The small, split-level house on Catoctin Avenue had racked up more than 25 code violations when it was placed on Frederick’s blighted structure watch list last June.
Violations ranged from filth and rubbish to infestation and sanitation issues, some dating back to 2012. With the house already in foreclosure, a city contractor completed most of the cleanup needed to address the violations and placed a tax lien on the property for the cost.
But after years of neglect and an unresponsive property owner, the demise of the Catoctin Avenue house has moved in a new direction thanks to a new owner. Since buying the property in March, Oleg Kruglikov has fixed the remaining violations and hired handymen for additional improvements, including new paint, carpet, windows and plans for a roof replacement.
Kruglikov, who currently rents an apartment in Baltimore, credited his decision to buy the property to its location.
Close to the highway and convenient to Washington, D.C., living in the house would give him a reasonable commute to his job as a design and engineering consultant.
“It was the perfect place,” Kruglikov said, adding that he plans to move in once repairs are finished in September.
Brittany Parks, the city’s assistant code enforcement manager, described the transformation as a success, the kind of outcome city staff hoped for when they created the blighted structure list and watch list in June 2014.
“The amount of work done on that site was just massive,” she said.
Provided no new violations arise, Kruglikov’s property will be removed from the list by May 2016.
It’s one of 14 properties on the 30-property list with a date set for removal since violations were fixed as of the city’s latest quarterly update released earlier this week.
The July 6 update shows substantial progress on a number of the blighted or repeat violation properties since the last list was published in March, according to Nikki Bamonti, Mayor Randy McClement’s executive assistant.
“Overall, we’re getting more compliance than not,” she said.
Since creating the list, city staff have emphasized that the goal is not punishment, but encouragement to comply with city codes.
Of the people who own properties on the list, Bamonti said, “surprisingly few” haven’t cooperated quickly.
And for those whose attempts to fix the issues have been delayed or stymied by unforeseen circumstances — weather, contractor availability and confusion about the approval process for properties with a historic designation have slowed some responses — city staff have allowed extensions and exceptions, according to Bamonti.
“Really, if we’re seeing some sort of progress, it gives us a lot more ability to grant extra time,” she said.
For the more cooperative property owners, Bamonti acknowledged, the one-year continued inspection requirement to ensure no new violations arise may be longer than necessary. But repeat offenders with new violations frequently emerging, the high-profile blight sites, make the requirement necessary, Bamonti said.
“It at least keeps them on our radar,” she said.
Even once a property is removed from the list, that doesn’t mean they fade into oblivion. Parks said code enforcement inspectors keep tabs on all city properties, far more than those on the list.
And although no new properties have been added to the original list, it’s still a possibility if enough violations accrue, Bamonti said.
The Frederick News-Post updates an interactive map with details about each property after the city releases the quarterly update. The following properties saw the most change since the last update in March:
300 N. Market St.
This property was removed from the blighted structure list in June, the first of the 30 sites on the list to be taken off.
56, 66-70 S. Market St.
Plans to replace the facades and roofless building at this long-abandoned site are moving forward as reported by a previous News-Post article. The new owner recently submitted plans to build a three-story building in place of the facade, and refurbish the current building into apartments and commercial offices. Provided the final subdivision plat is submitted by the end of July as planned, the site plans will be reviewed at a Planning Commission workshop in August. The Historic Preservation Commission must also grant a second-tier approval of the final plan before construction can begin.
107 E. Fifth St.
Property owner Habitat for Humanity has resubmitted an application to the Historic Preservation Commission to demolish the dilapidated log building on the site. As previously requested by the commission, Habitat has also submitted a report from preservation surveyor Douglas Reed that concludes that the neglect and safety hazards posed by the building are extensive enough that preservation is not a viable option. The demolition application is slated for review at a commission workshop July 9, with plans for a public hearing at a subsequent meeting.
36 E. Seventh St.
After facing difficulties reaching the previous owner after this property went into foreclosure last fall, a new owner bought the site in May. He said he is willing to address the outstanding violations at the property, according to Bamonti.
452 Carrollton Drive
Thanks to the efforts of several community groups and volunteers, the existing violations, interior and exterior have been corrected and the previous condemnation on the house has been lifted, according to Parks. A small amount of rubbish and repair tools left in the yard resulted in new violations, described by Parks as minor and easy to address.
597 E. Church St.
The city’s contractor completed the court-ordered abatement of grass and weeds after the property owner didn’t respond. With the overgrown grass cut back, inspectors were able to more thoroughly examine the site, resulting in several new violations. As of early July, Parks said the property owner has not responded to the new notice of violation issued.
322 Park Ave.
Recent reinspection of the property, which was eligible to be taken off the watch list in November, revealed several new violations including overgrown grass and an abandoned vehicle on the site. Parks said the property owner has already addressed some of these issues, and planned to remedy the remaining violations within the next few weeks. Once the violations are addressed, the one-year no violation requirement for a property to be removed from the list will begin anew.