Homeowners threaten lawsuit

Portage couple disgruntled after being denied permit

PORTAGE — Home­owners of a dilapidated property became disgruntled with borough council members after being denied a permit to complete repairs, with one homeowner threatening to file a lawsuit for harassment if council denies their request.

Ken and Melissa Plummer, owners of the property on 724 Sherman St., received a one-year permit last year to compete repairs on the building.

The permit recently expired, and the property owners requested that the permit be extended to complete the repairs.

Borough officials recently denied that request.

“We invested a lot of money into it,” Ken Plummer said. “Why won’t the borough extend our permit?”

Borough Manager Robert Koban said the borough would not renew the permit because there were too many issues with the property.

Ken Plummer was not happy with Koban’s decision.

“I’ll file a lawsuit for harassment if it’s not approved,” Plummer said. “It’s not fair.”

Koban said that if the owners are able to clean up the property surrounding the building, which includes a large ditch in the yard and debris that blows onto the road, council will consider renewing the permit.

“Clean the property up first,” Koban said. “Then maybe we’ll reconsider.”

The permit the Plummers requested was to repair deficiencies to the foundation of a building on their property.

Township Engineer Gary Wisor of Stiffler, McGraw & Associates surveyed the property once the initial permit expired, and he found that many of the issues with the building had not been corrected.

Wisor said the main problem is an exposed foundation because the structure is supported by timber cribbing.

Wisor said that timber cribbing is typically used as a temporary foundation, but reports from citizens said the cribbing has been used for “over a year.”

Because of the timber supporting the house, which Wisor said is a safety hazard if used long-term, the structure is classified as a dangerous building by the borough’s ordinance.

Wisor recommended that the timber be replaced, with new concrete blocks to replace the foundation.

“Something needs to be done to protect the structure above it,” Wisor said.

The Plummers will be allowed to correct issues surrounding the building. If issues are corrected, council will consider approving the permit to complete the foundation repair.

If corrections are not made before the borough’s next meeting, council will officially designate the building as a dangerous structure and follow protocol to ensure corrections are made.