The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 19, 2014

Neighbors say city neglects property

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Two Sunbury residents have filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the house connected to theirs is dilapidated and is causing damage to their home.

Terry and Mary Marshall, of 237 Spruce St., claim in a 23-page lawsuit that 239 Spruce St., is falling down, and because the city owns the property, it should be repaired or torn down.

Mayor David Persing, in turn, said the city does not own the property at 239 Spruce St., and that the city has tried to reach the home owner in an attempt to either fix the property, tear it down or give the city control of it.

The Marshalls claim there are holes and openings in the basement, porch and cellar doors allow water to enter the property, decaying floor supports.

Skunks, groundhogs, snakes and birds enter those holes and openings at 239 Spruce, creating stench and spreading diseases, the lawsuit claims.

They also claim that rotten food was allowed to decay in an unplugged freezer on the back porch, and the lack of security allows unauthorized people to enter the property.

Attorneys Kymberley Best and Tim Bowers, who are representing the Marshalls, said the city adopted a resolution for use and condemnation of blighted properties in 2007 and passed a declaration to take control of the property.

“And they haven’t done anything since,” Bowers said.

“They never finished the process to take control of the home, they took title but not possession,” he said. “They have never said why they didn’t take it.  They claim they can’t get in touch with the owner, but they don’t have to because under eminent domain the city owns 239 Spruce St.”   

The Marshalls are asking Sunbury to demolish the blighted property, pay compensatory damages and punitive damages together with costs and interest.

“Well, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Persing said.

“The city is looking at hundreds of properties in our blight removal project, and we take each property one-by-one. We develop a plan on each one. The initial act on this property is the other side of the house was interested in working with the city but when they no longer became interested, then the city withdrew the process.  Every property we go after is vacant and we wouldn’t get involved in any property that had people living in it.”

Persing said the Sunbury Redevelopment Authority doesn’t have any plans for half-double homes.

“We do not own this home. We are not pursuing it any longer because we don’t have cooperation from the parties,” Persing said. “We haven’t bought any half-double homes, and we don’t have any plans to rehab any half-double home. There is no plan to address half-doubles and we have no obligation. I don’t want to waste taxpayers dollars on this, but the city has no responsibility on this whatsoever.”

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