NORTHAMPTON BOROUGH, Pa. - Thursday evening wasn't the first time Northampton Borough Council heard and subsequently tried to find a solution to the ever-increasing neglect problem caused by absentee and careless property owners and landlords in the borough.
For Richard and Mary Lou Jacoby who own a half of a twin home at 537 20th Street in Northampton for the past 37 years, the problems began in 2000 when the house next door was willed to the now deceased neighbor's daughter who currently lives in Whitehall.
In her address to council, Mary Lou said after 17 years of remaining vacant, "The house next door is just a mess." She said due to water damage to her home from bursted pipes next door where the water supply was never shut off and winterized has resulted in notable damage to the walls and foundation at the rear of her home. The seepage also has caused a nearby wall next door to crumble and collapse and currently remains in a state of disrepair.
Of even greater concern causing several council members' eyebrows to raise was when Mrs. Jacoby said a very pungent smell of mold emanates from both the basement and the attic of the 100-year-old abandoned home. She called the smell "indescribable" and added mice also have overrun the property and are finding their way to her home.
Mr. Jacoby said he has covered blown out attic windows with cardboard in the attached house next door to prevent a bat invasion and also agreed with there is a severe mold odor present.
Borough Manager Leroy Brobst said he was unaware of the severity of the situation and promised to have Northhampton's code enforcement officer on the scene as soon as possible.
Borough solicitor Anthony Goudsouzian said abandoned and neglected properties are a very difficult problem for many municipalities to address because it's hard for officials to enforce especially if property taxes are paid even late.
In other matters, Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski asked for council's input on supporting downtown Northampton merchants.
Lopsonzski specifically referred to a lack of parking enforcement at the public parking lot located at Center and Lilac Streets. He reasoned the lack of enforcement results in less business traffic for merchants since customers have fewer convenient parking spots because area tenants park in the closest spots in the public lot rather than using in their own building lots which are located further away.
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