Berlin Seeking Improvements To Decrepit Property

BERLIN — Continuing with a crackdown on derelict or neglected properties that picked up steam last summer, the town of Berlin has fined a local property owner $600, with the potential for further repercussions in the future if issues continue unaddressed.

“If they do not take this seriously, we do,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

The guarantee came Monday when resident Susan Moore approached the council with complaints regarding the former Neon Moon building located at the intersection of Main Street and Old Ocean City Blvd.

“It looks to me like the roof is falling in,” said Moore. “It’s a dangerous building.”

This isn’t the first time Moore has complained about the site. She brought up concerns about the building months ago and wanted to know if any progress had been made. She expressed frustration that no apparent action had been taken.

“For that building to stay there … it is a very introductory building to see,” said Moore.

Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward said his department reviewed the property in December and mailed notification of six separate violations to owner Scott Steele.

Each violation carries a $100 fine. Steele was given 30 days to address the violations or he would have to pay the fines. As 30 days has already elapsed, Ward confirmed that Steele will have to pay up.

“The initial violation was $600,” said Ward.

If Steele doesn’t comply, continued violations can run $200 per violation per day, though Ward said that some time has been allotted to allow Steele to address the original $600 violation.

Moore asked if the town might step in and demolish the building if the violations are ignored. Williams confirmed that it was a possibility but not until all other options are exhausted.

“[Demolition] isn’t step one. That’s the end of the process,” he said.

Though Moore was pleased to see the town taking action on the property, she wondered why it had taken so long to get to this point.

“This building didn’t start to look horrible yesterday or the day before,” she said.

Williams admitted that the site had not been a priority until recently because of other issues the town was concentrating on. Now, however, Williams promised that the spotlight is finally on the old Neon Moon building.

“Everything can’t be at the top of the list, but it’s there now,” he said.