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Closed Rental Reopened in Appeals Board Vote

WILLIAMSPORT — Monday night, Dunmore passed a new ordinance making drug crimes a reason to condemn a property for up to six months.

A similar law went into effect this year in Williamsport, but it’s already a bit confusing, even for those who enforce it.

Newswatch 16 spoke with officials who say it’s a bit of a learning curve.

A vacant apartment inside a complex on Hepburn Street in Williamsport that closed down back in April is now back available for rent, but code administrator Joseph Girardi says a vote to reopen the apartment was a mistake.

“In my opinion if there was a revote they probably would have voted it stay closed for six months,” said Gerardi.

Police say there were drugs and weapons being sold from one apartment inside the complex. Girardi decided to close that one apartment down under a no-tolerance rental ordinance which started in January.

“If we find that’s found happening at your facility, we shut that property down for six months,” said Gerardi .

But the property owners also have the right to appeal the closure to the housing board of appeals.

Monday, the board had its first meeting at city hall and voted. Girardi says it was a bit confusing.

“Some of the board members, the very first hearing they had kind of got that messed up,” said Girardi.

Officials say the board does not plan to appeal the decision they made on Monday, which means the Hepburn apartment will stay open.

Some neighbors say that’s a good plan.

“I don’t think they should have closed down, because it’s not the landlord’s fault,” said Linda Jordan.

Jordan lives in the neighborhood. She thinks the landlord should not be punished for her tenant’s actions.

“The landlord is losing money and stuff. Why should it be closed for six months? “asked Jordan.

Another neighbor says the board should fix the mistake.

“If it was an accident, revote. Take another vote. Close it and keep it closed,” said Robert Floyd.

Three other properties voted on by the board will stay closed. The available apartment will have to be inspected before it’s rented out.

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