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Town requests resident input

Chris Patterson
The Gazette

(1/21) Thurmont's town commissioners are seeking input from residents on two proposed changes to the town code addressing lot and property maintenance and snow removal.

At Tuesday's town meeting, the commissioners introduced the changes, and asked the public to provide feedback at the town meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 1 in town hall.

Commissioners are asking the public for comment because the ordinances will affect homeowners directly, they said.

John Ford, a member of the Charter and Code Review Committee, told commissioners he has heard complaints that the town code does not address problems with property maintenance and littering.

Thurmont Police Chief Terry Frushour came to the committee looking for a change to the town code that would address junk vehicles, but when the committee started looking into the issue, it grew, Ford said.

The proposed changes to the ordinance would add a section on littering, outdoor storage in general, outdoor vehicle storage, outdoor watercraft storage, outdoor material storage, and a section on penalties and noncompliance.

Outdoor storage regulations, the ordinance states, will "require that property be maintained in such a condition that it does not adversely impact the health, safety and welfare of the public."

The ordinance states that it is intended to prevent adverse impacts to the community, such as "vermin or rodent infestation, creation of an attractive nuisance potentially hazardous to children or creation of unsightly, or undesirable conditions potentially impacting the value of property."

The ordinance will prohibit leaving a junked or inoperable vehicle on private property for more than one week, unless under specific conditions. It will prohibit more than one watercraft to be parked at any one property, and it will not permit junk, vehicle parts, furniture, appliances or miscellaneous equipment to be stored "outside of a totally enclosed structure."

Ford said the ordinance would be "complaint driven."

The town will not send enforcement staff around looking for problems, Mayor Martin Burns said.

Penalties for noncompliance would include up to a $100 fine for each day the problem is not remedied, however the property owner would be given six months to remedy the problem.

The proposal regarding snow removal would require property owners to remove snow from sidewalks, enough for two pedestrians to pass, within 12 hours after snow has stopped falling.

The current requirement is six hours, with exceptions for snow that falls and stops after 5 p.m. and before 7 a.m.

Those exceptions would no longer apply under the change.

The penalty for noncompliance would be a $50 fine, which represents a $25 increase.

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