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NEPA Landlord Tenant Homeowner Association Blog

 

 
 

Commentary on issues regarding property rights, this blog relays information on events past, present, and into the future in Northeast PA (USA). While facts are presented, an opinion may be thrown in the mix to make things more interesting. Corrections are welcomed by using the comments -  as long as we see documents to back it up.

As far as the comment part of this blog, we appreciated hearing from people literally all over the world! We generally don't publish the comments though because this is a local blog. Even so, comments published are rare unless they add to the story or a correction is needed and information sent was confirmed. Glad you're enjoying it though! We STILL have some freedoms here and intend to exercise them at will!




From Condemned to Good Government...?

 

We heard about Michaelene's situation (order to vacate in 5 days) and a neighbor business via concerned NEPALTA member Steve. From the news images it seemed as though the buildings appeared dilapidated and hearing the comments (on a local station) from half drunk people didn't peak an interest until the Times Leader Story by Jerry Lynott who by the way is a real journalist - quite rare - was read.

"Two independent structural engineer inspections, done at the request of the city shopping the properties to a potential developer, indicated her building at 67 S. Main St. is structurally sound". Whoah...potential developer's (cough sharks) engineers say the structure is safe...yet the mayor stands by the action of the building's condemnation. Fascinating! Could the mayor be a certified building inspector, certified structural engineer, AND also mayor?? Of course having knowledge of the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code and Wilkes-Barre's adoption favors the idea that something ain't right here and that the statute may be violated.

We (NEPALTA) just need a hearing via APPEAL, and if the Board Of Appeals denies the request to un-condemn the property, we go to the Pennsylvania Court Of Common Pleas where the excrement hits the fan. The fact is, there is a procedure to condemning a structure and it involves non-compliance. Place 1 property is in compliance (needs a new awning and a surface facelift), but the structure did not warrant proceedings to vacate and demolish it. The correct action for the city interested in the Place 1 property is eminent domain where the owner is paid for the building/property. But Wilkes-Buried (they actually have a link on their website telling us how to pronounce it – LOL) was determined to kick the owner out, demolish the building, bill the owner, placing a lien which would ruin a credit record...time to contact owner.

The 11/04/13 email contained all the information regarding the PA UCC “misinterpretations” that were forwarded to the Harrisburg based lawyer representing the owner. BTW, if you fight an ordinance/decision locally, you need to get an outside attorney (as we do with John Bradley, esq, Philadelphia). If you wish to negotiate, you need a “connected” attorney who is in the back pocket of other politician friends…just sayin...we're all adults here right?

A visit to Ms. Coffee revealed that there was a THIRD inspection by a structural engineer concurring the other engineers. After revealing to her of NEPALTA’s email containing the appropriate PA UCC information regarding the Order to Vacate and Condemn she forwarded it to her attorney. At this point, we have given him an arsenal of information to present an appeal.

Finally, her day 5 (November 7th) has arrived and the calls to save the building still rings out.

NEPALTA placed phone calls to the PA UCC in preparation for a possible denial while assembling together an appeal packet designed to not only stay the order to condemn but lift the order to vacate based on the (3) independent structural analysis.

NEPALTA delivered the APPEAL packet along with notice of PETITION OF HEARING to be placed in the windows to legally stop the order to demolish had it proceeded. Michaelene, being overwhelmed with the information, forwarded it to her attorney which was advised, but with a sense of urgency.

News at 11:00 pm, Wilkes-Barre council reverses action to demolish, opting to do all it can to preserve the structures with bids from reputable firms (translated: getting a reputable engineering firm to disassemble buildings rather than the planned GP bomb dropped from a B-52H).

Great news for Ms. Coffee and Wilkes-Barre officials who dodged high blood pressure causing ramifications. The idea that the council's ruling to reverse a certified building inspector's decision to condemn a "dangerous and unsafe" building because of customer's outcry is strange...but a face saving move.

NEPALTA, the silent partner, trolls on...

Below is the final email/hand delivered packet from NEPALTA made for her 11th hour appeal (cut short by officials and attorneys)

CITY OF WILKES-BARRE PENNSYLVANIA

CODE ENFORCEMENT BOARD OF APPEALS

PETTITION FOR HEARING

Michaelene Coffee

Place 1 At The Hollywood

67 South Main Street

Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701

(570) 823-1164

TYPE OF VIOLATION: (Unknown/CONDEMNATION)

REASON FOR HEARING REQUEST

Wilkes-Barre, a party to the PA UCC agreement (6/11/2004) “administers and enforces the PA UCC, shall hear and rule on appeals”. I therefore respectfully appeal the condemned action requesting a hearing as per PA Uniform Construction Code Chapter §403.121 to present three independent engineering firms’ concurrence that the building on property known as “Place 1 At The Hollywood”, 67 South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA is structurally sound and that the true intent of the UCC was incorrectly interpreted by the inspecting code official.

§403.83: (a) The Code official has not shown “violations of the UCC” to initiate closing my building. Due to the lack of evidence, this provision does not apply. (b)The order did not contain grounds for the action, nor a notice that “the owner shall submit within 30 days a written answer to the notice”.

§403.84: (a)(c) The order to vacate did not state “required repairs or improvements”. Since my building has been determined by three certified structural engineers as sound and compliant, the city’s building inspector only under §401.7(6)(ii) could not have comparable credentials to declare the same structure as “unsafe” unless he has the same degree of expertise. In that case, a hearing is necessary to bring the four parties together and review the building inspector’s qualifications vs. structural engineers’ determination.

§403.84 (e) I was not given the opportunity to abate or correct the unsafe condition warranting condemning because my building is in full compliance with the Uniform Construction Code.

Because certified structural engineers have determined that my building is structurally sound, I respectfully ask that the order to vacate (§403.84) be suspended as any enforceable action as stated in §403.122 (c) until the matter is resolved.  


**Notice to Code Enforcement officials in NEPA:  We sincerely embrace safety and appreciate Pennsylvania's effort to standardize the code. Stay within the parameters of the PA UCC and "approved" ordinances via PA UCC actions on submitted amendments. Politicians will throw you under the bus, which is why you need to contact us with questions.

 


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