Could you please advise me what should I write on appeal letter?? I am planning to appeal but not sure, on what law to rely in order to get this thing done? You can reach me directly at : firstname.lastname@example.org
I cant advise you what to say or do – I don’t know the specifics of your situation and I am not an attorney. You should go hire one. But I can tell you what I did....
For my situation, what I told them was my house did not need any further work to meet code requirements. It had been upgraded to meet the requirements of the retrofit code, and the codes in effect at that time, so did not require any more work because of later Code updates. I referenced that NJR section I described here previously.
In my submission I included the applicable code sections from the 1984 and 1987 BOCA codes. I showed that my house was less than 5 stories, the use group R, the windowless basement was less than 3,000 sq feet, and I had an interconnected, automatic smoke alarm system installed in accordance with NJAC 5:70-4.9 (a) 3 i. Therefore, according to the applicable BOCA code requirements, I did not need suppression (sprinklers), nor did I need central monitoring to meet the requirements.
I had evidence for everything I said, including copies of the NJR, the NJAC, the UFC and the BOCA code sections, and few other things as well – photographs of the house and basement, the green card, a sketch of the basement, the survey showing the dimensions…. Everything I needed to provide proof what I was arguing was true and correct. No one had to take my word alone for anything, there was evidence from other sources to support and corroborate everything I claimed.
That was basically it. I explained my position and without contesting my analysis, the Fire Department conceded and withdrew the violation and fines and I was free to go on my way.
The whole experience completely changed my view of JC Fire Department, as their tactics seemed to me more like those of stand-over thugs than professionals empowered by law to enforce the Code. I don't know for sure, but I ended up with the distinct impression what they were trying to do was force me to sell my house on the cheap.
I worked in a heavily regulated sector, so I knew how codes and regulations work. It was time-consuming but relatively straight forward for me to research and figure out.
I was left wondering if it’s a pattern… There were several incidents along the way, peripheral to the central matter of the correct use of the Codes, that led me to question if it isn't something they do repeatedly. It was so abusive, and seemed so “pre-planned”. I honestly don’t know – I don’t have any evidence, but it would be easy enough for the FBI / DOJ to investigate. All they’d need to do is examine the outcomes of every windowless basement violation issued by the JCFD, and subsequent sales of those properties… the patterns would become clear. It wouldn't be the first time corruption reared it's ugly head in Jersey City.... Perhaps it happens in other cities across the State as well - who knows?