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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
FairfaxSupervisors to address blighted properties in June

Supervisors to address blighted properties in June

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Fairfax County supervisors on April 13 unanimously agreed to hold June 8 public hearings on blight-abatement measures – including demolition, in most cases – that would be taken at six dilapidated houses unless property owners remedied those situations within 30 days of the board’s action.

Two of the homes are in the Sun Gazette’s readership area. One is located at 1045 Bellview Road in Dranesville District. According to county tax records, the home is owned by Mishal Al Thani and assessed at about $1.1 million, including $1,037,000 for the land and $64,630 for the house.

The site has a 3,298-square-foot house built in 1985, a 3,552-square-foot pool building with 1,320-square-foot pool, a 576-square-foot stable and 8,600-square-foot accessory building.

County officials in December 2016 received a complaint that the property was vacant and abandoned. Staff from the county’s Department of Code Compliance inspected the property one week afterward, put up placards identifying the site as unsafe and issued maintenance-code violation notices to the property owner.

Neighbors repeatedly complained about trespassers at the property, and county officials in September 2017 issued new violation notices. When the property owner did not respond, officials forwarded the matter to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, which obtained a default judgment in May 2018.

County officials have assessed more than $110,000 in fines over the violations, and daily fines still are accruing. Fairfax County personnel and the Qatar Embassy have attempted to secure the site, but intruders have continued to vandalize it.

A fire on Oct. 31 last year destroyed the house, which is in a “significant state of collapse” and likely to worsen, officials said. Staff with the county’s Blight Abatement Program have sent notices to the property owner, via the Embassy of Qatar, but as of December last year had not received a remediation plan for the site. Because repairs to the site’s structures are not economically feasible, county staff recommends their demolition.

If the property owner did not ameliorate the blighted conditions within 30 days of the Board of Supervisors’ action, the county would demolish the structure and pursue the property owner for reimbursement of about $175,000 in related costs incurred, placing a lien on the property if necessary.

A second blighted property in the Sun Gazette’s coverage area is located at 3110 Covington St. in Providence District south of Vienna. County tax records list the property as being owned by Maria and Gilbert Wells and assessed at $451,400, including $440,000 for the land and $11,400 for the house.

County officials in September 2015 issued violation notices to the property owners, but did not prosecute the infractions because one of the owners was dead and the other living outside the country. The county secured the structure, which did not meet blight criteria at the time, but on April 6 last year, inspections found the property was not secured, had deteriorated significantly and was home to squatters.

County officials last April posted the abandoned, 1,572-square-foot masonry dwelling as unsafe. Built in 1939, the house is not being maintained, has major holes in its siding and overhangs, and has exposed structural elements to the elements. Its ceiling has collapsed and its rear sliding door is broken and lying inside the house, allowing entry.

As with the previous propertFairfax supervisors to address blighted properties in Juney, county officials said repairs are not economically viable and that the house should be razed. The owner would have 30 days to abate the situation after the supervisors’ decision, or the county would tear down the house, place a lien on the property and pursue collection of about $47,000 in demolition costs.

Three of homes targeted for blight abatement are in Mount Vernon District at 2506 Fleming St., 7704 Schelhorn Road and 7821 Belvedere Drive. County staff has recommended all for demolition unless the owners act.

The sixth house is located at 6012 Pike Branch Drive in Lee District.

Officials recommend that the county either purchase the property using eminent domain or demolish the abandoned, fire-damaged house there.

Under state code, properties are considered blighted if structures and improvements on them endanger public health, safety or welfare by being dilapidated, deteriorated or in violation of minimum safety and health standards.

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