General Powers

Section 33-20 Listed

(a) General. The Council shall have the power to pass all such ordinances not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the State of Maryland or this Charter as it may deem necessary for the good government of the Town; for the protection and preservation of the Town's property, rights, and privileges; for the preservation of peace and good order; for securing persons and property from violence, danger, or destruction; and for the protection and promotion of the health, safety, comfort, convenience, welfare, and happiness of the residents of the Town and visitors thereto and sojourners therein.

(b) Specific. The Council shall have, in addition, the power to pass ordinances not contrary to the laws and Constitution of this State, for the following specific purposes: (1) Advertising. To provide for advertising for the purposes of the Town, for printing and publishing statements as to the business of the Town.

(2) Aisles. To regulate and prevent the obstruction of aisles in public halls, churches and places of amusement, and to regulate the construction and operation of the doors and means of egress therefrom.

(3) Amusements. To provide in the interest of the public welfare for licensing, regulating, or restraining theatrical or other public amusements.

(4) Appropriations. To appropriate municipal monies for any purpose within the powers of the Council.

(5) Auctioneers. To regulate the sale of all kinds of property at auction within the Town and to license auctioneers.

(6) Billboards. To license and regulate, restrain or prohibit the erection or maintenance of billboards within the Town, the placing of signs, bills and posters of every kind and description on any building, fence, post, billboard, pole, or other place within the Town.

(7) Bridges. To erect and maintain bridges.

(8) Buildings. To make reasonable regulations in regard to buildings and signs to be erected, constructed, or reconstructed in the Town, and to grant building permits for the same; to formulate a building code and a plumbing code and to appoint a building inspector and a plumbing inspector, and to require reasonable charges for permits and inspections; to authorize and require the inspection of all buildings and structures and to authorize the condemnation thereof in whole or in part when dangerous or insecure, and to require that such buildings and structures be made safe or be taken down.

(9) Codification. To provide for the codification of all ordinances which have been or may hereafter be passed.

(10) Community Services. To provide, maintain, and operate community and social services for the preservation and promotion of the health, recreation, welfare, and enlightenment, of the inhabitants of the Town.

(11) Cooperative activities. To make agreements with other municipalities, counties, districts, bureaus, commissions, and governmental authorities for the joint performance of or for cooperation in the performance of any governmental functions.

(12) Curfew. To prohibit the youth of the Town from being in the streets, lanes, alleys, or public places at unreasonable hours of the night.

(13) Dangerous conditions. To compel persons about to undertake dangerous improvements to execute bonds with sufficient sureties conditioned that the owner or contractor will pay all damages resulting from such work which may be sustained by any persons or property.

(14) Departments. To create, change, and abolish offices, departments, or agencies, other than the offices, departments and agencies established by this Charter; to assign additional functions or duties to offices, departments, or agencies established by this charter, but not including the power to discontinue or assign to any other office, department or agency any function or duty assigned by this Charter to a particular office department, or agency.

(15) Disorderly houses. To suppress bawdy houses, disorderly houses and houses of ill fame.

(16) Dogs. To regulate the keeping of dogs in the Town.

(17) Explosives. To regulate or prevent the storage of gunpowder, oil, or any other explosive or combustible matter; to regulate or prevent the use of firearms, fireworks, bonfires, explosives, or any other similar things which may endanger persons or property.

(18) Filth. To compel the occupant of any premises, building or outhouse situated in the Town, when the same has become filthy or unwholesome, to abate or cleanse the condition; and after reasonable notice to the owners or occupants to authorize such work to be done by the proper officers and to assess the expense thereof against such property, making it collectible by taxes or against the occupant or occupants.

(19) Finances. To levy, assess, and collect ad valorem property taxes; to expend municipal funds for any public purpose; to have general management and control of the finances of the Town.

(20) Fire. To suppress fires and prevent the dangers thereof and to establish and maintain a fire department; to contribute funds to volunteer fire companies serving the Town; to inspect buildings for the purpose of reducing fire hazards, to issue regulations concerning fire hazards, and to forbid and prohibit the use of fire-hazardous buildings and structures permanently or until the conditions of Town fire-hazard regulations are met; to install and maintain fire plugs where and as necessary, and to regulate their use; and to take all other measures to control and prevent fires in the Town.

(21) Food. To inspect and to require the condemnation of, if unwholesome, and to regulate the sale of, any food products.

(22) Franchises. To grant and regulate franchises to electric light companies, gas companies, telegraph and telephone companies, transit companies, taxicab companies, and any others which may be deemed advantageous and beneficial to the Town, subject, however, to the limitations and provisions of Article 23 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. No franchise shall be granted for a longer period than fifty years.

(23) Gambling. To restrain and prohibit gambling.

(24) Garbage. To prevent the deposit of any unwholesome substance either on private or public property, and to compel its removal to designated points; to require slops, garbage, ashes and other waste or other unwholesome materials to be removed to designated points, or to require the occupants of the premises to place them conveniently for removal.

(25) Grants-in-Aid. To accept gifts and grants of Federal or of State funds from the Federal or State governments or any agency thereof, and to expend the same for any lawful public purpose, agreeably to the conditions under which the gifts or grants were made.

(26) Hawkers. To license, regulate, suppress and prohibit hawkers and itinerant dealers, peddlers, pawnbrokers and all other persons selling any articles on the streets of the Town, and to revoke such licenses for cause.

(27) Health. To protect and preserve the health of the Town and its inhabitants; to appoint a public health officer, and to define and regulate his powers and duties; to prevent the introduction of contagious diseases into the Town; to establish quarantine regulations and to authorize the removal and confinement of persons having contagious or infectious diseases; to prevent and remove all nuisances; to inspect, regulate, and abate any buildings, structures, or places which cause or may cause unsanitary conditions or conditions detrimental to health; provided, that nothing herein shall be construed to affect in any manner any of the powers and duties of the State Board of Health, the County Board of Health, or any public general or local taw relating to the subject of health.

(28) Jail. To establish and regulate a station house or lock-up for temporary confinement of violators of the laws and ordinances of the Town or to use the County Jail for such purpose.

(29) Licenses. Subject to any restriction imposed by the public general laws of the State, to license and regulate all persons beginning or conducting transient or permanent business in the Town for the sale of any goods, wares, merchandise, or services, to license and regulate any business, occupation, trade, calling, or place of amusement or business; to establish and collect fees and charges for all licenses and permits issued under the authority of this Charter.

(30) Liens. To provide that any valid charges, taxes or assessments made against any real property within the Town shall be liens upon such property, to be collected as municipal taxes are collected.

(31) Lights. To provide for the lighting of the Town.

(32) Livestock. To regulate and prohibit the running at large of cattle, horses, swine, fowl, sheep, goats, dogs or other animals; to authorize the impounding, keeping, sale and redemption of such animals when found in violation of the ordinance in such cases provided.

(33) Minor privileges. To regulate or prevent the use of public ways, sidewalks, and public places for signs, awnings, posts, steps, railings, entrances, racks, posting handbills and advertisements, and display of goods, wares and merchandise.

(34) Noise. To regulate or prohibit unreasonable ringing of bells, crying of goods or sounding of whistles and horns.

(35) Nuisances. To prevent or abate by appropriate ordinance all nuisances in the Town which are so defined at common law, by this Charter, or by the laws of the State of Maryland, whether the same be herein specifically named or not; to regulate, to prohibit, to control the location of, or to require the removal from the Town of all trading in, handling of, or manufacture of any commodity which is or may become offensive, obnoxious, or injurious to the public comfort or health. In this connection the Town may regulate, prohibit, control the location of, or require the removal from the Town of such things as stockyards, slaughterhouses, cattle or hog pens, tanneries, and renderies. This listing is by way of enumeration, not limitations.

(36) Obstructions. To remove all nuisances and obstructions from the streets, lanes and alleys and from any lots adjoining thereto, or any other places within the limits of the Town.

(37) Parking facilities. To license and regulate and to establish, obtain by purchase, by lease or by rent, own, construct, operate, and maintain parking lots and other facilities for off street parking.

(38) Parks and recreation. To establish and maintain public parks, gardens, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities and programs to promote the health, welfare, and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the Town.

(39) Police force. To establish, operate, and maintain a police force. All Town policemen shall, within the municipality, have the powers and authority of constables in this State.

(40) Police powers.

(a) To prohibit, suppress, and punish within the Town all vice, gambling, and games of chance; prostitution and solicitation therefore and the keeping of bawdy houses and houses of ill fame; all tramps and vagrants; all disorder, disturbances, annoyances, disorderly conduct, obscenity, public profanity, and drunkenness.

(b) To enforce all ordinances relating to disorderly conduct and the suppression of nuisances equally within the limits of the Town and beyond those limits for one half mile, or for so much of this distance as does not conflict with the powers if [of] another municipal corporation or the District of Columbia.

(41) Property. To acquire by conveyance, purchase of gift, real or leasable property for any public purposes; to erect buildings and structures thereon for the benefit of the Town and its inhabitants; and to convey any real or lease hold property when no longer needed for the public use, after having given at least twenty days' public notice of the proposed conveyance; to control, protect and maintain public buildings, grounds and property of the Town.

(42) Quarantine. To establish quarantine regulations in the interests of the public health.

(43) Regulations. To adopt by ordinance and enforce within the corporate limits police, health, sanitary, fire, building, plumbing, traffic, speed, parking, and other similar regulations not in conflict with the laws of the State of Maryland or with this Charter.

(44) Sidewalks. To regulate the use of sidewalks and all structures in, under or above the same; to require the owner or occupant of premises to keep the sidewalks in front thereof free from snow or other obstructions; to prescribe hours for cleaning sidewalks.

(45) Sweepings. To regulate or prevent the throwing or depositing of sweepings, dust, ashes, offal, garbage, paper, handbills, dirty liquids, or other unwholesome materials into any public way or onto any public or private property in the Town.

(46) Taxicabs. To license, tax, and regulate public hackmen, taxicab men, draymen, drivers, cabmen, porters and expressmen, and all other persons pursuing like occupations.

(47) Vehicles. To regulate and license wagons and other vehicles not subject to the licensing powers of the State of Maryland.

(48) Voting machines. To purchase, lease, borrow, install, and maintain voting machines for use in Town elections.

(49) Weed control. To protect the public health and safety by ordering the elimination of the accumulation of refuse, the growth of weeds, the presence of stagnant water or of combustible material from any unimproved lot or vacant premises within the Town. If after written notice, the owner or person in charge of any unimproved lot or vacant premises, fails to comply with such notice, the Town through its officers and agents shall have the power to enter upon the premises and cause such menace to public health and-safety to be abated. Notice of the reasonable costs incurred by the Town shall be delivered or mailed to the person in charge of the property and to the person in whose name the property is assessed for taxation. If the costs shall not be paid within sixty days from the giving of such notice the Town of Forest Heights may recover the costs by civil action, or may fix a date from a hearing to determine whether the costs should be assessed against the property as a special tax. Notice of such hearing shall be posted on the property and sent by registered mail to the last known address of the person in whose name the property is assessed for taxation. If the name of the owner of the property be unknown, or the owner be a non-resident of Prince George's County, notice of the proposed assessment and of the date and place of the hearing shall be published once a week for three consecutive weeks in some newspaper having General circulation in the County. At the hearing, unless good cause to the contrary be shown, the Mayor and Council shall have authority to levy the reasonable costs incurred by the Town, together with the expense of advertising, as a special tax against the property. The assessment shall be certified by the Town Clerk to the treasurer, to be added to the annual tax bill against the property to be collected in the same manner as ordinary taxes are collected and subject to the same interest and penalty for non-payment as provided by law for the non-payment of town taxes. Such special tax shall constitute a lien against the property from the date of the assessment until paid.

(50) Saving clause. The enumeration of powers in this section is not to be construed as limiting the powers of the Town to the several subjects mentioned. (Charter Resolution Number 1, August 21, 1963, section 20; Resolution Number 6, Sept. 15, 1982.)

Section 33-21 Exercise Powers

For the purpose of carrying out the powers granted in this subtitle or elsewhere in this Charter, the Council may pass all necessary ordinances. All the powers of the Town shall be exercised in the manner prescribed by this Charter, or, if the manner be not prescribed, then in such manner as may be prescribed by ordinance. (Charter Resolution Number 1, August 21, 1963, section 21.)

Section 33-22 Enforcement of Powers

(a) To ensure the observance of the ordinances of the Town, the Council shall have the power to provide that violation thereof shall be a misdemeanor and shall have the power to affix thereto penalties of a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisonment for not exceeding 6 months, or both such fine and imprisonment. (Charter Resolution Number 20, March 6, 2006.) (b) To further ensure the observance of the ordinances of the Town, the Council shall have the power to provide that violation thereof be a municipal infraction enforceable as provided under the general laws of the State and shall have the power to affix thereto a penalty of a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00) for the first offense and a fine of two hundred dollars ($200.00) for each repeat offense. (Charter Resolution Number 1., August 21, 1963, section 22; Resolution Number 6, October 7, 1982.)