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State, Township of Marlboro v. Schneider

May 19, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, TOWNSHIP OF MARLBORO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CRAIG J. SCHNEIDER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. MA-06-105.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 5, 2008

Before Judges Stern and Kestin.

Defendant appeals from the Law Division's "Order Affirming Municipal Appeal," entered April 20, 2007, finding defendant guilty of violating Marlboro Township Municipal Ordinance 113-2 and imposing a fine of $54,000 "reflecting continuing violations at the rate of $500 per day for 108 days and $33 in court costs." The order also "affirmed" the municipal court's decision that the $51,500 balance of the fine be paid "immediately."

While we are not presented with a portion of the ordinance containing the penalty provision, section 113-2 provides:

No person shall sell, transfer, lease or rent any structure located within the Township of Marlboro unless a certificate of continued occupancy certifying that said structure is in compliance with all provisions of the BOCA Basic/National Existing Structures Code and all other applicable ordinances of the Township of Marlboro is issued.

In his non-conforming brief,*fn1 defendant complains about the receipt of three summonses for violating the ordinance and being found guilty of those violations.

The Department of Code Enforcement filed the complaints when defendant failed to comply with the ordinance requirement of a certificate of continued occupancy ("CCO") for rental property. On May 3, 2006, the municipal court had ordered certain repairs to be made, and defendant had not complied with those orders. On December 19, 2006, defendant was found neither to have complied nor to have made "a good faith effort to conform." The municipal judge found the premises unsuitable for issuance of a CCO, and ordered a $54,000 fine ($500 a day for 108 days of violations) with $51,500 "suspended" if $2,500 was paid within seven days and the balance vacated if the CCO was obtained by February 11, 2007. The building inspector was also "ordered to issue the CCO" by that date without regard to the "exterior facade" which could be painted in the spring "if the premises are in otherwise satisfactory condition."

As already noted, the defendant did not comply, and the Law Division ordered that the $51,500 had to be paid immediately.

In his brief, defendant states:

I rented my late parent's home on July 14, 2001, to Mary A. Dennis and Steven R. Trionfo. After having problems with paying the rent and utilities as stipulated in the rental agreement, I notified them on June 1, 2004, [that] I would like them to leave on or before September 1, 2004. They stayed in the home and filed a complaint with Marlboro Township Building Department on November 1, 2004. In October 2005, I received summons 001823, from the Code Enforcement Officer. I was working as I could to get this matter resolved both with the Building Department and with the Special Civil Part.

I was having an extremely hard time attempting to get access into the home, but was proceeding on the exterior repairs. In May 2006, I was found guilty. I continue to work towards completing all that was necessary for obtaining a [] Certificate of [Continued] Occupancy (CCO). In October 2006, I received a second summons 001826, for the same reason, from Code Officer Sarah Paris. Then on October 18, 2006, I received a third summons 003435, from the inspector, Dennis Vaspory. I was told I cannot go onto my property for any work at all.

After a trial, I was found guilty. The Order is extreme and the tenants continue living in a rented home without a CCO. The appeal to the Monmouth County Court has resulted in the Order being upheld. I have now sought ...


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