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Building owner awaiting appeal

November 18, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III on Wednesday said the owner of a Hagerstown building that a judge ruled in September was a narcotics nuisance does not have to hire a property manager pending the outcome of an appeal on the case.

After hearing that Edward Snook, owner and landlord of the property at 19-23 W. Antietam St., recently installed security locks on doors at the five entrances to the property - as ordered pending the appeal - Boone said that Snook would not have to sign a two-year contract with an independent management firm, which was the second order pending his appeal.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard in Circuit Court on Feb. 11, said Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson, the county's narcotics nuisance abatement attorney.

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Wilson argued Wednesday that a crack pipe found in the hallway of 21 W. Antietam St. on Oct. 20 by John Lestitian, Hagerstown's chief code enforcement officer, was evidence that Snook could not properly manage his property and asked that he be required to contract with a manager.

"This is not a one crack pipe building. This is not a one deal building," Wilson said.

Snook's attorney, D. Bruce Poole, argued that it would be too costly for Snook to contract with an independent management firm for two years. He argued that if the ruling were overturned on appeal in February, Snook would be stuck with a contract he couldn't break.

He said that a management firm would not have an effect on keeping a crack pipe from being found in the hallway. He said that by those standards, "Help all of us who are landlords in Hagerstown."

Poole filed a motion Oct. 13 asking that those orders, from District Judge Ralph H. France II, be stayed pending the outcome of an appeal. France ruled in September that Snook's property was a narcotics nuisance.

Wilson, in a response to the motion filed Oct. 22, referred to the crack pipe found in the hallway, saying it was evidence Snook could not properly manage his property.

Wednesday's hearing was scheduled for a ruling on Poole's motion.

Snook became the first landlord to be prosecuted under Washington County's Narcotics Nuisance Abatement Program, an initiative started four years ago to target landlords who allow drug activity in their buildings.

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