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Neglected properties need to be addressed, residents say

The first two properties visitors see in Ocean Pines when they cross the North Gate Bridge are neglected. The Ocean Pines board is grappling with ways to enforce open violations on properties, which can impact home values and trouble neighbors.

By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer

(May 25, 2023) Finding neglected properties around Ocean Pines isn’t that difficult. Two properties just inside the North Gate qualify for that status. Resident Janielle Bagley asked the board of directors Saturday to take action against these properties.

Bagley told the board she a property near her home on Sandyhook has multiple cars with dead tags and flat tires.

“There are no other developments around the area that have properties that are neglected like we have in Ocean Pines,” Bagley said.

Director Doug Park asked Bagley to give the address of the Sandyhook property to General Manager John Viola so that someone can follow up on it.

Later in the board meeting, there was discussion about what enforcement could be done with properties that have open violations.

There are currently 11 properties with violations ranging from tree removal, to fencing, non- permitted sheds and junk vehicles. These cases were all forwarded to the association attorney in 2022.

“Homeowners associations really exist for two reasons. One is to protect home value. The other is to protect community lifestyle values, which include safety,” Director Frank Daly said.

There were two motions being considered by the board. One was to suspend the voting rights and use of the association amenities for as long as the violations remain open.

The second was to establish a system to fine property owners with continuing violations in the sections of Ocean Pines that grant the board the authority to take this action.

The sections that allow for fines include the Interlinks, White Tail Sanctuary, The Point, Mumford’s townhouses, Colonial Village North, Marina Village condos, Marina Village townhouses, Mumford’s Landing single family homes, Harbor Village and Triple Crown Estates.

Director Stuart Lakernick suggested that OPA put the names of the owners of these property owners and the addresses on the association website. Director Doug Parks said the issue should be referred to counsel as adding the name could pose a legal risk for the association.

“If you let your house turn into a dump, you are probably not going to care about using the amenities or voting.” Daly said.

“But in the absence of being able to do fines, this is a step that is available to us and a step we should take and see how it works out,” Daly said.

“Should we look at passing this motion this time and … say, ‘we need to see if there is a way to operationalize this so the board would not have to get involved every single month?’” Parks asked.

Horn agreed the board should develop a process on how to address property owners that do not comply with regulations.

Property owners have a right to appeal through HB615 before the restrictions can take place, according to Horn.

If a property owner addresses the violations, that owners will then have their rights reinstated.

“The number of properties in disrepair don’t have a serious impact on the community, but they sure have a serious impact on those around them,” Daly said.

“We all bought into this association knowing what the rules are and in many cases, because these rules are in place. It’s the responsibility of the board to enforce those rules,” Horn said.

Director Doug Parks suggested checking with counsel to see if the board could impose fines on property owners in neighborhoods that are silent on the issuance of fines. Previously, the association was told that each neighborhood or section would have to vote on it.

Daly said a past opinion said the association could not fine property owners in sections where fines are not outlined in that neighborhood’s deed restrictions.

The board unanimously approved the suspension of rights and the levy of fines.