Residents angry after city orders them to make repairs on Remington houses

Dozens of homes cited for flaky paint, sidewalks

April 09, 2003|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

Donald C. Small, Homeowners along a busy block in Remington are getting a crash lesson in what one city official called a newly "proactive" approach to code enforcement, courtesy of Baltimore's housing and transportation departments.

Owners of a dozen rowhouses were cited over the weekend for having peeling exterior paint, and two dozen property owners face fines of $500 for cracks on their sidewalks in the 3100 block of Remington Ave.

The citations, some of which resulted from a neighbor's 311 call to report an ill-kept house, have riled residents like Frances Munson, 76.

"It's totally unnecessary and uncalled for," complained Munson, leaning on the railing of her two-story, 83-year-old frame rowhouse. "I mean, they're dumping us with this."

Munson, who shares the home with her daughter Dianne Leberman, Henrietta the gray cockatiel, a blue parakeet named Honey and a bird-crazy tomcat, is frustrated that housing authorities want her to fix her home's narrow cornice.

She was among those on the block to receive a certified letter Saturday requesting that she remove "flaking or defective paint on cornice" by May 5 - or face criminal misdemeanor charges and daily fines of $500.

"I understand the city is strapped for money ... ," Munson said, her voice trailing into Leberman's.

"But still," said her daughter, "one month and they're going to put liens on the property? Who can afford $500 a day around here?"

Donald C. Small, chief of inspections for the city housing department, said property owners are often surprised when a complaint about a specific home results in citations against many of their neighbors.

"We don't stop and just walk past another violation," said Small, who called the situation on Remington Avenue "typical of our proactive approach."

"This is a new effort toward proactive code enforcement. We figure it has a positive effect on the community ... to resolve all the issues in an area at once."

Perry Ingram, a father of four who lives next door to Munson, might disagree.

Ingram was also cited for peeling paint on his cornice. In addition, two white X's spray-painted on the sidewalk mark small sunken sections just inside the walk to his front steps. Like many of his neighbors, Ingram received notice from the city years ago that the cracked and uneven pavement needed to be repaired.

According to the city Department of Transportation Footway Section, the city sent notices in 1997. Now, years later, white sawhorses reading "No Parking" block the sidewalk, awaiting cement contractors who will make the repairs and bill the homeowners.

Deciding the bother of obtaining a building permit and fixing it himself was too great, Ingram resolved to wait for the city to fix it for him.

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