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(A) Identification. An alleged violation, as reported to or witnessed by the county, will be investigated by the Office of Licensing and Enforcement to determine compliance with this chapter.
(B) Inspection. Where probable cause exists to believe a violation of this chapter exists, the county may:
(1) Obtain an administrative search warrant to enter the premises to determine whether the building is structurally unsound; or
(2) Obtain permission from the responsible party or who exercises control over the property.
(1) If the county determines that a structure is an unsafe structure, as defined by this chapter, the Office of Licensing and Enforcement is authorized to issue an order to the responsible party to take those steps necessary to make the structure safe. If the extent of repair, alterations, or additions cannot be made to the structure to render it safe, the Office of Licensing and Enforcement may, in its discretion, and based upon an inspection by the Office of Permits and Inspections and/or the State Fire Marshal's Office of the county, direct that the unsafe structure be razed and/or removed.
(2) The Office of Licensing and Enforcement shall serve on the responsible party a written notice that describes the conditions of the structure that are deemed to be unsafe, specifies the required repairs or improvements required to abate the unsafe condition, or directs that the unsafe structure be razed within a stated period of time. Such notice shalt require the responsible party to declare immediately to the county acceptance or rejection of the terms of the order.
(3) An order or notice shall be deemed properly served if a copy thereof is:
(a) Delivered personally to the responsible party;
(b) Sent certified mail addressed to the last known address; or
(c) If notice is returned showing the mail was not delivered, a copy of the order shall be posted in a conspicuous place or about the unsafe structure affected by such order.
(D) Establishment of Board of Appeals. To provide for the competent interpretation and the full and equitable achievement of the purposes of this chapter, a Board of Appeals shall be established.
(1) Membership. 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 member 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 said appointed member.
(2) Procedures, meetings, records and decisions.
(a) 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.
(b) Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the chairperson and at such other times as the Board may determine. Such 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.
(c) 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.
(d) The Board shall notify the County Commissioners, and the Licensing and Enforcement Manager of all decisions and resolutions.
(E) Appeal of order.
(1) A responsible party who desires to contest the order may request a hearing before the Board. The hearing request must be submitted in writing to the Office of Licensing and Enforcement within 15 days of service of the order. If an appeal is not filed within 15 days of service of the order, the order shall be deemed a final order. Upon receipt of the request, the Office of Licensing and Enforcement shall set the matter for a hearing and shall notify the responsible party of the date, place and time of the hearing. The order shall be stayed pending the hearing. Any order issued by the Board shall be complied with within 15 days of the date of the order unless another date is established by the Board.
(2) Any responsible party aggrieved by the decision of the Board may appeal said decision to the Circuit Court of Garrett County provided the said appeal is filed no later than 30 days from the date of the Board's decision. The decision of the Circuit Court of Garrett County shall constitute a final order on any decision appealed to it.
(F) Record. In the event the Office of Licensing and Enforcement determines that a structure is an unsafe structure under this chapter, that Office shall cause a report to be filed and maintained on that structure. The report shall be public information and shall state and identify the occupancy of the structure, if any, at the time of inspection and issuance of the order and describe, in detail, the nature of the unsafe condition upon which the issuance of the order was based.
(G) Abatement. In the event the county determines that a structure is an unsafe structure under this chapter, the responsible party shall have the right and obligation to make such repairs, alterations or additions as may be necessary to bring the structure into safe condition, in compliance with the Code of Ordinances of Garrett County, Maryland, Title XV, Chapter 150, Building Regulations.
(Ord. 2007-17, passed 12-11-2007)