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Quick and Dirty

Junkyard Wars

County Fines Frank Scarfield For Failing To Clean Up Junk

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 6/6/2007

Baltimore County has fined landlord Frank Scarfield $43,000 for failing to clean up a junkyard at the old Seagram's distillery complex on Sollers Point Road in Dundalk. The penalty is actually two fines: $27,000 payable on receipt of the May 9 order and an additional $16,000 due by June 15. It comes after more than two years of haggling over rubble and debris piled on the property.

"Similar matters were the subjects of a Code Enforcement Hearing on Feb. 9, 2005," writes Baltimore County code enforcement hearing officer Raymond S. Wisnom Jr. "In that final Order, Mr. Scarfield was quoted that he was under contract of sale and that the new owners were to contribute $50,000 toward the clean up of the brick rubble. The Final Order reluctantly granted 45 days to clean the site of existing violations. The site was to be in compliance before April 25, 2005. This is May of 2007. The brick rubble remains on site with some added block rubble, clay soil, large stones, junk and metal debris, barrels, containers, etc. on site. Trailers have been added as well as kennel use. Mr. Scarfield has defied the Order of February 15, 2005."

In a hearing about the junk held on May 2, Scarfield's lawyer, Mark Wittstadt, argued that the junkyard use was "grandfathered" in by the old industrial zoning on the site and claimed that Scarfield has a new buyer for the property, which county officials consider important to redevelopment of the area. A tenant on the site, Peter Muntjan, then spoke out against Scarfield and his lawyer. Scarfield has sued Muntjan for defamation and libel ("Who's Afraid of Frank Scarfield?," Mobtown Beat, May 16).

Wittstadt says he is no longer Scarfield's attorney in this matter; Lawrence A. Melfa, Scarfield's new lawyer, says he has asked for a rehearing. Melfa says a fire at Wittstadt's office destroyed relevant documents that he now must "reconstruct." These include letters to Muntjan's lawyers, Melfa says. Other papers lost in the fire, he says, show that the order to clean up the rubble two years ago was completely resolved. Melfa says the $27,000 fine for failing to comply with that order is a violation of due process because Scarfield was not given notice that he faced a fine stemming from the 2005 citation.

At the May 2 hearing, Wisnom, looking at recent photos of rubble on the site, declared that it looked like the same rubble he had ordered removed in 2005. Wisnom, who is not a judge or a lawyer but has adjudicated hearings in Baltimore County for many years, says on May 31 that he has not received any request for a rehearing. Small print at the end of his May 9 final order says that "an appeal . . . may be taken within fifteen (15) days of a final order," a deadline that has apparently passed.

If Scarfield does not pay his fines the county could place a lien on the property, Wisnom says.

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