Arundel sues mobile home park owner

April 27, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County has filed suit to force the owners of a 150-unit mobile home park to clean up their property or face contempt charges.

Ridgewood Mobile Home Park, owned by Symcha and Joan Shpak, hasn't had a license since 1989, said Robert M. Pollock, assistant county attorney.

Health department officials have refused to approve the license, citing numerous health code violations.

The lawsuit, filed last week, asks the county Circuit Court to order the Shpaks, who live in Neavitt on the Eastern Shore, to meet health codes or face contempt charges. It also asks that the couple pay court costs.

The suit does not threaten to close the park.

"We realize that to shut this park down, the county would be kicking a lot of people out in the street," said Mr. Pollock. "We don't want to do that."

Mr. Shpak said the suit is pointless, because he is already bringing the park up to code.

"Mr. Pollock is wasting the county's and the state's money," he said. "We're complying. So why is he going to court?"

In court papers, the county cited repeated health problems at the park, including several involving the water supply. The water system, which doesn't have a certified operator, failed for four days. Also, the septic system is not properly maintained and there is no emergency water plan.

An April 13 inspection by county sanitarian Clifford Ruehle listed 59 violations at the park, including water leaks, oil leaks, trash in yards, high grass and trailer skirtings in disrepair.

Mr. Shpak said he asked for the April inspection. It showed the number of violations at the park had dropped from almost 200 last year. He also said that he now has an emergency water plan and that the operators of his water system are waiting to take the certification test.

Other violations, such as trash in yards and broken trailer skirtings, are the responsibility of individual tenants, he said, adding that he does not have the authority to enter their property to fix the problems. He said a county health inspector could make the repairs and bill the tenants.

Marie Delano, a Ridgewood resident and former president of the Anne Arundel County Mobile Home Association, said things are getting better at the park.

She is helping Mr. Shpak enforce the park's rules by letting tenants know when they have a violation they need to fix.

"I have seen a great improvement," she said. "He is really putting an effort forward, more than he ever has."

Ms. Delano also said Mr. Shpak is getting serious about evicting tenants who refuse to correct their violations.

Mr. Pollack, the county attorney, said the county has to keep the pressure on Mr. Shpak.

"The minute we drop this lawsuit, he'll be back to his old ways," said Mr. Pollock. "He's not doing it because it's the right thing to do. He's doing it because he's afraid we'll shut him down."

Mr. Shpak contends the suit was brought against him because "somebody does not like me . . . I consider it a case of harassment."

He appealed the county's withholding of the license last year. The county Board of Appeals threw out the appeal in March, saying he had missed a filing deadline.

Mr. Shpak took the matter to Circuit Court, arguing the county was late in telling him the license had been denied, thus shortening his time to respond. That case is still pending.

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