The Carroll County Board of Housing Review says the county Bureau of Permits and Inspections acted correctly when it decided not to force a Hampstead landlord to clean up lead paint in a Hampstead home.
The board found Friday that the law gives the bureau some discretion in enforcing the county's rental unit livability code.
"The county did what the law said," Paul Zimmerman, board chairman, said yesterday.
"We [the board] weren't in a position to change the law," he said. "That has to come from the [county] commissioners."
But tenant Pamela P. Pegram, who lodged the appeal because she felt the county had not adequately enforced its code, said yesterday that the board has "done a disservice, not only to my family, but to the general public."
It was the first decision of the five-member board, which met for the first time June 15 to hear the case.
In March, lead paint was found inside and outside a home at 900 Houcksville Road in Hampstead.
The renters, Wallace and Pamela Pegram, asked the county to require the landlord to clean up the contamination.
Officers of the county Bureau of Permits and Inspections inspected the house and gave the landlord deadlines to fix various other violations, such as electrical problems. But they did not set a deadline for fixing the lead paint problem.
In April, Mrs. Pegram appealed the bureau's action to the Board of Housing Review, claiming it did not go far enough.
The board found Friday that although one section of the code says all premises shall be kept free from lead-based paint, another section of the code says the county's enforcement officer has discretion in deciding how to handle a violation.
The board said the Bureau of Permits and Inspections had told the landlord about the lead paint problem and had asked him for a timetable for having it fixed. The landlord replied that he was already working on it.
Meanwhile, the Pegrams moved out of the home in late April.
The board decided that "the issue became moot when the tenants vacated the premises," and added that "the landlord has been informed that he cannot re-let the premises until the violations have been corrected."
According to the decision, "There was no evidence of an immediate health hazard, and it appeared that the landlord was attempting to comply with corrective actions."
Mrs. Pegram had also raised questions about lead in drinking water in the home.
A test paid for by the Pegrams revealed lead in a water sample taken from a bathroom in the home. But a later test conducted by the county health department on a water sample taken from a kitchen tap revealed no contamination.
The board endorsed the health department's findings.
Mrs. Pegram said yesterday she has not yet decided on further action.