Law:Title 5. Sanitation And Environmental Quality. Subtitle A. Sanitation from Chapter 343. Abatement Of Public Nuisances (Texas)

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Subtitle A. Sanitation

Contents

Chapter 343. Abatement Of Public Nuisances

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Section  343.002.  Definitions.

In this chapter:

(1)  "Abate" means to eliminate or remedy:

(A)  by removal, repair, rehabilitation, or demolition;

(B)  in the case of a nuisance under Section 343.011(c)(1), (9), or (10), by prohibition or control of access; and

(C)  in the case of a nuisance under Section 343.011(c)(12), by removal, remediation, storage, transportation, disposal, or other means of waste management authorized by Chapter 361.

(2)  "Building" means a structure built for the support, shelter, or enclosure of a person, animal, chattel, machine, equipment, or other moveable property.

(3)  "Garbage" means decayable waste from a public or private establishment or restaurant. The term includes vegetable, animal, and fish offal and animal and fish carcasses, but does not include sewage, body waste, or an industrial by-product.

(4)  "Neighborhood" means:

(A)  a platted subdivision; or

(B)  property contiguous to and within 300 feet of a platted subdivision.

(5)  "Platted subdivision" means a subdivision that has its approved or unapproved plat recorded with the county clerk of the county in which the subdivision is located.

(6)  "Premises" means all privately owned property, including vacant land or a building designed or used for residential, commercial, business, industrial, or religious purposes. The term includes a yard, ground, walk, driveway, fence, porch, steps, or other structure appurtenant to the property.

(7)  "Public street" means the entire width between property lines of a road, street, way, thoroughfare, or bridge if any part of the road, street, way, thoroughfare, or bridge is open to the public for vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

(8)  "Receptacle" means a container that is composed of durable material and designed to prevent the discharge of its contents and to make its contents inaccessible to animals, vermin, or other pests.

(9)  "Refuse" means garbage, rubbish, paper, and other decayable and nondecayable waste, including vegetable matter and animal and fish carcasses.

(10)  "Rubbish" means nondecayable waste from a public or private establishment or residence.

(11)  "Weeds" means all rank and uncultivated vegetable growth or matter that:

(A)  has grown to more than 36 inches in height; or

(B)  may create an unsanitary condition or become a harborage for rodents, vermin, or other disease-carrying pests, regardless of the height of the weeds.

(12)  "Flea market" means an outdoor or indoor market, conducted on non-residential premises, for selling secondhand articles or antiques, unless conducted by a religious, educational, fraternal, or charitable organization.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 499, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1366, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87, Sec. 12.004, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  343.003.  Effect Of Chapter On Other State Law.

This chapter does not affect a right, remedy, or penalty under other state law.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.



Subchapter B. Public Nuisance Prohibited

Section  343.011.  Public Nuisance.

(a) This section applies only to the unincorporated area of a county.

(b)  A person may not cause, permit, or allow a public nuisance under this section.

(c)  A public nuisance is:

(1)  keeping, storing, or accumulating refuse on premises in a neighborhood unless the refuse is entirely contained in a closed receptacle;

(2)  keeping, storing, or accumulating rubbish, including newspapers, abandoned vehicles, refrigerators, stoves, furniture, tires, and cans, on premises in a neighborhood or within 300 feet of a public street for 10 days or more, unless the rubbish or object is completely enclosed in a building or is not visible from a public street;

(3)  maintaining premises in a manner that creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes, rodents, vermin, or disease-carrying pests;

(4)  allowing weeds to grow on premises in a neighborhood if the weeds are located within 300 feet of another residence or commercial establishment;

(5)  maintaining a building in a manner that is structurally unsafe or constitutes a hazard to safety, health, or public welfare because of inadequate maintenance, unsanitary conditions, dilapidation, obsolescence, disaster, damage, or abandonment or because it constitutes a fire hazard;

(6)  maintaining on abandoned and unoccupied property in a neighborhood a swimming pool that is not protected with:

(A)  a fence that is at least four feet high and that has a latched and locked gate; and

(B)  a cover over the entire swimming pool that cannot be removed by a child;

(7)  maintaining on any property in a neighborhood in a county with a population of more than 1.1 million a swimming pool that is not protected with:

(A)  a fence that is at least four feet high and that has a latched gate that cannot be opened by a child; or

(B)  a cover over the entire swimming pool that cannot be removed by a child;

(8)  maintaining a flea market in a manner that constitutes a fire hazard;

(9)  discarding refuse or creating a hazardous visual obstruction on:

(A)  county-owned land; or

(B)  land or easements owned or held by a special district that has the commissioners court of the county as its governing body;

(10)  discarding refuse on the smaller of:

(A)  the area that spans 20 feet on each side of a utility line; or

(B)  the actual span of the utility easement;

(11)  filling or blocking a drainage easement, failing to maintain a drainage easement, maintaining a drainage easement in a manner that allows the easement to be clogged with debris, sediment, or vegetation, or violating an agreement with the county to improve or maintain a drainage easement; or

(12)  discarding refuse on property that is not authorized for that activity.

(d)  This section does not apply to:

(1)  a site or facility that is:

(A)  permitted and regulated by a state agency for the activity described by Subsection (c);  or

(B)  licensed or permitted under Chapter 361 for the activity described by Subsection (c);  or

(2)  agricultural land.

(e)  In Subsection (d), "agricultural land" means land that qualifies for tax appraisal under Subchapter C or D, Chapter 23, Tax Code.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 499, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 771, Sec. 2, eff. Aug. 28, 1995; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 752, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 523, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 355, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1094, Sec. 12, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 388, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1366, Sec. 2, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87, Sec. 12.005, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  343.0111.  Special Exception Or Variance To Public Nuisance Classification.

(a) The commissioners court of a county by order may:

(1)  describe the circumstances in which a special exception to the application of Section 343.011 is available to a person and may grant the special exception in a specific case if the commissioners court finds that the specific case fits within the special exception, that the grant of the exception promotes justice, that the grant of the exception is not contrary to the public interest, and that the grant of the exception is consistent with the general purpose of Section 343.011; and

(2)  authorize in a specific case not covered by a special exception a variance from the terms of Section 343.011 if the commissioners court makes the same findings in connection with the specific case that it makes in connection with a special exception under Subdivision (1) and finds that due to special conditions a literal enforcement of Section 343.011 would result in an unnecessary hardship.

(b)  The commissioners court shall keep a record of its proceedings under this section and must include in the record a showing of the reasons for each decision made under this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 771, Sec. 3, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 752, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.



Section  343.012.  Criminal Penalty.

(a) A person commits an offense if:

(1)  the person violates Section 343.011(b); and

(2)  the nuisance remains unabated after the 30th day after the date on which the person receives notice from a county official, agent, or employee to abate the nuisance.

(b)  An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $50 or more than $200.

(c)  If it is shown on the trial of the defendant that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense under this section, the defendant is punishable by a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000, confinement in jail for not more than six months, or both.

(d)  Each day a violation occurs is a separate offense.

(e)  The court shall order abatement of the nuisance if the defendant is convicted of an offense under this section.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 499, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 771, Sec. 4, eff. Aug. 28, 1995; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 752, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.



Section  343.013.  Injunction.

(a) A county or district court may by injunction prevent, restrain, abate, or otherwise remedy a violation of this chapter in the unincorporated area of the county.

(b)  A county or a person affected or to be affected by a violation under this chapter, including a property owner, resident of a neighborhood, or organization of property owners or residents of a neighborhood, may bring suit under Subsection (a). If the court grants the injunction, the court may award the plaintiff reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.

(c)  A county may bring suit under this section to prohibit or control access to the premises to prevent a continued or future violation of Section 343.011(c)(1), (6), (9), or (10).  The court may grant relief under this subsection only if the county demonstrates that:

(1)  the person responsible for causing the public nuisance has not responded sufficiently to previous attempts to abate a nuisance on the premises, if the relief sought prohibits or controls access of a person other than the owner; or

(2)  the owner of the premises knew about the nuisance and has not responded sufficiently to previous attempts to abate a nuisance on the premises, if the relief sought controls access of the owner.

(d)  In granting relief under Subsection (c), the court:

(1)  may not, in a suit brought under Section 343.011(c)(10), prohibit or control access by the owner or operator of a utility line or utility easement to that utility line or utility easement; and

(2)  may not prohibit the owner of the premises from accessing the property but may prohibit a continued or future violation.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1050, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 388, Sec. 2, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1366, Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007.



Subchapter C. County Authority Relating To Nuisance

Section 343.021.  Authority To Abate Nuisance.

If a county adopts abatement procedures that are consistent with the general purpose of this chapter and that conform to this chapter, the county may abate a nuisance under this chapter:

(1)  by demolition or removal;

(2)  in the case of a nuisance under Section 343.011(c)(1), (9), or (10), by prohibiting or controlling access to the premises;

(3)  in the case of a nuisance under Section 343.011(c)(6), by:

(A)  prohibiting or controlling access to the premises and installing a cover that cannot be opened by a child over the entire swimming pool; or

(B)  draining and filling the swimming pool; or

(4)  in the case of a nuisance under Section 343.011(c)(12), by removal, remediation, storage, transportation, disposal, or other means of waste management authorized under Chapter 361.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1050, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 388, Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1366, Sec. 4, eff. June 15, 2007.

Reenacted and amended by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87, Sec. 12.006, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  343.022.  Abatement Procedures.

(a) The abatement procedures adopted by the commissioners court must be administered by a regularly salaried, full-time county employee.  A person authorized by the person administering the abatement program may administer:

(1)  the prohibition or control of access to the premises to prevent a violation of Section 343.011(c)(1), (6), (9), or (10);

(2)  the removal or demolition of the nuisance; and

(3)  the abatement of a nuisance described by Section 343.011(c)(12).

(b)  The abatement procedures must require that written notice be given to:

(1)  the owner, lessee, occupant, agent, or person in charge of the premises; and

(2)  the person responsible for causing a public nuisance on the premises when:

(A)  that person is not the owner, lessee, occupant, agent, or person in charge of the premises; and

(B)  the person responsible can be identified.

(c)  The notice must state:

(1)  the specific condition that constitutes a nuisance;

(2)  that the person receiving notice shall abate the nuisance before the:

(A)  31st day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has not previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises; or

(B)  10th business day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises;

(3)  that failure to abate the nuisance may result in:

(A)  abatement by the county;

(B)  assessment of costs to the person responsible for causing the nuisance when that person can be identified; and

(C)  a lien against the property on which the nuisance exists, if the person responsible for causing the nuisance has an interest in the property;

(4)  that the county may prohibit or control access to the premises to prevent a continued or future nuisance described by Section 343.011(c)(1), (6), (9), or (10); and

(5)  that the person receiving notice is entitled to submit a written request for a hearing before the:

(A)  31st day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has not previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises; or

(B)  10th business day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises.

(d)  The notice must be given:

(1)  by service in person or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested; or

(2)  if personal service cannot be obtained or the address of the person to be notified is unknown, by posting a copy of the notice on the premises on which the nuisance exists and by publishing the notice in a newspaper with general circulation in the county two times within 10 consecutive days.

(e)  Except as provided in Subsection (f), the abatement procedures must require a hearing before the county abates the nuisance if a hearing is requested.  The hearing may be conducted before the commissioners court or any board, commission, or official designated by the commissioners court.  The commissioners court may designate a board, commission, or official to conduct each hearing.

(f)  A county may, before conducting a hearing, abate a nuisance under Section 343.011(c)(6) by prohibiting or controlling access to the premises on which the nuisance is located and installing a cover that cannot be opened by a child over the entire swimming pool, but only if the county conducts a hearing otherwise in accordance with Subsection (e) after the nuisance is abated.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 14, Sec. 123, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 771, Sec. 5, eff. Aug. 28, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1050, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 388, Sec. 4, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1366, Sec. 5, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87, Sec. 12.007, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  343.023.  Assessment Of Costs; Lien.

(a) A county may:

(1)  assess:

(A)  the cost of abating the nuisance, including management, remediation, storage, transportation, and disposal costs, and damages and other expenses incurred by the county;

(B)  the cost of legal notification by publication; and

(C)  an administrative fee of not more than $100 on the person receiving notice under Section 343.022;  or

(2)  by resolution or order, assess:

(A)  the cost of abating the nuisance;

(B)  the cost of legal notification by publication; and

(C)  an administrative fee of not more than $100 against the property on which the nuisance exists.

(b)  The county may not make an assessment against property unless the owner or owner's agent receives notice of the nuisance in accordance with Section 343.022.

(c)  To obtain a lien against the property to secure an assessment, the commissioners court of the county must file a notice that contains a statement of costs, a legal description of the property sufficient to identify the property, and the name of the property owner, if known, with the county clerk of the county in which the property is located.

(d)  The county's lien to secure an assessment attaches when the notice of lien is filed and is inferior to a previously recorded bona fide mortgage lien attached to the real property to which the county's lien attaches, if the mortgage was filed for record in the office of the county clerk of the county in which the real property is located before the date on which the county files the notice of lien with the county clerk.

(e)  The county is entitled to accrued interest beginning on the 31st day after the date of the assessment against the property at the rate of 10 percent a year.

(f)  The statement of costs or a certified copy of the statement of costs is prima facie proof of the costs incurred to abate the nuisance.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 499, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 771, Sec. 6, eff. Aug. 28, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1366, Sec. 6, eff. June 15, 2007.



Section 343.0235.  Use Of County Funds.

A county is entitled to use any money available under other law for a cleanup or remediation of private property to abate a nuisance described by Section 343.011(c)(1), (9), or (10).

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1050, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 388, Sec. 5, eff. June 15, 2007.



Section  343.024.  Authority To Enter Premises.

(a) A county official, agent, or employee charged with the enforcement of health, environmental, safety, or fire laws may enter any premises in the unincorporated area of the county at a reasonable time to inspect, investigate, or abate a nuisance or to enforce this chapter.

(b)  Before entering the premises, the official, agent, or employee must exhibit proper identification to the occupant, manager, or other appropriate person.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 499, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.



Section  343.025.  Enforcement.

A court of competent jurisdiction in the county may issue any order necessary to enforce this chapter.

Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.


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