To provide for the competent interpretation and the full and equitable achievement of the purposes of this chapter, a Licensing and Enforcement Board of Appeals shall be established.
   (A)   Membership. The Licensing and Enforcement Appeals (the “Board”) shall consist of 5 members. The terms of office of the members shall be staggered and will serve for a period of 3 years. Members shall be appointed by the County Commissioners, and shall be removable for cause upon written charges and after public hearing. The County Commissioners shall designate 1 or more alternate members or members for the Board. In the event of absence or voluntary disqualification of any appointed member, the Chairperson of the Board of Appeals shall designate 1 of the alternate members to act during that meeting in place of the appointed member.
   (B)   Procedures, meetings, records, and decisions.
      (1)   The Board shall elect a chairperson from its membership, shall appoint a secretary and shall prescribe rules for the conduct of its affairs in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and of Md. Code, Article 66B.
      (2)   Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the chairperson and at such other times as the Board may determine. The chairperson or acting chairperson may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses. All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public. Three members present shall constitute a quorum.
      (3)   The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall immediately be filed in the office of the Board and shall be a public record. All actions or decisions of the Board shall be taken by resolution in which 3 members, present during the proceedings, must concur. Each resolution shall contain a statement of the grounds and any findings forming the basis of such action or decision.
      (4)   The Board shall notify the County Commissioners, Licensing and Enforcement Manager and the Zoning Administrator of all decisions and resolutions.
   (C)   Who may appeal. The owner of any property who seeks to register, license, or is registered or licensed under the terms of this chapter, who is aggrieved by any officer, department, or board of the county affected by the decision of the Office of Licensing and Enforcement Management in respect to registration or licensing of a transient vacation rental unit under the terms of this chapter may appeal to the Transient Vacation Rental Unit Board of Appeals.
   (D)   Interpretation. Upon appeal from a decision by the Licensing and Enforcement Manager the Board shall decide any question:
      (1)   Where it is alleged there is error in any order, requirement, decision or determination, including any order requiring a license to be suspended or revoked. made by the Licensing and Enforcement Manager in the enforcement of this chapter; or
      (2)   Involving the interpretation of any provisions of this chapter.
   (E)   Variances. Upon appeal from a decision by the Licensing and Enforcement Manager, the Board shall have the power to vary or adapt the strict application of any of the requirements of this chapter in the case of exceptional physical conditions whereby the strict applications would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship depriving the owner of the reasonable use of land or building as a transient vacation rental, but in no other case.
      (1)   No variance to the provisions of this chapter shall be granted by the Board unless the Board finds that the appellant establishes and substantiates that all the following requirements and standards are satisfied.
         (a)   That the variance will not be contrary to the public interest.
         (b)   That a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in either practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship.
         (c)   That the granting of the variance would be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this chapter, and would not be injurious to the neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare.
         (d)   The special circumstances or conditions (described in the findings of fact) are peculiar to the transient vacation rental unit for which the variance is sought, and are not the result of any action taken by the applicant.
         (e)   1.   That because of the special circumstances or conditions, the literal application of the provisions of this chapter would deprive the applicant of the reasonable use of such land or building as a transient vacation rental unit or create unnecessary hardship or create practical difficulty.
            2.   It shall not be considered sufficient proof of hardship to show that greater profit would result if the variance were awarded. Furthermore, hardship complained of cannot be self-created; it cannot be claimed by one who purchases with or without the knowledge of restrictions; it must result from the application of the ordinance; it must be suffered directly by the property in question; and evidence of variance granted under similar circumstances shall not be considered.
      (2)   The Board may establish such conditions and safeguards that it deems necessary to secure substantially the objectives of the regulation or provisions to which the variance applies.
   (F)   Rules for filing appeals. Any appeal shall be filed with the Licensing and Enforcement Manager within 30 days after the date of the Licensing and Enforcement Manager's decision; provided however, that the Board may waive the time limit if the appellant demonstrates good cause for doing so. All appeals and applications made to the Board shall be in writing on standard forms prescribed by the Board.
      (1)   Interpretation. Appeals concerning the interpretation of any provisions of this chapter shall exactly set forth the interpretation that is claimed by the appellant to be the correct interpretation.
      (2)   Variance. Appeals for variance from the literal application by this chapter shall include a copy of the license application denied by the Licensing and Enforcement Manager together with a statement containing any relevant supporting arguments regarding the requirements listed in division (E).
      (3)   Multiple applications. An application or appeal for a variance or interpretation will automatically terminate if a second application or appeal concerning the same property is filed with the Licensing and Enforcement Manager by the same applicant before the Licensing and Enforcement Board of Appeals has reached its decision on the first application.
   (G)   Notice of hearing. Upon transmittal to the Board of an application filed with the Licensing and Enforcement Manager for a variance or an appeal from alleged error of the Licensing and Enforcement Manager, the Board shall fix a reasonable time (not less than 14 days nor more than 45 days from the transmittal date) for a public hearing thereon and give notice as follows:
      (1)   Legal advertisement. At least 14 days prior to the date fixed for public hearing, publish a notice containing the name of the applicant or appellant; the date, time and place fixed for the hearing; and a brief statement of the error alleged by the appellant, or of the variance or other question, which is subject to appeal, in at least one newspaper of general circulation within the county.
      (2)   Sign. Post, in a conspicuous place on the property involved, a notice of pending action containing the same information as in division (A), such posting to occur at least 14 days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing.
      (3)   Mail. Give written notice of the time and place of such hearing sent by certified mail to the applicant or appellant and to the owners of record of all adjacent and contiguous property owners.
   (H)   Decisions. Decisions by the Board on variances and interpretation appeals shall be rendered in writing, within 10 working days of the completion of hearing(s) on the variance or interpretation, unless a later date is mutually agreeable to the Board and the applicant.
      (1)   In exercising its powers concerning interpretation appeals, the Board may, in conformity with law and the provisions of this chapter, reverse or affirm wholly or in part, or may modify the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from and make such order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made in conformity with the Zoning Code and this chapter, and to that end shall have all the powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken.
      (2)   In making its decisions pursuant to the authority conferred by this chapter, the Board shall study the specific property involved, as well as the neighborhood, and consider all testimony and data submitted, and shall hear any person desiring to speak for or against the issuance of the transient vacation rental unit license. The application for a license shall not be approved where the Board finds that the proposed use as a transient vacation rental unit would adversely affect the public health, safety, security, morals or general welfare, or would result in dangerous traffic conditions, or would jeopardize the lives or property of people living in the neighborhood.
   (I)   Decision.  A decision of the Board permitting the licensing of the transient vacation rental unit shall be valid for a period of 1 year, unless such use is established within said period; except that, where the use is dependent upon the erection or alteration of a building. The order shall continue in force and effect if a zoning permit for the erection or alteration is obtained within said period, and the erection or alteration proceeds to completion in accordance with the terms of the decision.
   (J)   Time limits on submission. If an application or an appeal therefrom is disapproved, the Board shall take no action on another application for or an appeal against substantially the same proposal on the same premises until after 12 months from the date of the disapproval.
   (K)   Appeals to court.  Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Transient Rental Unit Board of Appeals may seek relief therefrom in any court of competent jurisdiction, as provided by the laws of this state.
(Ord. 2006-7, passed 3-1-2006)