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Neglected property forces change to Boonsboro ordinance

July 08, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO -- An economic slump and a national crisis involving housing foreclosures has made its way to Boonsboro, Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said.

There are several homes in town that have been neglected after being abandoned by their owners, he said during a town council meeting Monday. One in particular caused the town council to vote unanimously on an emergency amendment to the town's municipal infraction ordinance.

The amendment allows Kauffman or Town Manager Debra Smith to waive the usual 30 days notice given to a property owner once a property is deemed unsightly or unsafe, and also the five days notice given before the town begins charging a fine. Town Planner Megan Clark said if the violations to the town's municipal infraction ordinance are not corrected within 30 days, a property owner gets five days notice before being fined.

The fine for each violation is $200, and is assessed each day that the violation is not corrected, Clark said.

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"We have an abnormal amount of properties being foreclosed on," Kauffman said. "They become abandoned ... nobody takes care of it. That's where this ordinance originated from. We cannot stand by and watch a neighbor's property fall into so much disrepair that is becomes unsafe ... unsightly."

He said the properties can become public health concerns.

One property was mentioned during Monday's meeting as a primary concern: 106 Kerns Drive in Boonsboro.

Clark said she visited the property Thursday and the grass was about two feet high. A swimming pool on the property also was never emptied.

Clark said a five-day notice has been issued at that property, which means that fines will be assessed when that time limit has expired.

Kauffman said the town has been "dealing with the issue" of the Kerns Drive property since the spring. He said there are other properties in Boonsboro that have been foreclosed on that he is sure will become "emergencies" in the next month, and will benefit from the amendment to the ordinance passed Monday.

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