[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Hagerstown 2-23-2016 by Ord. No. O-16-12. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED PROPERTY
- A residential or commercial property that is not occupied by either the property owner or a legal tenant and is:
- The Planning and Code Administration Department, or its successor.
- The holder of a security interest in a nuisance property or an abandoned property which is recorded among the land records of Washington County, Maryland.
- NUISANCE PROPERTY
- A property that is in an unsafe, hazardous or unsanitary condition that:
- The record title holder of a nuisance property or an abandoned property and, if the record title holder is deceased, the record title holder's personal representative, executors and administrators.
The Department is empowered to implement this chapter and shall be responsible for:
Determining where abandoned properties and nuisance properties exist;
Ascertaining the ownership of abandoned properties and nuisance properties;
With the assistance of the City Attorney, instituting court proceedings against the owners in furtherance of the provisions of this chapter;
Subject to the hereinafter set forth parameters, negotiating settlement agreements with the owners for the purpose of rehabilitating or demolishing the abandoned properties and nuisance properties, irrespective of whether such settlement agreements are entered into while court proceedings are pending or on a prelitigation basis;
Proceeding upon such lawsuits that are not settled and seeking court orders that:
Declare the subject properties to be abandoned properties or nuisance properties;
Require the owners to repair and rehabilitate them;
Authorize the City of Hagerstown to enter upon the subject properties and abate the conditions or demolish them; and/or
Require the owners of such properties that have been demolished to pay the costs of the demolition as well as reasonable attorney's fees, court costs and litigation expenses incurred in seeking the relief described herein through the entry of money judgments against the owners.
Unless otherwise authorized by the Mayor and City Council, the settlement agreements must provide:
That the repair and rehabilitation costs are to be borne entirely by the owners without contribution from the City of Hagerstown;
Property which is not rehabilitated within six months of the date of the settlement agreement shall be demolished; and
With respect to properties to be transferred to the City of Hagerstown, the only costs to be incurred by the City of Hagerstown in connection with the said transfers shall be the deed recording fee, a reasonable deed preparation fee and the proration of real property taxes and utility fees, as applicable.
Settlement agreements entered into after commencement of litigation shall be reduced to the form of a consent decree, to be filed for record in the Circuit Court for Washington County, Maryland.
At least 30 days prior to the institution of court proceedings, the Department shall mail notice to the owner and mortgagee, if applicable, advising the owner and mortgagee that the property has been identified as a nuisance property and/or an abandoned property and advising the owner and mortgagee that court proceedings will be instituted unless the owner enters into a settlement agreement with the City of Hagerstown or otherwise repairs and rehabilitates the property or otherwise remediates the conditions resulting in its designation as a nuisance property and/or an abandoned property. The said notice shall be sent by first class United States Mail, postage prepaid, and it shall be mailed to the owner at the owner's address reflected in the records of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation and it shall be mailed to the mortgagee at the mortgagee's address as stated in the recorded instrument creating or perfecting the security interest or at such other address as is reasonably expected to result in the mortgagee's receipt of the notice described herein. In the event the owner cannot be identified, the notice may be provided through publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Washington County, Maryland, and by posting the property.
Named defendants. The court proceedings referenced in this chapter shall be instituted by filing a complaint in the Circuit Court for Washington County, Maryland. The defendants in such action shall include the owner, the mortgagees, if any, and the plaintiff in any proceeding that was timely filed under § 14-833 of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland (complaints to foreclose right of redemption) and for which the time for securing a decree of foreclosure has not yet expired.
The complaint shall be supported by an affidavit stating that:
A settlement agreement has not been entered into; and
The property has not been repaired or rehabilitated and the circumstances resulting in its designation as a nuisance property and/or an abandoned property have not been remediated.
The complaint shall include a description of the condition of the property and the facts and circumstances that have resulted in its designation as a nuisance property and/or abandoned property.
In the event the court enters an order granting the City of Hagerstown authorization to abate or demolish a nuisance property or an abandoned property, the costs of abatement or demolishing the property, any money judgment entered on behalf of the City, and all costs incidental thereto shall be chargeable against the owner and shall constitute a lien upon such property, and may be collected pursuant to § 223-11 of the Code.
Because the purpose of this chapter is to promote and protect the health, safety and general welfare of the City of Hagerstown and its occupants, it shall be liberally construed in order to effectuate that purpose.
Should any section, subsection, sentence, clause, or phrase of this chapter be declared invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the chapter in its entirety or of any part thereof other than that portion declared to be invalid.