Bayonne Starts Amnesty Program for Certain Illegal Apartments and Unregistered Dwelling Units

City of Bayonne begins amnesty program for illegal apartments Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that applications are available for the City of Bayonne’s amnesty program for certain illegal apartments and unregistered dwelling units.  Those documents are available from the Building Department in Room 13 at City Hall, 630 Avenue C.  Mayor Smith said, “In recent years, illegal apartments and unregistered housing units have become a problem in many urban communities.  These types of dwellings raise a variety of concerns about safety and the quality of life in our neighborhoods. My Administration has taken the lead in addressing this serious issue in our community.”

The Mayor and City Council have established an amnesty program for residential properties, containing a maximum of four (4) dwelling units where one (1) of those units is illegal.  The program is in effect for a limited period of time from January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013 and will expire thereafter.  The purpose of the program is to encourage property owners with such units to come forward and make their units legal so they comply with building, fire safety and zoning requirements.  Property owners who take the affirmative step of applying for amnesty will not be subject to fines and penalties while participating in the program and will be given every opportunity to bring their property into compliance with City ordinances and regulations.

The City’s amnesty program requires the completion and submission of several forms, depending upon the circumstances involving the particular property.  All applicants must complete an amnesty application and Zoning permit application.  An application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment will be necessary if the Zoning Officer cannot issue a certificate of non-conformity or a use variance is required.  The steps to complete the amnesty process are as follows:

1.                   Completion of Amnesty Application:  The applicant must have a qualifying property containing a maximum of four (4) dwelling units where one (1) of those units is illegal.  A $25 non-refundable application fee shall be provided with each Amnesty Application.

2.                   Completion of Zoning Permit Application:  The applicant must provide documents, information, and proof establishing the date that the illegal unit was created, in order for a zoning determination to be made.  Recently converted units will not qualify for a certificate of nonconformity (grandfathering) and will require an application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a use variance, site plan, and other variance relief.

Zoning permit applications will be reviewed by the Zoning Officer, who will make a determination about whether the illegal unit may be approved administratively, denied because it conflicts with zoning, or referred to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for further action.  Depending upon the Zoning Officer’s determination, the following steps are required:

A.                     If the Zoning Office approves the zoning permit application and issues a zoning permit, then the following is required:

                      Application to the Building Department for construction permits if alterations or improvements are required to bring the unit into compliance with current building, fire safety, and other applicable regulations.

                      Request for a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) inspection if no alterations or improvements are required, because the unit meets current building, fire safety and other applicable regulations.

B.                     If the Zoning Office cannot approve the zoning permit application and issues a zoning permit denial, then the following is required:

                      Application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for one of the following:  (i) a certificate of non-conformity or (ii) a use variance, site plan approval and all other variance relief required.  A $200 non-refundable application/escrow fee is required for all applications to the Board of Adjustment.

                      If the Board of Adjustment grants approval, but alterations or improvements are required to bring the unit into compliance with building and fire safety regulations, then application must be made to the Building Department for construction permits for such alterations or improvements.  Upon completion of work and final inspections, the applicant should request a CO inspection for the unit in question.

                      If the Board of Adjustment grants approval and no alterations or improvements are required to bring the unit into compliance with building and fire safety regulations, then the applicant should request a CO inspection for the unit in question.

                      If the Board of Adjustment denies the use variance application, then the applicant must immediately deconstruct, dismantle, and abandon the illegal dwelling unit and request a CO inspection to confirm the number of legal dwelling units.

3.       The applicant may decide at any time not to proceed with the amnesty program for an illegal dwelling unit because of financial considerations, Board of Adjustment denial, or other reasons.  It is the responsibility of the applicants to notify the City in writing if they decide to withdraw from the program.  In the event the applicant decides not to proceed, he or she must immediately deconstruct, dismantle, and abandon the illegal dwelling unit.  The applicant must request a CO inspection to confirm the removal of the illegal dwelling unit.

4.       All applicants, including those who decide not to proceed, must submit to a final inspection by the Building, Fire Prevention, and Zoning Offices.  In all cases, a CO will be issued for the permitted number of legal dwelling units and the applicant must sign an affidavit acknowledging the permitted number of legal dwelling units.

           The amnesty program is intended to provide protection from fines and penalties while participating in the program, and to enable property owners with illegal dwelling units to have the opportunity to bring the units into compliance with building, fire safety, and zoning regulations.  There is no guarantee that the Zoning Office and Zoning Board of Adjustment will grant approval for the illegal units. Each decision is based upon the information provided by the applicant and unique conditions found at each property.

          Contact Information: Questions about the amnesty application and zoning permit application may be addressed to City Zoning Officer Donna Ward at dward@baynj.org or by calling at 201-858-6110.

          Following the expiration of the amnesty program on July 1, 2013, the City will resume its normal enforcement activities regarding illegal dwelling units.