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Dangerous buildings are in the spotlight in the village of Hamburg

HAMBURG — The Hamburg Village Board used its Jan. 6 meeting to update the local code that addresses the issues of buildings that have been classified as dangerous.

The board has announced the revised identification of dangerous structures as buildings that have any or all of the following defects:

– Exterior walls or other structures that list, lean or buckle to such an extent that “a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.”

– Improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs, or in which the same are overloaded or have insufficient strength to be safe for the purpose used.

– Damage caused by fire, wind or other causes that could put life, safety, morals or general health and welfare in peril.

– Dilapidated, decayed, unsafe or unsanitary facades. This also includes buildings that so “utterly fail to provide the amenities essential to decent living that they are unfit for human habitation or are likely to cause sickness or disease.”

– Inadequate light, air and sanitation facilities.

– Insufficient facilities for egress, in the event of fire or panic.

– Inadequate stairways, elevators, fire escapes or means of communication.

– Parts that are likely to become detached and fall.

– Conditions causing them to be unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous to the health, morals, safety or general welfare of the people of the village.

– Any violation of the provisions of the code of the village of Hamburg or state of New York.

The board specified that, if Code Enforcement Officer Kurt Allen decides that a local structure is unsafe or dangerous, he or another qualified official may ask for a formal inspection of that building and tell the village board about any findings and recommendations.

Services of notice must include a description of the premises; a statement of the particulars in which the building is found to be unsafe or dangerous; an order requiring that the building be made safe or demolished; a date, time and place for a hearing before the board about the building; an order requiring a time frame for repairs; specifications about noncompliance and notice of a fine for continued violations.

These services can be served upon the “owner or the owner’s executors, legal representatives, agents, lessees or any person having a vested or contingent interest in the premises.” Notices can be given in person or sent by registered mail or a similar delivery service.

The board specified that, if an individual does not comply with notices from the village, the village board will “provide for the securing or the demolition and removal of such building or structure, either by village employees or by contract.”

Except in cases of emergency, these contracts will be awarded through bidding, if required by state law.

The board additionally specified that all costs incurred by the village in this enforcement shall be recoverable from the owner of the premises. These costs include attorney fees, engineering fees, demolition, notice-publishing and serving and taxes and title searches.

If the superintendent of public works and code enforcement officer determine that a structure is in immediate danger of falling or collapsing so as to endanger life or property, the CEO may order work to be done, including demolition to “render said building or structure temporarily safe.”

If such a circumstance arises, these officials will be able to require the occupants of the building in question to vacate the property. They may also close and barricade sidewalks, adjoining buildings or structures and prohibit these areas from being used until the dangerous conditions are removed.

The board specified that individuals who violate the provisions of this local law, commit unauthorized removal of notifications or interfere with officials, shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $250 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 days, or both. “Each week the violation continues shall constitute for a separate offense,” the law added.

The newly revised local law will take effect upon filing and acceptance by the New York secretary of state.

In other board news:
– The Character Council of Hamburg’s virtue for January is punctuality. “Punctuality is showing esteem for others, by doing the right thing at the right time,” Village Mayor Thomas Moses said.

– The board announced that the next general village election for officers will be held from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. on March 18 at the village hall.

– Applicant Brett Bender of Elevated Mind Tattoo submitted plans for an interior window sign, black with red letters. The board said that, because of the unique circumstances of the window, the architectural review committee reviewed Bender’s application and did not set a precedent for future applications. The new signage was approved.

– Chuck Backus submitted plans for new railings and decorative columns for a Union Street building, as well as the rebuilding of an existing enclosure and installation of a new porch and deck on another Union Street building. Per recommendations by the ARC, the village board approved these building design standards.
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