Northampton Press

Monday, July 6, 2020

Council members reviewing adjusted borough ordinance

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by LINDA WOJCIECHOWSKI Special to The Press in Local News

A copy of the revised residential rental unit ordinance was distributed to council members for their review at the March 15 Northampton Borough Council meeting. Discussion of the proposed ordinance will be on the agenda at the April 5 council meeting.

This latest revision was completed by a council committee that included Julia Kutzler, Robert McHale and Anthony Lopsonzski Sr.

“We looked at the existing ordinances in place concerning rental properties,” Kutzler said.

These ordinances had been implemented in the 1970s, but “neither ordinance had any teeth,” as inspections were not required.

A number of requests were made by residents at a public hearing in January following the introduction of an earlier ordinance draft, and the committee addressed those comments.

“We made adjustments in some of the fees for registration requirements,” she said. “The fees will reflect a tiered approach.”

The committee conducted a review of surrounding communities’ ordinances and found “our community has been lagging behind other communities of similar population.”

The ordinance will also add a provision about noisy tenants.

“Police have responded to (individual apartment units) a minimum of three times for disruptive behavior that does not constitute criminal offense but is more of an annoyance to the neighbors,” she said. “This ordinance would address this concern.”

She said there are 1,365 known apartment units in the borough.

Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian said once council has agreed on a final revision of the ordinance, there will be a public hearing before a final vote on the legislation.

In other business, a borough council hearing to consider a Redner’s Warehouse Market liquor license transfer application is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. April 5. The store is located on Held Drive.

Council voted 6-1 in favor of scheduling the hearing, with Kutzler voting in opposition and McHale absent. Kutzler did not comment on the reason for her opposition

Canal Street resident Suzanne Blyler attended the meeting to ask that low-lying areas near her home in the 1600 block be remediated. She said this is the third time she has complained and requested action to reduce flooding.

“I’d like to see the low-lying areas raised a bit,” she said.

Lopsonzski Sr. asked if grant funding has been obtained for flood retaining walls.

Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said the project could cost $5 million. He added that even if funding could be acquired, it would be only for matching funds, so it could cost the borough millions of dollars.

Lopsonzski Sr. suggested that further information should be sought, so a decision could be made.

Blyler also reported a serious litter problem, specifically along Railroad Street, on a bank at the railroad tracks.

“Everybody dumps their trash there,” she said. “It’s really bad.”

During council committee reporting, Councilman Tony Pristash reported a walkathon will take place 9:45 a.m. May 19 along the Canal Park Heritage Walkway, held rain or shine. Proceeds will benefit Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood research.

Vice President Keith Piescienski reported the March 2 storm damaged some of the components of the police department computer system. Some repairs are covered under warranty, but some are not, so there will be a cost to get the system fully operational and to prevent this type of damage from occurring in the future, he said.

The council approved requests for use of the borough’s band trailer by two organizations. Boy Scout Troop 93 will use it at the troop’s June 9 summer festival, and Northampton Liederkranz will have it at its Aug. 18 summer fest. The fee of $110 for delivery and pickup was waived for the Scout troop but will be enforced for the Liederkranz.