During the Northampton Borough Council’s public workshop meeting on Thursday, April 4, some supervisors expressed concerns over enforcement of the borough’s rental inspection ordinance. The ordinance went into effect this year.
Borough manager LeRoy Brobst said that compliance with the ordinance is at 34 percent. A second round of notification letters will be sent to landlords who have not yet scheduled an inspection. These letters will be sent by the end of April.
Brobst said that the compliance rate was about where he expected it to be.
“I would have estimated a 30 percent return.”
If landlords do not reply to the second notification, “then we are going to have to get ugly,” added Brobst. The township solicitor will get involved.
Councilman Robert McHale expressed concern over the compliance rate, as well as the failure rate. About 33 percent of the properties inspected thus far have failed.
“I am surprised by the failure rate, after owners said there were no issues,” McHale said.
Brobst said that the failures were the result of minor details.
“[The landlords] that have not responded, those are the places that could be falling apart,” he said.
McHale, Councilwoman Judy Kutlzer, and Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. all expressed interest in having the borough’s two part-time zoning officers work longer shifts, or move to full-time positions.
“Two part-time people working 13 hours a week cannot get anything done,” said Kutzler.
Lopsonzski, Sr. said the ordinance requires a full-time officer and part-time associate.
“It comes at a cost…[but it] can be a sustaining situation.”
However, Lopsonzski, Sr. added that he understands why compliance and enforcement seem slow moving at the start.
“It is developing slowly because you cannot really rush into it…It is a tough job. [You are] inundated with work that is required to move this program along.”
In other news, the borough will be applying for a Community Service Block Grant in the amount of $10,000 to construct a community garden on the north side of the borough’s ambulance building. The garden will benefit the food bank.
The borough also received a $45,000 Monroe County Casino Grant that will be used toward constructing a pavilion at the municipal swimming pool for the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, on May 10, a public meeting will be held at the borough’s wastewater treatment plant. The meeting will begin at 10 am. It is an opportunity for the public to learn about storm water runoff and why it is important to combat it.
Finally, a 30-day review process of the borough’s new storm water plan has begun. The public can review the plan by visiting the borough office and submit comments to the borough manager. On May 8, the planning commission will also publicly review the plan. Commenting will be closed on May 9.