BERLIN — A troubled building in Berlin finally came down this week, though what, if anything, will take its place is still a mystery.
Last January, the Mayor and Council heard complaints regarding the derelict building, located at 9913 Old Ocean City Blvd. and most previously known as the Neon Moon restaurant. At the time, resident Susan Moore told the council that the building “looked horrible” and was in such poor condition that it potentially posed a safety hazard.
“It looks to me like the roof is falling in,” she said. “It’s a dangerous building.”
Mayor Gee Williams promised then that the town would be taking the matter seriously, placing it at “the top of the list” and would force property owner Scott Steele to either comply with building codes or face hefty fines. With the building being demolished earlier this week, it seems a resolution has finally been reached.
“The owner of the property was facing substantial fines,” explained Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward.
Prior to the property’s demolition Tuesday, Berlin had already fined Steele. Last December, Ward found six separate building code violations in place at the building, each of which carried a $100 fine. Because Steele failed to address the issues within the allotted 30 days, he was fined, and the town has collected, $600 for the original issues.
If the building was still standing at 1:30 this Friday, which is the time of the court date for the property, Ward explained that Steele would have been subject to an additional $2,400 in fines for leaving the violations in place from January until this month. With this week’s hasty demolition, however, Ward confirmed that Steele should be able to avoid those fines.
“The owner is, at this point, cooperating,” said Ward.
Though the $2,400 in subsequent fines is still aimed at Steele, it is unlikely that a judge will enforce them post-demolition.
“It’s usual in code enforcement cases that if the nuisance is abated additional fines are not levied,” Ward clarified.
Steele could not be reached for comment this week but no building permits have been sought for the property.
Steele purchased the 500,000-square-foot property from Norman E. Welch in April 2006 for $850,000, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Welch bought the property in June 2005 for $525,000, land records confirm. The assessed value of the property, as of July 1, 2012, is $572,500, according to the most recent assessment.