The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 5, 2013

Partially razed trailer, trash concern neighbors in Kelly Township

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — A partially demolished trailer home in Kelly Township is a headache: for neighbors and municipal officials who want it gone and for the family who owns the property and struggles to comply with the codes.

The problem is that the Smith property at 301 Cherry St. near Lewisburg was gutted, not demolished, by the contractor, and debris and trash have remained in a twisted pile for at least three weeks, according to Gerald Breon, who lives next door.

And under a new property maintenance ordinance that Kelly Township adopted at the end of May, the clock soon could start ticking on the cleanup job.

Breon, who lives at 305 Cherry St., said he’s getting regular morning visits from a skunk that’s taken up residence amid the ruins, which include trash, insulation, metal, furniture and even food.

“I shouldn’t get so upset, but I do,” he said. “I can’t live next door to a dump.”

That’s not what owners Eleanor and Marlin Smith intended, either, Eleanor Smith said. The couple had rented out the Cherry Street property now and then, and “we had tenants that were good and some that were not,” she said.

The last tenants were not. A few months ago, they bailed on the Smiths without paying rent and left the trailer “a stinking mess,” Smith said.

The Smiths’ demolition permit, obtained from Central Keystone Council of Governments, is good for two years, said James Emery, a code enforcement supervisor handling the case.

“But they don’t have two years to get rid of that structure. That normally gets done within days,” he said.

The Smith property was an agenda item at the Kelly Township supervisors’ meeting Tuesday night. Marlene Hall, of Eagles Mere, the Smiths’ daughter, promised the supervisors that next week, the family would have somebody to clean up the property.

Hall said she hired contractor James Jolin, of Williamsport, to do the demolition, giving him $500 and agreeing he could take any saleable scrap metal from the building. It was unclear whether Hall had a written contract.

The work began after Memorial Day weekend and went into June, but things became sketchy after that, she said, alleging Jolin would show up at odd times and sometimes with children in tow. Jolin now won’t return Hall’s phone calls, she said.

A man identifying himself as “Jay” returned a call to the newspaper Wednesday and said he spoke to “a code guy” about the Smith property. He didn’t name the code officer or say what they spoke about and then hung up.

Emery said Friday he hasn’t spoken to any contractor about the Cherry Street property and that he also had left several messages for the contractor Hall hired.

“Something is going on, I don’t know if it’s a fight between the landowner and contractor,” he said. “What I want to see is what (the contractor’s) plans are, will he continue with demolition of the property or just walk away.”

Property maintenance violations would go back to the Smiths, Emery said.

“I’m just trying to get things sorted out before a violation notice has to go out,” he said. Under Kelly Township’s new property maintenance ordinance, complaints go first to the township, which forwards them to Central Keystone COG if officials feel the agency needs to be involved.

As to whether the cleanup really will start next week, “It’ll never happen,” Breon said.

Kelly Township may have its doubts as well. “We’re taking a stand that it’s all hearsay,” Ralph Hess, the township’s director of planning and zoning, said of Hall’s contention that the contractor left the job undone. “But we’ll have no further comments on it,” calling it a matter for Central Keystone COG.

The township supervisors did not return several phone calls for comment.