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Judge to rule on row house appeal soon

Renovo residents fighting eviction notices

RENOVO — The saga of 14th Street in the Renovo Borough was discussed at the July council meeting last week as residents and homeowners continue to move forward with their appeal of the decision that the houses are too dangerous to be occupied.

The fate row houses began at a September 2019 council meeting and eventually led to a 20-day eviction notice after the houses were deemed uninhabitable. Property Ordinance Officer and Building Code Enforcement Officer Victor Marquardt subsequently posted the notices on all 16 units.

Clinton County Judge Michael Salisbury remanded the eventual appeal and sent it back to the Renovo Board of Appeals after citing the International Property Maintenance Code. A three- member board of Charles Grieb, Larry Glenn and Eric Fletcher was created to hear from the two sides.

After the three-member board agreed that the houses are dangerous, the residents affected hired local attorney Rocco Rosamilia to appeal the decision.

Judge Salisbury, Rosamilia and Renovo Borough solicitor Stuart Hall met on July 7 at which time the judge asked for all appeal information be submitted to him within 45 days so that a decision could be rendered, according to council president Ann Tarantella.

Property owner Mike Hand emerged as the unofficial spokesman of the 14th Street conglomerate and told council that 14th Street residents have remained cordial in various meetings with Renovo Council. And the two sides are actually in agreement that some units need some attention immediately, he said.

Hand recently approached council and asked that they look into a couple of the houses that have apparently been abandoned. One of the houses affected by last summer’s fire remains unboarded resulting in strong odor of burnt wood has only grown worse in time. Weeds have become an issue with those houses left behind.

After some debate, council agreed that it’s in everyone’s best interest to undertake some duties including boarding up windows and cutting down the overgrowth. Regardless of leaving the properties behind, some of those property owners may receive ordinance violations if they still remain on the tax records as owners.

Ordinance violations dominated much of the meeting, as council hopes to streamline and add more bite moving forward.

It appears that council wants to make ordinance violation fines much steeper, particularly after the first violation. Council made strides towards stronger fines two years ago paced by “quality of life” ordinances, however, 2008 updates to the ordinance book contradict some of those rules.

Council pushed all of their ordinance questions on to solicitor Hall to basically combine all ordinances to read in the same manner and to carry the steepest fines allowable.

Much of the discussion centered on how property owners can store unlicensed vehicles in Renovo borough and how property owners would have to store such vehicles. Council also plans to install a panhandling ordinance.

Renovo council offered police officer Mike Jeffries a $5,000 buyout for K9 Jordan, the borough’s police dog. The request was made by Jeffries, who said if he would leave the Renovo department he would like to buy the German Shepherd and become sole owner.

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