(A)   Time for appeal to Hearing Board. Within 30 days of notice of a violation being given to the property owner by the Hearing Officer, any owner may appeal the Hearing Officer’s decision to be heard by the Hearing Board by filing a notice of appeal at the County Judge/Executive’s office. Upon filing of the appeal, no further abatement action shall be taken prior to the decision of the Hearing Board.
   (B)   Notice of hearing, contents. The Board shall notify the alleged offending party of the hearing before the Hearing Board by notice not less than ten days in advance of the date set for the hearing.
      (1)   The notice shall be served on the parties by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address.
      (2)   The notice required by this section shall be in plain language and shall include:
         (a)   A statement of the date, time, place and nature of the hearing;
         (b)   A statement of the issues involved in sufficient detail to give the parties reasonable opportunity to prepare evidence and argument;
         (c)   A reference to the specific provision of this chapter which relates to the issues involved;
         (d)   A statement advising the person of his or her right to legal counsel; and
         (e)   A statement advising that any party who fails to attend or participate as required at any stage of the administrative hearing process may be held in default.
   (C)   Hearings.
      (1)   An officer or officers of the Nuisance Abatement Hearing Board shall preside over the conduct of an administrative hearing and shall regulate the course of the proceedings in a manner which will promote the orderly and prompt conduct of the hearing.
      (2)   To the extent necessary for the full disclosure of all relevant facts and issues, a Hearing Officer shall afford all parties the opportunity to respond, present documentary or tangible evidence, conduct cross-examination, and submit rebuttal evidence.
      (3)   Any party to an administrative hearing may participate in person and/or be represented by counsel.
      (4)   If a party fails to attend or participate in a hearing, a Hearing Officer may adjourn the proceedings and issue a default order.
      (5)   In an administrative hearing, findings of fact shall be based exclusively on the evidence on the record. The strict rules of evidence governing civil proceedings shall not apply.
      (6)   All testimony shall be made under oath or affirmation. Any part of the evidence may be received in written format if doing so will expedite the hearing without substantial prejudice to the interests of any party, or if such practice is authorized by statute. Any party shall have the right to inspect the documentary or tangible evidence relating to an administrative hearing either in person or by counsel. Copies of documentary evidence may be obtained upon the payment of a fee, except documents protected from disclosure by state or federal law.
      (7)   Objections to evidentiary offers may be made by any party and shall be noted in the record.
      (8)   A Hearing Officer may take official notice of any matter of which a court of the commonwealth may take such notice.
      (9)   A Hearing Officer shall cause all testimony in a hearing to be accurate completely recorded. Any person, upon request, may receive a copy of the recording. A Hearing Officer may prepare a transcript of a hearing upon request, but the party making the request shall be responsible for the cost thereof.
   (D)   Orders and appeals.
      (1)   Within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the hearing, a Hearing Officer shall issue a written order which shall include findings of fact, conclusions of law, and disposition of the hearing, including penalties, if any. A copy of the order shall be sent to each party.
      (2)   An appeal from the Hearing Board’s determination may be made to the District Court of the county within 30 days of the Board’s determination. The appeal shall be initiated by the filing of a complaint and a copy of the Board’s order in the same manner as any civil action under the Rules of Civil Procedure. The action shall be tried de novo and the burden shall be upon the local government to establish that a violation occurred. If the court finds that a violation occurred, the owner shall be ordered to pay to the local government all fines, fees, and penalties occurring as of the date of the judgment. If the court finds a violation did not occur, the local government shall be ordered to dismiss the notice and the plaintiff shall be authorized to recover his or her costs.
      (3)   A judgment of the District Court may be appealed to the Circuit Court in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure.
(Ord. passed 8-23-2011)