Druid Hill warrant, seizures spotlight political issue

Salisbury Police confiscated numerous street signs during an arrest on Druid Hill Avenue.

Salisbury Police confiscated numerous street signs during an arrest on Druid Hill Avenue.

During the month of November, Salisbury Police began receiving multiple complaints related to the residence at 429 Druid Hill Ave. from neighboring residents.

Police had responded to the address six times for calls for service involving loud parties, suspicious persons, controlled dangerous substance violations and suspicious vehicles.

Officers began working with the community and were able to develop information which culminated in a search warrant execution. Last week, officers entered the home and found an undisclosed amount of marijuana, various traffic and regulatory signs, and the discovery of the over-occupancy violation.

Following the warrant search, Mayor Jim Ireton reiterated his recent comments and concerns regarding the issue of over-occupancy in Salisbury neighborhoods after it was discovered that eight non-related tenants were living in the rental home.

According to the mayor’s office, the rental is owned by Wilson E. Davis and has drawn repeated complaints from neighbors for noise, suspicious activity, and evidence of over-occupancy.

The property is a designated legal non-conforming use, which means it was granted an exemption in 2006 to allow up to four non-related occupants. Under current law, that exemption will now be forfeited, the mayor said.

A $500 citation has been issued for violation of the occupancy provisions of the Salisbury Municipal Code, and an order to reduce occupancy has been served.

Proposed legislation currently under consideration by the Salisbury City Council would allow for the suspension of the landlord’s unit registration and/or rental license for a period of three months for the first offense.

Ireton urged City Council members to act decisively to pass the legislation, and to consider further measures aimed at fixing Salisbury’s housing codes.

“I encourage our citizens to voice their support of legislation that will penalize these properties to the fullest,” said Ireton. “This on-going battle is now 35 years old, and the remaining homeowners that we have must be given relief from the continued onslaught of properties that do not lend to increasing values in our neighborhoods.”

The mayor added: “With this blatant case and the 44 others that preceded it this year, Salisbury is in a position to truly change the face our neighborhoods with the right tools. There are tools in front of the city council for consideration, yet I believe they are not enough.”

Ireton said he would ask the council to discuss making the city’s university-zoned areas of  the only place that college rentals would be legal.

“429 Druid Hill Avenue is a classic example of the fact that Salisbury has still not gotten its housing codes right,” the mayor said, “and that single-family neighborhoods continue to be degraded by those who make millions of dollars a year off of rental properties.”

The City Council will discuss the legislation at its Feb. 17 work session, at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers of the Government Office Building.

Following the discussion on the 17th, a second reading of the legislation will occur on Monday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m.

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