[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Commissioners of Allegany County 1-8-2004 by Bill No. 11-03, effective 2-22-2004 (Ch. 189 of the 1984 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Purpose. To provide measures for identifying and addressing structures deemed unsafe by the County, and the abatement and enforcement thereof.
Authority. This chapter is authorized under the provisions of Article XI-F, Section 3, of the Constitution of Maryland.
Jurisdiction. This chapter shall apply to the unincorporated areas of Allegany County.
Applicability. Every person, firm or corporation, as below defined, outside of incorporated municipalities in Allegany County, shall be required to maintain structures in a safe condition.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CODES INSPECTOR
- An employee of Allegany County whose duties include inspection and application of enforcement measures necessary to carry out the terms of this chapter under the direction of the Division Chief.
- ENCLOSED STRUCTURE
- An existing building with a continuous envelope defining interior space, excepting only openings designed for doors or windows, which is intended to secure said interior space for residential or commercial use.
- RESPONSIBLE PARTY
- An operator, landowner, tenant or any other person lawfully in possession of any real property upon which is located an unsafe structure or any person who is the current or most recent ownership of any personal property containing an unsafe structure.
- Includes buildings, public utilities structures and other freestanding man-made structures anchored to or sitting upon the earth.
- UNSAFE STRUCTURE
- Vacant structures that have been determined to be structurally unsound as a result of fire, climatic events, infestations of insects or vermin, general neglect or inadequate maintenance, and which may pose a threat to human life or neighboring properties. A vacant structure that is not secured against entry may, at the discretion of the County, be deemed unsafe.
No person shall inhabit, or permit inhabitation of, an unsafe structure in Allegany County.
Identification. An alleged violation, as reported to or witnessed by the County, will be investigated by the Codes Inspector to determine compliance with this Code.
Inspection. Where probable cause of a violation of these provisions exists, the County shall:
Concluding an investigation and determination that the structure is deemed an unsafe structure by the County, the Codes Inspector shall order the responsible party to raze and remove or make safe the unsafe structure, as the County deems necessary, and as provided for in this section.
The Codes Inspector shall serve on the responsible party a written notice that describes the condition deemed unsafe and that specifies the required repairs or improvements to be made to abate the unsafe condition, or notice that requires the unsafe structure to be razed within a stipulated time. Such notice shall require the responsible party to declare immediately to the County acceptance or rejection of the terms of the order.
Record. The Codes Inspector shall cause a report to be filed on an unsafe condition. The report shall state the occupancy of the structure and the nature of the unsafe condition.
Abatement. The structure determined to be unsafe by the County is permitted to be restored to a safe condition. To the extent that repairs, alterations or additions are made or a change of occupancy occurs during the restoration of the structure, such repairs, alterations, additions or change of occupancy shall comply with the requirements of the Code of of Allegany County, Maryland, Chapter 255, Building Construction.
Upon written notification by the Codes Inspector, the responsible party shall have a thirty-day period to abate the violation(s).
Any responsible party given proper notice who does not comply within the thirty-day period given shall be served with a civil citation pursuant to authority granted by Article 25B, § 13(c), of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The following violations are deemed to be civil infractions:
Class A: ownership of an unsafe structure.
All civil citations shall be processed in accordance with Article 25B, § 13(c), of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Each day that a violation exists is considered a separate offense. Repeat violations for the same offense can result in a fine of up to $1,000.
A schedule of fines for civil infractions shall be established by the Allegany County Commissioners, from time to time by resolution. All such fines, when paid, shall become the property of Allegany County.
Except for those acts declared to be civil infractions, all other violations of this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto shall constitute a misdemeanor and shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 30 days or by a fine of not less than $100 but not more than $1,000, or both, and court costs, at the discretion of the court as provided herein. If any violation be continued, each day's violation shall be deemed a separate offense.
If the owner of a premises fails to comply with demolition, or a make-safe order within the time prescribed, the Codes Inspector shall cause the structure to be made safe, or demolished and removed, either through an available public agency or by contract or arrangement with private persons, and the cost of such work, or demolition and removal, shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon the real estate and may be collected by any other legal resource.
The County or any citizen may institute injunction, mandamus, or other appropriate actions, or proceedings at law or equity for the enforcement of violations or to correct violations; and any court of competent jurisdiction shall have the right to issue restraining orders, temporary or permanent injunctions, mandamus, or other appropriate forms of remedy or relief.