At last Monday night's Columbia Borough Council meeting, Gerald Maurer of 518 North Third Street read to council from a prepared statement outlining his complaints regarding the Columbia Codes Department. Maurer stated that he was cited for violations even though he was not told by code officials what codes he was violating. He further asserted that code officials had not inspected the projects supposedly in violation - a kitchen addition and a deck atop it.
"To this day, nobody has shown me any codified documenting of written code that I am violating," he told council. He added that he was initially informed in a telephone conversation with the codes office that no permit was needed for the project.
The deck as seen from the rear of 518 North Third Street.
Maurer said code officials told him the deck is not strong structurally and does not meet code, even though they did not specifically cite which code. Maurer also alleged that code officials refused his repeated invitations to inspect his property. He further claimed that the codes department often does not conduct its own inspections, despite its $300,000 a year budget (according to Maurer), but instead sends work to another agency, Commonwealth Code Inspection Services in Manheim.
518 North Third Street
Maurer said a search warrant was issued for his property after he had appealed the violation. When he questioned why the citation was not held in abeyance until after his appeal was completed, he said he was told by a borough official it was because he had not paid a $600 fee to file the appeal. Maurer said he had received no notification of such a fee.
This is page one of an enforcement notice Mr. Maurer received recently which he says does not include notification of a $600 fee.
Maurer also accused one code official of stating "an outright lie" on the affidavit of probable cause. He also said he observed the official trying to break into the rear of 516 North Third Street.
Maurer informed Columbia Spy that he has recently received an email from Andy Nelson, of Commonwealth Code Inspection Services, informing him that he has until July 27 to pay any fees associated with the permit before any action is taken up with the borough attorney "to compel compliance." If payment is not made by then, the borough could fine Maurer $500 a day, every day, since each subsequent day of non-payment would be considered a separate violation.
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