A sign with a surface area greater than 200 square feet (19 m2) that is erected, maintained, attached, affixed, painted on, or in any other manner represented on a building or premises in violation of the zoning resolution, this code, the 1968 building code or rules adopted pursuant thereto is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. The commissioner may, after notice and hearing, order the removal of such illegal sign or its sign structure or both, as hereinafter provided.
The commissioner shall serve a notice of hearing with regard to the proposed nuisance abatement on the owner and mortgagee of record of the building or premises and other persons having a recorded interest in the property in the manner provided in article 212 of chapter 2 of this title for the service of an order of closure. If the sign is under the control of an outdoor advertising company and an address for such company is reasonably ascertainable, the notice shall also be served on such outdoor advertising company by mail to the last known address for such company or, if such company is registered in accordance with section 28-502.2, at the address provided to the department by the registrant.
The office of administrative trials and hearings shall conduct the hearing. The administrative law judge assigned to hear the matter shall submit his or her proposed findings of fact and recommended disposition to the commissioner. If based on such recommended disposition, proposed findings of fact and the record of the hearing the commissioner determines (i) that the sign has a surface area greater than 200 square feet (19 m2) and, (ii) that the sign has been erected, maintained, attached, affixed, painted on, or in any other manner represented on the building or premises in violation of the zoning resolution, this code, the 1968 building code or rules adopted pursuant thereto, he or she may order the removal of the illegal sign or its sign structure or both.
At such hearing it shall not be a defense that an owner or other person having an interest in the property lacked knowledge of or did not participate in the erection or maintenance of the illegal sign.
The commissioner's order of removal shall be posted, mailed and filed in the manner provided in this code for an order of closure.
On or after the tenth business day after the posting of such order and upon the written directive of the commissioner, police officers and authorized representatives of the department shall act upon and enforce such order by removing, covering, painting over or otherwise rendering ineffective the illegal sign or its sign structure or both. Such work shall at all times be performed by a licensed sign hanger where required by law. Nothing in this article shall be construed to prohibit an owner or other person having an interest in the property from removing or causing the removal of an illegal sign or its sign structure prior to the arrival of such enforcement officers. On and after the posting of such removal order, no further permits for signs shall be issued for such building or premises pursuant to this code and, if the sign structure is not removed, no further display shall be exhibited on such sign structure unless and until the commissioner rescinds such order.
The commissioner may rescind the order if the owner or other person having an interest in the building or premises provides assurance in a form satisfactory to the commissioner that all signs erected or maintained at such building or premises will be in compliance with the zoning resolution, this code, the 1968 building code or rules adopted pursuant to such provisions. If such order is rescinded, the commissioner shall, upon request of such owner, mortgagee or other person, provide a certified copy of such rescission which may be filed with the county clerk or register of the county in which such building or premises is located.
The costs and expenses for painting over, covering, rendering ineffective or for the removal and storage of such sign and its sign structure may be recovered from the owner of the premises or, if the illegal sign is under the control of an outdoor advertising company and notice was served on such company in accordance with this article, from such outdoor advertising company. Such amounts may be recovered by the city in an action or proceeding in any court of appropriate jurisdiction and, with respect to amounts owed by an outdoor advertising company, by drawing upon any bond posted or other security provided by such company pursuant to section 28-502.2. Nothing in this article shall be construed to limit the ability of an owner to seek recovery of such costs and expenses from any other party.
In addition, such costs and expenses shall constitute a lien on the land and building on which the sign was located which may be entered and enforced pursuant to the provisions of this code in the same manner as an unpaid fee.
The commissioner shall adopt rules to provide for the storage and disposal of any sign or sign structure removed pursuant to this article. If the identity and address of the owner of such property is reasonably ascertainable, notice of the removal shall be sent to the owner within a reasonable period of time after the removal. If such property is not claimed within thirty days after its removal, it shall be deemed to be abandoned and may be sold at a public auction after having been advertised in the City Record and the proceeds paid into the general fund or if the commissioner determines that the property is not saleable, he or she may turn over such property to the department of sanitation for disposal. Property removed pursuant to this article shall be released to the owner or other person lawfully entitled to possession upon payment of the costs of removal and storage as set forth in the rules of the department and any fines or civil penalties imposed for the violation or, if an action or proceeding for the violation is pending in court or before the environmental control board, upon the posting of a bond or other form of security acceptable to the department in an amount which will secure the payment of such costs and any fines or civil penalties which may be imposed for the violation.
For the purposes of this article the terms "sign" and "surface area," in reference to a sign, shall be as defined under section 12-10 of the zoning resolution.
An order of the commissioner issued pursuant to this article shall be a final determination of the commissioner for purposes of review pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules. Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of paragraph (a) of subdivision six of section six hundred sixty-six of the New York city charter, such order shall not be subject to review by the board of standards and appeals.