Article 3 Building & Construction Regulations

Section 3.1: Building and Housing Codes effective

The Town Council does hereby recognize and declare to be effective within the Town, the Prince George's County Building and Housing Codes, including electrical and plumbing codes, and amendments thereto subsequently adopted. Any or all permits which may be required by [these] the pertinent county codes for construction or modification of buildings and structures within the Town shall be obtained from Prince George's County, pursuant to MD. Ann. Code, Art. 28, section 8-112.1, the Town Council may by ordinance impose stricter or additional conditions, restrictions, or limitations on fences, residential parking, and residential storage than are otherwise required by county zoning regulations.

Section 3.2: Town Permits and certificates of referral required

A. In addition to the requirements of Section 3.1 it shall be unlawful within the Town, for any person or persons to construct, reconstruct or recondition any fence or building without first having obtained a permit or filed a referral to the Town Clerk or the official designated by the Town Council. Said permit or referral shall not be issued or accepted until the fee of fifty dollars ($50) has been duly paid to the Town. All permits and certificates of referral shall be prominently displayed at the site of construction.

B. Referrals for subdivision or resubdivision of any property which lies within the boundaries of Forest Heights shall be submitted to the Town Council on or before the date of submittal to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and/or the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Such referrals shall include plans, including proposed construction, roads, drainage and plat with street frontage, which conform to specifications set by the Town Council.

C. Rental Property Permit

A rental property permit shall be issued to all property owners whose properties: (1) are rental properties, or (2) the owner or owners reside in their properties less than six (6) months out of the year, when otherwise rented to others. All such property owners shall be required to obtain the Rental Property Permit at an annual cost of $75. A Rental Property Permit must be obtained from the Town Clerk of Forest Heights not later than September 1, 2007 or prior to renting the property, whichever is later. Failure to obtain A permit shall be deemed a municipal infraction and subject to a fine of $500.

Section 3.3: Road and Drainage Facilities Required

Before the issuance of a Forest Heights Building Permit or certificate of referral for construction, all applicants shall be required to submit to the Town plans for acceptable roads and drainage facilities. Applicants shall also be required to submit plans for drainage facilities meeting the standards prescribed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

Section 3.4: Signs

All signs must comply with PART 12 - "SIGNS" of the Prince George's County Zoning Code (SUBTITLE 27) as amended and a county permit must be obtained where required; except that it shall be unlawful within the Town for any person or persons to erect any sign exceeding six square feet without first having obtained a permit from the Town Council. Cost of said permit shall be $50.

Section 3.5: Fences, Barriers, Walls

A. Definition: A fence, barrier or wall is any structure or partition placed, erected or installed for the purpose of enclosing a piece of land, to divide a parcel or lot of land into distinct portions or to separate two contiguous properties, and made of any material such as bricks, blocks, stones, wood, wire, plastic, other building materials or shrubbery.

B. Front and Side Yard: Fences and footings must be confined within the property line, must not block or impede passage through any easement or right of way and cannot be more than four feet high.

C. Rear Yard: The rear yard of a property may be enclosed by a fence. Such a fence shall not be erected beyond the front building line established by the Zoning Ordinance of Prince George's County, Maryland. A rear yard fence or fence and wall combination shall not exceed six (6) feet in height. County and Town Permits shall be obtained for all fences. The Town permit shall cost $50.00.

D. Walls: Walls built to retain or support the lateral pressure of earth or water or other superimposed loads shall be designed and constructed of approved masonry, reinforced concrete, steel sheet piling or other approved material within the allowable stresses of accepted engineering practices.

E. Design: Retaining walls shall be designed to resist the pressure of the retained material, including both dead and live load surcharges to which they may be subjected; and to ensure stability against over¬turning, sliding, excessive foundation pressure and water uplift.

F. Hydrostatic Pressure: Unless drainage is provided, the hydrostatic head of water pressure shall be assumed equal to the height of the wall.

G. Coping: All masonry retaining walls, other than reinforced concrete walls, shall be protected with an approved coping. Retaining walls constructed in the front yard shall not extend more than one (1) foot above the finished grade on any lot.

H. General Restrictions: (1.) No fence, barrier, or wall made in whole or in part of barbed wire or chicken wire shall be erected or constructed along or adjacent to any street, avenue, road, alley, and public walk or immediately adjacent to an adjoining lot or property line.

(2.) No wall, barrier or fence, the design, construction or condition of which, in the judgment of the Mayor and Town Council, would be detrimental to the public welfare, health, safety, or comfort of the citizens will be permitted to be erected or maintained.

I. Waivers: 

(1.) The Mayor and Town Council, in or at their discretion, may consider an application for a waiver to allow relief from the strict requirements for a fence, wall, or barrier that is not in strict compliance with this article. The Mayor and Town Council shall make the following findings and conclusions when granting a waiver: (I)Special conditions or circumstances exist that are peculiar to the subject land or structure and that a literal enforcement of this article would result in unwarranted hardship, (II) The waiver request is not based upon conditions or circumstances which are the result of actions by the applicant, and (III) Granting the waiver will not be detrimental to the health, welfare and safety of the public.

(2.) One patio enclosure within the rear yard is permitted upon application and approval of a waiver by the Mayor and Town Council.

J. Applicability: The provisions of this article shall apply to all properties within the Town except the following: 

(1.) Fences, walls or barriers constructed prior to December 16, 1967.

(2.) Fences, walls or barriers that were erected on a property prior to its annexation into the Town.

(3.) Fences, walls or barriers for which a waiver has previously been granted by the Mayor and Town Council. These waivers do not include the replacement, relocation or modification of any fence, wall or barrier.

Section 3.6: RESERVED

Section 3.7: Penalty

Any violation of any section of this Article 3 shall be deemed an infraction and any person upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than $100 for the first offense. Repeat offenders may be assessed a fine not to exceed $200 for each repeated offense.