Wicomico County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of the Wicomico County as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Housing standards — See Ch. 160.
STATUTORY REFERENCES
Nuisance abatement — See the Health-General Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, § 20-306.
[Adopted 5-19-1964 by Ord. No. 19; amended in its entirety 6-13-1990 by Bill No. 1990-12]
The following specific acts, deeds or conditions shall constitute a nuisance within the meaning of this article:
A. 
The deposit or accumulation of any foul, decaying or abandoned putrescent substance or garbage or trash or rubbish, as defined in § 160-6B of the Wicomico County Code, or other offensive matter in or upon any property, street or highway.
[Amended 11-16-2004 by Bill No. 2004-7]
B. 
The overflow of any foul liquids or sewage or the escape of any sewer or sewage gas from any privy, cesspool, seepage pit, septic tank, subsurface tile field or any type of sewage system which is not connected to a municipal sewage system.
C. 
Any open cesspool and any type of sewage system not properly maintained which could constitute a danger to health and/or safety.
D. 
The disposal or accumulation of dead or dying animals, including but not limited to chickens, hogs, horses, cows, sheep, dogs or cats or any fowl, unless the method of removal and disposal is in accordance with state and county requirements.
[Amended 11-16-2004 by Bill No. 2004-7]
E. 
Allowing any plumbing fixture in any location, whether public or privately owned, to be maintained in an unsanitary condition.
F. 
The accumulation of manure, human feces, garbage or any form of filth that has not been so treated as to act as a repellent to flies or which creates offensive odors. The presence of fly eggs, maggots or flies will be sufficient evidence that such accumulation has not been properly treated.
G. 
A polluted well or spring or the pollution of any well or spring used as a potable water supply.
H. 
Any premises that are not provided with a suitable toilet or sanitary privy for all persons working or living therein.
I. 
The conveying of garbage, swill, refuse, dead animals, dead fowl or other filthy matter in a manner not approved by the appropriate enforcement officers through any street or any highway, public or private.
[Amended 11-16-2004 by Bill No. 2004-7]
J. 
No garbage, offal or other decaying or putrescible matter, either by itself or in connection with ashes or other harmless matter, shall be used for the purpose of filling in any lot or other space.
K. 
Permitting the presence of rats and rodents and allowing conditions that would permit property to become a rat or rodent harborage.
L. 
Maintenance of such poor housekeeping within any building (commercial or residential) that the health of the owner, any occupant, employees or neighbors is or can be endangered.
M. 
Maintenance of any such condition which does or could endanger the health of humans through the spreading of such nuisance by streams, surface drainage, air currents, winged life, domestic animals, humans or any other means.
N. 
Any building or structure that is in a severe state of disrepair or abandonment, which is in danger of collapse or which is partially burned or a potential danger to the health and/or safety of anyone who would enter the building, as may be determined by the Housing Official or Building Official.
[Amended 11-16-2004 by Bill No. 2004-7]
O. 
The existence of any pit or open hole as a result of abandonment of a septic tank, cesspool, seepage pit or other excavation work, which could constitute a danger to health and/or safety.
P. 
Abandoned refrigerators, freezers or other appliances that have external latching devices which could constitute a danger to health and/or safety.
Q. 
The following acts, deeds and conditions in and upon all developed and vacant lots within a recorded subdivision, mobile home park or an apartment project and any portion of any unsubdivided parcel, tract or lot within 200 feet thereof and abutting thereon not used for agricultural or forestry purposes are public nuisances:
(1) 
Allowing the uncontrolled growing of weeds higher than 10 inches, provided that, after any cutting required by this article, the remaining stubble shall be no higher than six inches.
[Amended 7-19-2005 by Bill No. 2005-8]
(2) 
The open-lot, not-screened-from-view storage of one or more refrigerators, freezers, appliances or other equipment which could constitute a danger to health and/or safety.
(3) 
The open-lot, not-screened-from-view deposit or accumulation of construction materials or other matter, provided that this provision shall not apply where a building permit is currently in full force and effect.
R. 
Any act, deed, condition, building, trade establishment or manufacturing place which an enforcement official finds, after investigation, to be injurious to the life, health or safety of any person.
[Amended 11-16-2004 by Bill No. 2004-7]
A. 
The properly designated agent of Wicomico County shall give written notice in accordance with this section to the occupier of the premises on which a nuisance arises or exists. Should the occupier of any such premises be a person, firm, corporation or entity other than the owner, then said notice shall be given to both the owner and occupier. Should the premises be unoccupied, the notice shall be given to the owner. Should the premises be unoccupied and the owner cannot be found, notice shall be posted on the property where the nuisance exists.
B. 
The notice shall contain the following:
(1) 
A brief description of the property containing the nuisance;
(2) 
The nature of the nuisance for which action is required and the action required to abate such nuisance;
(3) 
A statement requiring abatement of said nuisance within the time specified within the notice, but in no event more than seven days;
(4) 
Certification of the enforcing official attesting to the truth of the matters set forth.
C. 
Abatement of nuisance.
(1) 
In investigating any complaint, the properly designated agent of the county may enter upon property on which a nuisance is alleged to exist at all reasonable times and in a reasonable manner for the purpose of inspecting the premises to determine if a nuisance does, in fact, exist.
(2) 
If the owners or occupants fail to correct or cause to be corrected or to maintain the property, as required in the notice, the county is hereby authorized to enter upon the aforesaid property and perform or have performed the necessary removal, maintenance or repairs or take any other means necessary to correct the nuisance violations on the property.
D. 
The notice may be served by posting on the property and mailing the same to the occupier and/or owner of the premises whereon such nuisance may exist, or said notice may be served personally upon such owner and/or occupant.
[Amended 10-17-2006 by Bill No. 2006-11]
A. 
Any person, firm, corporation or entity on whom a notice to abate a nuisance has been served in accordance with this article and who refuses or neglects to comply with any of the requirements thereof within the time specified in such notice shall be guilty of a civil infraction and shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000. Each day that such nuisance shall be permitted to exist after the expiration of the time limit in said notice shall be deemed a separate and additional offense.
B. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection B, which provided for initiation of prosecution for a civil infraction by delivery of a citation, was repealed 10-24-2000 by Bill No. 2000-9. For current provisions, see Ch. 221, Violations and Penalties.
C. 
Assessment of lien.
(1) 
In the event that the county is required to abate or correct the nuisance as provided herein, the cost of such abatement or correction shall be assessed to the owner(s) of the land on which the nuisance existed, as well as all subjects of the civil infraction citation. The cost of abatement or correction shall include all actual costs incurred by the county, including but not limited to the costs of all material and labor and any applicable penalties.
(2) 
If unpaid, all said costs and applicable penalties assessed shall become a lien against the property and shall be collected in the same manner as real estate taxes by the county.
(3) 
In addition to the filing of a tax lien, the county may institute any other legal proceedings to collect the costs incurred by the county to correct any nuisances and applicable penalties.
If any provision of this article or the application thereof to any person or entity or circumstances is held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of this article and the application of such provisions to persons or entities or circumstances other than those as to which it is held invalid shall not be affected thereby. The powers conferred by this article shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law.
[Added 6-13-1991 by Bill No. 1991-8]
A. 
Definitions. In general, the following words have the meanings indicated below:
ABANDONED VEHICLE
Any vehicle:
(1) 
That is inoperable and left unattended on county property or roads for more than 48 hours.
(2) 
That has remained illegally on public property for more than 48 hours.
(3) 
Left on public property without displaying currently valid motor vehicle registration plates where applicable.
(4) 
Left on private property without the consent of said real property owner for more than 48 hours.
(5) 
Stored, parked or left on private property in an inoperable condition or without displaying currently valid motor vehicle registration plates where applicable for more than 30 days.
(6) 
Which is not displaying currently valid motor vehicle registration plates and is in either a rusted, wrecked, dismantled, partly dismantled or inoperable condition.
ENCLOSED
Situated within a building or a structure or solid fence at least six feet in height so that view of said vehicle is blocked from adjoining properties and public streets.
[Amended 6-29-1999 by Bill No. 1999-9]
INOPERABLE CONDITION
In a condition where the vehicle is not capable of passing all required tests and inspections imposed by the laws of the State of Maryland for a vehicle to be operated on public roads or highways in the state.
OCCUPANT OF REAL PROPERTY
Any person not an owner having a present possessory interest in said real property.
OWNER OF REAL PROPERTY
Any person who is properly designated on the tax records as the owner of said real property by the Department of Assessments and Taxation.
OWNER OF VEHICLE
The current or last known person to have registered or licensed said vehicle, where applicable, and/or any person so named as the owner, buyer or purchaser in a bill of sale for said vehicle.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, partnership, corporation, association or entity of any kind.
VEHICLE
Any device in, on or by which any individual or property is or might be transported or towed on a public or private road, including but not limited to an automobile, truck, bus, van, motorcycle and motor home.
B. 
Declaration and abatement of abandoned vehicles.
(1) 
No person shall maintain, park, store or leave or permit the maintaining, parking, storing or leaving of any abandoned vehicle on private or public property within Wicomico County. The presence of an abandoned vehicle on public or private property in Wicomico County is hereby declared a public nuisance and a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public and therefore may be abated in the manner set forth herein.
(2) 
In the event that an abandoned vehicle is found to exist on any property, the following procedure for its abatement shall be followed:
(a) 
Any abandoned vehicle located on public or private property and deemed to be an imminent hazard to the life, safety or health of the public may be removed by the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department without first providing any notice whatsoever to the owner of record of said abandoned vehicle.
(b) 
Except as provided above, written notice shall be delivered by a designated official of Wicomico County or sent by registered mail to the owner and/or occupant of the real property upon which an abandoned vehicle is located, requiring that said abandoned vehicle be licensed, repaired, removed or enclosed within 30 days of the date of delivery or mailing of said notice. A copy of such notice shall be delivered or mailed by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the owner of the vehicle, if said vehicle owner is other than an owner or occupant of the real property on which said abandoned vehicle is located, and a copy of such notice shall be posted on the vehicle.
(c) 
If the terms and conditions of such notice are not complied with within said thirty-day period, the county shall then have the power and authority to take said abandoned vehicle into custody and physically remove it or cause it to be removed to a storage area maintained or designated by the county where the vehicle shall remain for at least 30 days or until it is redeemed and all costs incurred by the county are paid, whichever occurs first.
(d) 
Within seven days after a vehicle is taken in custody, notice shall be sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, to:
[1] 
The last known registered owner of the vehicle.
[2] 
Each secured party, as shown on the records of the State Motor Vehicle Administration, or as otherwise known.
[3] 
The notice shall:
[a] 
State that the vehicle has been taken into custody;
[b] 
State the year, make, model and vehicle identification number of said vehicle, if known, and give such other or further description as is reasonably necessary to identify said vehicle;
[c] 
State the name and location of the facility where the vehicle is being held;
[d] 
Inform the owner and secured party of their rights to redeem the vehicle within 30 days from the date of said notice, upon payment of all costs of taking said vehicle into custody, including towing, storage and preservation of the vehicle, and all other costs and applicable fees or fines; and
[e] 
State that the failure of the owner or secured party to exercise the right to redeem the vehicle within the time provided shall be deemed a waiver by such party to all right, title and interest in said vehicle and consent to the sale of said vehicle as herein provided.
(3) 
In the event that the identity or address of the last registered owner of the vehicle cannot be determined or it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and address of a secured party or the registered mail notice provided herein is returned as undeliverable, then the county shall publish one notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county containing the information required by Subsection B(2)(d)[3] of this section.
(4) 
Any vehicle taken into custody and not redeemed within 30 days after said notice as provided herein shall be conclusively presumed to be abandoned by its registered owner, and all lien holders shall be deemed to have waived all right, title and interest in the vehicle, and the vehicle may be sold by the county at public sale or disposed of by any other reasonable means which the county may elect. The proceeds of any sale of an abandoned vehicle shall be allocated as follows:
(a) 
All expenses for taking custody, towing, storing, preserving and selling the vehicle, including all costs of notices incurred under this section shall be paid first.
(b) 
Any remaining proceeds shall be held for 90 days for the owner of the vehicle and any secured party who may be entitled to the proceeds.
(c) 
If no person entitled to receive any remaining proceeds shall claim them within such ninety-day period, the remaining proceeds shall revert to the general fund of the county.
(5) 
Any vehicle taken into custody pursuant to this section may be redeemed at any time after it is taken and prior to the sale of the vehicle by the owner of the vehicle or secured party upon reasonable proof of ownership or of the existence of a security interest and upon furnishing the county sufficient proof that the vehicle will be licensed, repaired or enclosed and by paying to the county all costs incurred, including costs of notices and publication.
C. 
In the event that any vehicle is taken into custody pursuant to this section and sold rather than redeemed, all costs incurred in taking custody, towing, storage, preservation and sale, including the cost of all notices, shall be the joint and several liability of the owner of the real property, owner of the vehicle and occupant of the real property, and such expenses shall be a lien on the real property upon which the vehicle was located and collected in the same manner as real estate taxes by the county. Said expenses shall not be a lien on said real property if the vehicle constitutes an abandoned vehicle pursuant to Subsection A(4) of this section, and the owner of the real property has reported the abandonment to the appropriate authorities within seven days of the abandonment.
D. 
Nothing contained in this section shall apply to the following:
(1) 
Any vehicle which is enclosed or otherwise positioned on private property so that the access to and view of said vehicle is blocked from adjoining properties and public streets.
(2) 
Any real property or the vehicle on the same, if said real property is in a district zoned to permit, and the real property is legally operated as, an automotive dealership or showroom, junkyard, salvage yard, vehicle storage lot or vehicle repair business.
(3) 
Any vehicle for which a permit has been issued by the Department pursuant to Subsection E of this section.
E. 
Permits. The Department of Planning, Zoning and Community Development, pursuant to an application, may grant permits for possession of an abandoned vehicle for a period of up to six months. Permits shall be issued only for an owner or occupant of his property to permit his vehicles for good cause, such as sale, repair or restoration. The cost of the permit shall be $25.
[Amended 3-17-2009 by Bill No. 2009-2]
F. 
Violation. Any person on whom a notice to abate has been served in accordance with this section and who refuses or neglects to comply with any of the requirements thereof within the time specified shall be guilty of a civil infraction and shall be subject to a fine of $100. Each day that said person is in violation shall be deemed a separate and additional offense. The Director of the Department of Planning, Zoning and Community Development, or his designee, is hereby authorized to issue citations for civil infractions of this article.
[Amended 10-24-2000 by Bill No. 2000-9]
[Added 4-4-2006 by Bill No. 2006-3]
A. 
Within this section, the following words have the meanings indicated below:
FIREARM
Any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun designed to propel any projectile by means of explosive energy.
SCHOOL
A public, parochial or private school giving regular instruction at least five days a week, except holidays, for a normal school year of not less than seven months.
B. 
It shall be unlawful for any person to fire or discharge a firearm:
(1) 
From, onto, across or within 1,000 feet of any school, the area within that distance being hereby defined as a safety zone; or
(2) 
In the direction of any school wherein the person firing or discharging the firearm knows or should have known that the projectile or projectiles have a reasonable chance of striking the structure or human beings.
C. 
Nothing in this section shall be held to apply to or prohibit the firing or discharge of firearms:
(1) 
On a bona fide shooting range;
(2) 
Where necessary to protect life or property or to kill any dangerous threatening animal; or
(3) 
To any duly authorized law enforcement officer acting in the proper performance of his/her official duties.
D. 
Violations and penalties.
(1) 
Any violation of § 174-6 shall be deemed a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $2,500 or imprisonment for not more than 60 days, or both.
(2) 
The prohibitions stated or the powers conferred by this section shall be in addition and supplemental to the prohibitions stated or powers conferred by any other law.
[Adopted 7-6-2010 by Bill No. 2010-04]
This article is enacted to help prevent the spread of graffiti vandalism, to establish a program for the removal of graffiti from public and private property, and to provide additional enforcement tools to protect public and private property from acts of graffiti vandalism and defacement. Graffiti is a public nuisance and destructive of the rights and values of property owners as well as the entire community.
In general, the following words have the meanings indicated below:
BROAD-TIPPED MARKER
Any indelible marker or similar implement with a tip which, at its broadest length, width or diameter is 1/8 inch or greater.
DEFACEMENT
The intentional altering of the physical shape or physical appearance of property.
GRAFFITI
Any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, painting, symbol, design or other defacement that is written, marked, etched, scratched, sprayed, drawn, painted, inscribed, tagged, sketched, carved, scraped or engraved on or otherwise applied to any surface of public or private property by any graffiti implement, without the prior authorization of the owner or occupant of the property.
GRAFFITI IMPLEMENT
An aerosol paint container, a broad-tipped marker, gum label, paint stick or graffiti stick, etching equipment, brush or any other device or substance capable of scarring or leaving a visible mark on any natural or man-made surface.
MINOR
Any person less than the age of 18 years.
PERPETRATOR
Any person applying graffiti to any property.
PERSON
Any individual, partnership, association, corporation, personal representative, receiver, trustee, assignee or any other legal entity.
PROPERTY
Any real or personal property and that which is affixed, incidental or appurtenant to real property, including, but not limited to, any structure, fence, wall, building, bridge, sidewalk, storm drain, sign, whether permanent or not.
A. 
Defacement. It shall be unlawful for any person to apply graffiti to property, either publically or privately owned, without the express permission of the owner or operator of such property. Each property defaced shall be considered a separate offense.
B. 
Possession of graffiti implements.
(1) 
No person, including a minor, may possess a graffiti implement on public or private property with the intent to deface the property without the express permission of the owner or operator of the property.
(2) 
No minor may possess any graffiti implement while on any school property, grounds, facilities, buildings, or structures, or in areas immediately adjacent to those specific locations, without the prior written consent of the owner or occupant of the property. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the possession of broad-tipped markers by a minor attending or traveling to or from a school at which the minor is enrolled, if the minor is participating in a class at the school that formally requires the possession of broad-tipped markers. The burden of proof in any prosecution for violation of this subsection shall be upon the minor student to establish the need to possess a broad-tipped marker.
The existence of graffiti on public or private property in violation of this article is expressly declared to be a public nuisance and, therefore, is subject to the removal and abatement provisions specified in this article.
A. 
Any perpetrator on public or private property shall have the duty to remove the graffiti within 10 days after notice by the county, or longer if allowed by the Code Enforcement Officer or private owner of the property involved.
(1) 
Such removal shall be done in a manner that returns the property to its original condition, or as close as possible, prior to the graffiti defacement.
(2) 
The perpetrator shall be responsible for the payment of the costs of the removal, whether the person is physically removing the graffiti or not.
(3) 
Failure of the perpetrator to remove the graffiti or pay for the removal shall constitute a violation of this article. Where a minor is the perpetrator, the parents or legal guardian shall also be responsible for such removal or for the payment for the removal.
B. 
The notice required by Subsection A of this section shall contain the following information:
(1) 
The street address and legal description of the property sufficient for identification of the property;
(2) 
A statement that the property is a graffiti nuisance property with a concise description of the conditions leading to the finding;
(3) 
A statement that the graffiti must be removed within 10 days after receipt of the notice and that if the graffiti is not abated within that time, the county will take further legal action; and
(4) 
Certification of the enforcing official attesting to the truth of the matters set forth.
C. 
The notice required by Subsection A of this section shall be served on the perpetrator by written notice mailed, certified mail return receipt requested to the last known address of the individual, or by personal service upon such individual.
A. 
Whenever the county becomes aware or is notified and determines that graffiti is located on publicly or privately owned property viewable from a public place, the county shall be authorized to use public funds, if they are available, for the removal of the graffiti, or for the painting or repairing of the graffiti, but shall not authorize or undertake to provide for the painting or repair of any more extensive an area than that where the graffiti is located, unless the Code Enforcement Officer determines in writing that a more extensive area is required to be repainted or repaired, or unless the property owner agrees to pay for the costs of repainting or repairing the more extensive area.
B. 
Prior to entering upon private property or property owned by a public entity other than the county for the purpose of graffiti removal, the county, through the Code Enforcement Officer, shall attempt to secure the consent of the property owner and a release of the county from liability for property damage or personal injury. The release of liability form shall be approved by the County Attorney.
C. 
If the county has requested consent to remove or paint over the graffiti and the property owner has refused consent for entry on terms acceptable to the county, the county shall commence abatement and cost recovery proceedings for the graffiti removal according to the provisions in § 174-13B.
A. 
Perpetrator.
(1) 
Criminal.
(a) 
Any person who violates, refuses or neglects to comply with §§ 174-9 and 174-11A shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 60 days, and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000. Each and every different property defaced is a separate offense. Each day that such graffiti shall be permitted to exist after the expiration of the time limit in the notice required by § 174-11 shall be deemed a separate and additional offense.
(b) 
In lieu of, or as part of, the penalties specified in this section, a minor or adult may be required to perform community service as described by the court.
(c) 
The court may order any violator to make restitution to the victim for damages or loss caused directly or indirectly by the violator's offense in the amount or manner determined by the court. In the case of a minor, the parents or legal guardian shall be ordered jointly and severally liable with the minor to make the restitution. If unpaid, all said restitution assessed shall become a lien against the property of the minor and/or the minor's parents' or legal guardian's property.
(d) 
In the case of a minor, the parents or legal guardian shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for payment of all fines. If unpaid, all said fines assessed shall become a lien against the property of the minor and/or the minor's parents' or legal guardian's property.
(e) 
In the event that the county is required to abate the graffiti as provided herein against the perpetrator, the cost of such abatement shall be assessed to the perpetrator. The cost of abatement shall include all actual costs incurred by the county, including, but not limited to, the costs of all material and labor and any applicable penalties. If unpaid, all said costs and applicable penalties assessed shall become a lien against the property of the perpetrator and shall be collected in the same manner as real estate taxes by the county. In the case of a minor perpetrator, the parents or legal guardian shall be ordered jointly and severally liable with the minor to pay the costs of the abatement.
B. 
Property owner.
(1) 
Civil.
(a) 
Any person, firm, corporation or entity who refuses or neglects to permit the county to enter their property shall be guilty of a civil infraction and shall be subject to a fine of $100 for the first offense; $200 for the second offense; and $500 for each subsequent offense. Each day that such nuisance shall be permitted to exist after a refusal to permit the county entry on to their property shall be deemed a separate and additional offense.
(b) 
If the court renders judgment that the person is guilty of the civil infraction, the court may order the person to abate the infraction. (See § 221-7I.)
(c) 
In the event that the county is required to abate the graffiti because of the person's failure to follow the court order under § 174-13B(1)(b), the cost of such abatement shall be assessed to the owner(s) of the land on which the graffiti existed, as well as all subjects of the civil infraction citation. The cost of abatement shall include all actual costs incurred by the county, including, but not limited to, the costs of all material and labor and any applicable penalties. If unpaid, all said costs and applicable penalties assessed shall become a lien against the violator's property and shall be collected in the same manner as real estate taxes by the county.
C. 
Graffiti trust fund. Any fines assessed and collected against any violator of this article shall be placed in the Graffiti Trust Fund, along with any monetary donations received from persons wishing to contribute to the fund. The County Executive shall direct the expenditures of monies from the fund. Such expenditures shall be limited to the payment of the cost of graffiti removal and administration of this article.