Six Baltimore City community associations filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against the out-of-state owner of long-vacant, uninhabitable, and nuisance properties.
Community Law Center, Inc. is lead counsel for the Plaintiff community associations. “The lawsuit challenges the practice of purchasing vacant properties at tax sale and leaving them for dead with unaddressed City code violations,” explained Kristine Dunkerton, Executive Director of Community Law Center. “If you own a property, you cannot allow your property to be a nuisance to the neighborhood, much less dozens and dozens of properties across multiple neighborhoods.”
This lawsuit, “utilizes the Community Bill of Rights (Real Property 14-123),” which was amended by the Maryland General Assembly last year, according to Robin Jacobs, a Community Law Center lawyer in the case.
Venable, LLP serves as pro bono co-counsel, along with University of Maryland Francis King Carey’s School of Law’s Community Justice Clinic. “We are proud to work with the Community Law Center and the community associations in this case to address some of the vacant property problems that exist in their neighborhoods,” explained Jason Rose, a partner at Venable.
The six community associations who brought the lawsuit are: Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community Corporation, Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations, Inc., Mount Clare Community Council, Inc., Carrollton Ridge Community Association, Inc., Operation ReachOut SouthWest, Inc., and Greater Greenmount Community Association, Inc. Constance Fowler, the President of Carrollton Ridge Community Association, Inc., said “Our communities are plagued by the drug use, trash, rats, and other daily dangers that vacant properties present.”
The complaint argues that 57 vacant properties, all owned by Texas-based Scott Wizig under the auspices of several LLCs, are all in states of disrepair that violate applicable law. The lawsuit alleges that the properties have deteriorating and unsafe structures, including missing roofs, crumbling walls, collapsing porches, and broken windows, that they are infested with rodents and insects, and that they are surrounded by debris, garbage, graffiti, and overgrown vegetation. The Defendants, who have received numerous violation notices from the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development, have failed to abate those violation notices, according to Plaintiffs.
The Plaintiffs are demanding monetary damages in the amount of $8 million, along with an order providing relief from the nuisance conditions of the properties.
Contact Kristine Dunkerton, Executive Director or Robin Jacobs, Staff Attorney, for more information at 410-366-0922.
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Community Law Center, a nonprofit law firm, provides legal services to community and nonprofit organizations throughout Maryland to promote stronger nonprofits and more vibrant neighborhoods.