COCHISE COUNTY HAZARD ABATEMENT ORDINANCE [1987 version]
[text version; for a pdf version, see http://littlebigdog.net/HAO 1987 version in effect.pdf
note, the pdf version is missing page 18, but the text of that page is included here;
and a few notes have been added to the present file, in red]
TITLE AND SCOPE
These regulations shall be known as the "Cochise County Hazard
Abatement Ordinance"; and may be cited as such and will be referred to
herein as "this ordinance".
PURPOSE AND SCOPE:
(a) PURPOSE: It is the
purpose of this ordinance to provide a just, equitable and practicable
method to be cumulative with and in addition to, any other remedy of
Cochise County, which may be otherwise available at law, whereby any
rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, debris or damaged and dilapidated
buildings which constitute a hazard to public health and safety may be
compelled to be removed from buildings, grounds, lots, contiguous
sidewalks, streets and alleys, located within the unincorporated area
of Cochise County.
(b) SCOPE: The provisions of this ordinance
shall apply to all hazardous conditions as herein defined, which are
now in existence or which may hereafter become dangerous in this
(a) ADMINISTRATION: The
position of hazard abatement officer is hereby created, said officer
being herein authorized to enforce the provisions of this ordinance.
(b) INSPECTIONS: The health officer,
representative of fire district if one is established, and the hazard
abatement officer and their authorized representatives are hereby
authorized to make such inspections as may be required to enforce the
provisions of this ordinance. The Hazard Abatement Officer or his
authorized representative may take such actions as may be required to
carry out the provisions of this Ordinance.
(c) RIGHT OF ENTRY: Whenever necessary to make
an inspection to enforce any of the provisions of this ordinance, or
whenever the hazard abatement officer or his authorized representative
has reasonable cause to believe that there exists in any building or
upon any premises any condition which makes such buildings or premises
unsafe, dangerous or hazardous, the hazard abatement officer or his
authorized representative may enter such buildings or premises at all
reasonable times to inspect the same or to perform any duty imposed
upon the hazard abatement officer by this ordinance, provided that if
such building or premises be occupied, he shall first present proper
credentials and request entry; and if such building or premises be
unoccupied, he shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner
or other persons having charge or control of the building or premises
and request entry. If such entry is refused, the hazard abatement
officer or his authorized representative shall have recourse to every
remedy provided by law to secure entry.
hazard abatement officer or his authorized representative shall have
first obtained a proper inspection warrant or remedy provided by law to
secure entry, no owner or occupant or any other persons having charge,
care or control of any building or premises shall fail or neglect,
after proper request is made as herein provided, to promptly permit
entry therein by the hazard abatement officer or his authorized
representative for the purpose of inspection and examination pursuant
to this ordinance.
representative" shall include the officers named in Section 201(b) and
their authorized inspection personnel.
1/ In order for the hazard abatement officer (or his
representative) to make an inspection, he must have "reasonable cause
to believe" that there exists rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, or debris
in or on a building or premises, or a dilapidated and dangerous
building, which creates a condition which is unsafe, dangerous, or
hazardous. Generally, the inspection will result from a complaint
which he has received, or by observation of a condition that appears so
dangerous that following up with an inspection is reasonable. It
is not intended that the officer travel all over the county searching
for hazardous conditions. Also, if the officer is not given
permission by the owner to inspect, the officer must get a court
warrant to inspect the property, and this requires him to make a
showing of reasonable cause to the court.
(1/ Commentaries serve as a guide in interpreting and carrying out the text of this ordinance.) [NOTE: In the original, this explanation is at the foot of the page on which the Commentary occurs.]
BOARD OF APPEALS:
In order to provide for final interpretation of the provisions of
this ordinance and to hear appeals provided for hereunder, there is
hereby established a Board of Appeals consisting of the Board of
Supervisors. The Board shall adopt reasonable rules and
regulations for conducting its business and shall render all decisions
and findings in writing to the appellant, with a copy to the hazard
abatement officer. Appeals to the Board shall be processed in
accordance with the provisions contained in Section 501 of this
ordinance. Copies of all rules or regulations adopted by the
Board shall be delivered to the hazard abatement officer who shall make
them freely accessible to the public.
For the purpose of this ordinance, certain terms, phrases, words
and their derivatives shall be construed as specified in this chapter.
Where terms are not defined, they shall have their ordinary
accepted meanings within the context with which they are used. Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged,
copyright 1961, shall be construed as providing ordinary accepted
meanings. Words used in the singular include the plural and the
plural the singular. Words used in the masculine gender include
the feminine and the feminine the masculine.
Appeals": The Board of Supervisors shall constitute the Board of
Appeals for all appeals pursuant to this ordinance.
The definition of debris in addition to its ordinary accepted
meaning shall include accumulations of combustible or flammable
materials which are determined by the hazard abatement officer to
constitute a hazard to public health or safety.
REMOVAL OF RUBBISH, TRASH, FILTH, WEEDS, DEBRIS OR DILAPIDATED AND DANGEROUS BUILDINGS
REQUIREMENT FOR REMOVAL:
When rubbish, trash, weeds, filth or debris, are accumulated on
or in buildings, grounds, lots, contiguous sidewalks, streets or alleys
and the hazard abatement officer determines that the accumulation or
condition constitutes a hazard to public health and safety, or if the
hazard abatement officer determines that a dilapidated and dangerous
building constitutes a hazard to public health or safety, the hazard
abatement officer may require the owner, lessee or occupant of
buildings, grounds or lots located in unincorporated areas of the
County to remove such rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, debris or
dilapidated and dangerous building.
NOTICE OF VIOLATION:
The hazard abatement officer shall provide formal written notice
of the alleged violation to the owner, occupant or lessee of the
subject premises not less than thirty (30) days prior to the date set
for compliance. Such notice shall include the estimated cost to
the County to remove, and advise the owner, occupant or lessee that if
the county removes the rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, debris or
dilapidated and dangerous building, said expense shall be assessed to
said owner, occupant or lessee. Said notice shall be either
personally served or mailed to the owner, occupant or lessee at his
last known address by certified mail, or the address to which the tax
bill for the property was last mailed. If the owner does not
reside on the property, a duplicate notice shall also be sent to the
owner at the owner's last know[n] address.
REMOVAL BY COUNTY:
If, after notice, and after the specified date of compliance, the
owner, occupant or lessee fails to remove the rubbish, trash, weeds,
filth, debris or dilapidated and dangerous building, and abate the
conditions which constitute a hazard to public health and safety, the
County may, at the expense of the owner, occupant or lessee, remove or
cause removal of such trash, weeds, filth, debris or dilapidated and
dangerous building. The cost to be charged for such removal will
be the actual cost of removal or abatement, including a five percent
(5%) charge for additional inspection and incidental costs.
ASSESSMENT OF COSTS OF REMOVAL:
The cost of removal of the rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, debris
or dilapidated and dangerous building from any lot or tract of land
located in the unincorporated areas of the County may be assessed, as
set forth in Chapter 8 of this Ordinance, upon the lot or tract of land
from which the rubbish, trash, weeds, filth, debris or dilapidated and
dangerous buildings are removed. The assessment, from the date of
its recording in the Office of the County Recorder, shall be a lien on
the lot or tract of land, until paid.
Both the notice of violation and any assessment imposed pursuant
to this chapter may be appealed to the Board of Appeals in the manner
provided in Chapter 5 of this Ordinance. [NOTE, "Board of Appeals" means "Board of Supervisors" pursuant to Sections 202 and 301.]
RESTRICTIONS ON ENFORCEMENT:
As used in this chapter, "occupant" does not include any
corporation or association operating or maintaining rights-of-way for
and on behalf of the United States Government, either under contract or
under federal law.
REVIEW OF HISTORIC VALUE:
Before the removal of a dilapidated and dangerous building the
Board of Supervisors shall consult with the State Historic Preservation
Office to determine if the building is of historic value.
REMOVAL FROM TAX ROLLS:
If a county removes a dilapidated and dangerous building pursuant
to this section, the County Assessor shall remove the structure from
the property assessment tax rolls.
This chapter is intended to provide a way to remove rubbish,
trash, weeds, filth, debris, or dilapidated and dangerous buildings
that present a real danger to persons or property. This primarily
occurs in three cases:
(1) accumulations or conditions which has a strong
potential for causing or carrying a fire;
(2) accumulations or conditions likely to cause injury to any person; and
(3) accumulations or conditions likely to cause
hazards to the health of any conditions likely to cause hazards to the
health of any person.
§36-601 provides a separate and additional ordinance and remedy to
deal with accumulations that can cause disease or other health
problems. While this chapter deals with situations caused by the
occupant of the property, it also deals with involuntary acts of
dumping by other persons or acts of nature. However, this section
shall only be enforced when the condition is serious enough to present
a real hazard to persons or property. It is not intended to apply
as an "aesthetic" control – that is, a way to get the county to
beautify a neighbor's site.
(a) FORM OF APPEAL: An owner, occupant or
lessee of property affected may appeal from any notice and order or any
action of the hazard abatement officer under this ordinance, or any
assessment made pursuant to this Ordinance, by filling at the office of
the hazard abatement officer written appeal containing:
1. A heading in the words: "Before the Board of Appeals of the County of Cochise".
2. A caption reading: "Appeal of ---",
giving the names of all appellants participating in the appeal."
3. A brief statement setting forth the legal
interest of each of the appellants in the building or the land involved
in the notice and order.
4. A brief statement in ordinary and concise
language of the specific order or action protested, together with any
material facts claimed to support the contentions of the appellant.
5. A brief statement in ordinary and concise
language of the relief sought and the reason why it is claimed the
protested order or action should be reversed, modified or otherwise set
6. The signatures of all parties named as
appellants and their official mailing addresses.
7. The verification (by declaration under
penalty of perjury) of at least one appellant as to the truth of the
matters stated in the appeal.
shall be filed within thirty (30) days from the date of the service of
such notice, order or action of the hazard abatement officer; provided,
however, that if the condition is such as to make it immediately
dangerous to the life, limb, property or safety of the public or
adjacent property, such appeal shall be filed within ten (10) days from
the date of the service of the notice and order of the hazard abatement
PROCESSING OF APPEAL: Upon receipt of any appeal filed pursuant
to this section, the hazard abatement officer shall present it at the
next regular or special meeting of the Board of Appeals.
SCHEDULING AND NOTICING APPEAL FOR HEARING: As soon as
practicable after receiving the written appeal, the Board of Appeals
shall fix a date, time and place for the hearing of the appeal by the
Board. Such date shall be not less than ten (10) days or more
than sixty (60) days from the date the appeal was filed with the hazard
abatement officer. Written notice of the time and place of the
hearing shall be given at least ten (10) days prior to the date of the
hearing to each appellant by the secretary of the Board either by
causing a copy of such notice to be delivered to the appellant
personally or by mailing a copy thereof, postage prepaid, addressed to
the appellant at his address shown on the appeal.
EFFECT OF FAILURE TO APPEAL:
Failure of any person to file an appeal in accordance with the
provisions of Section 501 shall constitute a waiver of his right to an
administrative hearing and adjudication of the notice and order or any
SCOPE OF HEARING ON APPEAL:
Only those matters or issues specifically raised by the appellant
shall be considered in the hearing of the appeal.
STAYING OF ORDER UNDER APPEAL:
Enforcement of any notice and order of the hazard abatement
officer issued under this code shall be stayed during the pendency of
an appeal therefrom which is properly and timely filed.
A detailed appeal process is provided. Owner/occupant can
challenge a decision of the hazard abatement officer to the Board of
Supervisors. The Board will look carefully at the facts to see if
the accumulation of rubbish, trash, filth, weeds, and debris, or
dilapidated and dangerous building, is truly a hazard to public health
or safety. In short, every protection is given to the property
owner. There is a separate process to allow the property owner a
right to challenge an interpretation by the hazard abatement officer to
an independent advisory board.
PROCEDURE FOR CONDUCT OF HEARING APPEALS
RECORD: A record of the entire proceedings shall be made by tape
recording or by any other means of permanent recording determined to be
appropriate by the Board.
(b) REPORTING: The proceedings at the hearing
shall also be reported by a phonographic reporter if requested by any
party thereto. A transcript of the proceedings shall be made
available to all parties upon request and upon payment of the fee
prescribed therefore. Such fees may be established by the Board,
but shall in no event be greater than the cost involved.
(c) CONTINUANCES: The Board may grant continuances for good case shown.
(d) OATHS – CERTIFICATION: In any
proceedings under this chapter, the Board, any board member, has the
power to administer oaths and affirmations and to certify to official
(e) REASONABLE DISPATCH: The Board and its
representatives shall proceed with reasonable dispatch to conclude any
matter before it. Due regard shall be shown for the convenience
and necessity of any parties or their representatives.
FORM OF NOTICE OF HEARING:
The notice to appellant shall be substantially in the following
form, but may include other information:
"You are hereby notified that a hearing will be held
before the Board of Appeals at --- on the day of ---, 19---, at the
hour of ---, upon the notice and order served upon you. You may
be present at the hearing. You may be, but need not be,
represented by counsel. You may present any relevant evidence and
will be given full opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses
testifying against you. You may request the issuance of subpoenas
to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books,
documents or other things by filing an affidavit therefore with the
Board of Appeals."
(a) FILING OF AFFIDAVIT: The Board may obtain
the issuance and service of a subpoena for the attendance of witnesses
or the production of other evidence at a hearing upon the request of a
member of the board or upon the written demand of any party. The
issuance and service of such subpoena shall be obtained upon the filing
of an affidavit therefore which states the name and address of the
proposed witness; specified the exact things sought to be produced and
the materiality thereof in detail to the issues involved; and states
that the witness has the desired things in his possession or under his
control. A subpoena need not be issued when the affidavit is
defective in any particular.
(b) PENALTIES: When any person refuses without
lawful excuse to attend any hearing or to produce material evidence in
his possession or under his control as required by any subpoena served
upon such person as provided for herein, the Board may seek a court
order to compel such attendance or production.
CONDUCT OF HEARING
(a) RULES: Hearings need not be conducted
according to the technical rules relating to evidence and
(b) ORAL EVIDENCE: Oral evidence shall be taken only on oath or affirmation.
(c) HEARSAY EVIDENCE: Hearsay evidence may be
used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining any direct
evidence, but shall not be sufficient in itself to support a finding
unless it would be admissible over objection in civil actions in courts
of competent jurisdiction in this case.
(d) ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE: Any relevant
evidence shall be admitted if it is the type of evidence on which
responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious
affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory
rule which might make improper the admission of such evidence over
objection in civil actions in courts of competent jurisdiction in this
(e) EXCLUSION OF EVIDENCE: Irrelevant and
unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.
(f) RIGHTS OF PARTIES: Each party shall have these rights, among others:
l. To call and examine
witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;
2. To introduce documentary and physical evidence;
3. To cross-examine
opposing witnesses on any matter relevant to the issues of the hearing;
4. To impeach any witness
regardless of which party first called him to testify;
5. To rebut the evidence against him; and
6. To represent himself or
to be represented by anyone of his choice who is lawfully permitted to
(g) OFFICIAL NOTICE:
1. What may be noticed.
In reaching a decision, official notice may be taken, either
before or after submission of the case decision, of any fact which may
be judicially noticed by the courts of this state or of official
records of the Board or departments and ordinances of the County or
rules and regulations of the Board.
2. Parties to be notified.
Parties present at the hearing shall be given a reasonable
opportunity, on request, to refute the officially noticed matters by
evidence or by written or oral presentation of authority, the manner of
such refutation to be determined by the Board of Appeals.
3. Opportunity to refute.
Parties present at the hearing shall be given a reasonable
opportunity, on request, to refute the officially noticed matters by
evidence or by written or oral presentation of authority, the manner of
such refutation to be determined by the Board of Appeals.
4. Inspection of the premises. The Board may inspect any building or premises involved in the appeal during the course of the hearing, provided that:
(i) notice of
such inspection shall be given to the parties before the inspection is
parties are given an opportunity to be present during the inspection;
Board shall state for the record upon completion of the inspection the
material facts observed and the conclusions drawn therefrom. Each
party then shall have a right to rebut or explain the matters so stated
by the Board.
METHOD AND FORM OF DECISION:
(a) HEARING BEFORE BOARD ITSELF: Where a
contested case is heard before the Board, no member thereof who did not
hear the evidence or has not read the entire record of the proceedings
shall vote on or take part in the decision.
(b) FORM OF DECISION: The decision shall be in
writing and shall contain findings of fact, a determination of the
issues presented, and the requirements to be complied with. A
copy of the decision shall be delivered to the appellant personally or
sent to him by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt
(c) EFFECTIVE DATE OF DECISION: The effective
date of the decision shall be as stated therein.
PERFORMANCE OF WORK OR REMOVAL
(a) PROCEDURE: When any work or removal is to
be done pursuant to this ordinance, the hazard abatement officer shall
issue his order therefore to the director of public works and the work
shall be accomplished by personnel of this jurisdiction or by private
contract under the direction of said director. Plans and
specifications therefore may be prepared by said director, or his many
employ such architectural and engineering assistance on a contract
basis as he may deem reasonably necessary. If any part of the
work is to be accomplished by private contract, standard public works
contractual procedures shall be followed.
(b) COSTS: The cost of such work shall be made
a special assessment against the property involved as in the manner set
forth in Section 808 through 813 of this ordinance, or may be made a
personal obligation of the property owner, whichever the Board of
Supervisors shall determine is appropriate.
RECOVERY OF COST OF WORK OR REMOVAL
ACCOUNT OF EXPENSE, FILING OF REPORT - - CONTENTS:
The director of public works shall keep an itemized account of
the expense incurred by Cochise County in the work or removal of any
materials, done pursuant to the provisions of this ordinance.
Upon the completion of the work or removal, said director shall
prepare and file with the hazard abatement officer a report specifying
the work done, the itemized and total cost of the work, a description
of the real property upon which the hazard is or was located, and the
names and addresses of the persons entitled to notice pursuant to
REPORT TRANSMITTED TO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS - - SET FOR HEARING:
Upon receipt of said report, the hazard abatement officer shall
present it to the Board of Supervisors shall fix a time, date and place
for hearing said report and any protests or objections thereto.
The clerk of the Board of Supervisors shall cause notice and said
hearing to be posted upon the property involved, published once in a
newspaper of general circulation in this jurisdiction, and served by
certified mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the owner of the property
as his name and address appear on the last equalized assessment roll of
the County, if such so appear, or as known to the clerk. Such
notice shall be given at least ten (10) days prior to the date set for
hearing and shall specify the day, hour and place when the Board of
Supervisors will hear and pass upon the director's report, together
with any objections or protests which may be filed as hereinafter
provided by person interested in or affected by the proposed charge.
PROTESTS AND OBJECTIONS -- HOW MADE
Any person interested in or affected by the proposed charge may
file written protests or objections with the clerk of the Board of
Supervisors at any time prior to the time set for the hearing on the
report of the director. Each such protest or objection must
contain a description of the property in which the signer thereof is
interested and the grounds of such protest or objection. The
clerk of the Board of Supervisors shall endorse on every such protest
or objection the date it was received by him. He shall present
such protests or objections to the Board of Supervisors at the time set
for the hearing, and no other protests or objections shall be
HEARING OF PROTESTS:
Upon the day and hour fixed for the hearing the Board of
Supervisors shall hear and pass upon the report of the director
together with any such objections or protests. The Board of
Supervisors may take such revision, correction or modification in the
report or the charge as it may deem just; and when the Board of
Supervisors is satisfied with the correctness of the charge, the report
(as submitted or as revised, corrected or modified) together with the
charge, shall be confirmed or rejected. The decision of the Board
of Supervisors on the report and the charge, and on all protest or
objections, shall be final and conclusive.
PERSONAL OBLIGATION OR SPECIAL ASSESSMENT:
(a) GENERAL: The Board of Supervisors of this
jurisdiction may thereupon order that said charge shall be made a
personal obligation of the property owner or assess said charge against
the property involved, in the manner set forth in Section 807 through
813 of this ordinance.
(b) PERSONAL OBLIGATION: If the Board of
Supervisors of this jurisdiction orders that the charge shall be a
personal obligation of the property, it shall confirm the assessment,
cause the same to be recorded on the assessment roll, and thereafter
said assessment shall constitute a special assessment against and a
lien upon the property.
The validity of any assessment made under the provisions of this
chapter shall not be contested in any action or proceeding unless the
same is commenced within thirty (30) days after the assessment is
placed upon the assessment roll as provided herein. Any appeal
from a final judgment in such action or proceeding must be perfected
within thirty (30) days after this entry of such judgment.
ASSESSMENT AND LIENS FOR UNPAID COSTS & CHARGES -- ESTABLISHMENT:
If any costs or charges, as imposed pursuant to this ordinance,
are not paid by the owner, occupant or lessee within (30) days of such
removal, such unpaid amount shall constitute an assessment upon the
lots and tracts of land from which the rubbish, trash, weeds, filth or
debris are removed and a lien upon said lot, tracts, or land until
paid. Said lien may be perfected by the county against the
subject property by recording a notice of lien in the Office of the
Cochise County Recorder. Such notice of lien shall specify the
nature of assessment, the amount of the lien and the name and address
of the charges assessed. The lien shall continue in full force
and effect on the tract of land or lot until the charges assessed are
paid. Such liens are subject and inferior to the lien for general
taxes and to all prior recorded mortgages and encumbrances of record.
The County may bring an action to enforce the lien in the Cochise
County Superior Court at any time after the recording of the
assessment, but failure to enforce the lien by such action does not
affect its validity. The recorded assessment is prima facie
evidence that the truth of all matters recited in the assessment and of
the regularity of all proceedings before the recording of the
All such assessments remaining unpaid after thirty (30) days from
the date of recording on the assessment roll shall become delinquent
and shall bear interest at the rate established for delinquent taxes
from and after said date.
REPORT TO ASSESSOR AND TAX COLLECTOR – ADDITION OF ASSESSMENT TO TAX BILL:
After confirmation of the report, certified copies of the
assessment shall be given to the Assessor and the County Treasurer, who
shall add the amount of the assessment to the next regular tax bill
levied against the parcel.
FILING COPY OF REPORT WITH COUNTY TREASURER:
If the County Assessor and the county tax collector assess
property and collect taxes for this jurisdiction, a certified copy of
the assessment shall be filed with the County Treasurer within thirty
(30) days after recordation of the lien. The descriptions of the
parcels reported shall be those used for the same parcels on the County
Assessors map book for the current year.
COLLECTION OF ASSESSMENT -- PENALTIES FOR FORECLOSURE:
The amount of the assessment shall be collected at the same time
and in the same manner as ordinary property taxes are collected and
shall be subject to the same penalties and procedure and sale in case
of delinquency was provided for ordinary property taxes. All laws
applicable to the levy, collection and enforcement of property taxes
shall be applicable to such assessment.
USE OF PROCEEDS:
All money recovered by payment of the charge or assessment or
from the sale of the property at foreclosure sale shall be paid to the
treasurer of this county, who shall credit the same to the General Fund.
A prior assessment for the purpose provided in this section is
not a bar to a subsequent assessment or assessments for such purposes,
and any number of liens on the same lot or tract of land may be
enforced in the same action.
The various parts of this Hazard Abatement Ordinance are hereby
declared to be severable. If any Chapter, section, subsection,
sentence, clause, phrase or word of this Hazard Abatement Ordinance is
for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by any court of
competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of
the remainder of said Hazard Abatement Ordinance.
REPEAL OF CONFLICTING REGULATIONS:
All regulations or ordinances of a portion of some in conflict
[with] the provisions of this Hazard Abatement Ordinance, inconsistent
with the provision of this Hazard Abatement Ordinance, are hereby
repealed to the extent necessary to give this Hazard Abatement Officer
full force and effect. All previous editions of the Hazard
Abatement Ordinance are hereby repealed.
This Hazard Abatement Ordinance shall become effective beginning
September 8, 1987 and remain in full force and effect thereafter.
APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE COCHISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS THIS 8th DAY OF September, 1987.
/s/ V.L. Thompson, Chairman
/s/ Judith A. Gignac, Member
/s/ Ann English, Member