Rockland tells mortgage holder to fix duplex or demolish it

Dec 05, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts 13 State St., Rockland

The Rockland City Council has ordered a finance company that owns a State Street duplex to repair the dilapidated structure or demolish it.

The council voted 5-0 Monday night, Dec. 4, to declare 13 State St. an abandoned and dangerous building. The city has given PHH Mortgage Corp. of Bowie, Md., 60 days to submit plans for how it will immediately repair or demolish the building. If the national mortgage company agrees to fix the duplex, the work must be completed within six months.

Code Enforcement Officer John Root said the issue may be a moot point, since he  has received no responses from the mortgage company during the past year in trying to contact someone about the poor condition of the building.

Some councilors were hesitant at first to impose a 60-day deadline and suggested six months for a plan to be submitted. Assistant Code Officer William Butler said, however, that the longer that the roof is left in disrepair, the more damage will be done inside, including additional mold problems.

Councilor Adam Ackor, a contractor, said six months would be an eternity and sought to have the order require the owner finish the repairs within 60 days.

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.

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 by Theodore Eaton for $115,000.

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, Butler stated in an August email.

If the owner does not either do the work or demolish the building, the city will demolish the house and bill the owner. The city would recoup its money if the property is sold by placing a lien on it.

The council postponed holding a hearing Monday night on whether to declare 10 Halls Lane an abandoned and dangerous building. The city stated that there was a deficiency in the formal notification to the owner. The hearing is expected to be rescheduled for January.

The 10 Halls Lane house is an 825-square-foot ranch located on a ninth of an acre. The property is owned by the heirs of Ruth Corlis. The building is assessed by the city at $51,000. The property has been in the Corlis family since 1989.

The city found doors and windows broken and has received reports of trespassers entering the building.

The city has declared three other houses dangerous buildings this year.

The city declared 33 North Main St. a dangerous building in February and the property was sold and demolished in April.

The city also declared 236 Maverick St. and 38 Admontem Ave. dangerous buildings. The city has ordered the demolition of 236 Maverick, but will clean up 38 Admontem. The city again will recoup its costs by billing the owner, and placing a lien if the properties sell.

On Monday night, City Manager Tom Luttrell said the family of the 236 Maverick St. owner has contacted the city and is interested in trying to sell the property. Neighbors are interested in the property for its land. He said the city is holding off on demolishing the building to allow the family time to try to negotiate a sale.

In other land issues, Luttrell said the city could seek bids on 29 Broad St., which the city took for unpaid sewer fees in May. He said the bank that held the mortgage had expressed an interest in getting the property, but city councilors expressed no interest in that move.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Dec 05, 2017 14:15

The city always seems late to the gate. Why does it take so long to place liens? If the taxes aren't paid and the properties are allowed to decay, why does the city think they will be reimbursed by the owners, or mortgage holders?

Posted by: Dale Hayward | Dec 05, 2017 11:25

The point is moot Root.

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