New Jersey Avenue residents returned to the Jefferson town council to plead their case that two neighboring rental properties are causing unsafe conditions.
Among the conditions mentioned were that the properties were being used as a salvage yard for televisions, air conditioners and computers, as well as perfumes and other flammable materials.
Resident Tim Clancy showed pictures to support some of these claims.
“All I want is your regulations, your ordinances and state laws enforced,” Clancy said.
Representing Clancy and his wife Karen Urban, attorney Thomas Flynn said his clients were upset about not having received a report the administration had made about the situation until right before the start of the meeting. Council President Richard Yocum had requested the report when the situation was brought up at the council’s Jan. 16 meeting.
Flynn said he and his clients had been assured they would receive the report in advance. Clancy later expressed distress over this point, remarking that it cost him additional money to have his attorney come to another meeting.
The attorney said he had briefly scanned and would review the report in more detail but believed he would have follow-up questions and rebuttals.
“There are a few things [in this report] the client said that, at best, are taken out of context,” Flynn said. “Some are not accurate at all. Frustration continues on New Jersey Avenue.”
Municipal Official Interactions
Clancy and Urban both said they feel as if they are being “dismissed as the bad guy” and that nothing is being done to solve the problem.
“I hope Mr. Clancy’s efforts are perceived in the spirit in which they are intended: to obtain enforcement of local ordinances and laws for the betterment, not just of himself, but for his neighbors and the community,” Flynn said.
However, Business Administrator James Leach said that many of the complaints that had been filed against the rental properties, including a lack of registration, had been fixed. And he explained that the township can only fix problems within certain legal parameters.
“We cannot make [the landlord] update the houses to charge more rent to get a better class of people,” Leach said. “We don’t have that authority to put people out of the house.”
Councilman Jay Dunham also said he had visited the properties Monday night and said the state of them bore no resemblance to the pictures shown by Clancy.
Thomas and Karen Miller, who also live on New Jersey Avenue, said they have also had negative experiences with the rental property’s tenants.
“We’re told to call the police,” Karen Miller said. “But they’re rude and very dismissive and said they shouldn’t be called for matter like this.”
Yocum said no resident should feel like they are being disrespected by police officers.
“If that is what is happening, it’s going to stop now,” he said. “The administration will make sure of that.”
Meeting to Be Scheduled
To get the situation closer to a solution, Yocum suggested that a meeting be held with Clancy and his wife, their lawyer, their neighbors, the mayor, Leach and all other members of the administration whose presence would make sense.
Yocum suggested that the meeting happen within 10 days of the council meeting. He reminded the residents that it might not be possible to have everything changed the way they want it.
“But will [the situation] be resolved so that all legalities are covered?” Yocum said. “Absolutely yes. Everybody has that right.”
Flynn said Clancy and Urban are not opposed to having the meeting, but are worried that the situation might continue.
“My client has been at this since September and has seen nothing happen,” Flynn said.
Urban asked if the property’s landlord would be invited to the meeting, saying that the neighbors can vent all they want but “the problem is him.” Clancy went a step further, saying the landlord’s presence should be mandated.
Mayor Russ Felter advised it would be best to get the neighbors together first to sort out all complaints and figure out what the township can legally do and then have a second meeting that includes the landlord.
“If we have him there at the first meeting, we’re not going to make a lot of progress,” Felter said.