Demolition of vacant State Street duplex in limbo

By Stephen Betts | May 07, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts 13 State St.

Rockland — A State Street duplex that the City Council declared an abandoned and dangerous structure last year may not be demolished after all.

An item on the council's May 14 agenda would authorize the city manager to spend money to have the 13 State St. residences demolished.

But whether the council will move ahead is uncertain.

Len Morley, representing mortgage holder PHH Mortgage Corp. of Bowie, Md., told councilors at their Monday, May 7, meeting that PPH has yet to begin formal foreclosure proceedings. He said it could take 18 months for foreclosure to be completed.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said he would check with the city's attorney on whether the city could recover money if it demolishes the building and places a lien on the property. He asked whether the city's lien could be erased during the foreclosure action.

Morley said he believed the city's lien would not be erased.

The council voted unanimously Dec. 4 to declare 13 State St. an abandoned and dangerous building and gave the mortgage holder 60 days to submit plans for how it will immediately repair or demolish the building.

The city received its first complaint about the two-unit State Street building in July 2016 and sent a formal notice of violation to the owner in February 2017. The residential property has been vacant for at least a few years, according to the city.

The house at 13 State St. is a duplex, built in about 1870, with nearly 1,900 square feet of living space situated on one seventh of an acre. The property had been purchased in July 2004 for $115,000 by Theodore Eaton, who is still the owner.

The mortgage holder has been paying the property taxes to preserve its interest in the property. Otherwise, the city could foreclose on the property.

The mortgage holder's agent sent the city an email in March stating that repairs would cost $46,084.

A demolition plan had not been received by the city.

The city has the property and buildings combined assessed at $125,000.

The supporting timbers on the southeast side of the house are decaying badly, there was significant black and white mold growing inside from a leaky roof, portions of the cellar are open, allowing rodents and small animals to enter, according to an August 2017 report by the code office.

Mayor Valli Geiger criticized the bank, pointing out that the building has been vacant for years and the bank has not taken responsibility for maintaining it. She said the city has numerous properties in the community where banks are not keeping up buildings.

Morley said he disagreed with Geiger's contention, saying the bank can't do anything because it must follow a series of legal steps before it can foreclose.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 09, 2018 08:59

"For $46,000 and change, we could have a new city hall"

Seriously?????  Better call a construction company, plumber, electrician, etc.  Gonna cost a heck of alot more than that.

Tell me, Dale, that you weren't serious when you said the above?   If you are concerned about tearing down historic buildings in Rockland, you should join the Rockland Historical Society and be in charge of going from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for historical buildings and have the Rockland Historical Society buy the vacant ones to save.  These old houses are being torn down because they are extremely UNSAFE and the to fix them up to code is so expensive, no one who owns one, or I should say, most, can afford to fix them up.


Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 09, 2018 08:52


She is correct in saying what she said.  There is a house that has been vacant for over 6 years on our street.  People where going in and out, living in it for a while.  The bank has hired a caretaker that mows the lawn, plows the driveway.   Put a tarp over the whole roof.  It is such a shame to see these properties go to heck because the banks do not really give a rats tail about them.  That is the facts.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 08, 2018 09:29

Since when does the City of Rockland authorize, by charter, the Mayor or any member of the council to go around criticizing anyone? If would be nice to keep personal, non-important opinions to one's self if a representative of the entire city. Legal opinions are not to be made without proper knowledge and authority. If she is worried about the other properties, do something about them.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 08, 2018 04:23

There is nothing historic about that rat hole on State Street.  People buy these places, don't bother to keep them up and then stop paying the mortgage and taxes. The property in back it borders on is another eye sore that is ignored by the owners. As long as the rent is you never see them. Tear them down.


Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 07, 2018 17:12

For $46,000 and change, we could have a new city hall. Tearing down these historic buildings is a shame, come on Rockland City Council act forward to the future for the sake of our tax dollars.

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