The notices Anne Arundel County police slapped on the doors of 19 homes in the Warfield Condominiums Tuesday declared the property, not the tenant, a nuisance. But that was little consolation for some of the residents.
"My house ain't no nuisance," fumed an indignant William McDonald, 39, of the 8300 block of Pioneer Drive. Police put the notice on Mr. McDonald's door while he was at work. His wife was at home and became so upset after receiving the notice that he left work early.
On Monday the state's attorney's office filed a complaint in District Court asking a judge to declare the 19 condominiums nuisance properties because of the drug dealing, shootings, robberies and other crimes that occur in the area. The homes are in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Arwell Court and the 8300 to 8500 blocks of Pioneer Drive.
If a judge rules in the state's favor at the trial set for July 25, State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee will seek to get the properties handed over to a receiver or conservator.
Mohammad Zuberi, 57, of the 4600 block of Willow Grove Drive in Ellicott City, owns the condominiums. Yesterday afternoon, some of his tenants stood outside their homes and debated whether they and their landlord had received a raw deal.
Mr. McDonald disputed claims that six of the 150 police service calls to the area since January were for his house.
"I only called police one time," said Mr. McDonald, who has lived in the community for five years. "That was last year when my son found a drug bag in my yard."
Ron Stevers, 57, president of a 30-unit condominium complex in the 8300 block of Pioneer Drive, said other residents had the same complaint as Mr. McDonald. The two-page listing of the 19 homes showed they were either raided for drugs or had calls for service.
"Most of the people who lived in those homes are now gone," Mr. Stevers said. "The rest are people who actually made complaints against drug dealers."
Trevor A. Kiessling Jr., an assistant state's attorney, wanted to clarify that the notices declared "the nuisance is the property itself, not necessarily the individuals."
Yvonne Johnson, 39, president of Pioneers In Action, a local community organization, said visitors to the area cause much of the trouble.
Michael Rose, 55, owned the property before selling at a loss to Mr. Zuberi. He said the problems there may be insurmountable.
"It's a bigger problem than just one guy," said Mr. Rose, who worked on a board of landlords with Mr. Zuberi. "We tried to set up some community watch programs. I wouldn't be too quick to rush to judgment on Mr. Zuberi."
Mr. Zuberi said Tuesday the problems are caused by outsiders. He has evicted bad tenants and worked with the community to form anti-drug patrols, he said.
County police and the state's attorney's office say they are not unsympathetic to the residents' concerns. Sgt. Ray Schueler, the supervisor of the Western District's tactical narcotics team, said most residents at Warfield Condominiums are "good, decent people."
The problem is with Mr. Zuberi's management, say county officials, who want him to put an anti-drug clause in his leases, ban undesirables from his property and evict tenants that are involved with drugs.
Janet Fadely, 32, of the 1900 block of Arwell Court, agreed with the police.
"The drug problem on Arwell Court is really bad," Ms. Fadely said.