The Ridgeleigh Community Association Seeks a Long Term Solution to the Condition of the Oakleigh Pet Cemetery.

Post date: Aug 14, 2014 4:16:31 PM

For several years the current status of the Oakleigh Pet Cemetery has been a nuisance to both the residents of Ridgeleigh, surrounding communities, and to those who've buried their beloved companions there. The cemetery has been in deplorable condition with no perpetual care or maintenance taking place since the property changed hands in 2009. The property is now almost entirely covered with invasive weeds and brush that create an eyesore and safety issue for people living nearby. This situation has also created cover for illegal dumping and other criminal activity. Some of our neighbors have taken matters into their own hands and cleared some of the brush and debris. Our neighbors continue to report these problems to the Baltimore County Code Enforcement Office. However, the present state of the cemetery is a testament to the fact that these efforts alone are not enough.

The Baltimore County Code Enforcement Office has attempted to remedy the situation through enforcement measures. However, the property owner has since only partially complied with these measures at best. There has been some activity with respect to cleaning up the property; however, these efforts are often short-lived and there has not been the sustained maintenance, upkeep, or perpetual care that the cemetery deserves. The owner, John Williams, continues to ignore the direct attempts by the Ridgeleigh Community Association to contact him in order to offer community assistance to clean up and maintain the cemetery. His inaction has led to unpaid code enforcement fines that now total over $64,000 and a lien that has been levied on the property for non-payment of taxes. The fines incurred since the tax sale has taken place all but guarantee that the lien holder will not find it in its interest to foreclose on the property. Williams does not live on the property, and it is not registered as a rental property with Baltimore County. The current situation leaves the property abandoned, the County Government with a noncollectable fine, County tax payers footing the bill for periodic trash and debris removal, and the community stuck with the ongoing nuisance and safety issues.

We believe that the solution to this problem may be through a possible acquisition of the property by Baltimore County. The County could then either maintain the Oakleigh Pet Cemetery as a county park or sell the property to a non-profit organization such as NeighborSpace, which would retain ownership of the park and form an agreement with the Community Association for ongoing maintenance. This is why we have recently entered an application asking NeighborSpace to look into acquiring the property and forming an agreement with the RCA to maintain and look after it. We will also continue to reach out to our local State and County Representatives in order to make them aware of this situation and to request their assistance. We believe that our proposed solution would benefit all involved. If you agree, then please contact your local State and County representatives, to show your support for this local landmark and ask them to support our efforts to resolve this ongoing issue. Also, please feel free to contact the Ridgeleigh Community Association, and stay tuned for future news and updates regarding the Oakleigh Pet Cemetery.