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What's wrong with this picture?

July 24, 2011

The problem: Seven months after a fire destroyed the house at 925 Concord St. in Hagerstown, little seems to have been done to clean up the damage, neighbor Tabitha Robinson said. She said she has seen pigeons and bats living in the house, tall grass has spread into her yard, and when the wind blows, pieces fall off the house.

Robinson said she had called the city about the issue, but no one has come to speak to her about it.

Who could fix it: The owner, with enforcement from the City of Hagerstown

What they say: After being contacted by The Herald-Mail, city code officials contacted owner Eric Meisel, who called the paper to explain the situation.

“It has been longer than any of us wanted it to be,” Meisel said of the delay in cleanup.

After the December fire, Meisel said his insurance company made a settlement offer too low to repair the house, and he hired a public adjuster to represent him in arbitration.

That process began in February and wrapped up earlier this month with a larger settlement, he said.

Meisel said he has hired a contractor to bring down the house, and demolition is scheduled for the first week in August.

“I know it’s a blight on the area,” Meisel said of the burned house, but he said that after the fire that he did board up the windows and stabilize loose pieces as well as he could. He also noted that the yard is fenced.

“My intention here is to be as responsible a homeowner as I can,” Meisel said.

He also said he would take care of the weeds by Sunday, July 24. On Thursday, he emailed photos of the yard being mowed.

Meisel said he is in talks with Habitat for Humanity about transferring the lot to it when demolition is complete.
“Hopefully some good can come out of this bad thing,” he wrote in that email.

 — Compiled by Heather Keels

If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:
What’s Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
You can email the information to lindad@herald-mail.com.

Editor’s note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.
We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes or consumer problems.

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