Lehigh Valley

Residents band together after deadly gas explosion

Group considers creating homeowners' association.

Residents rally

MOORE TWP., Pa. - Residents of one Northampton County community are rallying and reaching out to local leaders after a deadly explosion rocked their Moore Township neighborhood last month.

Officials said the Hickory Hills home blew up following a propane leak on Feb. 14.

William Neith, 65, died in the blast.

"Now there's people getting involved. It took a tragedy, but hopefully we'll get something done and this guy wouldn't have died in vain," said Stephen Shiller, a resident.

Nearly 200 residents attended a forum on Sunday afternoon to vocalize their frustrations to lawmakers and discuss ways to move forward.

Local leaders said forming a homeowners' association is step number one.

"If they have an association, they can go as a group and not have 300 people go in at one time," said Pa. Rep. Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton County.

She said a homeowners' association would give the community a stronger voice.

"They can have attorneys at low cost or no cost to them and I think that's what they need," Hahn said.

A representative from Greenbriar Village's Homeowners' Association, a property also owned by Continental Communities, attended the meeting to inform residents of the benefits of having an association.

"The advantages of being involved in a homeowners' association is that you have collective bargaining. People trying to try to handle things on an individual basis is typically not possible," said Randall Schaffer, president of Greenbriar Village Homeowners' Association.

John Boehm, property manager at Hickory Hills, said he encourages an association to improve communication throughout the park.

Hickory Hills residents tell 69 news they tried to voice their concerns about gas-related issues in the past, but didn't know where to turn.

Hahn said residents need to individually report their gas-related concerns to the Public Utility Commission.

She said other problems need to be addressed through the Attorney General.

Hahn said homeowners need to read their contract carefully before signing.

She said it's also important for residents to familiarize themselves with the Mobile Home Park Rights Act.

Sunday's forum was the first meeting since the explosion. The community currently does not have a homeowners association.

Residents are also trying to petition the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas to issues an injunction against the owners of Hickory Hills to temporarily suspend their administrative authority.

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