A federal judge has approved a settlement between a Houston man who owns derelict properties in Baltimore and six city community associations in the first case using a state law that allows associations to sue the owners of blighted properties.
Scott Wizig and several limited liability companies that hold titles to more than 50 dilapidated homes throughout the city will be required to rehab the properties that can be saved and demolish the ones that can’t.
The settlement was approved in federal bankruptcy court Tuesday.
“This case represents a new legal strategy in the fight against owners of abandoned properties in Baltimore City,” said Kristine Dunkerton, executive director of the Community Law Center, which led the lawsuit.
The organization, with help of Venable LLP, sued Wizig in April 2013 to force him to clean up his properties. Baltimore Circuit Judge Pamela Brown ordered Wizig to make the repairs by the end of October last year, but he requested a reconsideration of that order. Then, the day before the hearing on that request, his companies filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws.
That moved the case moved to federal court.
The six community associations – Mount Clare Community Council, Carrollton Ridge Community Association, Operation Reachout Southwest, Greater Greenmount Community Association, Alliance of Rosemont Community Organizations and Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corporation – will also receive $85,000 as part of the settlement.
“While we celebrate this agreement, we also are committed to continue our work with our clients to ensure the Defendants perform their obligations under the agreement,” said Robin Jacobs, a Community Law Center lawyer who worked on the case.
Defendants listed in the settlement include Wizig and eleven LLCs; two of which were contracted to mange properties.