A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge has appointed a receiver to carry out a 2017 court order to demolish a building addition in Towson, court documents show. The building, owned by Jewish group Chabad-Lubavitch, has been at the center of a bitter legal dispute with its Towson neighbors.
Hasidic Jewish organization Friends of Lubavitch, which runs Jewish outreach program Chabad, was ordered to tear down the structure at 14 Aigburth Road last April because it violates setback covenants in the deed.
Amid a series of appeals, Judge Susan Souder ordered the sherriff’s office to seize the property, and appointed attorney Deborah Dopkin on May 15 to carry out the order. Dopkin has the authority to hire contractors at Friends of Lubavitch’s expense.
“I have every confidence that she’ll do what the judge required,” said Michael McCann, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, including neighbor Robin Zoll and the Aigburth Manor Neighborhood Association.
The Sherriff’s Office of Baltimore County also was ordered to seize the property to carry out the order.
Dopkin declined a request for an interview, saying she was “not at liberty” to discuss the case.
The 2016 building addition has been the target of controversy after neighbors, including next-door neighbor Zoll, complained that it not only violates setback covenants but also zoning regulations by acting as a community center in the largely residential neighborhood.
Friends of Lubavitch was ordered to tear down the building by March 1 this year after losing the setback covenant case.
The group appealed that decision and asked the court to delay the deadline. The organization’s lawyer, Kimberly Manuelides, said in April that because tearing down a building is not reversible, moving forward with the order before all appeals had been heard would mean “denying one party their full day in court.”
The request for a delay was denied in the Circuit Court, and an appeal of that decision was denied in the Court of Special Appeals. Friends of Lubavitch recently asked the appeals court to reconsider.