I wrote about “County Executive Calvin Ball to file legislation that will allow county workers to access streams on private property” and I stated in that article “Stay tuned…once I get notification that this legislation has been filed…I may do an updated post outlining the details”…and the bill is now available online to review…listed as CB 10-2019 on the Howard County Council website.

I reviewed the document…and also looked at the existing law…and here are some notable items I took away:

Section 18.503. – Right of entry:

This section was rewritten a bit but it does not appear to significantly change because section (b) Consent is not changed: “The Director may enter a private dwelling to inspect for a violation of this subtitle with the consent of the occupant or owner. If entry is refused, the Director may seek a court order to permit entry to the dwelling”. Section (a) General adds the words “building, structure”…but maybe the big change is in section (c) Threat to Public Health and Safety where new text is added in section (2) which states: “TO REMOVE NATURAL AND MAN-MADE OBSTRUCTIONS IN STREAM CHANNELS AND IN THE FLOODWAY OF STREAMS, WHICH MAY IMPEDE THE PASSAGE OF WATER DURING RAIN EVENTS. THIS PROVISION DOES NOT CREATE ANY RESPONSIBILITY OF THE COUNTY FOR THE CLEARANCE OR MAINTENANCE OF THE STREAM, OR FOR FLOODING, AND DOES NOT AFFECT THE RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS REGARDING THE FLOODPLAIN OR MAINTENANCE OF STREAM CHANNELS.”

I am interested in knowing what “where there is evidence that a violation of this subtitle exists which threatens or may threaten the public health and safety” means exactly. What evidence is sufficient enough to act on this law? Something for me to ask folks in the future.

Have additional thoughts on this topic…let me know in the comments.

Scott E

 

1 COMMENT

  1. A large stream goes thru my property in western Howard Co.
    A number of yrs ago, people from Univ of MD wanted permission to enter the property to analyze changes to the type and quantity of fish and wildlife living in the stream. Plus, analyze the habitat of the banks of the stream. I said – fine.
    I think they walked the stream once a month.
    I saw them a couple months later and asked how was the stream doing.
    They gave me a very positive run down.
    Then, they started to tell me all of the violations of my neighboring farms. Plus, other farms in Howard Co. I did not know if they were violations or what they thought were violations or could be violations in their mind.
    I decided at that moment that I would not authorize this type of inspections in the future.

    This new county council bill sounds like it could be abused and used for illegal searches. And, the courts would eventually over turn it.

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