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Disorderly properties back on town radar

Richard Fulton

(9/18) A proposed discussion about proposed nuisance ordinance was withdrawn from the agenda that had been proposed for the September 15 meeting of the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners.

The agenda item was withdrawn at the open of the meeting by Mayor Donald Briggs.

Briggs stated the reason for withdrawing the agenda item as because, "We need more and more input. We have it out to about five people in the neighborhood in our area to look at it. Some of them are apartment owners."

"We’re kind of waiting to get a little more feedback because every little thing has unintended consequences come in there," he said.

"The table talk at the Municipal League (the mayor attended) was…the nuisance ordinance like we’ve been talking about…I got a lot of information…got some great insight," the mayor stated.

At the board’s September 2 meeting, when the mayor proposed the topic for the September 15 meeting, Briggs said, "We’ve noticed, with the help of the county Sheriff’s Department, maybe there is some responsibility on the part of landlords for activities that are happening on their properties."

"It’s not driven against Mount students," he said, "but it could cover that."

"We’ve had Mr. Clapp (town Attorney John Clapp) have a look at this. We’ve checked ordinance is several other jurisdictions. We’ve had deputies look at this," the mayor said.

"We want to get this thing off the ground," Briggs said. "We identified a lot of people who are using drugs and doing things in town. That was a very successful program and we’re monitoring their activities."

The mayor said, "But we have to go a little further where these properties constantly come up where these activities are - could be drugs, could be violence, or it could be alcohol. It’s just a step."

"We’re doing so many good things downtown. We’d like to energize the landlords down there that it might be cheaper to get a better tenant, if it comes to that point. And they’re going to have some responsibility for who they collect rent from to support their investments," he stated.

The town has been struggling with regulating disorderly properties dating back a number of years, and was initially brought before the attention of the board of commissions via complaints about parties that involved students occurring at rental residences in-town.

A "town hall" meeting was even held in 2008 at the Sleep Inn to address the nuisance complaints, during which it was stated the problems predated that meeting by "several years."

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