Article 15 Parking & Traffic
Section 15.1: Purpose.
The provisions of this Article are intended to be in addition to and supplementary to the provisions of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, 1977 edition, as amended and in accordance with authority specifically granted by said Article of the State Code.
Section 15.2: Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this Article, and for the purpose of this Article, have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this section:
A. Abandoned vehicle: unless otherwise stated elsewhere in this article means:
(1.) Any motor vehicle, trailer or semi-trailer that:
(I) is inoperable and left unattended on public property for more than 72 hours,
(II) has remained illegally on public property for more than 72 hours; or,
(III) has remained on public property for more than 72 hours and:
(a) is not displaying currently valid registration plates; or,
(b) is displaying registration plates of another vehicle.
(IV.) has remained on private property without the occupant's or the owner's consent for more than 72 hours and:
(a) is inoperable in that one or more of its major mechanical components, including but not limited to the engine, transmission, drive train and wheels, is missing or not functional, unless such vehicle is kept in an enclosed building as permitted by the county's zoning regulations;
(b) is not displaying currently valid registration plates; or,
(c) is displaying registration plates of another vehicle.
(2.) any motor vehicle, trailer or semi-trailer that has otherwise been expressly presumed or declared to be an abandoned vehicle by any other provision of this article.
(3.) any motor vehicle, trailer or semi-trailer that is partially dismantled, wrecked or any other junked motor vehicle shall be presumed to have been or be abandoned.
B. Commercial vehicle: means any motor vehicle, trailer, or semi-trailer, including but not limited to stake platform trucks, cranes and tow trucks, used for carrying freight, merchandise, passengers or tools of a trade for compensation or in furtherance of any commercial enterprise, that:
(1.) has a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight specification exceeding three thousand (3,000) pounds;
(2.) contains advertising, except that a firm name or similar designation in lettering not exceeding four (4) inches in height shall not be deemed to be advertising;
(3.) exceeds three-hundred (300) cubic feet of load space; or
(4.) has dual rear wheels.
C. Motor Vehicle: means a vehicle as defined in Section 11-135 of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended.
D. Recreational vehicle: means a vehicle originally sold to a consumer by a manufacturer or dealer for recreational purposes which is self-propelled or capable of being towed by a motor vehicle or any vehicle which provides facilities for temporary camping or sleeping or both, including a unit designed to be carried by an open pickup truck. The term "recreational vehicle" includes camping trailer, travel trailer, camper, motor home, truck camper, boat, boat trailer, and water craft. Excluded from this definition are pickup trucks with caps over the bed.
E. Unregistered trailer: means any trailer of any type or size designed for use upon a street, road or highway which, is not registered with the appropriate motor vehicle agency of the state of Maryland, and displaying evidence of such current registration.
F. Vehicle: means any device as defined in Section 11-176 of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as amended.
G. Except when stated otherwise, whenever any words and phrases used herein are not defined in this article but are defined in the state laws regulating the operation of vehicles, any such definition therein shall be deemed to apply to such words and phrases used in this article.
Section 15.3: Authority to Erect Signs Regulating Parking and Traffic.
A. Whenever in the judgment of the Mayor of the Town of Forest Heights, it is necessary for the safety and control of vehicle or pedestrian traffic or for the regulation of the use of parking areas, the Mayor is authorized to erect or cause to be erected "Stop," "No Parking," "Speed Limit," "One Way," or any other traffic control devices designed to control, regulate, warn or guide traffic or limit parking on public streets, highways, or other areas in the Town, provided that no such signs or devices shall be erected or posted for other than temporary and emergency purposes for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days duration without the final approval of the Town Council.
B. Such final approval as stated in subsection a shall be made by resolution of the Council, and a statement of said final decision to erect or post a specific traffic control device shall be placed in the list described in subsection D.
C. It shall be the duty of all persons to observe such signs or devices, and, any person failing to observe any such sign or device shall be in violation of this article.
D. A list and description of such posted signs or devices shall be available for public inspection at the office of the Forest Heights Police Department.
E. All traffic control signs, signals, and devices shall conform to the specifications approved by the State Highway Administration and published in the latest edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
F. Unless otherwise permitted by state or county law, no such signs or traffic control devices shall be erected or posted on a County or State highway without the consent of the appropriate state or county authority having possession, title or responsibility for the maintenance of said highway.
Section 15.3.2: Parking and Truck Restrictions.
Except as necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or a traffic control device, no person shall stop, stand or park any vehicle as stated below in any of the following places within the Town:
A. Within 60 feet of any designated school crosswalk between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.;
B. Within 30 feet upon the approach to any flashing signal, stop sign, yield sign, or traffic control signal located at the side of the roadway;
C. In such a position that either wheel on the side of the vehicle closest to the curb or edge of the street is more than twelve (12) inches from said curb or edge;
D. In front of, on, or in such a position as to obstruct all free vehicular access to any public or private driveway without permission of the owner or in such a position as to obstruct a sidewalk;
E. On the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked on the edge or at the curb of a street;
F. On any street in such a position or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten (10) feet of the width of the roadway for free movement of vehicular traffic;
G. Within any intersection;
H. Within fifteen (15) feet of a fire hydrant;
I. Within fifteen (15) feet of a pedestrian crosswalk;
J. On any street or part thereof where an official sign or device has been placed showing that parking is prohibited because of an emergency;
K. Upon any street, avenue, road, highway or alley or public space, no person shall park or allow to stand any vehicle for a continuous period longer than 72 hours except when specifically authorized by the Forest Heights Police Department. Any such vehicle allowed to stand or park in excess of the prescribed period on said public property shall be presumed to be abandoned and may be impounded pursuant to Section 15.7;
L. On the side of any street opposite the street light poles during a snow created state of emergency as declared by Prince George's county pursuant to effective snow emergency plans. Vehicles so parked may be impounded pursuant to Section 15.7;
M. On any street or any public way in the Town no truck or commercial vehicle exceeding 3,000 pounds in net capacity, except while unloading or loading, rendering a service to residents, or where permission to park has been specifically authorized by the Forest Heights Police Department;
N. On town maintained streets or highways, Trucks and commercial vehicles over 2½ tons gross weight are prohibited where so posted from using said streets or highways as throughways;
O. At any place where an official sign or traffic control device prohibits parking or standing;
P. On any private property once the operator has been requested by the property owner, his tenant, or agent to remove the vehicle or where such property is posted with no parking or no trespassing signs.
Q. Upon the highways, roads, streets or other public property, no person shall park any unregistered motor vehicle or unregistered trailer or boat, with or without a trailer, at any time. Any such vehicle shall be presumed to be abandoned and may be impounded pursuant to Section 15.7.
R. Upon any parking space on public or private property designated as parking reserved for the physically handicapped with the proper signs posted in conformance with the most recent edition of the State of Maryland Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, unless said vehicle displays a special handicapped registration plate or permit issued by the state.
S. On any public property which lies between the curb line and the private property line or on any public easement abutting the paved travelway, no person shall park a vehicle including a motorcycle, except with permission of the forest heights police chief or his designee.
T. Within the front yard of any residential lot extending from the building to the curb line no motor vehicle of any type or boat, motor home, dune buggie, dirt bike, motor cycle, or van shall be parked on an unpaved area thereon.
U. On any private property, should any of the following conditions exist, no motor vehicle or trailer of any type shall remain for more than ten (10) days, with the exception of one such vehicle:
(1) Failing to display valid and current registration plates and sticker on a vehicle or trailer,
(2) Displaying on a vehicle, registration plates registered to another vehicle or trailer,
(3) Keeping an inoperable, dismantled or wrecked vehicle such that, one or more major mechanical components including but not limited to the engine, transmission, drive train, or wheels, does not allow for proper operation of the vehicle upon the streets and highways, unless the vehicle is kept in an enclosed building or the vehicle is completely covered with a tarpaulin, except that registration plates are kept exposed, or
(4) Notwithstanding the aforesaid exception regarding one vehicle per parcel or lot, no motor vehicle whatsoever shall be parked on an unpaved area of a residential lot that is one (1) acre or less in size.
V. On any private property at any time, no motor vehicle shall remain thereon should any of the following conditions exist:
(1) An environmental hazard caused from leaking oil, gas, antifreeze, or transmission fluid;
(2) A potential health hazard or public nuisance due to a vehicle being infested or inhabited by wild animals, rodents, vermin or reptiles; or
(3) A potential fire hazard as determined by the fire department, a Police Officer or a Code Enforcement Official.
Section 15.3.2(A): Off street parking limited to driveways.
Parking on driveways and other surfaced parking areas is limited to the area and dimensions depicted on the county permit and any approved site plan for the subject property, and any town of forest heights required permit. Unless the Prince George's county code states otherwise, an additional paved or surfaced area not to exceed five hundred (500) square feet is allowed by the Town to be placed on a lot without a permit issued by the town; however, that additional paved or surfaced area as permitted herein shall not be used for parking vehicles.
Section 15.3.3: Parking of commercial or recreational vehicles, trailers, and boats, with or without trailers, on streets prohibited without permit.
(A.) No person shall park any commercial vehicle, recreational vehicle or registered trailer including but not limited to a camper trailer, boat trailer, or boat, with or without a trailer, upon any highway, road, street, public right-of-way or other public property anywhere in the Town within any one (1) year period (365 days) of time without first obtaining a temporary parking permit from the Forest Heights Police Department.
(B.) A temporary parking permit may be issued for a fifteen (15) day maximum period with one (1) fifteen (15) day renewal. The temporary parking permit fee shall be one-hundred dollars ($100) with a renewal fee of fifty dollars ($50) and may by established from time to time by resolution of the Council.
Section 15.4: Closed Streets.
It shall be unlawful for any person operating or in control of any vehicle to drive said vehicle into or across any public street at which there is an official barrier, sign, or authorized person designating that the street is closed. It shall be unlawful to remove any such official barrier or sign without proper authority.
Section 15.5: Speed Prohibited.
A. No motor vehicle shall be operated upon any street, road or alley within the corporate limits of the Town, except Indian Head Highway, the Capital Beltway and Livingston Road, at a speed greater than twenty (20) miles per hour under any circumstances or conditions, except for emergency vehicles as permitted under the provisions of the Maryland Transportation Article, and the Motor Vehicle laws of Maryland.
B. No motor vehicle shall be operated at a speed greater than fifteen (15) miles per hour in school or playground areas or zones designated and posted by the Town Council pursuant to Section 15.3 and State law.
Section 15.6: Speed Monitoring Systems.
(A) In this section, the following words have the meanings indicated.
(1) "owner" means the registered owner of a motor vehicle or a lessee of a motor vehicle under a lease of 6 months or more, except that "owner" does not include: (a) A motor vehicle rental or leasing company; or
(b) A holder of a special registration plate issued under MD. Code Ann., Transp. Art., Title 13, Subtitle 9, Part III.
(2) "Department" means the Forest Heights Police Department.
(3) "Recorded image" means an image recorded by a speed monitoring system on a photograph, a microphotograph, an electronic image, a videotape, or any other medium, and showing: (a) The rear of a motor vehicle; (b) At least two time–stamped images of the motor vehicle that include the same stationary object near the motor vehicle; and
(c) On at least one image or portion of tape, a clear and legible identification of the entire registration plate number of the motor vehicle.
(4) "Speed monitoring system" means a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds at least 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
(5) "Speed monitoring system operator" means a representative of the department or a designated person that operates a speed monitoring system.
(B) (1) The Mayor and Council, by resolution, following reasonable notice to the public and a public hearing, may establish a school zone on any road under the Town's jurisdiction or with permission of the State Highway Administration on any state road within one-half mile of a school and, for any school zone so established, shall set a maximum speed limit, provided that the designation of such school zone and the maximum speed limit set for such zone shall not become effective until the town installs signs designating the school zone and indicating the maximum speed limit applicable in the school zone located in the Town of Forest Heights.
(2) The Town may install or erect traffic control devices in the designated school zone in addition to the signs required by subsection (B)(1), including timed flashing warning lights and including a speed monitoring system as defined in subsection (A) of this section.
(C) Before activating an unmanned stationary speed monitoring system, the mayor or her designee shall: (1) Publish notice of the location of the speed monitoring system on the town's website and in a newspaper of general circulation in the town; and
(2) Ensure that each sign that designates a school zone indicates that a speed monitoring system is in use in the school zone.
(D) A speed monitoring system in a school zone may operate only Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
(E) A speed monitoring system operator shall:
(1) Complete training by a manufacturer of speed monitoring systems in the procedures for setting up and operating the speed monitoring system.
(2) Fill out and sign a daily set–up log for a speed monitoring system that states that the speed monitoring system operator successfully performed the manufacturer–specified self–test of the speed monitoring system prior to producing a recorded image.
(3) The daily set-up log required by paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be kept on file and shall be admitted as evidence in any court proceeding for a violation of this section.
(F) A speed monitoring system manufacturer shall issue a signed certificate to the speed monitoring system operator on completion of the training, which certificate shall be admitted as evidence in any court proceeding for a violation of this section.
(G) (1) A speed monitoring system shall undergo an annual calibration check performed by an independent calibration laboratory.
(2) The independent calibration laboratory shall issue a signed certificate of calibration after the annual calibration check, which shall be kept on file and shall be admitted as evidence in any court proceeding for a violation of this section.
(H) (1) Unless a driver of a motor vehicle received a citation from a police officer at the time of a violation, the owner or, in accordance with subsection (K)(4) of this section, the driver of a motor vehicle is subject to a civil penalty if the motor vehicle is recorded by a speed monitoring system while being operated at least twelve miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
(2) The penalty for a violation established by a speed monitoring system under this subsection shall be forty dollars ($40).
(I) (1) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (2) through (4) of this subsection, the department shall mail or cause to be mailed to an owner liable under subsection (H) of this section a citation, upon a form to be prescribed by the District Court of Maryland, that shall include the information required by of MD. Code. Ann., Transp. Art., § 21-809.
(2) The department may mail a warning notice instead of a citation to the owner liable under subsection (H) of this section and, for a period of thirty (30) days after the city installs the first speed monitoring system, the department shall mail only a warning notice and may not issue a citation.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (K)(4) of this section, the town may not mail a citation to a person who is not an owner.
(4) Except as provided in subsection (K)(4) of this section, a citation issued under this section shall be mailed no later than 2 weeks after the alleged violation if the vehicle is registered in this state, and 30 days after the alleged violation if the vehicle is registered in another state.
(5) A person who receives a citation under paragraph (1) of this subsection may: (A) Pay the civil penalty, in accordance with instructions on the citation, directly to the town; or
(B) Elect to stand trial in the district court for the alleged violation.
(J) (1) A certificate alleging that the violation of this section occurred and satisfying the requirements of MD. Code. Ann., Transp. Art., § 21-809(E)(1) shall be evidence of the facts contained in the certificate and shall be admissible in a proceeding alleging a violation under this section without the presence or testimony of the speed monitoring system operator.
(2) If a person who received a citation under subsection (H) of this section desires the speed monitoring system operator to be present and testify at trial, the person shall notify the court and the town in writing no later than 20 days before trial.
(3) Adjudication of liability shall be based on a preponderance of evidence.
(K) (1) Pursuant to MD. Code Ann., Transp. Art., Section 21-809, the District Court may consider in defense of a violation:
(A) Subject to subparagraph (K)(2) of this subsection, that the motor vehicle or the registration plates of the motor vehicle were stolen before the violation occurred and were not under the control or possession of the owner at the time of the violation;
(B) Subject to subparagraph (K)(3) of this subsection, evidence that the person named in the citation was not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation; and
(C) Any other issues and evidence that the district court deems pertinent.
(2) To demonstrate that the motor vehicle or the registration plates were stolen before the violation occurred and were not under the control or possession of the owner at the time of the violation, the owner shall submit proof that a police report regarding the stolen motor vehicle or registration plates was filed in a timely manner.
(3) To satisfy the evidentiary burden under subparagraph (K)(1)(b) of this subsection, the person named in the citation shall provide to the district court a letter, sworn to or affirmed by the person and mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, that:
(A) States that the person named in the citation was not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation; and
(B) Includes any other corroborating evidence.
(4) (A) If the district court finds that the person named in the citation was not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation or receives evidence under subparagraph (K)(3) of this subsection identifying the person driving the vehicle at the time of the violation, the clerk of the court shall provide to the department a copy of any evidence substantiating who was operating the vehicle at the time of the violation.
(B) On receipt of substantiating evidence from the district court under subparagraph (4) of this paragraph, the department may issue a citation as provided in subsection (I) of this section to the person who the evidence indicates was operating the vehicle at the time of the violation.
(C) A citation issued under subparagraph (K)(4) of this paragraph shall be mailed no later than 2 weeks after receipt of the evidence from the District Court.
(L) Pursuant to MD. Code Ann., Transp. Art., Section 21-108, if a person liable under this section does not pay the civil penalty or contest the violation, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration: (1) May refuse to register or reregister the motor vehicle cited for the violation; or
(2) May suspend the registration of the motor vehicle cited for the violation.
(M) Pursuant to MD. Code Ann., Transp. Art., Section 21-108, a violation for which a civil penalty is imposed under this section:
(1) is not a moving violation for the purpose of assessing points under MD. Code Ann., Transp. Art., § 16–402;
(2) May not be recorded by the Motor Vehicle Administration on the driving record of the owner or driver of the vehicle;
(3) May be treated as a parking violation for purposes of MD. Code. Ann., Transp. Art., § 26–305; and
(4) May not be considered in the provision of motor vehicle insurance coverage.
(N) Pursuant to state law and this section, the department or its designee shall administer and process civil citations issued under this section in coordination with the district court.
(O) An owner for whom the Maryland motor vehicle administration refuses to register, or reregister a vehicle, or who receives a suspended registration pursuant to subsection (l) of this section but who subsequently pays the required fines, fees and penalties shall further remit to the town a release fee of $35 in addition to any release fees that may be collected by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration prior to release of said restriction. The release fee established by this subsection may be modified from time to time by resolution of the Mayor and Council.
(P) Any person who pays the civil penalty assessed under this section shall further pay a returned check fee to the town should the check be returned for lack of sufficient funds. The returned check fee established by this subsection may be modified from time to time by resolution of the mayor and council.
Section 15.7: Towing and impounding, right to hearing.
(A.) The sworn officers of the Forest Heights Police Department are authorized to remove and impound any vehicle from the public streets, public property or public right-of-ways within the Town that is the subject of a violation of this article and has been issued an official traffic citation. In addition to being cited, a vehicle may be towed and impounded under any of the following circumstances:
(1.) When a vehicle is so disabled or wrecked as to be incapable of being safely driven,
(2.) When the same vehicle has been subjected to two (2) or more unpaid parking citations issued by the Town,
(3.) When the person in charge of the vehicle is incapacitated, incarcerated, unlicensed or absent, thereby being unable to provide for its custody or removal,
(4.) When a vehicle is parked illegally so as to constitute a hazard or obstruction to traffic,
(5.) When a vehicle is left unattended on a public street or public right-of-way within an area duly posted with signage so as to prohibit parking during an emergency or special activity declared by the council or the mayor as permitted by law,
(6.) When a vehicle remains on a public street or public right-of-way in violation of this article for a continuous period exceeding seventy-two (72) hours (3 days), as described in Section 15.3.2,
(7.) When a vehicle is found parked in a reserved parking space such as a handicapped space or a space reserved for town officials or law enforcement personnel,
(8.) When a vehicle is illegally parked in any zone or area established by law that has been limited to designated classes of vehicles or where parking is prohibited during certain hours, on designated days or at all times, and where such vehicle is interfering with the proper and intended use of such zones or areas,
(9.) When a police officer has probable cause to believe that the vehicle is stolen or contains evidence of a felony, or
(10.) As expressly required by any other provision of this Article or as defined in Subsection 15.2.A, defining an abandoned vehicle.
(B.) Whenever a vehicle has been towed and impounded, the Forest Heights Police Department shall notify the registered owner of any action taken and substantially follow the procedures regarding the storage and disposal of abandoned vehicles found in subtitle 2 of Title 25 of the Transportation Article of the State Code.
(C.) An owner of a vehicle aggrieved by any action authorized or described by this section shall be entitled to an informal hearing before the mayor or a hearing officer appointed by the mayor with the consent of council. Should the mayor find that the Forest Heights Police Department mistakenly or otherwise wrongfully authorized the towing, impoundment, or storage of a vehicle, the town shall reimburse the owner of the vehicle for all reasonable towing and storage costs incurred by the owner as a result of the mistaken of wrongful action. The Mayor shall make the final decision of the Town based on recommendations from the hearing officer, if so appointed to hear such case. An appeal of the Mayor's decision shall be provided to the Maryland Tax Court as permitted by statute and the rules of procedure governing said tax court. This subsection and the administrative remedies described herein shall only apply to disputes and requests for refunds regarding towing and impounding fees collected by the Town or its agent when enforcing this article.
Section 15.8: Obstructions to Vision.
(A.) No property owner within the Town shall be permitted to create a traffic hazard by allowing to exist any trees, bushes, vines, weeds, undergrowth, loose earth or other obstruction that hinders the vision of operators of vehicles traveling upon any public street, road or highway of the Town.
(B.) Upon finding such a condition, the Town Council or Police Department shall serve upon the owner, agent or tenant or any other person having supervision over such property, a written notice, describing the premises whereon such obstruction exists, and the particulars in which the vision of operators of vehicles is obstructed and the steps necessary to correct such conditions.
(C.) At such time the Town Council or the Chief of Police shall issue the responsible party an order directing that corrective steps be taken within a stated period of time or such condition shall be considered in violation of this Article.
Section 15.9: Penalties
(A.) Any violation of any section of this Article other than Section 15.3.2 (Parking and Truck Restrictions), Section 15.6 (Speed Monitoring Systems), and Section 15.7 (Towing and Impounding, right to hearing) shall be deemed a municipal infraction and any person shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) for the first offense and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for any subsequent offense.
(B.) Unless otherwise stated in this article, anyone in violation of Sections 15.3.2 (Parking and Truck Restrictions), 15.6 (Speed Monitoring Systems), or 15.7 (Towing and Impounding) of this Article shall be deemed a misdemeanor and fined not less than five dollars ($5.00) or not more than fifty dollars ($50.00). The procedures for such violations shall be governed by the provisions of the Maryland Transportation Code of the Annotated Code of Maryland. In the absence of the operator of such vehicle, the registered owner of the vehicle shall be presumed to be the person receiving the citation. Unless otherwise stated in this article, failure to pay such fine within twenty (20) days of the date of the citation shall result in the doubling of the fine. unless otherwise stated in this article, a person shall be assessed an additional five dollars ($5.00) fee for any check returned unpaid to the Town or as otherwise prescribed by resolution of the Council.