When the city of Frederick dismissed citations last month for code violations that had been corrected at the old Asiana restaurant on North Market Street, I felt confident that I had written an accurate story on the court hearing.
I found out recently from residents that the city staff was saying I mischaracterized the case.
Here's my attempt to clear the air.
I did my due diligence to get the story straight. After the hearing, I stopped by City Hall and spoke with the city's attorney and Nikki Bamonti, Mayor Randy McClement's executive assistant, and then went to the annex building and talked to code enforcement staff.
I listened to city staff when they asked me to emphasize in my story that the major code violations on the property had been resolved. I also listened to residents who asked me to detail the code violations still existing on the property.
City staff didn't contact me after my story was published to tell me I made any mistakes.
That's why I was surprised when I got an email last week from a resident titled, "City is blaming your reporting."
A post on a Facebook page, "The City of Frederick's Blight Problem," had urged residents to contact the mayor and Board of Aldermen to say they were upset about how staff handled the issue.
They did, and city staff wrote back to them in a mostly blanket response that included:
"In regards to the property at 123-125 N. Market Street, unfortunately, the news media reporting agencies mischaracterized the disposition of the citations issued to the property owner."
I was the only reporter who covered the court hearing. My editor and I emailed Bamonti to find out what I had mischaracterized, since they were telling residents this but not us.
Bamonti wrote back that, "Indicating that the violations/citations were 'waived' is a misstatement regarding the resolutions of the citations. In reality, unless a guilty verdict is found, there is no right to collect any fines from the building owners."
I should have written "dismissed," not "waived," she wrote.
If this synonym dispute is truly the reason why residents were so riled up that they emailed their public officials, then I regret the word choice.
From what I've heard, though, the residents' distress is more due to the property's 12-year vacancy, code violations, and associated vagrants and health and safety issues, and how the city has handled the case from the start.
In any case, I'll continue to stay on top of the story. Speaking of which ...
More code violations for Asiana building
The owners of 123 N. Market St. have more work to do.
The city inspected the property on Oct. 21 and found five code violations that must be addressed by Nov. 24, according to the city's notice of violation document:
n Three violations regarding windows or window screens that need to be replaced or repaired and in working condition.
n One violation related to missing bricks on the exterior wall that need to be repaired.
n One violation regarding decorative features on the front of the building that are in disrepair and need to be properly protected and anchored.
Failure to comply with each violation may result in a fine of $1,000 each, according to the city document.
Send notes about your city government to Jen Fifield at firstname.lastname@example.org.