Changes deemed necessary in Calvert County’s property maintenance regulations were unanimously approved Tuesday, March 25 by the Calvert County Commissioners. The decision followed a public hearing at which two citizen speakers indicated the proposed changes have led to confusion in the community.
Both local government staff and the county commissioners attempted to clarify what the amendments mean.
One likely change that will result from the modified laws is an increase in the number of citations for properties found to be a nuisance to neighbors.
In a memo to the commissioners, Zoning Enforcement Division Chief Christopher Breedlove stated, “The proposed changes are to expand the areas of enforcement to properties zoned Rural Community District (RCD), Rural Commercial (RC), Farm and Forest District (FFD) and Town Center (TC). The proposed changes to the ‘notice to abate’ section will mirror the County Zoning Ordinance for enforcement, which consists of a written notice for violation, followed by a citation if not abated in 30 days. If the citation for the violation is unresolved, the case is sent to the County Attorney’s Office to schedule a date with the District Court.”
Currently, the county code only allows for enforcement of property maintenance in areas zoned residential.
Department of Community Planning and Building Deputy Director Mary Beth Cook stated that staff does not think the amended policy will affect local agriculture. Such agriculture-related activities as composting are covered under Calvert’s Right to Farm Act.
“I’m not aware that we’ve ever received a complaint about composting,” said Cook.
“This is not geared toward farming or even cutting grass,” said Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter [R], who worked for several years as a code enforcement officer, first for Calvert County and later the Town of North Beach. Nutter explained the blight concerning county government officials includes the effects of empty houses where debris accumulates or abandoned items like refrigerators and motor vehicles.
Comments about the proposed changes were submitted to several agencies and entities. Neither the county Agriculture Commission nor the county chapter of the Farm Bureau expressed any concerns about the proposals.
Breedlove told the board the complaints received from adjacent residents about a particular property will be handled on “a case-by-case basis” and county staff would use “discretion.”
“You are going to work with people,” said