Northampton Press

Friday, January 17, 2020

Council overturns mayor’s ordinance veto

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 by AL RECKER Special to The Press in Local News

New legislation on rental property inspections will take effect Jan. 1, 2019

Northampton Borough Council voted to overturn Mayor Thomas Reenock’s second veto of the rental property ordinance during the Sept. 20 council meeting.

The legislation had a controversial start in the borough. It was originally passed at the May 17 meeting, and Reenock refused to sign the legislation. It was vetoed for the first time June 7, and council members decided to table the matter.

Council and the mayor discussed and adjusted the ordinance over the following months.

Council voted again to adopt the revised legislation at the Sept. 6 meeting, during which time Reenock indicated he would veto the ordinance again.

At the Sept. 20 meeting, council needed a majority plus one vote to overturn the second veto. The vote was 6-2. Voting to overturn the veto in favor of the legislation were council members Anthony Lopsonzski Sr., Judy Kutz- ler, Keith Piescienski, Robert McHale, Kenneth Hall and council President Anthony Lopsonzski Jr.

Councilmen Ed Pany and Anthony Pristash voted against reversing the mayor’s veto. Both voted against the property rental ordinance at every turn.

The ordinance, which covers more than 1,300 rental apartments, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said letters will go out to the owners of rental properties notifying them of the terms, registrations, inspections and fees.

The mayor stated he agrees with the need for enforcement but does not feel the penalties and fines are necessary. He has said there are existing tools in the borough, such as health codes, fire and building codes and police, that make the legislation unnecessary.

“Council and I are in agreement that there are problems with enforcement, but I don’t agree with enforcement and penalty fines that increase the violations instead of working together with the community to solve and correct problems as a concerned group,” Reenock said.

Reenock also contends that council did not take any additional input into consideration after the first veto, despite holding meetings where members of the public had spoken about the ordinance.

McHale said Sept. 20 that after he read the mayor’s reasons for his veto, he believes both seem to agree on the wording for the property rental legislation passage.

Councilwoman Judy Kutzler, who has lobbied for the legislation, said there are deplorable conditions in some apartments that tenants are forced to live with.

“It is for the betterment of the borough,” she said.