Community Issues - Code Enforcement

The Mess in Upper Falls - 7753 Bradshaw Rd

Although this problem is being solved now that a new owner has purchased the property, the history is being left here as a case study in how the failure of Code Enforcement, over many years, to take definitive action, lead to the serious degradation of a neighborhhood.

Everyone in the Kingsville/Upper Falls area is aware of the mess that has developed over the past several years next to the Upper Falls Post Office, as the owner has turned the property into a "contractor's storage yard" and dump, as well as the site of several businesses, including an illegal tree care operation (for which he has already been dragged into District Court, but got off on a technicality). If you somehow don't see it, you may have heard the sawmill running or smelled the illegal outdoor furnace or felt it as the smoke got in your eyes. Of you just sensed something was wrong as you drove by. In any case, your enjoyment of the neighborhood is seriously affected.

At the right is an aerial photo of the mess from Google taken in October 2014. Click on the image for a more detailed copy. To get a sense of how it looked before and how it has degenerated since Sept 2009, about when Mr. Boyd began his illegal tree-care business, look here.

Many are also aware that he has been charged with 1st degree assault for pulling a shotgun on a County Inspector, the court trial was held March 31 after several postponements. See below for results.

The following is a synopsis of the many complaints, actions and problems over the past 10 years at this property, filed by numerous residents. Some the information here comes from the County website. I am providing links to copies here to make it easier for residents to access them and, besides, data such as this often "disappears" from the county website after a few years. The following chronicles a serious problem with the County and state refusing to take the explicit actions needed to protect the neighborhood from such abuse.

2004

Case CC99CO0001781 - Mar 17, 2004

Complaint:
"COMM VEHS, BUSINESS RUN FROM HOUSE; 2ND COMPL/SNAP ON TRUCK BACK AGAIN, ANONYMOUS WALK-IN"

Action:
This complaint never resulted in any action or correction.

2006

Case CC99CO0020627 - Feb 14, 2006

Complaint:
"Trash on front of property"

Action:
The online data does not show any action - obviously it was not corrected, resulting in later complaints.

2007

Case CC99CO0031781 - April 5, 2007

Complaint:
"Logging operation"

Action:
In response to this complaint (anonymous), a citation was issued and a Code Enforcement hearing was held on May 22, 2007 on a charge of operating an illegal home occupation (logging) and failure to remove trash and debris. The charge for "wood processing" was dismissed, obviously due to the lack of proper evidence being presented by the inspector, since there was plenty of it in plain sight. The May 2007 29, Order did note that the wood debris must be removed. It never was.

2008

2009

Case CC99CO0071616 - Nov 30, 2009

Complaint:
"LARGE PILES OF MULCH COMMERCIAL VEHICLES UNTAGGED CARS/TRUCKS TRASH RENTING PROPERTY"

Action:
  • Nov 27, 2009 Complaint letter filed
  • Dec 1, 2009 - Citation issued
  • Dec 29, 2009 - Hearing held - Jan 14, 2010 Order again failed to find that a commercial tree care and fire-wood operation were taking place, although the evidence was obvious. This was again the fault of the inspector who has proven in other cases to be incapable of providing a real case with proper evidence.
  • March 3, 2010 - "In compliance" (but it never was).
As every local resident knows, the piles have just gotten bigger since that day and the commercial vehicles have remained (some untagged).

2010

2011

Case CC99CO0089155 - Feb 14, 2011

Complaint:
"RUNNING A BUSINESS FROM A DR. ZONE FIREWOOD***5/4/11 CIVIL PENALTY FEE IMPOSED FOR THE AMOUNT OF $50 PER KP/LNW*** 9/6/11 - PER OBF REPORT, LIEN HAS BEEN PAID IN FULL, KH"

Action:
  • Feb 16, 2011 - "initial inspection"
  • Feb 24, Feb 28, Mar 15, Mar 28, Apr 6, Apr 14, May 10 - multiple "re-inspections"
  • Mar 29, 2011 - Hearing held. Apr 7, 2011 Order states that "prehearing inspection revealed the removal of the vehicles, equipment and unlicensed vehicles. Trash, junk and debris remained." Fined $50.
  • May 26, 2011 "In-compliance"
Imagine - only a $50 fine after all that! Sure sends a message to the violator to ignore Code Enforcement! All the things that were supposedly removed continued to be on the property for years afterwards!

Case CC99CO0096251 - June 16, 2011

Complaint:
There is no indication online what this complaint was for - only a note of "JY" - maybe from a follow-up phone call after the previous complaint was not addressed properly.

Actions:
  • June 29, 2011 - initial inspection
  • July 18, 2011 - "in compliance"
The online record indicates that there was an "initial inspection" on June 29, but does not reflect any other action being taken. The fact that the "in compliance" was entered 3 weeks later indicates that a verbal warning may have been given on the first visit and, once again, this inspector felt that enough improvement occurred that he could justify closing the case without taking any real action. Obviously, whatever violations this was for, they never ceased.

Case CC99CO0103157 - Oct 31, 2011

Complaint:
"Commercial business on a residential property"

Action:
  • Nov 9, 2011 Complaint letter filed
  • Nov 1, 2011 - Initial Inspection
  • Nov 28, Dec 13, Dec 28 - re-inspections
  • Jan 19, 2012 - "In compliance"
As is obvious to all the neighbors, the violations never ceased.

2012

Case CC99CO0118339 - Sept 21, 2012

Complaint:
OPERATING TREE & LANDSCAPE CO, CESY, CRANE, LARGE PILES OF LOGS & DEBRIS, RAIN GUTTER FALLING, PICS & MAIL IN FILE

Actions:
  • Sept 18, 2012 Complaint letter filed
  • Sept 26, 2012 Correction Notice issued
  • Oct 26 - "In compliance"
The crane, piles of logs and debris, etc. have been observed many time since then.

2013

Case CC99CO0124363 - Feb 21, 2013

Complaint:
"USING LARGE MACHINE TO OPERATE LOG CUTTING BUSINESS. MANY PREVIOUS CASES. PLEASE CALL COMPL BEFORE INSPECTION ***3/26/13,
2ND COMPL - CONTRACTOR'S EQUIPMENT, MAIL IN FILE, CHANGED ASSIGN DATE FROM 2/26/13 /CP***"

Action:
  • Mar 19, 2013 Initial inspection
  • Mar 22, 2013 complaint letter added to case (referred to above as "2ND COMPL")
  • Apr 1, 2013 Re-inspection
  • April 3, 2013 "No violation"
Photos taken at the time and continuously since show the log cutting machine always on the property. Here is his Craigslist ad from March 25, 2013 - "we are Mobil". Note that it says "at your location or ours".

Letter to Public Works - Mar 22, 2013 This letter to Mr Admas requested that action be taken to stop the use of the second driveway. This was after I confirmed that building a second driveway (without a permit) is illegal. The letter had no effect.

Complaint filed Apr 3, 2013
This letter again provided evidence of violations but was ignored.

Case 4Y66162086/6Y66162088 (District Court)
June 25, 2013 - Charges brought by DNR:

  1. Working as tree expert w/o license
  2. Dealing in forest products (selling firewood) w/o license
The online court data indicates that he was found "not guilty" on the 2nd charge and was given "probation before judgment" with a $100 fine for the first. In fact, he got the $100 fine for the 2nd (firewood sales) and got off of the 1st (tree expert) due to statute of limitations. I know, because I was the one standing in front of the judge testifying.

2014

Case CG1400049 - April 7, 2014

Complaint:
Illegally driving on and off road where there is no driveway. Building new driveway without permits.

Action:
April 9, 2014 - no violation, although the problem was obvious. Again, I had confirmed that this was illegal before filing the complaint.

Case CC1404725 - May 30, 2014

Complaint:
Improper piles of firewood, general trash, contractor's equipment on residential property, constructing second driveway on single parcel.
*6/24/14 - 2ND ANONYMOUS ONLINE COMPLAINT FWD FROM BUILDING INSPECTIONS - No respect for the neighborhood running a business with heavy equipment in and out of the residential property not even using the drive way just driving out of the property anywhere leaving mud on the street it's a mess large trees stacked in the yard wood milling equipment etc... I think there may be a zoning misunderstanding with this property owner --- ARW
*9/11/14 - 3RD ONLINE COMPLAINT - The property has been in disrepair and in un-orderly condition for years, and is getting much worse at an alarming rate. The property is a complete eyesore. There are piles of wood scattered throughout the property along with a lot of other trash. It appears that this is being used as a dump as commercial vehicles are actively dumping loads on the property. The place needs to be cleaned up!!!

Action:
  • May 30, 2014 - initial inspection
  • Sept 17, 2014 - correction notice issued
  • Sept 23, 2014 - Greater Kingsville Civic Association submitted letter with 15 signatures.
  • Oct 15 - citation issued
  • Oct 21 - prehearing inspection - in violation
  • Oct 21 - hearing held - order issued to clean it up - given until June 21, 2015 to comply.
(The photos of Oct 16 actually show a lot of the trash cleaned up, to the credit of the owner - demonstrating that he can comply if forced, but the fundamental problems - operating a contractor's storage yard and a business - are still obvious in the inspector's own photos below.)


Sept 16, 2014

Oct 16, 2014

Oct 16, 2014 - commercial vehicle with expired tags
(Now it has none!)

May 8, 2015

Nov 14, 2014; Nov 20, Dec 9; July 1, 2015; July 16; Aug 17; Sept 3; Sept 24; Jan 7, 2016; Feb 8; - post hearing inspections scheduled (then all rescheduled and never done), but we know that 2 inspectors visited the property on May 6, 2015 (and were met by a shot-gun).
Feb 11, 2016 - new citation issued, only after Councilman Marks requested action.

A hearing was held on March 2, 2015. The property owner did not appear, thus, he owes the $47,200 fine and has no possibility of appeal. The judge will write an order authorizing the county to enter onto this property and remove illegal vehicles and equipment. We may have to push to make that happen. The order will be posted here when available. The community really appreciates the efforts of Lionel van Dommelen, Chief of Code Enforcement, and his insistence that citizens got the chance to testify even though the property owner was a "failure to appear".

I will note that, throughout this difficult case, the inspector, Christina Frink, has demonstrated a professional approach to the issue not shown by others in previous cases, and in the face of extreme conditions (looking down the barrel of a shot-gun). She is to be commended for her efforts! See letter.

Case CB1400452 - June 22, 2014 (Building)

Complaint:
"No respect for the neighborhood running a business with heavy equipment in and out of the residential property not even using the drive way just driving out of the property anywhere leaving mud on the street it's a mess large trees stacked in the yard wood milling equipment ect... I think there may be a zoning misunderstanding with this property owner"

A "zoning misunderstanding"? - what an understatement!
Action:
This was recorded as a "2nd complaint" under case 1404725.

Case CC1410898 - Sept 11, 2014

Complaint:
"The property has been in disrepair and in un-orderly condition for years, and is getting much worse at an alarming rate. The property is a complete eyesore. There are piles of wood scattered throughout the property along with a lot of other trash. It appears that this is being used as a dump as commercial vehicles are actively dumping loads on the property. The place needs to be cleaned up!!!"

This was recorded as a "3rd complaint" under case 1404725.

Complaint Oct 24, 2014 concerning sawmill
Letter sent but apparently never acted upon. The Order in a previous case 1404725 did not specifically address the sawmill and require that is be removed.
A second letter was sent Dec 9, 2014 - still no action!
The most recent such ad on Craigslist was posted on Dec 12, 2015 - at least he is no longer advertising "at my location", although there is no evidence that the saw-mill has ever been taken to "your location". (Note that the map on Craigslist erroneously shows the location as being on Belair Rd, about where another firewood operation lies. Maybe this is part of the attempt to deceive.)

Also, his website advertises "sawmill service" as well as "tree experts", etc.

2015

Case CG1500028 - Apr 9, 2015

Complaint:
Disturbed ground no vegetation (Grading)

Action:
  • Feb 5, 2015 complaint sent to Public Works (for tracking mud/debris onto road) - no action taken, even after I went to their office and spoke with someone!
  • Apr 2, 2015 Letter to Vince Gardina (re: grading) - case opened
    Note that responsibility for grading and sediment control inspections was recently taken away from the Department of Environmental Protection and given to PAI, which has a history of no action!
  • Apr 10, 2015 correction notice issued (copy not online)
  • Apr 21, 2015 citation issued (copy not online)
  • May 29, 2015 inspector says "in compliance" (see below)
    There was never any evidence of correction and the problem continues.
(Note that there is no online information posted such as a copy of the correction notice or citation, which is usually done for other cases.)
I spoke with the inspector. He states that he could not take this to a hearing because there was no evidence of actual "grading" (no grader on site) and that the prohibition of tracking mud and debris onto the road only applies to a "construction" site, and a lawyer would get the charge thrown out, so the inspector isn't going to even try. He told the owner that he had to cover the bare ground with the mulch that he is producing (from his illegal tree-care business). Once again, it appears that the County is using every excuse they can to not take action. The fact that there is no actual "grading" with a grader or "construction" going on here is a technicality of the type that I expect a slick defense lawyer to use, not something that Code Enforcement should use to avoid taking action. In fact, the judge's order of 2014 ordered the owner to do construction to repair the buildings.

I offer two photos to disprove his assertions:


Sept 17, 2015 - Photo of "grader" and "grading".

Feb 26, 2016 - Photo of pile of concrete blocks (amid the trash) - construction!

To get a real good idea of how fast this property turned to a dirty, muddy mess, see here for aerial photos over the years.


Complaints about Outdoor Furnace

MDE information about Outdoor Furnaces

December 9, 2014 - Compliant filed with MDE. In a later phone conversation, the staff person stated that they do not go after someone who is heating their house, but they will not allow it when summer comes. (It operated all last summer!)

December 4, 2015 - Compliant letter filed with MDE. No response or action.

March 9, 2016 - Follow-up phone complaint to MDE, 410-537-3215, was made. Response was "This is a monitored site. We have yet to observe any direct impact on any of the neighbors." That's like a police officer not giving a ticket because your speeding "did not affect anyone else". If anyone else feels "directly impacted" by the smoke, please call the number above and tell them. Of if you are just mad about it.

A neighbor writes to me that their kids can't play outside on most days because of the heavy smoke, and that they cannot open any windows on a nice day.

A check with MDE in August got the following reply: We are unable to go onto the property to determine exactly what brand of furnace they are using. Since there are some that are okay, we will not take any action. I offered to send them a telephoto picture which clearly show the brand, but they would not do anything. So much for MDE caring about the environment, or us!


2016

The latest: In response to David Marks' request for status (and action), Mr. Jablon, Director of Permits and Inspections, responded:

David, this is indeed the property at which the owner threatened my inspector w/ a shot gun. Notwithstanding Mr. Pierce's continual complaints and allegations, it is true that no inspections have been made since the day of the confrontation. At my direction. I do not want my inspectors put in harm's way.
Criminal charges were filed against the owner, and he prayed a jury trial. The trial, in Circuit Court, is now scheduled for March 31st. We will issue another citation based on Mr. Pierce's letter; it is based on the contents of his letter and will require him to testify before the ALJ.
Translation: "Citizens have to put themselves at risk because the county employees won't." They easily could have gone to the property on Jan 11 when they knew he would be in Circuit Court on a summons on the 1st degree assault charge. I know he was there, because he came in and sat next to me (obviously trying to intimidate me). He'll see me again on March 31.

Or as several other local residents commented upon hearing of this sad story:

Do you find the comments from the Deputy County Administrative Officer troubling? I do. In essence, they allowed this property owner to intimidate the county authorities into not pursuing legitimate complaints against the property. Why couldn't they have returned with police protection to perform their jobs? The property owner got what he wanted by wielding a shot gun. What a message to send to the rest of the county. Further, this language almost makes it sound like Mike is the bad guy ("Notwithstanding Mr. Pierce's continual complaints and allegations..."). And it makes it seem like he is the only one complaining about the property, for some reason emphasizing that "Mr. Pierce" will have to testify. "Mr. Pierce" isnít the only one complaining. The criminal charges should not be delaying the inspection. Nor should the property owner's willingness to threaten county inspectors with physical harm. Indeed, this criminal behavior should intensify the county's willingness to pursue the matter. I think this cowardice and irresponsibility on the part of the county is reprehensible. What am I missing? C-------

Amen! to C-----'s comments. I could not ever put it better. 'Travesty of justice' sounds pretty dramatic, but it's accurate. Something must be done, and delay is certainly not the answer. D---

A new citation was issued Feb 11 with a hearing held on March 2 with a proposed fine of $47,200. Mr Boyd did not show up, so he immediately owes the $47,200 and has no right to appeal. About a dozen residents attended the hearing, which really impressed the judge. It was extremely satisfying that the head of Code Enforcement, Mr. van Domellen, requested that the Judge still hear the testimony of the residents, which he did. The judge stated that he will include in the Order an authorization for the County to enter onto the property and remove vehicles or equipment which is in violation.

Latest CE hearing

Lien for $47,200 + $5,000.

Final order, given 7 days to correct (a long list that he had previously been given 6 months to fix), and "Baltimore County shall be authorized to send a contractor to enter upon the subject property and correct the violations herein, to remediate any violations and bring the property under compliance thereupon, the costs and expenses arising therefrom to be the responsibility of and be assessed against the Respondent."

And in another strange event, the $52,200 lien is shown as being paid on 31 Mar 2016, although the owner obviously couldn't afford it. The property is again under foreclosure procedings as of December 2016. (The court record indicates a $285,849.19 unpaid balance, for the original 2006 mortgage of $224,000. The difference must have been due to paying the lien.)

We will need to watch this and hold the County's feet to the fire to do this. The cost of such removal will be added on to the lien on his property. The liens should force a tax sale in 2017.

I want to again thank David Marks for caring about this community, something that his predecessor never seemed to do. And a special thanks to those residents who came to the hearing.

Criminal court

A court hearing was held on March 31, 2016 on the two charges of 1st degree assault from Mr. Boyd pulling a shotgun on two inspectors. He pled guilty to one lesser charge of second-degree assault and was given a 10-year suspended sentence, with 3 years probation, required to complete an anger management course, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and perform 80 hours of community service.

And in another "kick in the ass" and refusal to help us, I got the following e-mail from Code Enforcement on Aug 9, following my Aug 1 e-mail to the department director asking for continued enforcement: "Per Lionel, We have corrected the problems at the above address. We will not be doing anything about the wood on the property. If you have any other concerns, please direct them to Mr. Van Dommelen"
As is obvious to everyone living here, none of the problems have been corrected - some have just been moved to elsewhere in the area! See below.

Case CC1604145

May 16, 2016: Complaint filed:

Recreational vehicle (boat on trailer) stored in front yard in violation of BCZR 415A.1 (REMOVED AS OF 8/4/16) *8/4/16

30 March 2017, Case closed as "no violations", while anyone can see that violations have never been corrected.

Case CC1612651, filed October 16, 2016

Trash and debris throughout property. Property condition is continually getting worse and is actively being used as a dumping ground for commercial waste. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is being done here, issue an inspection of the property immediately! - ARW

2017

Case CC1700445

And residents are still venting their anger and asking for help. This complaint filed January 19, 2017:

Trash, and piles of logs EVERYWHERE! As of this complaint, the property is actively being used to dump commercial waste. Please take action and clean this mess up.

Code Enforcement's status is "monitor", which is a euphimism for "we're doing nothing".

While the property went through a lengthy foreclosure process Mr. Boyd's vehicles were seen parked on the property, which he no longer owned. And he has been seen there as is he were working on a vehicle. It's been reported that there is a large pool of oil on the ground. Here is a current photo of the back of the house. It's anyone's guess what he is trying to do! The front-end loader is mired in the mud, tipping over, and sinking further with each rain. Somehow he got it out.

Epilogue

Following a foreclosure, the property has finally been purchased by Wayne Franz, Jr, and his wife, Tatyana, who will demolish the house, clean up the mess, and build a new one. Since they know that this will take some time, they also bought a house off of Allender Rd.

Meanwhile, Mr. Boyd is living at a friend's house on Philadelphia Rd (outside of Kingsville) where he is carrying on the work. Multiple complaints have already been filed against him there, including one that says:

Complaint:
I was working for a guy doing landscape work he has no tree license or home improvement license, it was about 10 of us we worked from sun up to sun down and the pay was horrible. He didn't have any real landscaping materials and he was a very rude elderly man he had no respect or appreciation for his employees what so ever he didn't allow us to take lunch breaks and we worked 12-13 hours he always messed up other properties when we were working. A crew member was cut with a saw and he didn't offer to pay hospital bills and had employee return to work nothing he does is in order he takes all back roads because he has no DOT information I'm contacting them as well.

(Actually, I think that the above complaint was made-up, probably by someone else who just understands how Mr Boyd operates. From my observations, he never had anywhere near 10 people working for him. And there really aren't any "back roads" to take around here, for example, to get to Jacksonville where I've seen him.

Following another anonymous complaint in March, a correction notice was issued on March 8 for "open dump", "illegal home occupation", and "contractor's storage yard", but no further action has been taken in 6 months. The neighbors there will probably go through years of trying to get Code Enforcement to take action, just we did here in the Kingsville area for the same violations. They can refer to the above to learn what they will have to endure.



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Updated 3 Sept 2017