[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of Talbot County as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 9-13-1977 by Bill No. 81]
As used in this article, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
- HAZARDOUS STRUCTURES
- All structures which are unsafe, unsanitary or unfit for human habitation, or which constitute a fire hazard, or are otherwise dangerous to human life, or which in relation to existing uses constitute a hazard to safety or health by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment.
- IMPROVED PROPERTY
- Real property on which has been erected dwellings, buildings or other structures whether inhabited or vacant, and all ground appurtenant thereto.
- Garbage, rubbish and refuse as defined herein, and all other waste material which:
- A. Creates or tends to create a danger to the public health, safety, welfare or property, to the extent and in the manner that a lot, tract or parcel of land is, or may reasonably become, infested or inhabited by rodents, vermin or wild animals;
- B. May reasonably cause disease;
- C. Adversely affects and impairs the economic welfare or status of adjacent property or the neighborhood; or
- D. May reasonably constitute a present or potential fire hazard.
- Any person, corporation, association, partnership, firm, syndicate, joint venture or organization of any kind holding title to any land or lot in the County; lessees, tenants and principal occupants of any land or lot in the County or agent of persons holding title to such lands or lots, having care, custody, control or management of the land or lot; and fiduciaries holding title to or having the care, custody, control or management of land or lots in the County for others.
- RUBBISH AND REFUSE
- All solid wastes consisting of both combustible waste, including but not limited to cardboard, wood, cloth, bedding material, yard and lawn clippings not located in an established compost pile and dead trees and limbs and noncombustible waste, including but not limited to metals, glass, crockery, tin cans, junk household appliances, abandoned or wrecked motor vehicles and any building and construction wastes.
- A lot, tract or parcel of land which has been subdivided into two or more lots, plots, sites, tracts, parcels or other divisions for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of rental, sale or building development, and shall include resubdivision, but shall not include a bona fide division or partition of land of exclusively agricultural land not for development purposes, except as herein provided.
- UNIMPROVED PROPERTY
- Real property which is not presently improved although it may have been improved at one time.
- Grass, weeds, brush and any noxious growth excluding trees, ornamental shrubbery, plants, flowers, garden vegetables properly tended, cultivated crops, agricultural land or undisturbed woodland, not otherwise in violation.
Except as hereinafter specified, the provisions herein shall apply to any improved or unimproved real property located within Talbot County, Maryland. This article is not applicable to property located in incorporated municipalities, except where a municipality adopts the provisions hereof, with provisions for County enforcement and acceptable contractual provisions for reimbursement to the County of its uncollectible costs and expenses in enforcement activities within such municipality.
The County Council finds and determines that the continuous growth and development of the unincorporated areas of this County require the reasonable and effective control and regulation of the excessive accumulation of litter and hazardous structures as herein defined. Further, such accumulation on improved and unimproved property readily threatens or endangers the public health, safety or welfare by reason of the fact that such property is or may reasonably become infested or inhabited by rodents, vermin or wild animals, or may reasonably cause disease, or may adversely affect and impair the economic welfare or status of adjacent property or the neighborhood, or may reasonably constitute a present or potential fire hazard, and singly, or in any combination thereof, is prohibited and declared to be a public nuisance subject to the penalties and procedures hereinafter prescribed.
The County Council further finds and determines, as a matter of common knowledge, that a high growth of weeds in the populous areas has a strong tendency to produce sickness and to impair the health of the inhabitants and may readily be a public nuisance in such localities, notwithstanding the fact that they may be comparatively innocuous on the County areas when far away from human habitation. Further, Council recognizes that weeds, as such, when matured as to bear wingy or downy seeds may readily become a fire menace when dry and that they may furnish a breeding place for mosquitoes and adversely affect and impair the economic welfare of adjacent property and the neighborhood in which located and are hereby declared to be a public nuisance subject to the penalties and procedures hereinafter prescribed.
It shall be the duty of every person as owner, occupant, lessee or agent in charge of land lying in any part of the unincorporated areas of the County, except as otherwise provided in § 117-2, to keep all weeds, as defined, cut to a height of not over 12 inches in any location where it is necessary in order to preserve the environment.
Editor's Note: L. 1978, ch. 883, approved 5-29-1978, repealed the County's authority to authorize the appropriate County agency to cut and trim weeds and other growth on private property if that action was necessary in order to preserve the environment.
It shall be the duty of every person as owner, occupant, lessee or agent in charge of land lying within the unincorporated areas of the County, except as otherwise provided in § 117-2, not to allow litter to be deposited or to accumulate, either temporarily or permanently, on such land; provided, however, that this section shall not apply to those activities otherwise allowable under the provisions of Chapter 190, Zoning, Subdivision, and Land Development, of the Talbot County Code relating to solid waste and other approved landfill areas and shall not apply to those persons who store litter in private receptacles for collection or under controlled conditions for industrial processing, such as recycling; provided, however, that in those cases in which storage is made under controlled conditions, the enforcement officer of this article is hereby authorized and empowered to establish reasonable standards for the proper protection of the public health, safety and welfare as it relates to the storage of said material. Any person depositing litter on the property of another shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to the penalty provisions of § 117-12 of this article.
It shall be the duty of every person as owner, occupant, lessee or agent in charge of improved property lying within the unincorporated areas of the County, except as otherwise provided in § 117-2, to maintain same in good repair. Whenever improved property is allowed to deteriorate to a condition which is deemed unsafe by the County Engineer, he shall have the authority to request an inspection of same by the Talbot County Health Department and/or the Talbot County Fire Marshal. If after inspection the Health Department and/or the Fire Marshal notifies the County Engineer, in writing, that the property in question constitutes a health or fire hazard, the County Engineer shall be empowered to proceed under the enforcement provisions of this article.
The County Engineer, or his designated representative, whenever he finds and determines that the requirements as set forth in §§ 117-4, 117-5 and/or 117-6 of this article have been violated, shall notify, in writing, the owner or the person responsible for the maintenance of the property to remove or properly dispose of the litter or weeds, or both, from the subject property. Such notice shall be by certified mail and addressed to said owner or other responsible person at his last known address or the address last shown on the real property tax records in the Finance Office for Talbot County. Such notice, when so addressed and deposited with the postal service with proper postage prepaid, shall be deemed complete and sufficient. In the event that such notice is returned by the postal authorities, the County Engineer, or his designated representative, shall cause a copy of the notice to be personally served by an authorized representative upon the owners or occupants of the property or upon any agent of the owner thereof. In the event that personal service cannot be accomplished, as aforesaid, after reasonable efforts, then notice shall be accomplished by physical posting on the said property.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
Upon the failure, neglect or refusal of any owner or responsible person, duly notified, to properly dispose of litter or weeds and/or hazardous structures within 10 calendar days after receipt of written notice provided for in § 117-7 above, or within 30 calendar days (including 15 days of physical posting of the property) after the date of such notice in the event the same is returned by the United States Postal Service because of its inability to make delivery of such notice, the County Engineer or his designated representative is hereby authorized and empowered to dispose of such litter or weeds and/or hazardous structures by contract or to order its disposal by County personnel.
When the County has effected the removal of such litter or weeds and/or hazardous structures, or has paid for its removal, the actual costs thereof, if not paid by such owner prior thereto, shall be charged to the owner of such property on the next regular tax bill forwarded to such owner by the County, and said charge shall be due and payable by said owner at the time of payment of such bill.
Where the full amount due the County is not paid by such owner within 30 days after the disposal of such litter or weeds and/or hazardous structures, then, and in that case, the County Engineer shall cause to be recorded in the Finance Office for Talbot County a sworn statement showing the cost and expense incurred for the work, the date the work was done and the location of the property on which said work was done.
Within 30 calendar days from the mailing of the notice referred to in § 117-7 of this article or within 30 calendar days after the date of the expiration of the posting period, whichever is applicable, the owner or responsible person may file a protest with the Talbot County Board of Appeals stating in detail the reasons as to why the action proposed by the County Engineer should not be taken. Upon receipt of such protest, the Talbot County Board of Appeals shall put the cause on its agenda at its earliest convenience, notify the protestant thereof and hear the merits of the protest. The Board may reverse the action of the County Engineer for any error of fact or law or upon a finding that the enforcement constitutes an undue hardship on a property owner which the property owner is physically or financially unable to comply with. If the protestant is dissatisfied with the decision of the Talbot County Board of Appeals, he shall have the right of appeal to the Circuit Court of Talbot County, provided that such appeal is taken within 30 days after the protestant is notified, either at the hearing or in writing, of the Board's decision.
The violation of §§ 117-4 or 117-5 and/or 117-6 of this article, upon conviction thereof by an appropriate court of law, shall be punishable by a fine of from $25 to $500, which shall be payable to the Finance Officer of Talbot County, or imprisonment from one to 90 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. The application of such fine or imprisonment shall not preclude resort by the County to appropriate equitable relief in the Circuit Court for Talbot County.