Who mandates that Hagerstown follow its own rules and regulations?

January 14, 2006|BY Robert F. Keplinger

To the editor:

Not long ago, Hagerstown mandated that I repair and/or replace sidewalk and curb at my home. They even went to the extend of placing a summons against me to comply.

I told Hagerstown officials I agreed that a section of my curb needed replacement and I agreed to take care of it. This was not good enough. They ordered me to replace a section of sidewalk as well.

The sidewalk in question had fine-line cracks, none of which were raised. As my neighbor said, "That sidewalk has been like that for the past 20 years."

At the time, I was planning to retire in the very near future and could not readily afford to replace both sidewalk and curb It was more than I could afford to spend, especially on a sidewalk that didn't need replacement.


I realized that I could not only be fined heavily but fired from my job - because not having the work done would be a criminal offense!

Needless to say, I was between a rock and a hard place. I had to spend the money, even though I felt most of the expense was unnecessary.

Hagerstown mandated that I use either brick or concrete for my sidewalk, but just a block way was a lengthy sidewalk made of asphalt - owned by the City of Hagerstown. Who mandates that Hagerstown follow its own rules and regulations?

About the same time I was doing my replacement project, a neighbor across the street had to replace some curb, sidewalk and an apron leading to his garage. Yet right next to his driveway is a city-owned dirt alley with no concrete apron on either end. Who mandates that Hagerstown follow its own rules and regulations?

I could give many examples, but here is just one more:

Recently the city redid Memorial Boulevard from Frederick Street to South Potomac Street. It has probably needed replacement for 15 to 20 years. It was in bad shape.

While doing this project, the city replaced all sidewalk, curb and landscaping on the south side of Memorial Boulevard. According to the city's rules, this should have been done by the adjacent property owners - Long's Automotive and Rose Hill Cemetery.

I have yet to get a reasonable and sensible question to this question from Hagerstown officials:

Why do we the taxpayers of Hagerstown not only have to maintain, repair and/or replace our sidewalks, curbs and aprons to include landscaping, but why do we also have to pay to replace sidewalks, curbs and aprons to include landscaping owned by Long's Automotive and Rose Hill Cemetery. (I'll not repeat here the silly answer a Hagerstown official gave me.)

I know what my curb and sidewalk cost to replace. The length of that part of Memorial Boulevard was more than 100 times what I had to replace. Can you imagine what taxpayers paid for sidewalks, curbs and aprons to include landscaping along Memorial Boulevard? People, that money came out of our pockets!

Again I ask: Who mandates that Hagerstown follow its own rules and regulations?

It is evident that compliance is good for the goose and non-compliance is good for the gander ...

Robert F. Keplinger


(Editor's note: The editorial page editor contacted Hagerstown City Engineer Rodney Tissue about this policy and the letter-writer's complaint.

Tissue said that the policy is that when a street is due to be resurfaced - overlaid with a coat of asphalt - adjacent property owners get notices to fix curbs and sidewalks, notices delivered well in advance of the overlay.

However, Tissue said, when a street is completely rebuilt, as Memorial Boulevard was, curb and sidewalk work is included in the reconstruction project, so that all work, including street drainage systems, can be done at the same time.

Tissue said that while Rose Hill Cemetery did not pay for the Memorial Boulevard work because that was a full reconstruction, it did pay thousands for curb and sidewalk work when South Potomac Street was resurfaced.

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