Repairs start on blighted buildings in city

Workers were installing new windows and siding Monday to the house at 361 Madison St. The house is one of about 30 properties that Frederick officials identified as the most problematic and dangerous when it comes to property code violations. It is also one of four properties defined as blighted, or a vacant, nuisance property that is a serious or immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the community. 

The neighbors of a blighted house on Madison Street say they have watched in the last 10 years as the house went from a family home with flowers in the yard to a dilapidated property.

Watching a new owner step in and start repairs this summer, they said, has been exciting.

“It’s beautiful,” said Constance Hill, who has lived next door for 35 years. “He’s doing a beautiful job.”

It has been three months since city of Frederick officials identified about 30 properties that are most problematic and dangerous when it comes to property code violations, including the house at 361 Madison St.

Four of the properties, including the Madison Street house, were defined as blighted, or a vacant, nuisance property that is a serious or immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the community, and the rest were properties that had a history of noncompliance, or were on a pattern toward blight.

City officials said at the time that the list was developed as a way to build its case to eventually take noncompliant owners of blighted buildings to court in a process called receivership, which would allow the court to appoint a receiver to bring the property up to code.

Since then, the city’s code enforcement staff has prioritized work on these properties, and it has paid off, said Dan Hoffman, code enforcement manager.

After announcing the four owners on the blighted list and letting the property owners know, two of the properties have been sold, including the Madison Street house, and the other two have seen what Hoffman calls major progress.

The city initially chose not to publicize the 25 properties on the watch list, but The Frederick News-Post obtained the watch list Monday after submitting a Maryland Public Information Act request Aug. 29. The list includes mostly residential properties across the city that have a history of code violations for structural or safety issues, filth and rubbish, tall grass and weeds, and other violations.

After making the lists, the city assigned one code enforcement officer to work with the property owners, issue new notices of violation and, in some cases, issue citations.

Since Brittany Parks started to focus on the properties in July, many of the owners began repairing their property or started to go through the Historic Preservation Commission for approval, she said.

“She has done a lot of work in a short period of time,” Hoffman said.

The city is pleased as long as it is seeing progress, as its overall goal is compliance, said Zack Kershner, director of public works.

If progress stops, more notices and citations will occur, he said.

As Bonnie Sanders watched workers put new siding on the house a few doors down from hers on Madison Street this week, she said she hopes it will again become the beautiful house it once was.

“I’m just glad he’s going to fix it up,” she said. “Maybe it will raise property values.”

Hill said she is thankful that a new owner has stepped in.

Watching people in the past go in and out of the property at night, she felt unsafe and would often call police or the city.

“I’m so glad that I can go to sleep with peace of mind,” she said.

Follow Jen Fifield on Twitter: @JenAFifield.

(1) comment

Kathryn McKenzie

text article thank you frederick news post for submitting an information request for the list of the 30 properties on the watch list of blighted properties.
thank you for publishing the list and the excellent article in the Frederick News Post this morning!!!!! please continue to follow up with code enforcement and publish subsequent articles throughout the year on these properties and new properties as they become identified. as a former member of the blighted and vacant mayoral committee I thank you and say excellent reporting! Brittany Parks code enforcement officer excellent work your name is a buzz in the downtown and in the city all residents appreciate your hard work and determination in working with citizens to rectify their code violations on their properties! this type of commitment makes Frederick city one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. Thank you! Kathryn

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