Dundalk civic group works diligently to spruce up neighborhood BALTIMORE COUTNY

February 10, 1993|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

In the tightly packed rowhouses of West Inverness in Dundalk, a new feeling of community pride is quickly making its presence felt.

Days after officially incorporating on Nov. 4, the West Inverness Community Association sent letters to about 80 residents notifying them of zoning violations on their property.

Louis Romeo Jr., association president, said the group's goal is simply to beautify the neighborhood and raise property values.

"Some residents feel we're making waves, but I like to think they're good waves," he said.

Arnold E. Jablon, the county zoning administrator, praised the group's actions.

"Anything that makes our job easier I think is a great idea. More community associations should do this," he said. "I don't think I know of another organization which conducted such a blanket search for zoning violators."

The letters, Mr. Romeo explained, gave residents 30 days to comply with the zoning code, or the matter would be turned over to the county zoning office. So far, the association has forwarded 52 violations.

The county can notify residents of the violations and, if they are not repeat offenders, give them 15 to 30 days to comply. After that, the county can cite the violators and bring them into District Court.

Many violations involve junked vehicles left in back yards, Mr. Romeo said. Other problems cited include trash and debris piled in alleys and recreational vehicles parked on properties. The association also contacted county police about enforcing the law against parking commercial vehicles heavier than three-quarters of a ton on residential streets.

Reaction from residents who received letters has been mixed, said Mr. Romeo. Some have been very angry, while others support the association.

"The association sent a questionnaire to residents to find out what most concerned them, and in the vast majority of the responses, they wanted us to clean up the neighborhood," said Mr. Romeo. "We also stated in the violation letters that if they had any questions, concerns or extenuating circumstances concerning their situation, they could write the association and notify us."

The association also invited the district zoning inspector to its January meeting to explain the zoning code to residents.

Mr. Jablon said the West Inverness group's activities don't present a problem as long they don't result "in residents confronting other residents." His office has arrangements with several community and business associations allowing the groups to try to resolve zoning violations within the community before getting the county involved.

West Inverness had a civic association previously, but that group ceased to function in 1987, Mr. Romeo said.

After a large-scale drug sweep through the community last summer, some neighborhood activists decided it was time to resurrect the defunct West Inverness Improvement Association. They renamed it the West Inverness Community Association because, Mr. Romeo said, "some residents felt the word 'improvement' sounded too imposing."

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