Illegal Boarding House Must Stop Operations

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Officials in one township in Schuylkill County said the owner of a former personal care facility is now running an illegal boarding house in the building.

Mahanoy Township officials sent the owner of White Owl Manor a cease and desist letter since the building isn't zoned for rentals and residents said the tenants are causing problems in the area. 

Officials said the building is zoned for a personal care facility, not for rentals.

The township zoning board held a hearing Wednesday night after the zoning officer sent White Owl Manor owner James McGill a cease and desist letter.

The zoning board up held the township's request to find McGill in violation of the zoning code after hearing numerous people testify about the problems McGill's tenants are causing.

Ed Wassell said he was awakened in the middle of the nigh by what he believes were people staying at White Owl Manor.

“I had two people arguing over stolen heroin in front of my house and one of them told the other one to go up with her boyfriend who resides at White Owl Manor,” said Wassell.

McGill operated White Owl Manor as a personal care facility but was shut down by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare last summer after three residents died and their deaths weren't reported to the state.

Residents said tenants now living at White Owl Manor are believed to be using drugs and alcohol.

Township officials said there is a registered Megan's Law offender there, which is causing alarm for the Mahanoy City's Girls Softball League since its fields are next door.

“Well over two hundred kids up there on the weekends,” said league president Peter Walinchus. “Parents are all aware of this, we're all concerned about this, we got to stop this.”

McGill said he did have a Megan's Law offender living there but he asked him to leave.

McGill also said he personally interviews tenants, who must fill out applications.

Brenda Sacramento has lived at White Owl Manor for three months and said McGill is trying to clean up his facility.

“Everybody is really kind and friendly in this place, and all the bad people, last week and the week before, a lot of them moved out,” said Sacramento.

McGill declined to talk on camera and didn't wait for the board's decision.

The township's solicitor said McGill must stop running the boarding house or he will be fined by the township.