Code enforcement orders start of Seagram’s demo
Facility must be cleared by end of August
There have been several fires at the former Seagram’s distillery on Sollers Point Road since it was closed in 1992 and the property went vacant in 2008.
There have been deaths, with two men dying in accidental falls while trespassing on the property in 2012 and 2014.
But it was a fire that struck the facility over the July 4 weekend that seems to have finally caused Baltimore County to say: enough is enough.
During a hearing before an administrative law judge last week, the owner of the Seagram’s facility was ordered to have the property cleared by the end of August.
“There is a wrecking ball in sight,” said Doug Anderson, senior council assistant to County Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7).
By ruling of the administrative law judge, the main building of the abandoned distillery must be razed within two weeks of July 13,
and the remainder of the facility must be cleared by the end of August.
The owner, John Vontran, faces a $100,000 fine if he does not comply.
The fine may be abated “with a full and good faith effort to complete all work within the allotted time frame,” Baltimore County Chief of Code Enforcement Lionel Van Dommelen wrote in an email to Crandell’s office shared with the Eagle.
As part of the overall cleanup, “some asbestos treatment is anticipated,” Van Dommelen wrote.
The code enforcement hearing on July 12 was in reaction to the July 3 fire. Vontran received a code citation on July 3 due to that fire, which started shortly before dawn and was brought under control without any injuries.
Usually, much more time passes between a citation and a hearing, but the situation with the Seagram’s property “has gone on for so long, it was: see you on the 12th,” Anderson said.
The cleanup of the property should include removal of all the overgrown shrubbery and bushes, Anderson said, as well as the proper abatement of asbestos and any other hazards (lead).
Attempts to contact Vontran by phone and email were unsuccessful.
Vontran and his partners received approval from the county in October to proceed with plans to build a 185unit townhouse development on the property to be called Foundry Station.
These would be three-story townhouses, with an entrance to the development off of Sollers Point Road.
The plan must also include a sixfoot high fence to be built on the western edge of the 12-acre site. This is to screen the development from the residents of Tyler Road.
The Old Dundalk Neighborhood Association had requested the development be restricted to 160 units.
“Nevertheless, we are excited that the neighborhood blight that is the dilapidated Seagrams buildings will be eliminated and trust that Mr. Vontran is a man of his word when he said the buildings will come down when the development plan is approved,” association vice-president Glenn Shaffer told the Eagle in October.
Earlier this decade, Vontran float- ed an idea to give the Seagram’s property to Baltimore County in exchange for the land at the corner of Merritt Boulevard and Wise Avenue currently occupied by the North Point Government Center.
Vontran said he would build a new police station for Precinct 12, as well as a new recreation facility, at his own expense on the Seagram’s property in exchange for being allowed to develop the government center property.
The offer was never formally made, due to immediate opposition from community groups bordering the government center property. Precinct 12 was eventually re-located to the former Eastwood Elementary School.
“To our knowledge, [Vontran] has everything he needs to start developing the property,” Anderson said. “He’s gotten all of his permits.”
The owner of the former Seagram’s distillery on Sollers Point Road received approval last fall to build a 185-unit townhouse development on the site.
Baltimore County Code Enforcement ordered the Seagram’s facility on Sollers Point Road to be cleared by the end of August. The main building must be razed by the end of next week.