Town of Forest Heights, MD
Prince George's County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 10-5-2015 by Ord. No. 07-15]
[Amended 10-5-2015 by Ord. No. 07-15]
Except as stated herein, the Town Council does hereby recognize and declare to be effective within the Town, the Prince George's County Building and Housing Codes, including building, grading, construction, electrical, plumbing, zoning, subdivision and any other land use or land development related codes, and amendments thereto subsequently adopted, and the Maryland Rehabilitation Code, as amended from time to time. Any or all permits which may be required by the pertinent County codes for construction or modification of buildings and structures within the Town shall be obtained from Prince George's County, and the Town Council, pursuant to the Maryland Annotated Code, Land Use Article, § 25-303, which, subject to the approval of the District Council, may by ordinance impose stricter or additional conditions, restrictions, or limitations on fences, residential parking, and residential storage than are otherwise required by County zoning regulations.
A. 
Buildings and construction.
[Amended 9-5-2017 by Ord. No. 05-17]
(1) 
Building permit required. No person shall construct or erect any building, structural addition, fence over four feet in height, swimming pool or other improvement, or move, burn or demolish any sound structure or improvement, without a valid permit issued by the Town. A separate permit shall be required for the keeping of any dumpster for construction purposes on any private property within the Town.
(2) 
Exemptions. A permit is not required for the demolition or removal of fences or collapsed structures or for decorative or preventive maintenance.
(3) 
Fee; approval of plans by other agencies. All applications for building permits shall be accompanied by a fee equivalent to 1/2 the fee charged by Prince George's County. A Town dumpster permit shall be $10. All plans and specifications shall first be approved by Prince George's County and meet current applicable county codes for the work to be done in accordance with the International Building Code, 2015 Edition, as amended from time to time by the county. Any plan for the construction of a new building shall demonstrate that the sewer connection or disposal system has been approved by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Any plan for the demolition, burning or removal of a building shall show that the county Fire Marshal has approved the plan.
(4) 
Application. All applications for building permits shall be requested using a form provided by the Town and shall include:
(I) 
The name of the owner;
(II) 
Address and lot and block number;
(III) 
Kind of building;
(IV) 
Number of stories;
(V) 
Building dimensions and location on the lot;
(VI) 
Projected use;
(VII) 
Description and estimated value of the work to be done;
(VIII) 
Zoning designation of the area;
(IX) 
Zoning approval; and
(X) 
Owner's affidavit.
(5) 
Term of permit; resubmission of applications. The permit is valid for one year from the date of issue. If construction is to last longer than one year, the applicant must resubmit to the Town a permit application on or before the anniversary date of his initial filing. The fee for such filing shall be the same as the initial fee. In the case of swimming pools, a construction permit is valid for six months from the date of issuance. If construction is to last longer than six months, the applicant must resubmit to the Town a permit application on or before the expiration date. The fee for such filing shall be the same as the initial fee.
(6) 
Nonrefundable fees; filing of plans; damage to public ways. All application fees are nonrefundable, and all plans and specifications submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer shall be kept on file for public inspection. The applicant shall be responsible to the Town for any damages to the public ways in the course of construction.
(7) 
Project changes; plan amendment approval required. Any material change in a project for which a building permit has been issued shall be submitted to the Town as an amendment to the plans and specifications of the project. No work on the change shall commence until the amendment has been approved and filed with both Prince George's County and the Town of Forest Heights. The Code Enforcement Officer or any other person authorized by the Mayor shall issue a stop-work order against any person violating this subsection.
(8) 
Soil conservation standards. The soil conservation standards currently in effect in the county which regulate clearing, grading and construction operations within the county shall be effective within the Town.
(9) 
Rights of inspection and revocation. Any person so appointed by the Mayor shall have the right to inspect any activity for which a building permit has been issued. This right of inspection shall be exercised only during reasonable hours of the day and shall extend until completion of work for which the permit was issued. The Mayor shall revoke the permit of any person or his agent who impedes or refuses an inspection or who deviates from the plans or specifications unless amended.
(10) 
Stop-work orders. The Mayor may issue a stop-work order if work being prosecuted is contrary to the provisions or conditions of the permit. The stop-work order shall be in writing and shall be given to the owner of the property involved or to the owner's agent or to the person doing the work and shall state the conditions under which work may be resumed. Any person who shall continue any work after having been served with a stop-work order shall be in violation of this subsection and shall be subject to a penalty as provided in Section 3.7.
B. 
Subdivisions. Referrals for subdivision or resubdivision of any property which lies within the boundaries of Forest Heights shall be submitted to the Town Council on or before the date of submittal to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and/or the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Such referrals shall include plans, including proposed construction, roads, drainage and plat with street frontage, which conform to specifications set by the Town Council.
[Amended 9-5-2017 by Ord. No. 05-17]
C. 
Rental property permit.
[Amended 5-2-2011 by Ord. No. 05-10]
(1) 
A rental property permit shall be issued to all property owners whose properties: 1) are rental properties, or 2) the owner or owners reside in their properties less than six months out of the year, when otherwise rented to others. A rental property permit must be obtained from the Town Clerk of Forest Heights not later than September 1, 2007, or prior to renting the property, whichever is later.
(2) 
Before the owner or agent of any single-family dwelling, apartment, rooming house, hotel or motel within the corporate limits of the Town of Forest Heights shall rent, lease or otherwise let said unit or premises to be occupied by any person or persons other than himself or herself and members of his or her family, he or she shall secure from the Town a rental property permit. "Family" shall be as defined in Section 27-107.01 of the Zoning Ordinance of Prince George's County, as amended. Except as stated in Subsection C(1), should the owner of record not occupy the property or premises, it shall be presumed that the property is rented and subject to this subsection.
(I) 
Said rental property permit application shall contain the name of the owner or owners of record of said unit, his or her address and telephone number, and any mortgage holder for said property. Said permit shall also specify the exact location of the structure in which said unit is located and the exact number of occupants dwelling therein. There shall be a continuing obligation of the permittee to update this information.
(II) 
All rental property permits shall be issued to the owner of the structure or premises containing said unit or units and shall be issued for a period of one year from the date of issuance at a fee of $75. Said fee and any other fees established by this section may be changed from time to time by resolution of the Town Council.
(III) 
Upon the filing of an application with the Town, the owner shall have two weeks to schedule an inspection.
(IV) 
Failure to apply and obtain a rental property permit pursuant to this section shall be deemed a municipal infraction subject to a fine of $500. Each successive month that a rental property remains without a permit shall be deemed a repeat offense and subject to a fine of $500.
(3) 
A Code Enforcement Officer of the Town is authorized and directed to make annual inspections to determine the condition of rental properties, including single-family dwellings, apartments, rooming houses, hotels or motels located within the corporate limits in order to safeguard the health and safety of the occupants, ensure compliance with all applicable codes and protect the general public. For the purposes of making inspections, a Code Enforcement Officer shall perform his inspection duties subject to the same limitations and conditions pertaining to inspections as found in the Town's Housing and Property Maintenance Code, Section 3.6C.
(4) 
The owner or occupant of a rental property issued or requesting a permit pursuant to this section or the owner or occupant of a rental property that is otherwise let, leased or rented contrary to the requirements of this section shall grant a Code Enforcement Officer unrestricted access to such units or premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of performing such inspections. An owner or occupant that denies entry to perform an inspection by a Code Enforcement Officer shall have his or her rental property permit for the applicable unit, units or premises revoked or denied until the owner complies with this requirement. In the event of a direct complaint from a tenant or resident to the Town of Forest Heights concerning an alleged housing and property maintenance code violation, the Code Enforcement Officer may inspect the premises for verification of such complaint.
(5) 
A charge of $50 will be applied in each case where a dwelling or premises is not accessible to the inspector at the scheduled time. After the first reinspection, there shall be a charge of $50 for each additional inspection needed to bring the property into compliance for the issuance of the rental property permit. Should the property be found to be noncompliant on the first inspection, the owner or occupant shall be given 30 days to become compliant.
D. 
Business licenses.
[Added 5-2-2011 by Ord. No. 05-10; amended 8-1-2011 by Ord. No. 12-11, effective 8-31-2011; 4-20-2016 by Ord. No. 05-16]
(1) 
Definitions. In the construction of this subsection, the following definitions shall be observed unless the context otherwise indicates:
BUSINESS
Means and includes all kinds of vocations, occupations, professions, enterprises, establishments, services, and all other kinds of activities and matters, together with all devices, machines, vehicles and appurtenances used therein, any of which are conducted for private profit or benefit, either directly or indirectly, on any premises in the Town.
CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION
An organization that is determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from federal income taxes under 26 U.S.C. § 501 (c)(3), (4), (6), (7), (8), (10) or (19).
LICENSES or LICENSEE
Means and includes, respectively, the words "permit" and "permittee," or the holder for any use or period of time of any similar privilege, wherever relevant to any provision of this subsection or other laws or ordinances of the Town.
LICENSE OFFICIAL
A person designated to administer this Article.
NONPROFIT ASSOCIATION
An association organized and operating without the purpose of making a profit, such as an association operating for charitable purposes or a church.
PERSON
Means and includes individual natural persons, partnerships, joint ventures, societies, associations, clubs, trustees, trusts or corporations, or any officers, agents, employees, factors or any kind of personal representatives of any thereof, in any capacity, acting either for himself or for any other person under either personal appointment or pursuant to law.
PREMISES
Means and includes all lands, structures, places and also the equipment and appurtenances connected or used therewith in any business, and also any personal property which is either affixed to or is otherwise used in connection with any such business conducted on such premises.
(2) 
Licenses and permits for business activities. No person, corporation, firm, partnership, entity or association shall engage in any kind of business activity for profit or nonprofit within the Town without first obtaining a license or permit. All Town business licenses and permits, including the fees required as applicable, are in addition to any other licenses and permits as may be required by the Prince George's County government and the State of Maryland.
(3) 
Business Classifications and Exemptions.
(I) 
The license official shall determine the appropriate classification for each business in accordance with the latest issue of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) for the United States published by the Office of Management and Budget, and shall administer interpretations whenever necessary to determine the proper classification of a business. No person shall be exempt from this subsection regarding business licensing by reason of the payment of any other tax, unless exempted by state law or this subsection, and no person shall be relieved of liability for the payment of any other tax or fee by reason of the application of this subsection.
(II) 
Charitable organizations and nonprofit associations shall be exempt from the business license fee requirement but shall register their entities with the Town. A charitable organization or any for-profit affiliate of a charitable organization that reports income from for-profit activities, or unrelated business income, for federal income tax purposes to the Internal Revenue Service shall be deemed a business subject to a business license fee on the part of its gross income from such for-profit activities or unrelated business income. A charitable organization shall provide a copy of its tax exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service in order to be designated as a charitable organization. A nonprofit association shall provide a copy of its articles of incorporation and bylaws.
(III) 
Those businesses located in dwellings defined as "home occupations (low-impact)" pursuant to Section 27-107.01(118.1) of the Prince George's County Code as well as any family day-care businesses operating as an accessory use in a dwelling are exempt from the requirement to obtain a business license from the Town.
(4) 
Applications for licenses and permits; fees.
(I) 
All applications for licenses and permits shall be made in writing to the license official annually prior to July 1 with the appropriate fee. Each application shall state the name of the applicant, the permit or license desired, the location to be used, the time covered and the fee to be paid. No license shall be issued until the prescribed fee is paid.
(II) 
The application shall be on a form provided by the license official which shall contain the Social Security Number and/or the federal employer's identification number, the business name as reported in the business entity filings made with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation and as found in its database, and all information about the applicant and the licensee and the business deemed appropriate to carry out the purposes of this Article by the Town.
(III) 
The applicant shall certify under oath that the information given in the application is true and that all real property taxes and personal property taxes on business property and other monies or fees due and payable to the Town have been paid.
(IV) 
No application for a license will be approved for a business or activity which is in violation of the ordinances or laws of the Town, county or state or which is a nuisance or constitutes a danger to the welfare, health or safety of the Town or the public.
(V) 
Fees by business or use.
(A) 
Auto/truck repair shops/garages: $300.
(B) 
Automobile sales: $300.
(C) 
Barber/beauty shops: $300.
(D) 
Car washes: $300.
(E) 
Convenience stores/marts: $300.
(F) 
Dry cleaning and laundromats: $300.
(G) 
Educational/day care centers: $200.
(H) 
Gasoline stations: $300.
(I) 
Home occupations: $0.
(J) 
Lottery sales (per unit): $100.
(K) 
Medical/dental facilities: $200.
(L) 
Nonprofit organizations/churches: $0.
(M) 
Professional offices (per unit): $200.
(N) 
Restaurants/bars: $300.
(O) 
Vending machines (per unit): $25.
(P) 
The fee for all others is $25 for each 500 square feet or portion thereof; the minimum fee is $50, and the maximum fee is $300.
(VI) 
The Council by written resolution approved from time to time shall have the authority to modify or change the amount of any fees established by this Article as found in this subsection.
(5) 
Multiple establishments.
(I) 
If multiple businesses are conducted on any premises, lot or parcel within the Town (e.g., a gasoline station and quick mart with a lottery unit located on a single lot), a separate license and fee shall be required for each separate business establishment, unit or use enumerated herein that is operated on any single premises, lot or parcel located within the Town.
(II) 
If a business conducted on any premises is also conducted on any other premises within the Town, a separate license shall not be required for each branch or separate establishment, provided that warehouses and distribution facilities used in connection with a business are incidental to a business licensed under the provisions of this subsection and shall not be deemed to be separate places of business or branch establishments.
(6) 
Late and adjusted fees.
(I) 
The fee for any business begun after the first quarter of the license year shall be prorated on a quarterly basis for the number of quarters remaining in the year, except that the minimum fee for a license paid on a prorated basis shall be $10.
(II) 
A late fee of $10 shall be charged for any required license obtained after July 1. After July 15 a penalty of 10% of the license fee due shall be charged for each 30 days or fraction thereof that the license fee is overdue, provided that the minimum penalty shall be $5 in addition to the late fee charge of $10.
(7) 
Responsibility for obtaining license. The resident owner or, in the case of no resident ownership, the manager, superintendent or person actually carrying on the business shall be responsible for obtaining the license herein required.
(8) 
Preparation and keeping of records. Forms and records for all licenses and permits and all applications therefor shall be prepared and kept on file by the license official or Town Clerk.
(9) 
Compliance with other regulations. All licenses shall be issued subject to the requirements of the Town's Housing and Property Maintenance Code and other Town ordinances, the laws of the Prince George's County and the State of Maryland.
(10) 
Revocation. All business licenses issued shall be subject to revocation by the Town Council if it is shown that the manner in which such business is conducted is obnoxious or constitutes a nuisance to the public, or if such business is being conducted in violation of any law or ordinance, or if such business constitutes a danger to the public health, safety or welfare of the residents of the Town.
(11) 
Hearing on revocation or denial of license.
(I) 
No application shall be denied or revoked by the person in charge or in authority unless the applicant or any person aggrieved is first afforded the opportunity to be heard in a special or regularly scheduled session of the Council. Notice of such hearing shall be given, in writing, to the applicant or licensee and conspicuously posted in the municipal building at least seven days prior, stating the time and place of said hearing. After the hearing, the Council shall determine whether the license shall be issued, refused, ratified or revoked. No license will be issued and no hearing shall be required if the applicant for a license has not paid in full all fees or taxes due the Town at the time of application.
(II) 
An appeal or a hearing on proposed revocation shall be held by the Council within 30 days after receipt of a request for appeal or service of notice of suspension at a regular or special meeting of which the applicant or licensee has been given written notice, unless continued by agreement. At the hearing, all parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel, to present testimony and evidence and to cross-examine witnesses. The proceedings shall be recorded and transcribed at the expense of the party so requesting. The rules of evidence and procedure prescribed by Council shall govern the hearing. Council shall by majority vote of members present render a written decision based on findings of fact and application of the standards herein which shall be served upon all parties or their representatives and shall be the final decision of the municipality.
(12) 
Transferability; refunds. A license or permit issued pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall not be transferred to another person, firm or corporation. If a licensee or permittee should sell his business, the new owner of said business shall obtain a new license in his own name before engaging in the business of the previous owner. No refund will be made of any part of the license fees paid.
(13) 
Display of license. It shall be the duty of any person conducting a business in the Town to keep his license or permit posted at all times in a prominent place on the premises used for such business.
(14) 
Violations and penalties. Any person or persons, firm or corporation, whether as principal, agent or employee, violating any of the provisions of, or doing any work or act or failing to do any work or act in violation of this subsection, shall be guilty of a municipal infraction. The penalty shall be a fine of $300 for the first offense and $350 for each repeated offense. Each day in which such violation shall occur and during which it shall continue shall be deemed to be a separate offense.
(15) 
Cease and desist orders.
(I) 
Whenever any person or entity is engaging in any conduct in violation of this subsection, the Town Administrator or his designee may order the person(s) or entity to cease and desist all or part of the business until the violation is corrected. An oral cease and desist order shall be followed by a written cease and desist order within 24 hours (excluding Saturday, Sunday or holidays).
(II) 
It shall be unlawful to carry on any business in violation of a cease and desist order except as necessary to prevent injury to persons or property or to correct the violation. A violation of a cease and desist order shall be considered a separate municipal infraction, distinct from the violation that caused the cease and desist order.
(III) 
A cease and desist order shall contain a written notice indicating that there is a right to a hearing before the Town Administrator pursuant to Subsection D(11) of this section.
(16) 
Other remedies. In addition to the other remedies provided herein, the Town Attorney on behalf of the Town of Forest Heights may institute an action for injunctive, mandamus, or other appropriate action or proceedings to enforce the provision of this subsection or Subsection E.
E. 
Liquor Licenses.
[Added 4-20-2016 by Ord. No. 05-16]
(1) 
Liquor license fee. Any place of business located in the Town of Forest Heights that holds a liquor license issued by the Board of License Commissioners for Prince George's County shall be required to pay an annual fee to the Town equal to 20% of the license or license renewal fee charged by the Board of License Commissioners for Prince George's County. This fee shall be due on or before July 1 of each calendar year. Upon receipt of the fee, a Town of Forest Heights liquor license will be issued.
(2) 
A liquor license issued by the Town must be issued in the name of the individual who has been issued a liquor license by the Board of License Commissioners for Prince George's County and will have actual control and management of the business.
(3) 
Penalties. Failure to obtain a Town liquor license as required by this subsection shall be considered a municipal infraction and is subject to a fine of $1,000.
(4) 
Revocation of business license. A business license issued by the Town pursuant to Subsection D of this section shall be subject to revocation by the Town Council if it is shown pursuant to Subsection E of this section that a business that is required to obtain a Town liquor license as described in this subsection fails to obtain said liquor license.
Before the issuance of a Forest Heights Building Permit or certificate of referral for construction, all applicants shall be required to submit to the Town plans for acceptable roads and drainage facilities. Applicants shall also be required to submit plans for drainage facilities meeting the standards prescribed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
All signs must comply with Part 12, Signs, of the Prince George's County Zoning Code (Subtitle 27), as amended, and a County permit must be obtained where required; except that it shall be unlawful within the Town for any person or persons to erect any sign exceeding six square feet without first having obtained a permit from the Town Council. Cost of said permit shall be $50.
A. 
Definition. A fence, barrier or wall is any structure or partition placed, erected or installed for the purpose of enclosing a piece of land, to divide a parcel or lot of land into distinct portions or to separate two contiguous properties, and made of any material such as bricks, blocks, stones, wood, wire, plastic, other building materials or shrubbery.
B. 
Front and side yard. Fences and footings must be confined within the property line, must not block or impede passage through any easement or right-of-way and cannot be more than four feet high.
C. 
Rear yard. The rear yard of a property may be enclosed by a fence. Such a fence shall not be erected beyond the front building line established by the Zoning Ordinance of Prince George's County, Maryland. A rear yard fence or fence and wall combination shall not exceed six feet in height. County and Town Permits shall be obtained for all fences. The Town permit shall cost $50.
D. 
Walls. Walls built to retain or support the lateral pressure of earth or water or other superimposed loads shall be designed and constructed of approved masonry, reinforced concrete, steel sheet piling or other approved material within the allowable stresses of accepted engineering practices.
E. 
Design. Retaining walls shall be designed to resist the pressure of the retained material, including both dead and live load surcharges to which they may be subjected; and to ensure stability against overturning, sliding, excessive foundation pressure and water uplift.
F. 
Hydrostatic pressure. Unless drainage is provided, the hydrostatic head of water pressure shall be assumed equal to the height of the wall.
G. 
Coping. All masonry retaining walls, other than reinforced concrete walls, shall be protected with an approved coping. Retaining walls constructed in the front yard shall not extend more than one foot above the finished grade on any lot.
H. 
General restrictions.
(1) 
No fence, barrier, or wall made in whole or in part of barbed wire or chicken wire shall be erected or constructed along or adjacent to any street, avenue, road, alley, and public walk or immediately adjacent to an adjoining lot or property line.
(2) 
No wall, barrier or fence, the design, construction or condition of which, in the judgment of the Mayor and Town Council, would be detrimental to the public welfare, health, safety, or comfort of the citizens will be permitted to be erected or maintained.
I. 
Waivers.
(1) 
The Mayor and Town Council, in or at their discretion, may consider an application for a waiver to allow relief from the strict requirements for a fence, wall, or barrier that is not in strict compliance with this Article. The Mayor and Town Council shall make the following findings and conclusions when granting a waiver:
(I) 
Special conditions or circumstances exist that are peculiar to the subject land or structure and that a literal enforcement of this Article would result in unwarranted hardship,
(II) 
The waiver request is not based upon conditions or circumstances which are the result of actions by the applicant, and
(III) 
Granting the waiver will not be detrimental to the health, welfare and safety of the public.
(2) 
One patio enclosure within the rear yard is permitted upon application and approval of a waiver by the Mayor and Town Council.
J. 
Applicability. The provisions of this Article shall apply to all properties within the Town except the following:
(1) 
Fences, walls or barriers constructed prior to December 16, 1967.
(2) 
Fences, walls or barriers that were erected on a property prior to its annexation into the Town.
(3) 
Fences, walls or barriers for which a waiver has previously been granted by the Mayor and Town Council. These waivers do not include the replacement, relocation or modification of any fence, wall or barrier.
[Added 5-2-2011 by Ord. No. 05-10]
A. 
Enforcement official. The Code Enforcement Officer is hereby responsible for the enforcement and administration of the Housing and Property Maintenance Code adopted by this section. This designation shall not be considered a conflict of duties or an assumption of multiple offices or positions.
B. 
Administration, enforcement and conflict.
(1) 
Administration and enforcement of the Housing and Property Maintenance Code will be coordinated to the maximum extent feasible with other Town departments and in conjunction with the Housing Code of Prince George's County in order that corrective actions and resources may be effectively applied to the common goal of improved housing and property conditions within the Town. In the absence of an appointed civilian code enforcement official, the Mayor shall appoint a sworn police officer to serve as the interim Code Enforcement Officer.
(2) 
The Town's Housing and Property Maintenance Code shall be considered to be a minimum livability or maintenance code and is not intended to regulate initial or new construction, which shall be governed by the Building Code of Prince George's County as found in Subtitle 4 of the Prince George's County Code, or other applicable law.
(3) 
The Housing Code of Prince George's County, as amended, shall be adopted and considered incorporated by reference herein. Except as provided in this section, in any case where a provision of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code is found to be in conflict with a provision of any zoning, building, grading, housing, fire, safety, or health ordinance or code of this Town, Prince George's County, or the State of Maryland existing on the effective date of this section, the provision which establishes the higher standard for the promotion and protection of the health, safety and welfare of the public shall prevail.
(4) 
Pursuant to Section 13-182.01 of the Prince George's County Code, any property which is located within an incorporated municipality which issues single-family rental facility licenses under its own housing code after an inspection to ascertain compliance thereto is thereby exempted from the single-family licensing requirements of the County Code.
C. 
Inspections.
(1) 
Subject to the limitation and conditions as hereinafter stated in this section, it shall be the duty of the Code Enforcement Officer to make or cause to be made inspections as often as necessary to determine the conditions of dwellings, multifamily dwellings, rooming units and other premises in order to safeguard the safety, morals, and welfare of the public under the provisions of this Code. Such inspections shall be made in response to citizen or official complaints or other reliable information or allegations of existing violations of this Code. In the absence of a specific complaint or application, inspections of premises shall be made on a documented, planned and systematic basis (i.e., house-by-house, or block-by-block) when it is determined by the Code Enforcement Officer that such action is necessary. It shall be the responsibility of the Code Enforcement Officer to prove that a violation or safety hazard exists.
(2) 
The following limitations and conditions shall be observed by the Code Enforcement Officer in the performance of his duties:
(I) 
Proof of credentials and identity shall be exhibited to the occupant or person in charge, stating the purpose for which entry is required.
(II) 
Permission need not be granted for access to spaces and areas to which the public is ordinarily invited.
(III) 
If entry is denied or restricted so as to limit or impair a housing or property maintenance inspection, no forced entry shall be made or attempted. Application shall be made to a judicial officer for a warrant authorizing entry and the performance of such inspection or other authorized function.
(IV) 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, and in the event of an emergency situation constituting an immediate threat to human life, property, or the public safety; and if, in addition, the time necessarily consumed in applying for a judicial warrant authorizing entry could readily intensify such threat, then, and in that event, the Code Enforcement Officer shall have the right, without permission or warrant, to make an emergency entrance for the purpose of eliminating the dangerous condition.
(V) 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, all licensing and permit inspections authorized and required by this Article shall be processed without the necessity for obtaining permission or obtaining a judicial warrant authorizing entry. Failure to allow entry for such inspections shall constitute sufficient reason for the denial or revocation of the license or permit involved.
D. 
Dangerous structures. If all or part of any building or structure or the equipment for the operation thereof shall be found to be in an unsafe condition such that it is dangerous to life, limb, or property, the Code Enforcement Officer shall proceed to have the same condemned pursuant to the applicable provisions of this Code or other such code or codes of the Town or county pertaining to unsafe structures.
E. 
Abatement of unsafe conditions or dangerous structures. In the event the responsible party fails to comply with the lawful order of a Code Enforcement Officer to make safe or demolish an unsafe structure or correct a dangerous condition, upon conferring with the Town Attorney, the Code Enforcement Officer shall proceed to take emergency action to abate the unsafe condition by appropriate means, including demolition and removal of dangerous structures, utilizing such public or private resources available. All costs incurred for such emergency action shall be paid from the Town Treasury on certificate of the Code Enforcement Officer, and the Town Attorney or other legal counsel shall institute appropriate action against the owner of the premises where the unsafe structure or condition was located for recovery of such costs, including, but not limited to, certification of a tax lien.
F. 
Creation of a tax lien. There is hereby created a tax lien on real property for monies expended by the Town for razing, demolition, removal, or making safe of buildings and/or abatement of other unsafe nuisances or conditions constituting a danger to the public health and safety where the responsible party refuses or fails to comply with a lawful order of the Code Enforcement Officer of the Town after due notice thereof, either actual or constructive, is given as provided in this Code. Upon certification of a tax lien to the Town Treasurer and the County Finance Office by the Town Council, the amount of such lien shall be collected in the same manner as other Town real estate taxes.
G. 
Structures unfit for human occupancy. Whenever the Code Enforcement Officer finds that any dwelling or structure constitutes a hazard to the safety, health, or welfare of the occupants or to the public because it lacks maintenance; or is in disrepair, unsanitary or vermin- or rodent-infested; or because it lacks the sanitary facilities or the equipment or materials therein has not yet reached such a state of complete disrepair as to be condemned as a dangerous structure, he may declare such dwelling as unfit for human habitation and order it to be vacated.
H. 
Structures illegally occupied. If any dwelling or any part thereof is occupied by more occupants than permitted under this Code or applicable law, or was erected, altered, or occupied contrary to law, such dwelling shall be deemed an unlawful structure, and the Code Enforcement Officer may cause such dwelling to be vacated. It shall be unlawful to again occupy such dwelling or structure until it, or its occupation, as the case may be, has been made to conform to the law.
I. 
Notice to vacate. Notice of the declaration of any structure under this Code as unfit for human habitation and order to vacate it shall be served as provided herein. The Code Enforcement Officer shall furnish a copy of each notice to vacate a building to the County or Town Health Officer and any other designated official of the Town concerned herewith.
J. 
Posting notice to vacate.
(1) 
Any dwelling or building declared as unfit for human habitation or occupancy shall be posted by the Code Enforcement Official. The notice shall include the following:
(I) 
Name of the Town;
(II) 
The name of the authorized department having jurisdiction;
(III) 
The Article and section of this Code under which it is issued;
(IV) 
An order that the dwelling or structure when vacated must remain vacant until the provisions of the order are complied with and the order to vacate is withdrawn;
(V) 
The date of notice is posted; and
(VI) 
A statement of the penalty for defacing or removal of the placard.
(2) 
Whenever the Code Enforcement Officer has declared a structure as unfit for human habitation or occupancy, he shall give notice to the owner. Such notice shall be in writing, include a description of the property sufficient for identification; include a statement of the reason why it is being issued; state the time occupants must vacate the premises; and the time allowed to correct the conditions.
(3) 
Service of notice to vacate shall be as follows: by delivery to the owner personally, or by leaving the notice at the usual place of abode or business of the owner with a person of suitable age and discretion; or by depositing the notice in the United States Post Office addressed to the owner at his last known address with postage prepaid; and by posting and keeping posted for 24 hours a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises to be vacated.
(4) 
No person shall deface or remove the notice from any structure or dwelling which has been declared condemned or unfit for human habitation or occupancy except by authority in writing from the Code Enforcement Officer.
K. 
Vacating declared building. Any dwelling which has been declared and placarded as unfit for human habitation or occupancy by the Code Enforcement Officer shall be vacated within a reasonable time as required by the Code Enforcement Officer. No structure which has been declared or placarded as unfit for human habitation or occupancy shall again be used for human habitation or occupancy until written approval is secured from the Code Enforcement Officer. The Code Enforcement Officer shall remove such placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the declaration and placarded action were based have been eliminated.
L. 
Exterior property areas. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit or building for the purpose of living or conducting business therein, which does not comply with the following requirements. The Code Enforcement Officer of the Town shall cause periodic inspections to be made of dwelling premises to secure compliance.
(1) 
All exterior property areas shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.
(2) 
All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, or within any building or structure located thereon.
(3) 
All accessory structures shall be maintained structurally safe and sound and in good repair. Exterior steps and walkways shall be maintained free of unsafe obstructions or hazardous conditions.
M. 
Exterior structure. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit or building for the purpose of living or conducting business therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Every foundation, exterior wall, roof, and all other exterior surfaces shall be maintained in a workmanlike state of maintenance and repair and shall be kept in such condition as to exclude rodents.
(2) 
The foundation elements shall adequately support the building at all points.
(3) 
Every weather-exposed exterior surface shall be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other condition which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or occupied spaces of the structure. All exterior surfaces shall be made substantially impervious to the adverse effects of weather by periodic application of an approved protective coating of weather-resistant preservative, and be maintained in good condition. Exterior metal surfaces subject to rust or corrosion shall likewise be protected.
(4) 
Every outside stair, porch and appurtenance attached thereto shall be so constructed as to be safe to use and capable of supporting the loads to which it is subjected, and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.
(5) 
Where the Code Enforcement Officer deems it necessary for safety, every flight of stairs which is more than three risers high shall have handrails which shall be located as required by the County Building Code or any applicable provision in this Article. Balustrade railings, capable of bearing normally imposed loads, shall be placed on the open portions of stairs, porches, landings, and stairwells.
(6) 
Every window and exterior door shall be substantially tight and shall be kept in sound condition and repair.
(7) 
Every basement doorway shall be so constructed and maintained as to prevent the entrance of rodents, rain, and surface drainage into the dwelling or building.
N. 
Interior structure. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit or building for the purpose of living or conducting business therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Every bathroom floor shall be constructed and maintained so as to be substantially impervious to water and to permit the floor to be kept in a sanitary condition.
(2) 
The interior of every dwelling or building used for human habitation or occupancy shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.
(3) 
A building used for human habitation or occupancy shall be kept free from insect and rodent infestation.
(4) 
Interior walls, floors and ceiling shall be maintained in a clean, sanitary and structurally sound condition, free from holes, cracks, loose plaster or wallpaper, and flaking paint. When paint is applied to interior surfaces or habitable spaces, it must be lead-free.
O. 
Basic facilities. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Every structure used as a dwelling unit shall contain within its walls, a room, separate from the habitable rooms, which affords privacy and which is equipped with a water closet and lavatory, a bathtub or shower.
(2) 
Every dwelling unit shall contain a kitchen sink apart from the lavatory described in the requirement stated directly above.
(3) 
Every dwelling unit shall contain cooking and baking facilities for the purpose of preparation of food, which shall be kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
(4) 
Every dwelling unit shall contain a refrigeration unit adequate for the temporary storage of perishable foods which shall be capable of maintaining an average temperature below 45° Fahrenheit.
(5) 
All sinks, lavatories, bathtubs, showers, water closets, and clothes-washing equipment required by this section or other law shall be properly connected to either a public water or sewer system or to an approved private water and sewer system. All sinks, lavatories, bathtubs, and showers shall be supplied with hot and cold running water.
(6) 
Every dwelling shall contain water-heating facilities to permit an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every fixture described in this section at a temperature of not less than 130° Fahrenheit at any time needed.
(7) 
Every dwelling shall have heating facilities and the owner shall be required to see that they are capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms to a temperature of at least 68° Fahrenheit.
P. 
Occupancy requirements. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Every dwelling unit shall contain a minimum gross floor area of not less than 100 square feet for the first occupant, and 100 square feet for each additional occupant. The floor area shall be calculated on the basis of the total area for all habitable rooms.
(2) 
In every dwelling unit, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall have a minimum gross floor area of at least 70 square feet. Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor area for each occupant.
(3) 
No dwelling unit shall have such a room arrangement whereby access to a bathroom or water closet compartment can be had only by going through another sleeping room. No bathroom shall be so located that access thereto is solely through a kitchen.
Q. 
Light and ventilation. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Every laundry, furnace room, and similar nonhabitable work spaces located in a dwelling shall have one supplied electric light fixture available at all times.
(2) 
Every habitable room of a dwelling building shall contain at least three working, separate and remote outlets, one of which may be a ceiling or wall-type electric light fixture. Every hall, water closet compartment, bathroom, laundry room, or furnace room shall contain at least one electric light fixture. In addition to the electric light fixture in every bathroom and laundry room, there shall be provided at least one electric outlet.
(3) 
Every dwelling structure shall be provided with a minimum of one-hundred-ampere service.
(4) 
Every habitable room shall have at least one window which can be easily opened, except where mechanical ventilation is provided.
(5) 
Every bathroom and water closet compartment shall also comply with the ventilation requirements for habitable rooms.
R. 
Minimum requirements for safety from fire. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit or building for the purpose of living or conducting business therein which does not comply with the applicable provisions of the fire prevention sections of the County Code of Ordinances applicable in the Town and the following additional requirements for safety from fire:
(1) 
All cooking and heating equipment, components, and accessories in every heating, cooking, and water heating device shall be maintained free from leaks and obstructions, and kept functional so as to be free from fire, health, and accident hazards. All installations and repairs shall be made in accordance with local laws or ordinances. Portable cooking and heating equipment employing flame are prohibited except as permitted by state and county law.
(2) 
Smoke detectors shall be installed and maintained in working order as directed by state or county law.
S. 
Cleanliness. Occupants of dwellings or buildings shall be responsible for the following:
(1) 
Routine maintenance and reasonable cleanliness of the structure in which they dwell.
(2) 
Disposal of all his or her rubbish in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in approved rubbish containers or other disposal method as may be required by ordinance.
T. 
Use and operation of supplied plumbing fixtures and basic facilities. Every occupant of a dwelling shall keep all supplied basic facilities, including plumbing fixtures, cooking and refrigeration equipment, and electrical fixtures in a clean and sanitary condition and shall be responsible for the exercise of reasonable care in their proper use and operation.
U. 
Transfer of responsibility. A contract, lease, or other agreement effective between owner and occupant with regard to matters covered hereunder shall not relieve any party of his personal responsibility under the provisions of this Code.
V. 
Seller responsible for compliance with notice of violation; same subsequent buyer.
(1) 
The seller of a dwelling structure, building or premises shall be personally responsible for compliance with all issued notices of violations of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code or any other laws and ordinances of the Town, Prince George's County or the State of Maryland, or any actions in any court on account thereof, against or affecting the property at the date of execution of any agreement of sale or transfer of ownership of said dwelling structure and premises. Nothing contained herein shall affect the validity of any sale, transfer or disposition of any interest in real estate.
(2) 
A violation of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code that has been adjudicated in a court of competent jurisdiction or a violation of any other laws and ordinances of the Town, Prince George's County or the State of Maryland that has been adjudicated shall, upon certification to the Municipal Tax Collector or County Finance Office, be considered a lien on the property, and collectible in the same manner as municipal real property taxes.
W. 
Violation information for buyer or seller. The Code Enforcement Officer shall inspect and advise the buyer or seller, or both, at the request of either, of a residential structure and premises of existing conditions that constitute violations of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code. For inspecting a residence or dwelling out of normal sequence, i.e., for sale or other special purpose, there shall be a fee of $50 payable in advance of the inspection. An inspection provided under this provision shall not be considered an estoppel, waiver, immunity or otherwise prevent another enforcement official having jurisdiction over the property from seeking enforcement of a violation.
X. 
House for sale-rent signs. All house for sale-rent signs shall be placed on the property of the house for sale-rent, and not on the Town right-of-way. All house for sale-rent signs must carry the word(s) "for sale" or "sale," "for rent" or "rent." All house for sale-rent signs must meet the size requirements imposed by the Prince George's County Sign Ordinance for size or character, and this Article.
Y. 
Hardships. When the literal application of the requirements of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code would cause undue hardship, an exception may be granted by the Town Council upon written application. Such application shall state the reasons, and an exception may be granted only when it is clearly evident that reasonable safety and sanitary conditions are assured and such exception shall be conditioned in such a manner as to achieve those ends. In granting an exception, the Town Council shall state its decision in writing and may specify conditions and restrictions not generally specified by this section and Code. A decision of the Town Council denying such a waiver or variance from the strict requirements of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code may be appealed to the Circuit Court of Prince George's County pursuant to Title 7 of the Maryland Rules as promulgated by the Court of Appeals.
Z. 
Service of violation notice. Whenever the Code Enforcement Officer determines that there has been or is a violation, or that there are reasonable grounds to believe there has been or is a violation of any provisions of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code, he shall give notice of such violation or alleged violation to the person or persons responsible therefor. Such notice shall be in writing and shall include a description of the property sufficient for identification; specify the violation which exists and the remedial action required; and, allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it requires.
AA. 
Prosecution of violation; abatement; appeal.
[Amended 10-5-2015 by Ord. No. 07-15]
(1) 
In case any violation order or notice is not properly complied with, the Code Enforcement Officer may issue a municipal infraction citation pursuant to Section 23.10 of this Ordinance Code, and/or request the Town's legal representative to institute an appropriate action or proceeding at law or in equity against the person responsible for the violation, ordering him or her to restrain, correct, or remove the violation or refrain from further execution of work; to restrain or correct the erection, installation or alteration of such structure; to require the removal of work in violation; to prevent the occupation or use of the structure; or otherwise to enforce the penalty provisions of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(2) 
Instead of issuing a municipal infraction citation pursuant to Subsection AA(1), the Code Enforcement Officer or other designated official may seek summary abatement to correct conditions that may arise under this section or any other section of this Ordinance Code regarding any specific premises that is found to contain, constitute or harbor a fire or health hazard, or a nuisance as defined herein or elsewhere in this Ordinance Code.
(3) 
In cases where the Code Enforcement Official or designated representative determines there has been a violation of this section and he decides to seek summary abatement pursuant to this subsection, notice to the owner shall contain the requirement that the violation must be fully corrected within five days from the date of the notice and that in the event the owner fails to do so within the five-day period, a second notice shall be sent advising the owner of the imposition of a charge or fine payable to the Town. In the event that the violation is not fully corrected within five days of the date of the second notice, a third notice shall be sent advising the owner of the imposition of a further charge or fine. For each additional prescribed period that the violation is not fully corrected, notice will be issued of the fine amount as due and payable to the Town of Forest Heights. Fines for failure to take remedial action shall be $100 for first violation, $200 for second violation, $500 for each subsequent violation and may be established or changed by resolution of the Town Council and shall not exceed the amount of $1,000 per violation. Failure to pay fine(s) will result in the amount of any fine(s) imposed being recorded as a lien against the property and collected in the same manner as delinquent Town taxes.
(4) 
Whenever any violation of this Article causes a condition, the continued existence of which constitutes an immediate threat to the public health, safety or welfare or to the environment, the Town may summarily and without prior notice abate the condition. Notice of such abatement, including the reason for it shall be given to the person responsible for the violation as soon as reasonably possible after the abatement. No right of action shall lie against the Town or its agents, officers, or employees for actions reasonably taken to prevent or cure any such immediate threats, but neither shall the Town be entitled to recover any costs incurred for summary abatement, unless actual notice of same or a municipal infraction citation is duly delivered or served upon the person responsible for the violation.
(5) 
Any person affected by any notice of violation issued under this section or otherwise subjected to a summary abatement procedure under this section may elect to appeal to the Town Council pursuant to the procedures found in Section 3.24.
BB. 
Severability and saving clauses.
(1) 
If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause, or phrase of this Housing and Property Maintenance Code shall be declared invalid for any reason whatsoever, such decision shall not affect the remaining portions of this Code which shall continue in full force and effect; and to this end the provisions of this Code are hereby declared to be severable.
(2) 
This Code shall not affect violations of any other ordinance, code, or regulation of the Town existing prior to the effective date hereof, and any such violation shall be governed and shall continue to be punishable to the full extent of the law under the provisions of those ordinances, codes, or regulations in effect at the time the violation was committed.
[Added 10-5-2015 by Ord. No. 07-15[1]]
A. 
Purpose and requirement of local agent. Circumstances may arise where the Mayor, Chief of Police or other local officials need to immediately or readily communicate with responsible persons regarding licensed or regulated premises located within the Town to fulfill the purposes of this Article and protect the public welfare and safety. The legal owner of record of any rental housing unit or business property owners whose real properties or premises are located within the corporate limits of the Town that are required by this Article to obtain a permit for business occupancy, business licensing or rental property shall appoint a local agent for each licensed or permitted premises. The local agent shall be over the age of 18 and reside in the State of Maryland, and the owner of record or business owner may be designated the local agent if a natural person over the age of 18 and a resident of this state.
B. 
Filing of the local agent's name and contact information. The name, address and other contact information (i.e., telephone number and/or email address) as the Mayor prescribes of the local agent shall be filed in writing during normal business hours with the Town Clerk or other designee upon the issuance of any permit or license required herein or from time to time. The legal owner of record or business owner shall notify the Town Clerk in writing of any changes with respect to the local agent within seven days of such changes.
C. 
Any person violating the provisions of this Part I of Article 3 shall be guilty of a municipal infraction and shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $500 for the first offense. Repeat offenders may be assessed a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each repeat offense.
[Added 9-5-2017 by Ord. No. 05-17]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also renumbered former Sections 3.7 through 3.11 as Sections 3.8 through 3.12, respectively.