Town of Bel Air, MD
Harford County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
a. 
The Board of Commissioners shall have the power to pass all such ordinances not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the State of Maryland or this Charter as it may deem necessary for the good government of the Town; for the protection and preservation of the Town's property, rights, and privileges; for the preservation of peace and good order; for securing persons and property from violence, danger, or destruction, and for the protection and promotion of the health, safety, comfort, convenience, welfare, and happiness of the residents of the Town and visitors thereto and sojourners therein.
b. 
The Board of Commissioners shall have, in addition, the power to pass ordinances, not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the State of Maryland, for the following specific purposes:
1. 
Administrative. To create, change, or abolish offices and departments and to assign additional functions to offices and departments, but not including the power to create, change, abolish, or discontinue any office or department or to transfer any function of an office or department established by this Charter.
2. 
Advertising. To provide for advertising for the purposes of the Town, for printing and publishing statements as to the business of the Town.
3. 
Aisles. To regulate and prevent the obstruction of aisles in public halls, churches, businesses, and places of amusement, and to regulate the construction and operation of the doors and means of egress therefrom.
4. 
Amusements. To provide in the interest of the public welfare for licensing, regulating, or restraining public amusements.
5. 
Appropriations. To appropriate municipal monies for any purpose within the powers of the Board of Commissioners.
6. 
Billboards and Signs. To regulate, restrain, or prohibit the erection or maintenance of billboards, the placing of signs, bills, and posters of every kind and description on any building, fence, post, billboard, pole, or other place within the Town.
7. 
Borrowing: General Obligation Bonds, Bond Anticipation Notes, Refunding Bonds, Tax Anticipation Notes, Other Evidence Of Indebtedness, Manner Of Issuance and Sale of Bonds And Other Indebtedness, Debt Limitation, Referendum.
a. 
Authority to Borrow
In addition to any other borrowing power which the Town may presently have, from whatever source derived, and notwithstanding any other provision or limitation of public general or public local law, the Board of Commissioners shall have the power to borrow money and incur indebtedness, from time to time, for any public purpose and to evidence such borrowing and indebtedness by the issuance and sale of its general obligation bonds, bond anticipation notes, refunding bonds, tax anticipation notes and other evidence of indebtedness as hereafter provided.
b. 
Debt Limitation
However in issuing general obligation bonds, bond anticipation notes, or refunding bonds, the Board of Town Commissioners shall be further limited as follows:
1.
It shall issue no bonds, if, by the issuance thereof, the total bonded indebtedness of the Town, less the amount of sinking funds established for the retirement thereof, would exceed six percent (6%) of the assessed value of all real and personal property in said Town taxable for municipal purposes and,
2.
Except as herein provided specifically, the Board shall issue no bonds, no certificate of indebtedness, nor tax anticipation notes nor bond anticipation notes if by the issuance thereof, the total indebtedness of the Town on bonds, certificates of indebtedness, tax anticipation notes and bond anticipation notes shall exceed the annual income of the Town less all sinking funds and interest requirements on all indebtedness previously incurred, whether bonded or otherwise.
c. 
Tax Anticipation Notes (Exception to Debt Limitation)
The Board of Commissioners may issue notes of indebtedness, bearing interest not to exceed in amount the annual revenue of the Town, less the amount of all sinking funds previously provided for, said notes and interest to be paid only from such revenue and within one year from the date of their issue; and such notes may be issued in pursuance of a resolution duly adopted without submitting the question to a vote of the taxpayers.
d. 
Manner of Issuance and Sale of Bonds and Other Indebtedness
The Board of Commissioners may issue and sell such general obligation bonds, bond anticipation notes, refunding bonds, tax anticipation notes and other evidence of indebtedness of the Town of Bel Air as may be authorized by this Charter or the laws of Maryland now or hereafter enacted, or both, in any commercially reasonable manner, either by public or private sale, in accordance with such terms as the Board of Commissioners shall, in its discretion, determine by resolution.
e. 
Referendum
The Board of Commissioners may, in their general discretion, submit the question of the issuance of general obligation bonds to a referendum of the registered voters of the Town at either the next regular Town election or at a special election duly called and held for the purpose pursuant to the authority and in the manner prescribed by this Charter. However, the Board of Commissioners shall be required to submit any bond issue to referendum if, within ten (10) days after the first publication of a resolution authorizing any bond issue the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners shall be served with notice signed by not fewer than one hundred (100) of the registered voters of Bel Air advising that a petition for a referendum on such bond issue is being circulated by one or more of the persons signing said notice, and if, within thirty (30) days after the first publication of a fair summary of the resolution, there shall be filed with the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners a petition or petitions requesting such a referendum signed by not fewer than twenty per cent (20%) of the registered voters of the Town. Upon the filing of such notice or petition, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners shall promptly submit the same to the Board of Election Judges for the purpose of determining whether said notice or petition has been properly signed as herein provided.
8. 
Buildings.
a. 
To make reasonable regulation in regard to buildings and signs to be erected, constructed, or reconstructed in the Town, and to grant building permits for the same; to formulate or adopt codes which may include, but are not limited to, building, plumbing, fire, safety, electrical, and such other codes as may be necessary to promote, protect, and preserve the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Bel Air.
b. 
To appoint building, plumbing, fire, safety, electrical, and other such inspectors as may be necessary to promote, protect and preserve the public health, safety and welfare.
c. 
To require reasonable charges for permits and inspections; to authorize and require the inspection of all buildings and structures; and to authorize the condemnation thereof in whole or in part when dangerous or insecure, and to require that such buildings and structures be made safe or be taken down.
9. 
Codification. To provide for the codification of all ordinances which have been or may hereafter be passed.
10. 
Cooperative Activities. To make arrangements with other municipalities, counties, districts, bureaus, commissions, and governmental authorities for the joint performance or for cooperation in the performance of any governmental functions.
11. 
Community Services. To provide, maintain, and operate community and social services for the preservation and promotion of the health, recreation, welfare and enlightenment of the inhabitants of the Town.
12. 
Dangerous Improvements. To compel persons about to undertake dangerous improvements to execute bonds with sufficient sureties so conditioned that the owner or contractor will pay all damages resulting from such work which may be sustained by any persons or property.
13. 
Explosives. To regulate or prevent the storage of gunpowder, oil, or any other explosive or combustible matter or nuclear materials or devices; to regulate or prevent the use of firearms, fireworks, bonfires, explosives, or any other similar things which may endanger persons or property.
14. 
Filth. To compel the owner or occupant of any real property or building situated in the Town, when the same has become filthy or unwholesome, to abate or cleanse the condition; and after reasonable notice to the owners or occupants to authorize such work to be done by the proper officers and to assess the expense thereof against such property, making it collectible by taxes or against the occupant or occupants.
15. 
Finances. To levy, assess, and collect ad valorem property taxes; to expend municipal funds for any public purposes; to have general management and control of the finances of the Town; to appropriate municipal monies for any purpose within the powers of the Board of Commissioners; to borrow money in accordance with the provisions of this Charter.
16. 
Fire. To suppress fires and prevent the dangers thereof and to establish and maintain a fire department and fire protection and fire prevention system; to contribute funds to volunteer fire companies serving the Town; to inspect buildings for the purpose of reducing fire hazards, to issue regulations concerning fire hazards, and to forbid and prohibit the use of fire-hazardous buildings and structures permanently or until the conditions of Town fire-hazard regulations are met; to install and maintain fire plugs where and as necessary, and to regulate their use; and to take all other measures necessary to control and prevent fires in the Town.
17. 
Food. To inspect food products and to require their condemnation, if unwholesome, and to regulate their sale.
18. 
Franchises. To grant and regulate franchises to water companies, electric light companies, gas companies, telegraph, cable television, telephone companies, transit companies, taxicab companies, and any others which may be deemed advantageous and beneficial to the Town, subject, however, to the limitations and provisions of the Laws of Maryland. No franchise shall be granted for a longer period than fifty (50) years.
19. 
Gambling. To restrain and prohibit gambling.
20. 
Garbage. To prevent the deposit of any unwholesome substance either on private or public property, and to compel its removal to designated points; to require slops, garbage, ashes, and other waste or other unwholesome materials to be removed to designated points, or to require the occupants of the premises to place them conveniently for removal.
21. 
Grants-in-Aid. To accept gifts and grants of funds from the Federal, State or county governments, or any agency thereof, and to expend the same for any lawful public purpose, agreeably to the conditions under which the gifts or grants were made.
22. 
Hawkers. To license, tax, regulate, suppress, and prohibit hawkers and itinerant dealers, peddlers, pawnbrokers, and all other persons selling any articles on the streets of the Town, and to revoke such licenses for cause.
23. 
Health. To protect and preserve the health of the Town and its inhabitants; to appoint a public health officer, and to define and regulate his powers and duties; to prevent the introduction of contagious diseases into the Town; to establish quarantine regulations, and to authorize the removal and confinement of persons having contagious or infectious diseases; to prevent and remove all nuisances; to inspect, regulate, and abate any buildings, structures or places which cause or may cause unsanitary conditions or conditions detrimental to health; that nothing herein shall be construed to affect in any manner any of the powers and duties of the State Board of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Health Officer of Harford County, or any public, general, or local law relating to the subject of health.
24. 
House Numbers. To regulate the numbering of houses and lots and to compel owners to renumber the same to be visible from the street or public way or in default thereof to authorize and require the same to be done by the Town at the owner's expense, such expense to constitute a lien upon the property collectible as tax monies.
25. 
Jail. To establish and regulate a station house or lock-up for temporary confinement of violators of the laws and ordinances of the Town or to use the County Jail for such purposes.
26. 
Licenses. Subject to any restrictions imposed by the public general laws of the State, to license and regulate all persons beginning or conducting transient or permanent business in the Town for the sale of any goods, wares, merchandise, or services, to license and regulate any business, occupation, trade, calling, or place of amusement or business; to establish and collect fees and charges for all licenses and permits issued under the authority of this Charter.
27. 
Liens. To provide that any valid charges, taxes, or assessments of the Town, made against any real property within the Town shall be liens upon such property, to be collected as municipal taxes are collected.
28. 
Lights. To provide for the lighting of the Town.
29. 
Livestock. To regulate and prohibit the running at large of cattle, horses, swine, fowl, sheep, goats, dogs, or other animals; to authorize the impounding, keeping, sale, and redemption of such animals when found in violation of the ordinance in such cases provided.
30. 
Markets. To obtain by lease or rent, own, construct, purchase, operate, and maintain public markets within the Town.
31. 
Minor Privileges. To regulate or prevent the use of public ways, sidewalks, and public places for signs, awnings, posts, steps, railings, entrances, racks, posting handbills and advertisements, and display of goods, wares, and merchandise.
32. 
Noise. To regulate or prohibit unreasonable ringing of bells, crying of goods, sounding of whistles and horns, or other disruptive or disturbing sounds.
33. 
Nuisances. To prevent or abate by appropriate ordinances all nuisances in the Town which are so defined at common law, by this Charter, or by the laws of the State of Maryland, whether the same be herein specifically named or not; to regulate, to prohibit, to control the location of, or to require the removal from the Town, of all trading in, handling of or manufacture of any commodity which is or may become offensive, obnoxious or injurious to the public comfort or health. In this connection, the Town may regulate, prohibit, control the location of or require the removal from the Town of such things as stockyards, slaughterhouses, cattle or hog pens, tanneries and renderies. This listing is by way of enumeration, not limitation.
34. 
Obstructions. To remove all nuisances and obstructions from the streets, lanes and alleys and from any lots adjoining thereto, or any other places within the limits of the Town.
35. 
Parking Facilities. To license and regulate and to establish, obtain by purchase, by lease or by rent, own, construct, operate and maintain parking lots and other facilities for off-street parking.
36. 
Parking Meters. To install parking meters on the streets and public places of the Town in such places as they shall by ordinance determine, and by ordinance prescribe rates and provisions for the use thereof, except that the installation of parking meters on any street or road maintained by the State Highway Administration of Maryland must first be approved by them.
37. 
Parks and Recreation. To establish and maintain public parks, bicycle paths, gardens, playgrounds and other recreational facilities and programs to promote the health, welfare and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the Town.
38. 
Police Force. To establish, operate and maintain a police force. All regular, sworn police officers shall, within the municipality, have the powers and authority of "Law Enforcement" officers as defined in the Annotated Code of Maryland. In addition, the Chief of Police has the authority to assign and discipline members of the police force.
39. 
Police Powers.
a. 
Sworn Officers.
To prohibit, suppress and punish within the Town all vice, gambling and games of chance; prostitution and solicitation thereof; common nuisances; all disorders, disturbances, annoyances, disorderly conduct, obscenity, public profanity and drunkenness.
b. 
Auxiliary Police and Non-Sworn Members of the Police Department.
The Chief of Police has the authority to designate non-sworn and auxiliary police officers as "special enforcement officers." The Chief of Police may assign "special enforcement" duties to the auxiliary police and the non-sworn members of the Police Department, which may include, but are not limited to:
1.
Issuance of municipal infractions and parking violations.
2.
Traffic control and crowd control at public events and at intersections within the Town limits.
3.
Rendering emergency services during natural disasters, floods, snowstorms and searches for missing persons.
4.
Assisting in the performance of administrative duties, such as collecting fines and dispatching police response.
c. 
The Chief of Police may assign special enforcement duties to volunteers, such as Explorer Post members and parade marshals, which may include, but are not limited to:
1.
Traffic control and crowd control at public events and at intersections within the Town limits.
2.
Rendering emergency services during natural disasters, floods, snowstorms and searches for missing persons.
3.
Assisting in the performance of administrative duties, such as collecting fines and dispatching police response.
40. 
Town Property.
a. 
Acquisition, Possession and Disposal
The Board of Commissioners may acquire real, personal or mixed property within the corporate limits of the Town for any public purpose by purchase, gift, bequest, devise, lease, condemnation or otherwise and may sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any property belonging to the Town. All municipal property, funds and franchises of every kind belonging to or in the possession of the Town (by whatever prior name known) at the time this Charter becomes effective are vested in the Town, subject to the terms and conditions thereof.
b. 
Condemnation
The Board of Commissioners shall have the power to condemn property of any kind, or interest therein, or franchise connected therewith, in fee or as in easement within the corporate limits of the Town for a public purpose. Any activity, project or improvement authorized by the provisions of this Charter or any other State law applicable to the Town shall be deemed to be public purpose. The manner of procedure in case of any condemnation proceedings shall be that established by the laws of Maryland.
c. 
Town Buildings
The Board of Commissioners shall have the power to acquire, to obtain by lease or rent, to purchase, construct, operate and maintain all buildings and structures it deems necessary for the operation of the Town Government.
d. 
Protection of Town Property
The Board of Commissioners shall have the power to do whatever may be necessary to protect Town property and to keep all Town property in good condition.
41. 
Public Utilities. To construct or provide for the construction and maintenance of public utilities if necessary, but not limited to, water, sewer, gas and electrical services for the citizens of Bel Air and to exercise those powers with regard to water and sewer systems and services granted to the Town by laws of Maryland.
42. 
Quarantine. To establish quarantine regulations to the interests of the public health.
43. 
Refuse and Recyclables Collection. To acquire, regulate or provide for the collection, removal and disposal of refuse, garbage, rubbish, filth, recyclable products or any other matter or thing that is or may become injurious to the health or comfort of the inhabitants of the Town. Whenever such requirements shall not be met, the Town shall arrange for the necessary work to be done and any expenses incident thereto shall become a lien upon the property.
44. 
Regulations. To adopt by ordinance and enforce within the corporate limits police, health, sanitary, fire, building, plumbing, traffic, speed, parking, land use and other similar regulations not in conflict with the laws of the State of Maryland or with this Charter.
45. 
Revenue Bonds. The Board of Commissioners shall have the power to issue and sell revenue bonds for any proper public purpose prescribed by and pursuant to the Laws of Maryland whether now existing or hereafter enacted in any manner prescribed by and pursuant to such laws.
46. 
Sidewalks: Powers. The Board of Commissioners shall have the Power:
a. 
To establish, regulate and change from time to time the grade lines, width and construction materials of any sidewalk or part thereof on Town property along any public way or part thereof.
b. 
To grade, lay out, construct, reconstruct, pave, repave, repair, extend or otherwise alter sidewalks on Town property along any public way or part thereof.
c. 
To require that the owners of any property abutting on a sidewalk keep the sidewalk clear of all ice, snow and other obstructions.
d. 
To require and order the owner of any property abutting on any public way in the Town to perform any projects authorized by this Section at the owner's expense according to reasonable plans and specifications. If, after due notice, the owner fails to comply with the order within a reasonable time, the Board of Commissioners may cause the work to be done and the expense shall be a lien on the property and shall be collectible in the same manner as are Town taxes or by suit at law.
47. 
Streets: Public Ways.
a. 
Control of Public Ways
The Board of Commissioners shall have control of all public ways in the Town including streets, avenues, roads, highways, public thoroughfares, lanes and alleys, except such as may be under the jurisdiction of the Maryland State Highway Administration. Subject to the laws of the State of Maryland and this Charter, the Town may do whatever it deems necessary to establish, operate and maintain in good condition the public ways of the Town.
b. 
Public Ways: Powers
The Board of Commissioners shall have the power:
1.
To establish, regulate and change from time to time the grade lines, width and construction materials of any Town public way or part thereof, bridge curbs and gutters.
2.
To grade, layout, construct, open, extend and make new Town public ways.
3.
To grade, straighten, widen, alter, improve or close up any existing Town public way or part thereof.
4.
To pave, surface, repave or resurface any Town public way or part thereof.
5.
To install, construct, reconstruct, repair and maintain curbs or gutters along any Town public way or part thereof.
6.
To construct, reconstruct, maintain and repair bridges.
7.
To name Town public ways.
8.
To have surveys, plans, specifications and estimates made for any of the above activities or projects or parts thereof.
c. 
Public Ways: Damages, Benefits
Whenever the Board of Commissioners shall deem it necessary that any street, alley, road or sidewalk within the limits of the said Town shall be opened, widened, narrowed, straightened, drained, paved, repaired, extended or closed, in whole or in part, the full value of all private property required and taken for such use, together with the damage to the remaining property of the respective owners, shall be assessed by the Board of Commissioners, on a day named in the ordinance authorizing said improvements, of which the five (5) days' notice, either by personal service or registered letter; the said Board of Commissioners, at the time it accesses the aforementioned values and damages, shall also ascertain and determine what amount of special benefits, if any, will accrue to the remaining property of the owners of the land so taken adjacent to where said improvements are to be made, but in no case shall said benefits exceed the value of the land so taken; after determining the value of the land of the respective property owners so taken and the special benefits, if any, to accrue, as aforesaid, which decision as to the values and the amount offered shall be recorded among the records of the Town of Bel Air by the Clerk. If the owner or owners of any land so taken shall be aggrieved by such action of the Board of Commissioners, such owner or owners shall be entitled to an appeal at any time within ten (10) days after the decision of the Board of Commissioners shall be recorded as aforesaid, and a copy thereof served upon such property owner or owners either by personal service or by registered letter; such appeal shall be to the Circuit Court for Harford County.
48. 
Special Assessments.
a. 
Power: Special Assessments
The Board of Commissioners shall have the power to levy and collect taxes in the form of special assessments upon property in a limited and determinable area for special benefits conferred upon such property by the installation or construction, of water mains, water storage or treatment facilities, sanitary and/or storm sewers, bridges, curbs and gutters and by the construction and paving of public ways and sidewalks or parts thereof, and to provide for the payment of all or any part of the above projects out of the proceeds of such special assessment. The cost of any project to be paid in whole or in part by special assessments may include the direct cost thereof, the cost of any land acquired for the project, the interest on bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued in anticipation of the collection of special assessments, a reasonable charge for the services of the administrative staff of the Town, and any other item of cost which may reasonably be attributed to the project.
b. 
Procedure
The procedure for special assessment, wherever authorized in this Charter, shall be as follows:
1.
The cost of the project being charged for shall be assessed according to the front foot rule or apportionment or some other equitable basis determined by the Board of Commissioners.
2.
The amount assessed against any property for any project or improvement shall not exceed the value of the benefits accruing to the property therefrom, nor shall any special assessment be levied which shall cause the total amount of special assessments levied by the Town and outstanding against any property at any time, exclusive of delinquent installments, to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the assessed value of the property after giving effect to the benefit accruing thereto from the project or improvement for which assessed.
3.
When desirable, the affected property may be divided into different classes to be charged different rates, but, except for this, any rate shall be uniform.
4.
All special assessment charges shall be levied by the Board of Commissioners by ordinance. Before levying any special assessment charges, the Board of Commissioners shall hold a public hearing. The Treasurer shall cause notice to be given stating the nature and extent of the proposed project, the kind of materials to be used, the estimated cost of the project, the portion of the cost to be assessed, the number of installments in which the assessment may be paid, the method to be used in apportioning the cost, and the limits of the proposed area of assessment. The notice shall also state the time and place at which all persons interested, or their agents or attorneys, may appear before the Board of Commissioners and be heard concerning the proposed project and special assessment. Such notice shall be given by sending a copy thereof by mail to the owner of record of each parcel of property proposed to be assessed and to the person in whose name the property is assessed for taxation and by publication of a copy of the notice at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town. The Treasurer shall present at the hearing a certificate that shall be deemed proof of notice, but failure of any owner to receive the mailed copy shall not invalidate the proceedings. The date of hearing shall be set at least ten and nor more than thirty (30) days after the Treasurer shall have completed publication and service of notice as provided in this section. Following the hearing, the Board of Commissioners, in their discretion, may vote to proceed with the project and may levy the special assessment.
5.
Any interested person feeling aggrieved by the levying of any special assessment under the provisions of this section shall have the right to appeal to the Circuit Court for Harford County within ten (10) days after the levying of any assessment by the Board of Commissioners.
6.
Special assessments may be made payable in annual or more frequent installments over such period of time, not to exceed ten (10) years, and in such manner as the Board of Commissioners may determine. The Board of Commissioners shall determine on what date installments shall be due and payable. Interest may be charged on installments at the rate to be determined by the Board of Commissioners.
7.
All special assessment installments shall be overdue six (6) months after the date on which they became due and payable. All special assessments shall be liens on the property and all overdue special assessments shall be collected in the same manner as Town taxes or by suit at law.
8.
All special assessments shall be billed and collected by the Treasurer.
49. 
Sweepings. To regulate or prevent the throwing or depositing of sweepings, dust, ashes, offal, garbage, paper, leaves, grass, and handbills, dirty liquids or other unwholesome materials into any public way or onto any public or private property in the Town.
50. 
Taxicabs. To license, tax and regulate public hackmen, taxicab men, draymen, drivers, cabmen, porters and expressmen and all other persons pursuing like occupations.
51. 
Voting Machines. To purchase, lease, borrow, install and maintain voting machines for use in Town elections.
52. 
Zoning. To exercise the powers as to planning and zoning, conferred upon municipal corporations generally in Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended from time to time subject, however, to the limitations and provisions of said Article.
53. 
Saving Clause. The enumeration of powers in this Section is not to be construed as limiting the powers of the Town to the several subjects mentioned.
54. 
Exercise of Powers. For the purpose of carrying out the powers granted in this subtitle or elsewhere in this Charter, the Board of Commissioners may pass all necessary ordinances. All the powers of the Town shall be exercised in the manner prescribed by this Charter, or if the manner be not prescribed by Charter, then in such manner as may be prescribed by ordinance.