Worcester Eyes Nuisance Properties

SNOW HILL — A crackdown on “nuisance” properties in Worcester County got off to an agreeable start Tuesday.

Resident Michael Ward appeared before the Worcester County Commissioners for a hearing regarding a property located in Snow Hill recently served with a nuisance abatement order. The order set Ward on a tight timetable for addressing “three ramshackled and/or decaying structures which have been determined to be prejudicial to property values in the county.”

The original order would have required Ward abate the nuisance by Jan. 10 or at least provide a “written schedule and plan to either raze or repair” the buildings by Dec. 27.

“I guess I wasn’t aware of the urgency,” Ward told the commission at Tuesday’s meeting.

Instead of adhering to the order, Ward brought the issue up as a hearing and asked for additional time. He outlined, briefly, a plan for addressing the nuisance status of the three decaying structures, including a building that once served as a tavern as well as two former agricultural sheds. The plan was in keeping with a strategy Ward gave Development Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor in November.

In a report to the commission, Tudor noted that Ward “although perhaps well intentioned,” would likely not abate the nuisance without pressure from the commission.

Though Ward only asked for 30 to 60 days to demolish the structures, the commission extended the window to roughly 90 days, giving Ward until April 1 to abate the nuisance. If left unaddressed at that time, however, the commission warned that Ward would face repercussions in the form of fines.

Ward’s property is one of five sites determined by Tudor’s department to be nuisance properties to Worcester. All five are located near the Pocomoke River Bridge on Route 12, west of Snow Hill. Each of the properties was found to be “prejudicial to property values” in the surrounding area due to derelict or neglected buildings on site. Like Ward, all of the owners of the properties were contacted by Tudor’s department and questioned about their plans to address nuisance issues.

The majority of the property owners had significant plans in place and did not warrant intervention from the commission, explained Tudor, though he recommended that all five be observed carefully to make sure noticeable progress continues to be made.