unauthorized entry and maintain the sign until the building is legally occupied, demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete.

Fines for non-compliance with the ordinance will range from $200 to $1,000.