Bureau of Environmental Health
The Bureau of Environmental Health protects County residents by identifying environmental hazards and developing methods to reduce or eliminate those hazards.
Office Hours & Information
Bureau of Environmental Health has walk-in, no appointment needed services between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm.
These services include:
- drop-off of plans, applications, and other documents
- pick-up of signed plans, permits, licenses, etc.
- payments for Bureau services
Additional services are available by appointment. Call 410-313-2640 for questions regarding walk-in services or to schedule an appointment.
You can now submit select applications, documentation, complete permits and pay fees online for the following services:
- General Complaints
- PIA Requests
- Community Hygiene Program – Open Burn Request
- Food Protection Program – Food Manager Certifications, Temporary Event Vendor Applications
- Well and Septic Program - Demolition Permits, Percolation Test Application, Sewage Hauler, Well Line Installation
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Opening a New Restaurant or Food Service Facility
Are you interested in opening a food service facility but your operation/plans don’t seem to fit the information outlined in the Plan Review Construction or Remodeling of Permanent Food Service Facilities FAQ? The Howard County Health Department is currently offering Wednesday morning time slots for restaurateurs/potential operators to discuss unique plans, operational procedures, or plan review process questions with a member of the plan review team. Please call the Food Protection Program at 410-313-1772 to sign up for a time slot from 8:30am -12pm. Note: these meeting slots are not intended for projects already under review by the plan review section. Contact the plan reviewer for questions regarding projects that are currently under review.
Monthly Rabies Vaccination Clinics for Pets
HCHD in cooperation with Howard County Animal Control Adoption & Adoption hold monthly $5 vaccination clinics. Go to our Community Hygiene page for more information or click to get a copy of our Rabies Vaccination Clinic flier
Radon Testing Kits
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has Radon Test Kits available for $3 to anyone who is looking to test their home for Radon. Complete the form HERE to receive your test while supplies last.
For more information on Radon and the hazards it poses, visit the MDE Radon Exposure page.
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The Well and Septic Program ensures that all drinking water wells and septic systems installed as part of new construction or renovations are built to function properly and prevent the spread of disease.
Many of our Well & Septic records are now available on our Public File Search Website (Note: For best results, put in ONLY the numbers of the street address, then choose the corresponding address requested.)
The Food Protection Program ensures that restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, school cafeterias, temporary and mobile food vendors serve safe food.
Important: If you think you are sick due to eating bad food or food product, contact the Food Protection Program at 410-313-1772. After business hours, leave a message with your call back information and we will return your call first thing the morning of the following day.
The Community Hygiene Program ensures that: reported animal incidents are evaluated for the risk of rabies, citizen complaints are investigated, children that are adopted or in foster care live in healthy homes, aquatic facilities are operated in a safe and sanitary manner. This Program is also involved in sampling of private drinking water wells, and other activities.
State Law - Maryland Department of the Environment
The Howard County Health Department (HCHD) has delegated authority for carrying out and enforcing the provisions of the Environmental Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and the rules and regulations adopted under this Article. The HCHD has been designated as the Approving Authority for purposes of Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR):
- 26.04.02 Sewage Disposal and Certain Water Systems for Homes and Other Establishments in the Counties of Maryland where a Public Sewerage System is not Available;
- 26.04.03 Water Supply and Sewerage Systems in the Subdivision of Land in Maryland;
- 26.04.04 Well Construction regulations;
- 26.04.05 Shared Facilities, and
- 26.08.09 Public Bathing Beaches.
Requests for contested case hearings (which are appeals of decisions issued by the Local Health Department (LHD)) will be processed as provided for in the Environment Article and the Maryland Administrative Procedure Act (Maryland Code, State Government Article § 10-201 et. seq.). Wherever possible, an aggrieved party should be encouraged to consider available options to secure approvals at the local level. Before the LHD issues a final decision, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Regional Consultant should be notified by the LHD, as necessary, during the review process to offer guidance and second opinions when needed. It is also recommended that the MDE Regional Consultant attend informal conferences to reach a resolution to the satisfaction of the LHD and the aggrieved party. On those occasions where the LHD cannot settle the matter to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party, the LHD will issue a final decision. If the aggrieved party appeals the final decision and requests a contested case hearing, the request is to be sent to the Director of the Water and Science Administration (WSA), Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD, 21230-1708 for processing. The MDE Regional Consultants will assist with any appeal of the final decision of the LHD and provide technical testimony along with staff of the LHD in the WSA’s formal hearing process. The LHD may also forward a matter to the WSA without a formal appeal having been filed, if the LHD believes the matter could be resolved without the need for litigation. MDE reserves the right to review and resolve any matter where a decision of the LHD has been appealed by the aggrieved party by requesting a contested case hearing pursuant to the Maryland Administrative Procedure Act. The Office of the Attorney General represents and provides legal advice to MDE and the LHD acting within the scope of this Delegation Agreement with respect to contested case hearings arising under this section.
State Law - Maryland Department of Health
The HCHD has additional authority in the Health - General Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and the rules and regulations adopted under this Article. The HCHD has the authority for purposes of Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR):
- 10.06.02 Communicable Diseases — Rabies
- 10.16.03 Food Service Facilities
- 10.16.05 Health Permits for Outdoor Musical Festivals
- 10.17.01 Public Swimming Pools
In instances where an aggrieved party wishes to appeal a final decision based this article, laws, health regulations or directives or authority delegated directly from Maryland Department of Health (MDH), the appeal will be processed as provided for in the Health - General Article and the Maryland Administrative Procedure Act (Maryland Code, State Government Article § 10-201 et. seq.). MDH has offered the following appeal process guidance for Food Service Facility Decisions. The process for other sections of COMAR Title 10, Maryland Department of Health mirrors the process described below.
MDH Appeal Process for Food Service Facility Decisions (April 28,2022 guidance)
The following section outlines the appeal rights for certain decisions pertaining to Food Service Facilities by the Maryland Department of the Health (MDH) and delegated Approving Authorities (the local health department).
Right to Appeal
The Administrative Procedure Act (Title 10, Subtitle 2 of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland) sets forth the procedures for appealing a final decision issued by MDH or an Approving Authority regarding the grant, denial, renewal suspension, or amendment of a license, certificate, charter, permit or registration that is required by statute. Additionally, COMAR 10.01.03 The appeal is in the form of a contested case hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
In addition to the Administrative Procedure Act, both MDH and OAH have regulations that govern rules of procedure for contested case hearings (COMAR 10.01.03 et seq and COMAR 28.02.01 et seq).
Decisions That Can Be Appealed to the Local Health Departments
This appeal right applies to the following final decisions:
- Denial of a License (Health-General §21-311, COMAR )
- Notice of Intent to Suspension or Revocation of an FSF License (Health-General §21-315)
- Order of Abatement (Health-General §21-318)
- Summary Suspension ( COMAR 10.15.03.35(H))
Notice of Right to Appeal
When MDH or an Approving Authority notifies a person of the denial of their food service facility application, a summary suspension, or when a Notice of Intent to Suspend or Revoke is sought, a written notice letter will be issued to the applicant seeking MDH or Approving Authority approval, or licenses. The notice will include appeal rights and required timeframes to file an appeal.
Requesting an Appeal
Any person aggrieved by a decision to deny the application, suspend or revoke a current FSF license, a summary suspension, or issue an order to abate by MDE or an Approving Authority may request a contested case hearing by sending written notice to the issuing authority requesting to appeal the decision.
All requests for contested case hearings must be filed with:
Howard County Health Department
Bureau of Environmental Health
8930 Stanford Blvd.
Columbia, MD 21045
within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the denial, a notice of intent to suspend or revoke, or an order of abatement is issued by MDE or the Approving Authority.
The written request for a contested case hearing must include a hearing request and attach a copy of the MDH or Approving Authority notice letter that is being appealed. The request should also include a brief statement of the factual and legal basis for the appeal.
After receiving the request for a contested case hearing, MDH or the Approving Authority will transmit the request to OAH. Upon receipt of the filing, OAH will send written notices to the parties, confirming the filing and notice of relevant hearing dates. The hearing will be conducted as provided for in the Administrative Appeals Act, as well as OAH and MDH procedure regulations.
Loss of Appeal Rights
If a request for a contested case hearing is not made within ten (10) calendar days, the decision of MDH or the Approving Authority may not be appealed, and the decision will be considered final. The applicant must comply with any terms and conditions of the final decision.
Written or email requests to appeal must be submitted to the appropriate MDH Division Chief or Program Director, who shall review the request, consult with appropriate MDH and HCHD staff, and if appropriate, the Office of the Attorney General. A written response shall be provided to the HCHD within thirty (30) days if possible, or as soon as practicable.
Relationship of State Law to Howard County Code
The HCHD also has the authority to administer programs and enforce certain provisions of the Howard County Code. The decision of the Health Officer related to Howard County Code may be appealed to the Howard County Board of Health. Any person aggrieved by the decision who wishes to appeal it shall file an appeal with the Executive Secretary of the Board of Health, 8930 Stanford Boulevard, Columbia, MD, 21045 within fifteen (15) days of the decision. The Board of Health shall schedule a hearing within ten (10) days of the filing of the appeal and shall issue its decision within fifteen (15) days of the hearing.
Howard County Code Civil Citations
Instructions on how to challenge the violation(s) listed on a Civil Citation are printed on the Civil Citation. These cases are heard in Howard County District Court.
Notices of Violation, Citations, Building Permit denials, and other Health Department formal decisions include written appeal rights.