The Aegis

Havre de Grace man at odds again with city and mayor

Havre de Grace elected officials, pictured in a photo from July, were confronted by a resident saying the city was performing selective code enforcement. The accusation stems from overgrown weeds on a property adjacent to the man's property.

A Havre de Grace resident, who has had run-ins with city hall in the past, accused city officials Monday night of engaging in selective code enforcement, a claim that devolved into a tense back and forth between him and the mayor.

Speaking during the city council meeting, Joseph Fiocchi, who lives at the intersection of Union Avenue and Commerce Street, said he contacted the city in mid-May about problems of weeds and vines from the yard next to him creeping into his yard - "over, through and above my fence."


The weeds are growing into Fiocchi's fence in his back yard, in the rear corner of his property, he said.

"Three months later, nothing has been done," other than a voicemail July 13 that the city is still looking into the issue, Fiocchi said.


He did not identify the city employee who left the message, which he saved, but said he was told the city was getting an interpretation from the city attorney on the code regulations before acting.

The solution, according to the message, is to cut down the weeds. The message also said "it's not clear as to what constitutes a weed," Fiocchi said.

"My question to the city attorney is, have you determined what a weed is?" Fiocchi asked.

City Attorney April Ishak told Fiocchi the issue was just brought to her attention last week and because of a previous litigation Fiocchi brought that involved the city, she is trying to deal with the problem "in a way we hope to resolve amicably."

"The city doesn't not want to get dragged into an unnecessary lawsuit," she said.

Fiocchi said he intends to return to city hall with photos and a detailed description of what has transpired between May 15 and Monday's meeting.

"I feel there is selective application and undue influence placed upon anyone in regard to city code and I'd like it official in this room tonight," he said.

Ishak offered to meet with Fiocchi to collect his information and timeline of events, but Fiocchi declined.


"With all due respect, this had to be held out in the open. There are things in this city going on for entirely too long and they should be resolved," Fiocchi said. "Selective enforcement is not an option."

Mayor Bill Martin took offense to Fiocchi's statements.

"There is no selective enforcement, Mr. Fiocchi. That I can tell you for a fact," Marin said.

Fiocchi told Martin he wasn't speaking to him, but to the city attorney.

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"Mr. Fiocchi, the accusation that the city carries out selective enforcement is totally false and erroneous, and you have no evidence of that charge, and you know that."

"Yes, I do," Fiocchi said.


"No, you don't," Martin said, then warned Fiocchi his three minutes of speaking time during the public comment portion of the meeting was almost up.

"My time...when people talk about things you want to hear about, you have no problem letting them go on for 15, 20, 25 minutes," Fiocchi said.

This isn't the first time Fiocchi has gone head to head with Martin, nor is it the first time he has had issues with his neighbor, Mary Martin, the mayor's sister.

He filed a lawsuit against her in May 2011 to prevent construction of her home, but court records indicate a judge ruled against Fiocchi. The house was built.

Fiocchi also became emboiled with the city over a fence he erected in front of his property that inspectors claimed was in the right-of-way. The city council voted to require him to tear it down, then reversed itself after a public outcry.