[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners 4-24-2001 by Ord. No. 293. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Building Code — See Ch. 65.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 82.
Minimum Livability Code — See Ch. 110.
Refuse collection — See Ch. 125.
Sanitary landfills — See Ch. 129.
Stormwater management — See Ch. 134.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 121, Property Maintenance, adopted 8-29-2000 by Ord. No. 287.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Maintenance of Property Ordinance of Dorchester County."
The purpose of this chapter is to establish standards for abandoned motor vehicle(s), appliances, furniture, tires and other similar trash or junk, thereby protecting the property values in the county.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any motor vehicle:
- A. That is inoperable and left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours;
- B. That has remained on private property for more than 48 hours without the consent of the property owner(s); or
- C. That has remained on public property for more than 48 hours and is not displaying current valid registration plates.
- ADJOINING PROPERTY
- Property which is adjacent to or lying near the subject property.
- BOAT TRAILER
- A vehicle that is designed and constructed to transport a boat used for recreational purposes; and of a size and weight that does not require a special highway movement permit when towed by a motor vehicle.
- CAMPING TRAILER
- A vehicle that is mounted on wheels; and has collapsible partial sidewalls that fold for towing by another vehicle and unfold to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel use.
- County Commissioners of Dorchester County, Maryland, or their designated agent.
- The Department of Planning and Zoning, Dorchester County, Maryland.
- DESIGNATED AGENT
- The person or persons designated by the Department or County Commissioners of Dorchester County to enforce this chapter.
- See "solid waste disposal facility."
- Any old, scrap, dismantled, inoperable, abandoned or dilapidated boats, machinery, household furniture and appliances, construction equipment and materials, trailers, tanks, drums, tires, pipes, cloth, wire, paper, metals, rags, glass or trash or any other kind of salvage or waste material of any kind; rubbish.
- JUNK VEHICLE
- Any old, scrap, dismantled, inoperable, abandoned or dilapidated motor vehicle(s), vehicles or mopeds and parts thereof; and including unregistered trailer, semitrailer, travel trailer, camping trailer, boat trailer or mobile home.
- JUNKYARD/SALVAGE YARD
- Any land or building used for the storage, keeping, collecting, salvage, sale, exchange, disassembling, wrecking, baling, recycling or handling of paper, rags, wood, scrap metals or other scrap or discarded materials, including automobiles or other vehicles and equipment not in operable condition, but not including pawn shops and buildings for the sale, purchase or storage of used furniture and household equipment, land or buildings used for the sale of used cars or other machinery in operable condition or the processing of used or salvaged materials as part of manufacturing operations.
- See the definition of "solid waste disposal facility."
- MOBILE HOME
- A trailer or semitrailer that is designed, constructed and equipped as a permanent or temporary living or sleeping place and for use as a conveyance on highways, but that does not qualify as a camping trailer or travel trailer as these terms are defined in the subtitle; or a trailer or a semitrailer that has a chassis and exterior shell designed and constructed as described herein, but that is used instead, either permanently or temporarily, for the advertising, sale, display or promotion of merchandise or services, as an office or for any other similar purpose, except the transportation of property for hire or the transportation of property for distribution by a private carrier.
- A bicycle that is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of a motor; is equipped with pedals that mechanically drive the rear wheel or wheels; has two or three wheels, of which one is more than 14 inches in diameter; and has a motor with a rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less and, if the motor is an internal combustion engine, capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less.
- A motor vehicle that has one front wheel and one or two rear wheels on a single axle; and is self-propelled by a motor with a rating of more than 1.5 brake horsepower; and has a singular front steering road wheel mounted in a fork assembly that passes through a frame steering bearing and to which is attached a handlebar or other directly operated steering device; and has a seat that is straddled by the driver; and, except for a windshield or windscreen, does not have any enclosure or provision for an enclosure for the driver or any passenger.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Is self-propelled or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead electrical wires; and is not operated on rails.
- Any person, firm, corporation, occupant, renter or group holding title to property.
- The person, firm, corporation, occupant, renter or group on the land.
- Structural construction waste materials and materials generated by building demolition, including rocks, concrete, asphalt, brick, lumber, pilings, plaster, plaster board, roofing and metal and organic waste material, including root matter, brush, tree limbs, stumps, wood chips, shavings and soil, except; a) rocks, concrete and brick used for shore erosion control or b) recycled building material to be used on site within a one-year period.
- A vehicle that has no motive power; and is designed to carry people or property and to be towed by a motor vehicle; and is constructed so that some of its weight and load rests on or is carried by another vehicle.
- SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITY
- Any land used for the disposal or storage of solid waste material, including garbage, sewage, trash, rubble, construction debris and all other kinds of organic or inorganic refuse, by abandonment, discarding, dumping, reduction, burial, incineration or any other similar means.
- Anything constructed or erected with a fixed location on the ground or attached to something having a fixed location on the ground. Among other things, "structure" includes buildings, manufactured homes, walls, fences, signs and semitrailers, parts of semitrailers and walk-in-type truck bodies.
- A vehicle that has no motive power; and is designed to carry people or property and to be towed by a motor vehicle; and is constructed so that no part of its weight rests on the towing vehicle.
- See the definition of "junk."
- TRAVEL TRAILER
- A vehicle that is mounted on wheels; and is of such a size and weight as not to require any special highway movement permit when towed by a motor vehicle; and is designed and constructed primarily to provide temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel use; and is no longer than 40 feet.
- UNTAGGED VEHICLE
- Any motor vehicle or vehicle that is subject to the registration requirements of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland that does not display current registration plates and a validation tab issued for the current year by the Motor Vehicle Administration, except an untagged vehicle does not include an untagged vehicle which is used on a farm or in a business that is operational and not subject to the vehicle registration laws of Maryland (Example: boat trailers, boat dollies or boat carts that cannot be legally registered).
Every resident within the unincorporated areas of Dorchester County, Maryland, shall be responsible for keeping and maintaining his land free of abandoned motor vehicles, appliances, furniture, tires, boats(s), trash, junk or similar items.
This chapter shall not apply to the following:
The incorporated areas of Dorchester County, Maryland, unless the governing body of the incorporated area and the county enter into an agreement authorizing the county to enforce this chapter within the incorporated area.
Any appliances, furniture, tires, trash, junk, rubble, motor vehicle, vehicle, moped and parts thereof which are located in a properly zoned area in conjunction with a bona fide legally approved and maintained dealership, junkyard/salvage yard or repair facility.
Any abandoned motor vehicle(s), appliances, furniture, tires, boats(s), rubble, vehicle, moped and similar items which are maintained in a completely enclosed structure.
Storage of motor vehicles as accessory to lawfully operated automobile service and sales facilities.
Any bona fide solid waste disposal facility in conformance with state and Dorchester County regulations.
Automotive dismantling or recycling stations approved by the county.
All existing enclosed walk-in-type truck bodies that have been removed from trucks (excluding mobile homes, campers, RV's, pick-up truck beds or flat beds), but to include enclosed trailers of a semitrailer type that have had their wheels, axles, landing gear removed and have been placed in an affixed location and are being used as storage/accessory structures, or used as a walk-in cooler.
No more than one untagged or junk vehicle shall be permitted at any one time, provided that the property owner or resident can demonstrate that the motor vehicle is:
Recently purchased pending inspection, for a period not to exceed 60 consecutive days.
Being advertised for sale, for a period not to exceed 90 consecutive days.
Actively being repaired to a permitted condition and will be registered within a ninety-day period or within an extension of the period granted by the Department after application, in writing, showing good cause; to a maximum of six months.
Being held pending settlement of insurance, estate or similar claims.
Purpose. Screening is required in order to protect adjoining properties, waterways and roadways from uses which are visually incompatible with neighboring land uses.
Screening is required on any portion of land not exempted under § 121-4 where junk, abandoned, wrecked, untagged or dismantled motor vehicles, or junk vehicle(s) or parts thereof, or junk appliances, furniture, recyclable rubble and similar items are stored and can be seen from a public road, private road, waterway or on an adjoining property.
Screening material may be trees, shrubbery, masonry, wooden fencing, an approved car cover or other material deemed suitable by the Department. A maximum of four vehicles per property may be screened. No more than two may be screened by a fitted car cover. Where masonry or wooden fencing over 200 feet in length is utilized, a minimum two-foot strip outside the fencing or masonry shall be landscaped with clusters of trees and shrubs at each end of the fence and at no less than fifty-foot intervals in between to visually break up the wall or fence.
The height of any screening shall be sufficient to screen junk, abandoned motor vehicle(s), vehicle(s), mopeds and other similar items stored outside. The height of any wall or fence must be consistent with Dorchester County Zoning Regulations.
The designated agent of the Department shall proceed, upon detection of a violation of this chapter, as follows:
The designated agent shall notify the property owner and/or the person responsible for such violation. The notice shall indicate the nature of the violation and order the action necessary to correct it within a reasonable period of time.
The owner, tenant or agent of any owner or tenant of any premises or part thereof who commits, participates in, assists in or maintains such violation may each be found guilty of a separate offense and suffer the penalties herein provided.
If the owner, tenant or agent of any owner or tenant of any premises or part thereof does not correct the violation after 30 days (unless extended by the Department) or present just cause to the county of why compliance cannot be met, the county may proceed with any required action necessary to correct and/or abate the violation.
Service of violation notice. The violation notice may be served upon the owner of land and/or occupant by any of the following methods:
If the owner or occupant of the land fails to correct a violation contained in the violation notice or maintain his land and property as required by this chapter, the county may enter onto the land and perform or have performed the necessary removal, maintenance or repairs or take other means necessary to correct the violation(s) found on the land.
Should the county be required to take action to correct a violation, it shall be lawful for the county to assess the owner or occupant of the land in violation the cost of all work, repair and maintenance.
In addition, the county may institute any other legal proceedings to collect the cost of the work to correct the violation, as well as court costs and attorney's fees.
The cost of the work performed by the county and other expenses incurred by the county shall become a lien on the land and property and shall be collected in the same manner as are the annual county property taxes collected.
Any person or persons found guilty of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 or imprisoned for not exceeding 30 days, or both, in the discretion of the court. To the maximum extent possible under the law, the courts shall order the violation removed or corrected and shall issue such additional order as may be necessary and/or appropriate to safeguard against future violation of this chapter.
Complaints. Whenever a violation of this chapter occurs or is alleged to have occurred, any person may report the same to the Department either verbally or in writing. The complaint shall contain at a minimum: property address/location, type of problem/violation, owner or occupant's name (if known) and the name of the complainant.
Inspection. The Department Director or his duly authorized agents have the right to enter and inspect the property.