Northampton Press

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Ordinance still on table in Bath

Thursday, October 16, 2014 by STACEY KOCH Special to The Press in Local News

The Oct. 6 Bath Borough Council is keeping a rental property ordinance on the table.

The enacting of a rental property ordinance has been in the examination stages for the past few months. This ordinance would include inspections, fees and possibly higher rent and taxes.

David Longenbach, a Bath landlord, asked council why it was considering such an ordinance.

The committee was formed to investigate if a rental inspection program would benefit borough residents as renters for health and safety reasons mostly," council Vice President Mark Saginario said at the Oct. 6 meeting. "It was an idea that came up by council; it was put through to a committee to investigate if it would be a good idea or not."

Longenbach said he is worried about the cost of the rental inspections as his insurance currently covers inspections.

"My insurance comes in, and they do their liability inspections," he said. "For me, they're free because they come with the liability insurance. What's the borough going to charge me?"

Councilwoman Carol Bear-Heckman suggested if council decides to enact a rental inspection program, an exemption should be included in the policy if documented proof of an inspection took place, such as in Longenbach's case.

The borough could not provide specific costs and fees because the issue is still in the discussion and research stage.

"Nothing has been decided," Saginario said. "We're just trying to get everything on the table, so council can make the best educated decision they can."

Councilwoman Jennifer George brought to the meeting photos of rental properties that are unsafe and dangerous. The photos showed exposed electrical wiring and mold.

"There have been complaints from tenants," she said. "Forty-three percent of the borough is renter occupied. So there are issues within the borough. We can't just turn a blind eye and say that nothing's happening."

Councilwoman Kathryn Roberts reminded council members and those in attendance "the fees are only allowed by law – if we would pass something – to be directly related to the cost of having such a program. So we can't just say, 'well we want to get more money into the borough, so we'll just charge landlords a ton of cash.'"

Zoning Officer Dennis Huth, who attended the October meeting, said he would provide guidance to council at upcoming meetings and in making a final decision.

A meeting to address any specific questions Bath landlords and resident may have on the matter will be held in the near future.

In other business, Bear-Heckman announced the Nazareth Bath Chamber has sent an invite to all business owners and managers in the borough to meet at the municipal building Nov. 14 at 9 a.m.

Also, borough Manager Thomas Petrucci agreed to create an ordinance concerning snow removal strategy for the upcoming winter season by the next meeting. Borough Solicitor Blake C. Marles will review the strategy.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3.