- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:44
- Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:44
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For many years there has been a quiet on-going battle on Horton Street. The prime objective? To rid the Town of Colonial Beach of the eyesore belonging to Mr. Charles Hershfield; the owner of a property who allowed it to atrophy past the point of reclamation. Hershfield has had similar issues with property he owns in King George across from Potomac Elementary School.
Chuck Bird, the Zoning Administrator for the Town, says the battle with the Horton Street property was already underway prior to his arrival and since Bird has been here for 6 and ½ years that’s a pretty long time. The initial conflict with the property owner began over the tall grass and then as one town employee put it, “then we saw a house there”. Bird says that when he first arrived, the property was probably still salvageable, but over time and with the help of the elements, the property declined past the point of salvation. That’s when the Town started proceedings to take down the house and that’s when Hershfield began claiming the property was, in fact, a wildlife sanctuary.
Bird said the Town Attorney drafted documents against Hershfield outlining the criminal complaint, but the Town had trouble serving the papers. Bird said they could never find Hershfield at home in Fairview Beach where he resides, nor could they catch him at the Colonial Beach property. But the Town found a way around the need to serve him personally and went the route of declaring the property a public nuisance. The Town Attorney drafted a petition to bring to the court which meant that personal service was no longer needed, notification could be sent via First Class Mail. The Judge agreed with the Town’s petition and found the property to be a public nuisance and ordered an inspection of the interior. The Town did the inspection and provided both a report and pictures of the inside as well as a 6-7 minute video. Bird said nothing moved on the video; no birds, no animals, nothing. “What you can hear on the video”, commented Bird, “are the remarks about the Poison Ivy. It was everywhere”.
The judge ordered that the house be removed by the end of the summer of 2008 and if it was not that the Town would be allowed to remove the structure themselves and attach a lien to property to recoup the cost. Last week, since Hershfield did not comply with the Court’s order, the Town Attorney, Andrea Erard, drafted a 48-hour demolition notice and sent it to Hershfield and his attorney. This morning, Chuck Bird, accompanied by a law enforcement officer, entered the property to verify there were no inhabitants and then the structure came down. All that remains is a pile of rubble, a fresh No Trespassing sign and a For Sale by Owner sign. For those interested, the price has been dropped to $37,000.