[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Crisfield as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 7-23-1980 as Article 4 of Ord. No. 346]
No permit or license issued by the City Clerk or Inspector shall be effective until 48 hours after issuance.
The City Clerk or Inspector may issue or deny any permits or licenses authorized by this Code or decline to issue or deny any permit or license without prejudice. In the latter event, the applicant may appear before the Board or Mayor and Council having jurisdiction thereof at the next regular session for a determination de novo. Determination shall be made at that time without postponement. Failure of the applicant to appear shall automatically constitute a denial.
The Inspector appointed by the Mayor, with the approval of the Council, shall have the authority of a public health officer as provided by § C4-1B(30) of the Charter and such other authority provided by this Code.
[Adopted 10-9-2019 by Ord. No. 690]
The purpose of this article is to establish a mechanism to protect residential and commercial neighborhoods from becoming blighted through lack of adequate maintenance and to ensure the security of vacant properties.
The provisions of this article are in addition to and not in lieu of any other applicable provision of the Code of the City of Crisfield.
The following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- BLIGHTED BUILDING
- Any building or portion thereof, along with the lot on which it exists, that poses a serious or immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the public or is not being maintained, is dilapidated, or is an obvious nuisance as deemed by the Inspector. Examples include, but are not limited to, missing or boarded windows or doors; collapsing or missing walls, roofs or floors; seriously damaged or missing siding; structurally faulty foundations; garbage, trash or abandoned/unregistered vehicles on premises; overgrown, diseased, dead or decayed trees, weeds and vegetation; unmaintained swimming pool, pond, or other body of water; graffiti; fire damage; harboring vermin or other animal nuisances.
- A building or structure where, in place of one or more exterior doors, other than a storm door or of one or more windows, there is plywood or similar material covering the space for such door or window so that a door or window is secured.
- Any combination of materials having a roof and enclosed within exterior walls or firewalls, built to form a structure for the shelter of persons or property, excluding accessory structures that are incidental to the principal structure located on the same lot.
- COMMERCIAL STOREFRONT
- Any area within a building that may be individually leased or rented for commercial use.
- EVIDENCE OF VACANCY
- A condition that on its own or combined with other conditions would reasonably be believed that the property is vacant, which includes, but is not limited to, overgrown or dead vegetation; accumulation of newspapers, circulars, or mail; past-due utility notices or disconnected utilities; accumulation of trash or debris; absence of window coverings (curtains, blinds); absence of furnishings or personal items associated with residential habitation; and statements from neighbors, delivery agents, government officials, etc., that the property is vacant.
- A building or structure where one or more persons actually conducts a lawful business in all or any part of the building as the licensed business occupant, or as the legal or equitable owner/occupant(s) or tenant(s) on a permanent, nontransient basis, or any combination of the same. For purposes of this article, evidence offered to prove that a building is so occupied may include, but shall not be limited to, proof of continual electric, gas, heating, and water and sewer services.
- Any person, beneficiary, copartnership, association, trust, corporation or fiduciary having a legal or equitable title or interest in any real property.
- OWNER OF RECORD
- The person or legal entity having a recorded title to the property that has, at any given time, been recorded in the Maryland Land Records.
- PROPERTY PLAN
- This plan identifies the owner's plans for the building or structure; its current status; and the measures in place to ensure that the building is secured and how it will be maintained, in compliance with applicable City codes.
- A building or structure that has a permanent door or window in each appropriate building opening that is secured to deter vandalism and unauthorized entry and has all its door and window components, including frames, jambs, rails, stiles, muntins, mullions, panels, sashes, lights and panes, intact and unbroken.
- Any vacant or abandoned building or structure not continuously secured, maintained, locked or boarded to deter vandalism and unauthorized entry; fails to provide protection from weather damage; and is an attractive nuisance to children, vagrants, criminals, or other unauthorized persons.
- A building structure in which there is no habitual presence of persons who have a legal right to be on the premises, or in which all lawful business, construction activity, or residential occupancy has substantially ceased, or which is substantially devoid of contents.
Applicability. This article shall be applicable to any building or structure designed or used for residential or commercial uses or purposes that has been vacant for at least 90 consecutive days. Evidence of vacant or blighted buildings includes, but is not limited to:
Property is habitually vacant for long periods unrelated to the normal commercial vacancy cycle;
Attracts illegal activity and calls for service, as documented by the Police Department;
Is a fire hazard, as determined by the Fire Marshal or as documented by the Fire Department;
Creates a substantial and unreasonable interference with the reasonable and lawful use and enjoyment of other space within a residential or commercial neighborhood, as documented by resident or business complaints, or cancellations of insurance on adjacent properties or increased cost of insurance;
Partially constructed, reconstructed, or demolished building or structure upon which work was abandoned, showing no current building or demolition permit or when no substantial work on the project has been done for a period of six consecutive months or more.
Exemptions. The following are exempt from the provisions of this article:
A resident on an extended vacation or alternative living arrangement, including over winter months, with the intention to return to the property and live. A verified emergency contact number for the property owner or responsible party must be provided and the property must be maintained by a local person/agent so that it does not appear vacant.
A building that has suffered fire damage, if the cleanup, repair or demolition is completed within 120 days from the date of the fire. Written request for exemption must be provided.
The Inspector shall notify a property owner of a building or structure that is deemed vacant or blighted. The notice shall include supporting documentation, such as photos, water usage reports, or any such information in support of the determination.
Registration. The owner of a vacant or blighted building or structure shall file a registration statement for each such building or structure with the Inspector on forms provided by the City. Registration shall be required for all vacant or blighted buildings or structures, whether vacant and secured, vacant and unsecured, or vacant and boarded, whenever any building or structure has remained vacant for 90 consecutive days or more.
Contents. The registration form shall consist of the following information:
There is no fee for the registration of a property, if it is registered within 30 days of receiving notice from the Inspector identifying reasons for the determination as a vacant or blighted property.
The owner, or the responsible person or agent for the owner, shall notify the Inspector within 30 days of any change to the information contained in the registration statement on file with the Inspector.
Properties not registered after 30 days' notice shall be fined $100. If unpaid, within 90 days the fine will become a lien on the property and collected in the same manner as real estate taxes.
The property owner shall have 30 days from the date of the report to appeal the determination or to provide evidence, in writing, to the Inspector showing proof that the property is not vacant or blighted. Upon receipt, the Inspector will schedule a hearing within 20 days before the Board of Zoning Appeals for a final determination as to whether or not the building or structure is vacant and/or blighted.