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(A) Nuisances which affect public health.
(1) Complaints. A person may complain to the Carroll County Health Department to declare that a nuisance which affects public health exists.
(2) Investigations. The Health Officer may investigate all complaints of nuisance received against an agricultural operation. When a previous complaint involving the same condition resulted in a determination by the Health Officer that a nuisance condition did not exist, the Health Officer may investigate the complaint, but the Health Officer may also determine not to investigate such a complaint. The Carroll County Health Department may initiate any investigation without citizen complaint.
(3) Declaration of nuisance. If the Health Officer determines that a nuisance exists, the Health Department may declare the existence of a nuisance. In determining whether a nuisance condition exists in connection with an agricultural operation, the Health Officer shall apply the criteria provided in this subchapter. Further, the Health Officer may consider the professional opinion of the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland, or other qualified experts in the relevant field, in determining whether the agricultural operation being investigated is conducted in accordance with generally accepted agricultural management practices.
(B) Resolution of disputes regarding agricultural operations.
(1) Should any matter arise regarding an interference with the use or enjoyment of property from agricultural operations conducted on agricultural land, the parties to that matter shall submit the matter to the Committee by first contacting the Agricultural Land Preservation Program Administrator, Carroll County Department of Land Use, Planning, and Development, or its successor agency, 225 North Center Street, Westminster, Maryland, 21157.
(2) There is hereby established the Committee, which shall arbitrate and mediate disputes involving agricultural operations conducted on agricultural lands and issue opinions on whether such agricultural operations are conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural management practices.
(3) The Committee shall be composed of five persons. The County Commissioners shall appoint the members of the Committee, one member shall be from a municipality and chosen from a list of recommendations submitted by the Carroll County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League, one member shall be a member of a homeowners’ association and a resident of the county, one member shall be a resident of the county who is not engaged or otherwise has a pecuniary interest in the commercial practice of agriculture, and two members who shall be members of the Agriculture Commission and selected as set forth herein. The Agriculture Commission shall select from among its members, on a case-by-case basis, two people with competence in the subject matter of the dispute at issue, whose names shall be submitted to the County Commissioners and upon the County Commissioners’ approval shall serve as members of the Committee.
(4) The Committee will conduct its proceedings in an informal manner, and the rules of evidence shall not apply. The Committee has the power but is not required hereunder to hold hearings, to compel testimony under oath and the production of documents. In each case before it the Committee shall issue orders settling or otherwise resolving controversies arising out of agricultural operations, including but not limited to the invasion of property and personal rights by agricultural operations conducted on agricultural land. Proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the duly adopted Rules of Procedure for the Committee which may be amended from time to time. The Committee will render a written decision within 30 days of the final proceedings and may extend the decision deadline for one additional 30-day period.
(5) Orders of the Committee shall be binding on the parties as a matter of law, but their enforcement shall be suspended by operation of law if, within 30 days of the date of the Committee’s judgment, a party appeals such order to the Circuit Court for Carroll County. Appeal from orders of the Committee shall be by a de novo hearing.
(6) If the Committee or a Court finds that the conduct of a party in bringing or maintaining an action in connection with an agricultural operation conducted on agricultural land was in bad faith or without substantial justification, the Committee or Court may require that party to pay to the owner of the agricultural operation (or any other party opponent) the costs of the proceeding and the reasonable expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, incurred by that party in defending against the action.
(2004 Code, § 173-4) (Ord. 127, passed 12-2-1994)