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State alleges local lead and oil violations

May 29, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Maryland Department of the Environment has accused three sets of Washington County property owners of lead violations and a local business of violating state oil-pollution laws.

MDE said the rental properties, all of them built before 1950, did not comply with standards for reducing lead risks.

Alvin Bowles, the manager of MDE's lead poisoning prevention program, said there are three components to lead compliance: having inspection certificates, registering properties and educating tenants.

The owners and properties accused of not meeting standards are:

· Bowman Hollyhock LLC, which owns 18014, 18018, 18022, 18026 and 18030 Hollyhock Road, near Interstate 81

· Ernest and Cora Anne Ferrara of Smithsburg and Michael Lynn Ferrara of Hagerstown, who own 13757 Kretsinger Road, Smithsburg

· S&S Venture LLC, aka S&S Ventures LLC, which owns three apartments apiece at 122 E. Antietam St. and 27 Fairground Ave., as well as a home at 25 Fairground Ave.

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Bowman Hollyhock LLC and the Ferraras didn't register their properties, MDE said.

MDE alleged that Floyd B. Shrader of Virginia Avenue, Williamsport, trading as Shrader Home Oil, violated oil pollution laws by not getting a permit to store and deliver petroleum products and by failing to report oil spills.

MDE's Waste Management Administration is seeking civil penalties of $16,500 against Bowman Hollyhock, $13,700 against the Ferraras, $30,000 against S&S Venture and $52,000 against Shrader.

MDE spokesman Robert Ballinger said property and business owners may appeal the penalties before an administrative law judge, so MDE won't collect the fines until there's a decision or the appeal deadline passes.

Matt Donegan of Bowman Development, which includes Bowman Hollyhock, said he was surprised by the allegation.

He said 18018, 18026 and 18030 Hollyhock Road passed lead inspections in December 2006. He faxed copies of the certificates as proof.

MDE is aware of the certificates, but Bowman Hollyhock obtained them only after nine months of not being in compliance, Bowles said.

None of the five Bowman Hollyhock properties is registered with MDE, Bowles said.

Donegan said 18014 Hollyhock Road is vacant and will be demolished. A tenant moved into 18022 Hollyhock Road and Bowman Hollyhock hasn't been able to arrange a lead inspection, he said.

Donegan said he believes the properties were registered and MDE was mistaken, but he wasn't able to prove it last week.

Exposure to lead can cause severe health problems, according to MDE.

Ernest Ferrara declined to comment on his property. He referred questions to his attorney, but wouldn't say who that was.

Tracey M. Schindel is listed in state taxation records as the resident agent for S&S Venture LLC at 2 W. Potomac Parkway in Williamsport. A woman at McCleary & Earley at the same Williamsport address said Thursday that she'd leave a message for Schindel, but Schindel didn't return the call.

No one answered a phone number listed in an online directory for Shrader Home Oil.

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