Letters to the editor 8/7

August 07, 2002

Enforcement program not given a chance to work

To the editor:

The following letter was presented to the mayor and council from the Landlord's Association expressing our views relating to proposed rental licensing:

Dear. Mr. Mayor and Councilmembers:

In the last two years the Landlord's Association has been working diligently with the city to bring improvements to both owner-occupied and rental housing. First we had several meetings with Larry Bayer and George Andreve discussing ways to improve the downtown area.

When John Lestitian was hired as chief code enforcer, he asked that we again work together to develop a plan to deal with the property owners who refuse to cooperate when cited with code violations.


After many work sessions, the Habitual Offenders Program was developed. It is a good concept and one that does address the problems created by uncooperative property owners in the City of Hagerstown. It is a much better concept than a registration program because it focuses on the problem areas and gives code enforcers a step-by-step plan in dealing with offenders.

This plan was approved by the council, and landlords and city officials felt that this was a fair way to deal with problems.

Hiring one more code enforcer to help with the current workload seems like a reasonable solution to the problem.

Now, a few months later, someone has declared a "crisis" in the City of Hagerstown and desperately need a rental licensing program as the solution. We need to give the Habitual Offender's Program a chance to work before creating a massive bureaucracy of 10 code enforcers and adding $450,000 to the budget.

Just like the U.S. war on terrorism, some things cannot be resolved overnight. The Habitual Offender's Program will work if given a chance.

We feel that we have worked with the city sincerely in an attitude of cooperation and trust to help improve conditions in the city. We have worked with the chief of police, Drug Task Force and others to bring about improvements. We have seen changes as a result of our efforts. We strive to educate our 180 members, encouraging them to be professional landlords screening for good tenants and keeping their properties in good repair.

However, we have been opposed to rental licensing and have worked with city committees to develop better alternatives. By giving initial approval to this licensing program, we feel the spirit of cooperation and trust between landlords and the city have been severely compromised. It has changed our attitude on dealing with the city in good faith. Your action has angered many responsible property owners and could have adverse effects on the city. Licensing programs will make property owners resentful of the city putting unnecessary control on their rental business. It angers and punishes the many landlords who are doing well with their properties. Again, let's use the Habitual Offenders targeted approach to focus on the few property owners who are causing the majority of the problems for the code enforcers.

Allan J. Johnson, President

Landlords and Property Owners

Association of Washington County

Make developers pay for growth

To the editor:

A large segment of the citizenry is becoming aware of the increased rate of development in Washington County and all the ills that it brings. Furthermore, a majority of those affected feel that the developers who are bringing the problems and making the profit should be taxed for compensation.

The developers - not the current residents - should be paying an impact fee or a new building excise tax as they do in Frederick and other fast-growing counties to the east. But our county commissioners just don't seem to get it. They can only think of increasing the transfer tax or sales tax which all residents would have to pay.

Ask them about impact fees and they say it can't be done here. Ask about an excise tax and you get a blank stare. In Frederick County, taxes and fees on new housing construction average $18,000 per unit. In Washington County it is almost nothing.

Frederick County developers are already drooling and laughing about the easy pickings in Washington County. We can't stop them from coming but we would be fools to let them take all the profits and leave us with the problems.

Will we be a bunch of simple country bumpkins waiting to be fleeced or will we join the twenty-first century? Ask your County Commissioners what they are thinking, and if they aren't thinking about you, now is the time to replace them.

Jim Laird


Don't allow this rezoning

To the editor:

Dahbura Enterprises LLC and Kensington LLC are requesting the City of Hagerstown to rezone 35 acres along Eastern Boulevard between Dual Highway and Jefferson Boulevard from residential to commercial. These enterprises would like to build another four-story glass building to match the one across the boulevard.

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