Pubdate: Thu, 06 Nov 2014
Source: News-Item, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 The News Item
Author: Mark Gilger
Page: 1


SHAMOKIN - A proposed ordinance was introduced Wednesday night that, 
if adopted, will ban landlords from renting properties to those 
convicted of felony drug charges.

During a 90-minute work session, solicitor Frank Konopka presented 
city council with a revised landlord/tenant ordinance that he and 
code enforcement officer Rick Bozza have worked on for the past six months.

The proposal is based on ordinances enacted in Sunbury and Berwick 
and one that is scheduled to be voted on later this month by Mount 
Carmel Borough Council.

Anyone convicted of a felony of manufacture, distribution or 
possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance would be 
restricted from renting a residence in Shamokin. The ban would be 
lifted seven years after the appeals process ends, and if there are 
no additional convictions for the drug offenses. Alandlord's 
occupancy permit could be revoked if the ordinance was knowingly violated.

The proposed ordinance applies only to a felony conviction of the 
state's controlled substance act, not simply an arrest or a 
conviction on a misdemeanor offense. It also does not seek to bar the 
sale of residential property.

Another important change in the ordinance requires owners of rental 
properties to give proper notice to Bozza prior to any new tenants 
moving in. An inspection of the rental property must be done by the 
code enforcement officer or his designee before any new tenant 
occupies it. An inspection fee of $50 must be paid before the rental 
property is occupied.

The code enforcement officer can revoke any and all housing permits 
if landlords violate the ordinance. If convicted of violating the 
ordinance, property owners will be assessed a fine not less than $100 
and no more than $1,000 plus the costs of prosecution.

A property owner can appeal to city council the revocation or a 
non-renewal of a rental permit within 30 days.

The ordinance is scheduled to be further discussed and possibly voted 
on at Monday night's regular council meeting.

Federal statute prohibits landlords and real estate agents from 
discriminating against potential tenants based on several factors, 
including race, religion and disability. A drug addiction is 
considered a disability under the act. But the statute does not offer 
discrimination protection to, among others, persons convicted of 
illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance.

Prior to being adopted, Mayor William Milbrand said the ordinance 
will be closely reviewed to make sure there are no loopholes and that 
it will hold up to legal challenges.

In other business, Milbrand tentatively set Wednesday, Nov. 12, as 
the date for a special meeting to discuss the city's 2015 budget with 
the public in the auditorium at the Northumberland County Career and 
Arts Center, 2 E. Arch St. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m.

The budget will be the city's first under the state's Act 47 
financial recovery program.

The mayor previously estimated the budget at approximately $2.8 
million, and taxes are expected to be raised due to the city's 
troubled fiscal status.

"We will right the ship somehow or other," Milbrand said earlier this week.

The first reading of the tentative budget is scheduled to occur 
Monday. Councilman Dave Kinder said the spending plan will then be 
advertised and put on display for 20 days.

Club Echo to return

Councilwoman Barbara Moyer said repairs have been made to the former 
Club Echo in the basement of the American Legion building owned by 
the city. She said plans are for the youth club to reopen next year 
under a new name.

Council members said the club was closed in January due to 
miscommunication between the city and its operator, Eric Brightbill, 
who rents the property.

Shamokin Battalion Fire Chief Bruce Rogers agreed to assist Bozza in 
developing an evacuation plan for the club.

Rogers, who was advised to attend the meeting by Councilman Charlie 
Verano, later expressed concerns about Liberty Fire Company on East 
Sunbury Street. Rogers, an active member and former officer with 
Liberty, said he heard rumors that the station was no longer going to 
receive its $3,180 annual allocation from the city next year because 
the company now houses its two fire apparatus in Rescue Fire Company.

"The Liberty is not closing," Rogers said. "We have limited funds and 
any loss of income fromthe city will hurt."

Milbrand, who said it costs more than $4,000 for insurance on the 
building plus heating costs, invited Rogers and other members of 
Liberty to meet him in soon to discuss the city's plans for the station.

City clerk Robert Slaby said, "We must make sure the city's best 
interest is taken care of in this matter."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom