The owners of the old Asiana restaurant in downtown Frederick have less than three weeks to pay the city $10,000 — or else the city will see them in court.
The city on Friday issued 10 separate citations of $1,000 each to Julia and James Properties, owned by Myung and Duk Hee Ro, for structural and safety violations at the vacant restaurant and the apartments above, from 123 to 125 N. Market St.
The Ros have two options moving forward, according to the citations. They can pay the fines totaling $10,000 by March 27 or notify code enforcement in writing by March 22 that they choose to go to court and not pay the fines. At trial, the court could impose a fine of up to $2,000 on each violation, according to the citations.
If they do neither, the court will deem them liable for the fines, and the fines may be doubled, a judgment may be entered against them, or both, the citations state.
Each day the violations continue is a separate infraction, subject to an additional citation, the citations state.
The Ros did not return calls for comment Friday.
Mayor Randy McClement announced Friday that the city will hold a news conference at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at City Hall to discuss the code violation process for vacant and blighted properties.
McClement hopes that the news conference will clear up misconceptions, said Nikki Bamonti, the mayor's executive assistant.
The city is issuing the citations after notifying the Ros on Jan. 6 that they had until March 6 to submit permits to fix structural and safety issues inside the building.
Zack Kershner, the city's director of public works, had said the city would watch to see if they were moving toward compliance, and then issue the citations based on their actions.
The owners did not move toward compliance, Bamonti said.
The restaurant has been vacant for more than 10 years.
The last few weeks, residents have pressured city officials to hold the owners accountable for their violations.
This past week, a group of residents and business owners organized a rally that is set to take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday outside the building.
The rally was organized in part by Ned Bond, who owns Da Black Cat a few doors down from the Asiana and frequently watches over the building and reports potential violations to city staff.
"If this is what it takes to get the city to move, is negative publicity, then so be it," Bond said.
Bond said he thought the citations and the news conference sound more like a public relations stunt than an actual fight toward compliance.
Bond said he hopes the city holds the owners to the fines, as it has previously issued violations and then canceled them when the owners eventually complied.
"Are they going to make this stick, to try to turn the building owners around? Or is this literally a PR event?" he said. "Only time will tell."
Bond realizes he is skeptical, but he said this has been a long time coming.
"It is long overdue," he said.
Follow Jen Bondeson on Twitter: @Jen_Bondeson.
The city issued the following citations Friday to the building owners at 123 to 125 N. Market St.:
1. Structure unfit for occupancy: Failure to abate or correct such unsafe conditions specified in city code.
2. Structure unfit for occupancy: Failure to make repairs within specified time frame to eliminate hazard to the public or correct unsafe conditions.
3. Closing of vacant structure: Failure to secure the property or correct such unsafe condition as specified in city code.
4. Prohibited occupancy: Failure to maintain it in a secured manner/failure to abate or correct such unsafe condition.
5. Failure to obtain proper plumbing permit as required.
6. Unsafe equipment: Failure to secure the electrical panel and wiring throughout the property.
7. Protective treatment: Failure to repair and maintain all exterior surfaces.
8. Structural members: Failure to repair structure to safely support dead and live loads.
9. Failure to repair roof and drainage as specified in time frame given.
10. Failure to abate or correct such unsafe condition as specified in "Dangerous structure or premises" in city code.
If you go
What: City of Frederick news conference
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: City Hall boardroom
Why: To discuss the code violation processes for vacant and blighted properties
If you go
What: Rally outside of Asiana building
When: 11 a.m. Wednesday
Where: In front of old Asiana restaurant, 123 N. Market St.
Why: A demonstration to get Frederick City Hall to take action on blighted and vacant properties
Contact: Truby LaGarde, firstname.lastname@example.org