Northampton Press

Monday, March 18, 2019

Rental ordinance tabled till Sept. 6

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by AL RECKER Special to The Press in Local News

Borough council agrees to post proposal online

Expect the unexpected.

The suggestion became reality Aug. 2 when, instead of voting on the revised apartment ordinance, Northampton Borough Council tabled the decision until September.

The ordinance regarding apartment inspections was first adopted in May with a one-vote margin. It was vetoed in June by Mayor Thomas Reenock, then revised and back before council last week.

The debate and postponement continue, as the issue is now tabled until council’s Sept. 6 meeting. To overturn the veto, the ordinance needs a majority vote plus one.

A public hearing for residents who wanted to provide input took place 6:30 p.m., an hour before the regular council meeting. Several persons offered opinions, both for and against the legislation.

Reenock provided a blistering commentary on the rental property ordinance and its impact on seniors.

Several persons, including landlords, mentioned they did not oppose the inspection of the apartment units, but rather had problems with the registration fees.

Joan Marinkovits, retired magisterial district judge who owns a rental apartment, maintained her opposition to the legislation.

Councilwoman Judy Kutzler, who serves on the committee with Councilmen Anthony Lopsonzski Sr. and Robert McHale, said the ordinance was created to provide safe, healthy and clean conditions for tenants.

Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst had the proposed ordinance as the first item on council’s agenda.

McHale made a motion to delay a vote until next month so that the proposed ordinance could be posted online for the public to read in full. Council concurred.

McHale said one revision to the original proposed ordinance is to exempt homes in which the resident continues to reside although the property was deeded to another party.

Another would not require an initial rental inspection for structures undergoing major conversions to apartments from its previous nonapartment status. The former Tama Manufacturing building and the vacant Central School, both on Main Street, as well as the former Catholic War Veterans building on Washington Avenue fall into this category.

Reenock said he has spent much time researching the issue and what other municipalities have in place, noting he believes the proposed rental property ordinance is still flawed.

Brobst said, if passed, the rental property ordinance would be effective beginning Jan. 1, 2019.