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North Mulberry Street house has neighbors fuming

June 15, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

A house on North Mulberry Street has some neighbors fuming over what they claim is the owner's refusal to keep the property up to city code.

Myra Constable, who lives a few doors down from the 600 N. Mulberry St. house, said she fears that the home's peeling paint, dilapidated porches and groundhog-infested yard would decrease her property value.

"I'd like to see it tore down," said Constable, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly three decades. "I think it's terrible."

The house had been in good condition until Douglas K. Britt of Boonsboro bought the property a little more than 10 years ago, Constable said.

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When interviewed earlier this week, Britt said that he was trying make repairs to the house.

The side of the building has a rotting scaffold along one of the exterior walls and a ladder on the roof with deteriorating rungs.

Britt said financial problems have kept him from keeping up with repairs, but vowed to fix everything by the end of the year.

John Lestitian, chief code enforcement officer for the City of Hagerstown, said Britt has paid about $6,000 for violations over the past 2 1/2 years.

"We've written the property up for numerous violations," Lestitian said. "I would much rather see (him) put the money into (his) property. Our goal is to have the owner come into compliance."

Lestitian said code enforcement would continue to issue fines if Britt doesn't resume making repairs.

Hagerstown City Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh, a resident of North Mulberry Street, said the frustrating thing was that Britt lives in Boonsboro and doesn't have to live with looking at the house day after day.

Nigh walked Friday afternoon along the sidewalk in front of the house and pointed out vegetation that was encroaching into the next door neighbor's property.

After asking permission to walk on a neighbor's lawn to get closer to the home, Nigh pointed out rotten wood, pigeon droppings and a groundhog hole that led under the house.

Nigh said Britt even kept a bathtub on the back porch for a long period of time.

"Is it time that we have to say ... 'Things have to be tightened up around here?'" Nigh said. "No one should have to live with this."

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