CARTERET — As part of a directive issued by Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman, the Office of Public Information, working with the town’s Construction Department, has issued an advisory to residents providing an overview of residential construction code standards.
The town-wide mailer, and web-based resources, are a part of a new program initiated by Carteret’s administration to stave illegal housing and the establishment of unapproved apartments in the borough.
Reiman said, “This is symptomatic of towns throughout urban New Jersey, where a lack of understanding of local construction code and zoning standards has led to an increase in the conversion of illegal apartments. We’re sending the message that that code has been put in place for a number of good reasons, and that we’re enforcing it with vigor.”
According to the Borough Construction Department, unauthorized occupancies and apartments are often established in violation of existing fire and building codes, and statistically can be a greater danger to other residents. Homes with apartments that have not been inspected by code enforcement officials are also a risk to neighboring homes.
Unauthorized occupancies and apartments may also reduce the quality of life in neighborhoods through overcrowding, and could result in overcrowding of schools, unavailable parking, increased sewer and sanitation problems, and a strain on emergency services.
“In a state predicted to be the first developed from border to border, this is a major concern of any administration,” Reiman added. “We’ve embarked on a proactive approach to addressing issues related to our construction code, and dissuading any unnecessary strain on our public resources.”
Whenever an illegal occupancy or apartment complaint is received by the borough, an inspector from local Construction Code Enforcement, the Fire Prevention Bureau, or the Middlesex County Health Department will inspect the residence. If the inspector finds an illegal occupancy or apartment, a violation notice will be issued to the owner. The owner will be notified either by certified mail or in person. Depending on the severity of the violation the owner will have a certain amount of time to abate violations. Fines can range up to $2,000 dollars per day until abated for each violation for the first offense. In repeat cases community service time and/or jail time can be added.
“This continued crackdown on illegal housing has been critical to maintaining quality of life standards,” Reiman added, “to keeping our classrooms, public resources, and emergency services from bursting at the seams, and foremost, keeping our residential areas safer. We’re exercising a zero tolerance policy on illegal construction and using every means at our disposal to make construction information available to residents and neighbors.”
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