Aldermen Debate Changes To Frederick’s Receivership Law

It would expand how the receivership process could be used against blighted properties.

Frederick, Md, (KM)  A proposed ordinance which would put more “teeth” into Frederick City’s receivership code was discussed Thursday night, but no action was taken.

Under the current law, the city can request the courts appoint a “receiver” to take over a blighted property if it has an outstanding notice of violation or a court order. The receiver, who could be an individual or an entity, would sell, rehabilitate or demolish the run down property. The new measure would extend that to any blighted structure.

Alderman Michael O’Connor served on the city’s blight committee, and he said the present law was not want panel members wanted. “My understanding of the feelings of the committee is that this language is more directed towards the outcomes they were seeking when they made a recommendation that we pursue receivership in the first place,” he said.

The city adopted its receivership law in 2013.

But Alderman Phil Dacey said the changes to the current law could make it difficult for residents who can’t afford it to fix up their homes. He cited an example of someone whose porch is in sad shape. “If you don’t do your porch, your porch is leaning. You get an NOV {notice of violation} for a  leaning porch or a leaky porch and you go to court,” he said.

But Assistant City Attorney Rachel Depo said  not all blighted properties would be subject to receivership under this new law. “The director {of Public Works}, probably in consultation with the Mayor, is going to have to decide on case-by-case basis whether or not to actually implement this ordinance and petition the court for the appointment of a receiver,” she said.

The ordinance was proposed by Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak who was not present at Thursday’s meeting. As a courtesy to their missing colleague, the Aldermen voted to defer any action on the measure until their first meeting in October.

City Seal

In other action, the Aldermen approved a request from the Frederick County Landmarksj Foundation  to allow it to use the city seal for a five-year period to promote the Sister Cities student and cultural exchange programs. “They have cultural exchanges, visit with one another, and have shared stationary letterhead, among other thing. So they’ve asked if they could use the city seal on some of those items,” says Patti Mullins, the Public Information Coordinator for the city.

The City has had sister city relationships with Morzheim for 60 years, and for 35 years with Schifferstadt, both cities in Germany, according to Alan Imhoff, the President of the Landmarks Foundation. “There have been extensive exchanges over the years, and we would hope that they continue for a long time,” he said.

The city established a sister city relationship with Aquiraz, Brazil in 2006. But Imhoff says it ran for about four years, and it’s not been active since then.

By Kevin McManus