The Remington Town Council decided Friday night during an emergency meeting to take action on a dilapidated building at 200 Franklin St., just a block from Main Street. Judge Jeffrey Parker ruled on Aug. 30 that the town may take steps to clean up and secure the home. Costs for the work will be presented to property owner Brian Feiffer through Total Holdings Group, LLC. If Feiffer does not reimburse the town within 30 days, a lien will be placed on the property, according to the order.
Town council members voted unanimously to have a contractor clean up the outside of the property, secure doors and first-floor windows against trespassers and vandals and remove two dead trees. Councilman Van Loving was tasked with speaking with Frank C. Poland, Inc. of Bealeton about doing the work. Loving reported that Poland had said informally that he could complete the clean-up work for $75 an hour. Loving said he thought the job could be done in fewer than 10 hours.
Mayor Gerald Billingsley and the four council members present – Evan Ashby, Loving, Devada Allison Jr. and Susan Tiffany – expressed frustration at the longtime eyesore and Feiffer’s lack of responsiveness.
A petition submitted Jan. 22 to the Fauquier County Circuit Court by Remington Town Attorney Andrea Erard read, “The town has attempted to abate or obviate the condition of the property by notifying Total Holdings Group, LLC and requesting that the condition of the property be addressed. The town sent a written notice by certified mail to Total Holdings Group, LLC, 10030 Willow Ridge Way, Spotsylvania, Virginia 22553 on October 2, 2018 and this notice was received because the return receipt was provided to the town. A second written notice was sent by certified mail to the registered agent for Total Holdings Group, LLC, Amber Feiffer, at 11202 Spring Meadow Blvd, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407 on November 27, 2018; this notice was never signed for and the letter was returned. A third written notice was sent by certified mail to Total Holdings Group, LLC at 10030 Willow Ridge Way on Jan. 4, 2019.”
The petition continues, “The condition of the property deteriorates on a daily basis and it is possible that the structure is being vandalized. The property is a nuisance and poses a health and safety danger to the public.”
Tiffany, who lives across the street from 200 Franklin St., said that workers had been seen cleaning up the outside of the property Sept. 4 and 5. She expressed concern that the debris – dusty and possibly containing material that was unsafe to breathe in -- was not being handled safely. She said she recommended to the clean-up crew that they might want to wear particulate masks while working there.
All members of the council were adamant that the property be cleaned up quickly by professionals who were used to dealing with construction waste.
Billingsley asked council members if they wanted to wait and see if Feiffer would clean up the house himself, since he seemingly had sent workers to start on it.
Loving replied, “I think we have already waited five months too long.”
Allison added, “I don’t think we can wait on him to do anything.” Allison was also concerned that the job be done safely. “If he hires people who are unqualified to do this work, it’s a health risk to them. We know the people we hire will be able to do the work safely.”
Although the town’s original petition asked the Circuit Court to “order the immediate demolition and removal of any and all structures as well as all trash and debris located on the property,” Parker’s order did not include language about demolition. It only addressed clean up and making the house secure.
After the meeting, council members said that although the end goal for the property was restoration or demolition, clean up was the first step. Allison said, “the place should be condemned, but that’s not what the court order says.”
Council agreed to have a contractor clean up all the debris around the outside of the house, cut weeds and grass down to a reasonable level, secure the first-floor windows with plywood and the doors with hasps and padlocks.
They also agreed to look in to having two dead trees taken down. This last job “would require someone with a different skill set” than the other work, said Ashby.
Reach Robin Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org