Dozens of Riverdale Village tenants received eviction notices yesterday -- boosting the pressure on Baltimore County workers rushing to relocate hundreds of residents from the rundown apartment complex.
As a June 11 deadline nears for a power shut-off, the county is coordinating a sweeping relocation program. Yesterday, some of the 42 families who got eviction notices for nonpayment of rent came to the county's information center at nearby Middlesex Elementary School seeking help. They will be evicted Monday.
"It makes an already bad situation even worse," said Maureen Robinson, spokeswoman for county social services. "Why? Why would they do that?"
County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, the Perry Hall Democrat who represents the area, called absentee landlord Richard Schlesinger "vindictive."
But Fran Sharp, a Riverdale Village rental office worker, said the complex is operating on a "business-as-usual" basis.
"We have our jobs to do," she said, adding that some tenants likely withheld their rent this month, figuring they could get away with it because of the turmoil.
Schlesinger was recently fined $1.5 million by the county for more than 850 livability code violations.
He also owes Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. more than $600,000 in utility payments -- money that was supposed to be part of the tenants' rent. With the power cutoff looming, the county, which wants the complex demolished, has been trying to help the mostly working-poor tenants find new homes. Now county workers must move even faster to help find homes for evicted tenants by Monday night.
"It sure does light a fire under our process," Robinson said.
County lawyers are preparing to seek a court injunction to close Riverdale based on inspectors' reports that boilers at the complex are faulty. The case is scheduled Wednesday in Towson District Court.
The outcome of that hearing is uncertain, and it may take weeks of legal maneuvering to close the complex -- even after the power is turned off, County Attorney Virginia W. Barnhart said. However, some hope exists.
Half the 1,100-unit complex is vacant and awaiting demolition this year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which foreclosed on the mortgage last year. The county wants to build houses and a small park there.
Meanwhile, a company that paid Riverdale Village's overdue property taxes at the county's annual tax sale wants to take ownership of the other half of the complex and redevelop the land.
County officials are trying to schedule a conference with officials of Capital Assets Research Inc. of West Palm Beach, Fla., which made the only bid on Riverdale Village at the tax sale two weeks ago. The firm paid $211,000 in back taxes and can foreclose to get ownership if Schlesinger or the bank that holds the mortgage fails to redeem the taxes in six months.
Nicholas A. Piscatelli, the director of Maryland operations, said the Riverdale site in the 1900 block of Eastern Blvd. "backs up to a very solid neighborhood," and could be redeveloped, possibly as a residential community.
He said Capital Assets can't make specific plans until meeting with county officials, probably in mid-June, but it has consulted a developer.
Capital Assets operates nationally, buying tax sale properties by paying millions in overdue taxes.
Pub Date: 5/31/97