Western New Jersey

Phillipsburg Ice House owner fails to attend habitability hearing

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - A public habitability hearing on the former Phillipsburg Ice House was iced when the owner of the property gave council members the cold shoulder and failed to show up to his hearing during Tuesday night's council meeting.

The owner, Lenny Hernandez, purchased the landmark local property at 1116 S. Main St. that once served as an ice manufacturing business, last summer.

On Tuesday night construction code official Kevin Duddy told council that a portion of the roof of the building collapsed during the fierce winter season in February.

On March 3rd, Duddy inspected the property and said the roof had to be addressed.

A certified letter requesting Hernandez' presence at the May 6th council meeting was sent April 17th, according to town attorney Richard Wenner and signed for two days later.

Hernandez's absence means he will be called again to appear before council at the May 20th meeting.

"You need to be stern about this," President Todd Tersigni told Duddy in requiring Hernandez's attendance and if not, appropriate steps will be taken.

"It is just my opinion, but I think that building should be torn down," Tersigni said at one point during an exchange with Duddy.

Duddy, agreed, sort of. He added that "with enough money" anything could be fixed, including the Ice House.

Tersigni then directly asked Duddy: Would that actually be cost effective for Hernandez to do?

Duddy replied that no, it would not be cost effective, and demolition of the property would be more prudent.

He added that even if Hernandez did decide to pump copious amounts of cash into refurbishing the falling down building, it would have no discernible market appeal.

NJDOT provides funds for S. Main Street

During his report to council, Wyant said the town had been awarded $237,000 in funds from the New Jersey Department of Transportation for Phase Six of improvements to South Main Street.

The construction will take place from the intersection of Mckeen Street and extend to Center Street. The mayor expects the work to commence in the late summer or early autumn.

Even though Wyant said he was pleased with the award, he told council Tuesday night the town will still need to match some of the funds for the project.

The mayor did not disclose that figure Tuesday night.

In other business, no residents came forward during a public hearing on the 2014 budget and tax resolution held at the start of the meeting where taxpayers could voice objections.

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