TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to prevent pest infestations from migrating to buildings adjacent to demolition sites cleared the Senate Community & Urban Affairs Committee today.
The bill, S-719, requires pest inspections prior to certain building demolitions. Specifically, the bill requires a health officer certified by the State Department of Health, or a commercial pesticide applicator, certified by the State Department of Environmental Protection for general and household pest control, to inspect certain buildings for mice, rats, roaches, and other pests before the demolition, and issue a certification indicating that pests are not present in or on the perimeter of the building at levels that place any nearby building at risk for infestation. If a severe pest presence does exist in the building, then the pesticide applicator or local health agency will be required to ensure that extermination takes place in the building prior to issuing the certification.
“This legislation is about making sure neighbors in adjacent properties don’t take on the burden of pests just because of their proximity to a demolition site,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “A routine pest inspection prior to tearing down a building will help to prevent what could just be an isolated pest problem from spreading. Knocking down a building comes with a price, and for many homeowners near the demolition site, that price results in a new pesticide problem. Requiring a routine inspection is a healthy and beneficial action we can take for the neighbors nearby.”
The inspection would occur within two months of the construction permit issuance for demolition, and the certification will be filed with the construction official before the issuance of the permit. Any certification that is issued by a pesticide applicator will be filed with the health officer, in addition to the construction official, no later than five days before the construction permit issuance. The bill states the construction permit applicant will be responsible for the cost of any pest inspection and extermination.
The bill also stipulates that certifications will not be required prior to the demolition of closely-situated buildings, meaning buildings that are both located within 19 feet of the building to be demolished, and on a different property. Also, under the bill, certifications will not be required for partial demolitions, except in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection.
Pre-demolition inspection would be more cost efficient because it would help in identifying environmental issues that would be required to be fixed prior to the demolition project, and it would also isolate the environmental work and needs, so it would be a separate cost from the demolition work.
The certification and inspection would not be required if the structure is determined as an immediate danger posed by potential collapse of the structure.
S-719 cleared the committee 5-0 and will now head to the full Senate for further consideration.