Board of County Commissioners' Actions: Commissioners approve animal control ordinance, hear bridge report

CAPTION: Washington County Bridge Maintenance Program Highlighted

Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners approve animal control ordinance, hear bridge report

As part of its regular meeting on October 19th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved amendments to the Washington County Animal Control Ordinance.
Major changes to the document involved definition of Vicious and Dangerous animal and Potentially Vicious and Dangerous animal. Designed to give pets and their owners a second chance, the Potentially Vicious and Dangerous section would allow dogs that attack other pets or people and their owners to take a training course, and makes provision for the dog's record to be cleared if no further instances occur within 18 months.
Licensing of dogs will be the responsibility of the Humane Society and any associated fees will fund the Spay-Neuter program in the county.
The Ordinance would also require owners to ensure animals get adequate food and water; require ferrets to be inoculated against rabies; makes certain requirements for construction of kennels; requires address-change notification by owners within 10 days; gives the county additional options for membership on the Animal Control Authority; and requires information from citations and complaints be given to the person being charged with an offense.
Commissioners passed a resolution naming the Department of Permits and Inspections as the County agency to provide administrative support to the Animal Control Authority and designating the Humane Society as enforcement agency for the Ordinance.
A resolution setting certain fees was not passed, and a workshop will be held to address outstanding issues.
The Board heard a Bridge inspection and inventory programs status report from Director of Public Works Joe Kroboth, Scott Hobbs, Chief of Capital Projects-Capital Projects Engineering and Andrew Eshleman, Structural Engineer in the Capital Projects Engineering Department.
There are 92 "Major Structures", culverts or bridges with spans of 20 feet or more in Washington County, and 184 "Minor Structures" - having spans of 6 to 20 feet, all structures are inspected every 2 to 4 years.
Highway bridge inspection and safety is among the Division of Public Works highest priorities. The program is highly regulated by the federal and state governments. Bridges on the highway system are categorized as major or minor structures. Washington County has investment in rehabilitation and replacement of structurally deficient bridges. Where possible, federal bridge improvement funds have been leveraged to accomplish these improvements.
A recent review of Washington County's program was conducted by the Maryland State Highway Administration. The findings indicate a well managed, quality and professional program.
In other actions, County Administrator Greg Murray announced that the Commissioners meeting on October 26th will be a night meeting at Pleasant Valley Elementary School at Knoxville, beginning at 7pm. There will be no day portion of that meeting.
Under Citizens' Participation, former President of the County Commission Ron Bowers lauded the current Board for the actions it has taken and the initiatives undertaken over the past 4 years. Bowers cited roads projects at Maugans Avenue and the Robinwood Drive area, improvements in the Public School system and assistance provided the Maryland Theater as examples of works the Board has undertaken.
The Board declined further action on a proposal to the legislature to exempt Agricultural Land under easement from Property Tax. The County already has a plan in effect that exempts all land in easement for Ag purposes plus farm use buildings from property tax and allows up to $711 in exemptions for a farm house, in the case of a ten-year easement, or $1422 for the house in the case of a permanent easement on the property. Other legislative requests were deferred until after the November 2nd election. Newly-elected Commissioners would be invited to sit in on discussions of those legislative needs prior to meeting with the Delegation in mid-November.
The Board requested the Legal Department to confer with the Maryland Department of the Environment regarding a Consent Order on the Devil's Backbone Dam project. Director of Public Works (DPW) Joe Kroboth told the Board that all of the County's plans were in place to begin rehabilitation of the structure, but that MDE wanted its notice of violation to the County converted to the consent order. The County is in compliance with all of MDE's instructions, Kroboth said. Any delays the County incurred in meeting the MDE's deadline were due to the public input process and citizen involvement. Legal will work with DPW to look at options to rubber-stamping that request.
Under appointments to Boards and Commissions, Diane Younkins was appointed to a three-year term on the Adult Public Guardianship Review Board.
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