The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 20, 2012

Danville landlords ready to battle new rental ordinance

DANVILLE — When Danville Borough Council adopted a controversial residential ordinance, property values decreased, one landlord said.

“They’re just trying to railroad us. The value of your properties was devalued the moment that was passed,” Bruce Lesher said.

Lesher has volunteered to man the website of the newly formed Danville Area Property Owners Association that held its first membership meeting Monday night in Shiloh United Church of Christ.

The group wants to attract members to identify issues and concerns. “Everybody has different concerns about an ordinance that focuses on half the town,” said Dave Hoyes, association president.

When asked when they can start reviewing the ordinance that went into effect in January, Hoyes said they could begin at a special membership meeting in April.

“I appreciate the number who showed up tonight,” he said of the nearly 100 people.

“I’m waiting until people sign up for membership until we present grievances to council,” he said. Identifying issues and concerns will make the group more successful if it has to go to court, said Hoyes. He was applauded after saying he’s part of the organization because he wants to protect his tenants’ rights. “The ordinance requires me to open the door of my tenant. I will not be involved in taking the Fourth Amendment away from tenants,” he said of property inspections.

The ordinance requires landlords to pay a yearly fee per unit for registering a property for inspections. The fee has been reduced from $75 to $25 this year.

Berwick in court

Patti Vaughn, board member of the Berwick Landlords Association, told the crowd she is fighting for constitutional issues and against fees imposed by her borough. “If anybody wants to get radical, I’m there,” she said.

On Monday, she received a citation for $1,000 for not paying a registration fee. “I refused to let them in and to pay the $50 per unit fee,” she said of opposing the Berwick ordinance.

“They can’t make a penny on this. That’s why we’re in court now. This isn’t about health and safety, it’s all about money,” she said of the Berwick case expected to be heard this month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Wes Wertman said he didn’t want inspectors bothering his tenants, didn’t care for the registration fees and wasn’t about to put a penny in a membership when a similar case was already in the courts.

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