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City of Hagerstown to demolish bar on Jonathan Street

June 08, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Zipper's Bar on Jonathan Street is shown in this 2007 file photo. The building will soon will be demolished by the city of Hagerstown.
Herald-Mail file photo

The former Zipper's Bar on Jonathan Street soon will be demolished by the city of Hagerstown.

In the next few weeks, the city will carry out a court-authorized demolition of the structure at 327-331 Jonathan St., which has been vacant since the bar closed several years ago.

Recent photographs of the property show broken windows, a partially-collapsed roof and failing structure, according to city documents.

City staff members attempted to reach the current owners about the condition of the building but were unsuccessful, according to John Lestitian, director of community and economic development.

The property was sold at tax sale in 2009, according to documents.

Jonathan St. Investment LLC is listed as the owner of the property, Washington County Treasurer Todd Hershey said.  

A judge in Washington County District Court authorized the city to abate the problem at the site in July 2010, according to the case docket.

The court order came after the building's owner failed to appear in court on a charge that the limited liability corporation failed to demolish the structure or make it habitable after notification from the city.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize paying Allegany Wrecking and Salvage of Hagerstown $35,251 to demolish the building.

The city will also pay The Baxter Group of Chambersburg, Pa., $1,150 to abate asbestos on the building's exterior, according to city documents.

The city will bill Jonathan St. Investment LLC for the full cost of abatement and demolition. If the owner fails to pay, the city will place a lien against the property and sell it at a future tax sale, Lestitian said.

As is, the property is a nuisance and a potential space for less than desirable activity, Lestitian said.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood questioned if there would be fencing or other measures to close the property to the public to prevent what she called "informal activity" once the building comes down.

Lestitian said the city will not own the property and putting up a fence is not in the demolition contract.

However, city officials can work with the Hagerstown Light Department to add lighting in an adjacent alley, Lestitian said. With the building gone, and the alley illuminated and clearly visible, it should be a safer environment, he said.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton asked if the city could impose a fee for similar situations in the future to compensate for the time and effort of the staff.

Lestitian said the city charges a $100 administrative fee, which he said does not cover staff time. In the future, a fee based on a sliding scale of project costs could be created, he said.

After his motion to approve the contract to demolish the former bar, Councilman Martin Brubaker amended the motion to include related expenses beyond the cost of demolition. His amended motion was met with full council support.

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