Debate Over Laurel Abandoned Homes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Debate Over Laurel Abandoned Homes

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 LAUREL, Del. (WBOC) – There is still no final decision on what to do about nine boarded-up and vacant properties within Laurel's municipal limits.

Town manager Jamie Smith introduced a proposed ordinance at this month's council meeting that would limit properties having boarded windows or doors for 30 to 90 days for properties that were either condemned and boarded by the town, or boarded by the homeowner. After that time period, the boards must come down or the property owner will be in violation of code.

The ordinance was in response to concerns expressed by Pine Street homeowner Maryanne Rivas during an August council meeting. Rivas said something needed to be done about the “derelict” boarded houses in town.

“You live in a town, your investment is your home. I wouldn't want to ride by and see all these buildings and think oh my God, what kind of a place is this? I think a lot of it has to do with absentee landlords,” said Rivas. 

Smith says the council brought up several concerns about how to enforce the ordinance. 

“One of the concerns was would the government or the town have to follow this ordinance as well. They didn't think it was fair for the town to not follow this if the residents have to,” said Smith. 

Smith said another concern expressed, was the role police would play in patrolling these abandoned homes.

“A concern was the police would be the ones riding around checking these properties, and if there's more properties it would interfere with their regular patrols,” said Smith. 

At the council meeting, Laurel Mayor John Shwed expressed his support for enforcing a limit on the amount of time these properties can remain boarded. 

Rivas said her concerns about the buildings goes beyond just the boards.  

“The town gets no tax revenue, they have to maintain the buildings, mow the grass, the water and sewer bills go unpaid, trash isn't paid and they're in complete disarray,” said Rivas. 

September's council meeting ended with no decision on the proposed ordinance. Smith said she will put the abandoned homes issue back on the agenda for discussion at October's council meeting. 

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