Keeping to Code: City Property Codes Affect Majority of Students

At Frostburg State University, 3,418 of the total 4,915 undergraduate students live in off-campus accommodation. That accounts for 70 percent of the undergraduate population at the institution. With a majority of students living off campus, it is in the interest of the student body to familiarize itself with the property codes of the City of Frostburg, which apply to all off-campus students, including those residing in owner-occupied and rental housing.

Elizabeth Stahlman, the Frostburg Director of Community Development, explained some of the city’s building codes to The Bottom Line in an effort to educate the campus community of their civic responsibilities within the city. Ms. Stahlman explained that the City of Frostburg enforces the “International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) as the standard for all property in the City of Frostburg.” In addition, Frostburg has further property maintenance codes that supplement the IPMC.

When discussing the codes, Ms. Stahlman stated that some codes are violated more often than others. Among the codes for which the city must “most frequently write warning notices and citations” is the basic requirement for student residents to maintain “all exterior property and premises” in “a clean, safe, and sanitary condition” (IPMC 302.1). While this seems a rather elementary requirement, it is important for residents to maintain the sanitation of their residences in the name of public health.

As warmer weather approaches, residents should note that weeds should not be permitted to grow “in excess of 12 inches,” with the term “weeds” including all vegetation and excluding “trees, shrubs, cultivated flowers, and gardens” (IPMC 302.4). Also an outside code, IPMC 308.1 requires that “all exterior property and premises, and the interior of every structure… be free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.” This code is likely to be of particular importance when students entertain guests outside; students should ensure that garbage and waste is properly collected and disposed of.

While the winter weather seems to most likely have departed for the season, students should remember that the city enforces specific codes concerning snow removal. For example, residents are required to clear paths of two feet in width on city sidewalks in front of properties within 24 hours of a snowfall resulting in six or more inches of snow. The city can also require sidewalk clearing within 24 hours when notices are provided to residents. Such notices are provided when there is “intermittent snow, wind-born snow deposition, or City snow plow operations to clear snow from streets.” A similar code exists for the treatment of ice accumulation, which requires treatment with “salt, sand, or [a] similar abrasive substance.”

Finally, residents should be aware that only furniture designed and intended for outdoor use is permitted for exterior use in the city. “No upholstered furniture” originally designed for indoor use (including mattresses) is “allowed to remain upon open or unscreened porches, landings, or in the surrounding yards.”

A majority of undergraduate students at FSU are subject to the aforementioned codes, in addition to other city property codes not discussed. As student residents, FSU Bobcats contribute a large role to the dynamic of the Frostburg community. By being responsible residents and following property codes, FSU students can ensure that their contribution to the campus community is a positive one.

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