20 West 4th Street

20 West 4th Street

For over 20 years, Rebecca Lee has lived across from a run-down vacant house on West Fourth Street.

She has seen vagrants come and go, witnessed drug use in the backyard and watched as the house deteriorated a bit more each year. All the while, she has pleaded with elected officials to do something about it.

She said she has had enough.

Lee and her husband are putting their house up for sale this year, just as the city of Frederick is making progress in taking the two-story brick house at 20 W. Fourth St. from its owner, Allan M. Pickett.

"Good luck to whoever comes next," Lee said.

Pickett has owned the property since 1982, and it has been vacant since 1993. Code violations at the house began in 1996, and in 2002, the city declared the building a blighted, unsafe structure. That's when court cases regarding ownership rights and taxes on the property began. The city paid in 2011 to receive the most recent tax sale certificate for the property.

The city made headway in its efforts to take the property in March, when a Frederick County Circuit Court judge granted the city's request to foreclose the owner's right to redeem the house, giving the city ownership of the building.

But on June 4, Pickett filed an appeal on the decision, which will be heard by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. A court date has not yet been set.

Pickett did not return calls for comment, and he does not have an active attorney listed.

The city filed a motion July 15 to strike Pickett's appeal, claiming that Pickett filed the appeal too late, past the April 23 deadline.

If the appeals court upholds the local court's decision, the city will own the building. What happens then is up to the mayor and Board of Aldermen, said Scott Waxter, city attorney.

If the city acquires the house for good, it would be the only residential property the city owns, other than Housing Authority property, said Joe Adkins, the city's deputy director of planning.

Once the city has complete ownership, Mayor Randy McClement said, the first priority will be making the property safe.

The city will demolish at least the back of the building, according to court documents; an independent structural engineer the city hired in June found that portion of the building is unsafe and "in severe states of damage, deterioration and collapse."

From there, the city has many options for how to move forward, McClement said, all of which would come through the Board of Aldermen for a vote. It could rebuild the structure or sell it to someone else with a requirement of rebuilding it.

The city is trying to be as effective as it can in its attempt to take the building, he said.

Pickett "fights every little thing we do," he said.

Charles Woodson, who works in historic preservation and lives on Fourth Street, said the city should fix the building, or hire someone to do so, to "preserve the historic fabric of the home."

"There is so much potential, so many options, and so much you can do with a place like that," he said.

It is important for the city to preserve its neighborhoods, he said, so future generations can learn from them.

"It tells a story of Frederick itself," he said.

The building should have been torn down years ago, Lee said.

Lee and her husband have spent more than $90,000 to fix up their house, which was built in the early 1900s.

As they move to sell the house, Lee said she thinks the state of the property across the street will bring her property value down by $10,000 to $15,000.

"That thing makes this street look like a ghetto," she said. "It's hard to get a good price in a ghetto."

Follow Jen Fifield on Twitter: @JenAFifield.

(26) comments

Newthinking7

To compare this to Baltiore? I lived in Baltimore for years, there is no comparison, and why would you want Baltimore problems here?

Newthinking7

Ok, let me try again with kinder words. This particular property has had Court case work done on it since the early 2000. Included in this was a large effort of the owner to dodge all legal contact with the city which offered to assist him in the begining.
It cost the tax payers considerable amount of money since there was such a great effort on the owners part to be non compliant in every corner of the word. False mailing addresses [ numerous times ] ect.
So this did not just happen over nite and this is not isolated. There are a considerable amount of preditory investors of property here.

averagejoe33

what right does the city have stealing others property

steven09

20 years is crazy, dude. Clean it up.

cctjr64

"Charles Woodson, who works in historic preservation and lives on Fourth Street, said the city should fix the building, or hire someone to do so, to "preserve the historic fabric of the home."

Well if Charles Woodson feels that way, he can buy it from the city and fix it up out of his own pocket. If not tear it down.

Smartasyou

OMG!! Who cares about this one house! Why doesn't the city focus REAL problem causing issues on the violence in the city!!

All of this nonsense over a house!!

It is messed up though that the city is trying to take a house from the owner!! But really it's not my business or anyone else who sits on the computer all day and put their 2 sense in on stuff like this. Geesh!!

Simply.....WHO CARES!!!

Comment deleted.
Hollan100206

Nothing odd about that statement, just reality...

BlueSkye

I believe the property should be fixed up so as to not create a hazard. But I do not believe the city should be able to take someone's property. I also do want to say that if they are going to go after one owner on this property then they need to go after several owners on the rest of the run down properties in the city. There are several. But it seems as though this one is getting singled out and picked on.

Newthinking7

What a lot of them were doing was buying these places, Hoping they would fall under Historical value, Then getting H.U.D to pay 50% of the re-hab costs.
The program was cut, and boom, all the Duk Ro, and Pickets dumped on the citizens of the cities.

Hollan100206

I think you guys need to take a little trip to Baltimore and look at those houses....LOL

Newthinking7

I can understand you standing up for your friend, very admirable. But he puposely took advantage of this.
He has plenty of money, plenty of ability and plenty of time.
He purposely bled out the place to profit
He only paid 19,000 for it for lords sake. Now tell us. How can you not aford to maintain it.
This whole thing smells like he scamed someone.

AX17609

The problem with these properties is that they cost more to fix up than their worth, particularly if they have significant structural issues. Historic district regulations don't make it any easier. In fact, I'm looking forward to the day when the city gains ownership, tries to improve the property, and bumps up against its own HPC.

Eddie2

Blaine will fix everything....

quemzeee2

Hollan,
you are so out of place wrong. When you move into a municipalty you agree to abide by the cultural standards. NOT bring them down.
He likes to live pig like, great. buy your south 40 and move in. He has no rights to impact anyone else by neglect, or otherwise.
Hollan,. it is called Market Vaulue, and you are responsible to payu for it. Your sale price is graded by the neighborrs.
Get a life.

Check out 5236 Jefferson pike for a real dump. Bought by an out of state landscaper, houseing his" workers" and using it for a dump. Brand new home trashed. Neighborrs have all given up on trying to do things.
This city and county need to move up.

Hollan100206

LOL....Read the article....this lady Rebecca that is complaining about this house, bought her house after Mr. Pickett owned it. If it was such a dump and an eyesore why buy the house across the street from it?

Maybe your the one out of place, or out of eyeglasses?

[beam]

Hollan100206

I happen to know the owner of this house and he is not a bad person. I have seen far worse houses in the city of Frederick to be concerned about. Leave him alone, and move onto something else! It's not right to take a house from someone that owns it and pays his taxes every year like everyone else! Your nothing but a bully, city of Frederick!

And Rebecca, honey as far as it goes about living in the getto, well you have for the last 20 years so why are you complaining now?

joelp77440

Far worse houses in the city? Where? Your just as crazy as Pickett. I tried to buy that house from him about 10 years or so and update it. He refused to even consider it, he said he would never, ever , ever sell it. I am not sure what kind of connection he has to that place but it is way beyond mere property to him.

Hollan100206

LOL, look around you in the city! Crazy, well maybe...but I'm not the one blind to the fact there are other places in the city that are far worse. Maybe your just upset that he wouldn't sell the house to you.

It's not yours or nobody else business about why he wont let the house go

emuumuumuu

Please name a single other property in the historic district worse than this (Duk Ro's properties nonwithstanding, as they are also being targeted by the city). I'm sure you can at least offer ONE address. The entire back of this building is crumbling beyond repair, for god's sake.

Arcticdc5

Would make sense for the owner to just sell it as is, instead of keeping it. Also, having the govt take a property from someone isn't right also.

Dwasserba

I'm sorry you feel you have to move. As a city taxpayer I appreciate your contribution to the downtown ambience. It is clearly still a work in progress though. Older neighborhoods without Homeowners' Associations can have similar problems. I think rental liscensing with some "teeth" in it is becoming critical as blighted properties become more apparent. In 1979 counterparts to the property above were located even on N and S Market and Patrick East and West - and the facades still on N Market near the creek aren't beauties even now (and that is leaving out mention of certain other properties well known here.) Absentee landlords need to be put on notice that the spotlight is turning their way and there's no escaping the glare. But it's a sllloooowwwww spotlight while we find the right mechanics.

quemzeee2

I remember when the city invited the code enforcement guy from Washington County to speak to the alderman and mayor about code enforcement and rental licensing.

They literaly laughed at him. Truly ignorant. Invite him here then embarass him on television.
Frederick , old frederick.

quemzeee2

Not sure of the address, but ya cant miss it, It is a real dump. literaly.

This guy Pickett, LOL he is listed as a artificial inseminator LOL yah, he sure is, First he does animals. then the city LOL

This place above is nothing in comparison to hillcrest areas. This is nothing.

elymus43

General George Custer and his troops could have used the Mayor and BOA (with their FAST action and quick thinking) at the Little Big Horn. The city officials will probably kick this around for a while, and move on as usual with no action taken??? How much is the "independent structure engineer" going to cost the city??????????

quemzeee2

And of course there is no need for rental registration in Frederick. This owner knows exactly what Duk Ro knows, the city and county are a paradise for parrasitic profetiers.

There is a state law that says if your neighbor brings down your market value you can sue for that.
But,, try as you might, No one on the state level will answer the phone on that one.

Real estate regs are supposed to cover all this, but it does not here in this county

You want to see a real dump. Go out Jefferson pike [ rte180] and check out the house next to the industrial area. Filled with garbage, lots of people and a huge eye sore. and it is all leagal. The owner lives in Arlington V.A and uses this new home as a storage unit for trash, equitment annnddd his staff.

fredneckian

Where are you talking about on 180? Near Mt Zion rd? Which house?

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