Prince George’s County Council unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would double the fine for violations heard by the Nuisance Abatement Board from $500 to $1,000.
Nobody likes a bad neighbor. Even worse than driving down the value of your property, they can affect your quality of life. In Prince George’s County, Maryland, it will cost more to be a terrible neighbor.
Prince George’s County Council unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would double the fine for violations heard by the Nuisance Abatement Board from $500 to $1,000. The final vote passed without discussion, after a hearing last month that generated minimal discussion.
That’s because the council agreed increased fines are needed, including County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who lobbied for the bill.
“This helps the county executive’s beautification efforts and we believe that by doubling the fine, we will further comply with orders issued by the council,” said Melinda Bolling, department manager for Prince George’s County. Permits, inspections and enforcement at last month’s hearing.
Fines issued by the council are not given out because someone has let their grass grow too high or left bins on the sidewalk for too long. Typically, these are properties where the activities involve drugs, prostitution, or other forms of illegal and unauthorized businesses.
In recent years, the county has levied nearly $50,000 in fines by the council, but collected less than $12,000 of what was assessed.
“I know the community is kind of asking for the increased fines,” council member Dannelle Glaros said at the March hearing. But some council members hope more will be done in the future.
“Something else has to happen to people, because the people who do these things often don’t care,” said council member Jolene Ivey, who not only backed the bill but also sanctions of even beyond fines of $1,000.
Bolling said the county is also considering other tactics to crack down on these nuisance properties.
“We have considered additional enforcement efforts,” she said. “One of them is that after several or more trips to the Nuisance Abatement Board, we can take criminal action. So we’re going to be looking for test cases for that.
Going through the court system and getting a court order to collect the penalty is also an option, although this has been slowed by the backlogs courts in the region are facing due to the pandemic.
The new fines come into effect 45 days after the bill is enacted.