Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Biglers ask Columbia for waiver of bill

At Monday night's Finance Committee meeting, Cindy Bigler of Millersville appealed a $600 invoice from a Columbia Borough engineer regarding a condemned property she owns with husband Sam Bigler at 421-423 Avenue G. The property was condemned in June 2015, and a fire caused major damage to the structure on September 4, 2015.  (Columbia Spy reported on the fire HERE.) Bigler adamantly insisted that the borough engineer made the "wrong diagnosis" and that she should not pay for it. She accused the borough of jumping to condemnation. Bigler claimed that the borough code officer did not enter the building prior to the decision to condemn and that the borough's actions caused her, her husband, and tenants "a lot of problems."

Bigler also accused the code department of being unprofessional and said that she and her husband were not notified that the building would be condemned. She told the committee that they have a business line with an answering machine. "No one called us," she said. 

Code Enforcement Officer/Supervisor Jeff Helm said the decision was initially prompted by Code Officer Robert Osborne's inspection, in order to protect the borough from liability. (Osborne has since been terminated from employment with the borough code department.)

Helm told the committee that he inspected the exterior of the building on June 15, 2015, accompanied by Osborne and engineer William Sauers, who was then employed by the borough. Helm said that he and the others walked around the building and found exterior bulging walls and concluded that the building should be condemned and vacated in a timely fashion.

Helm further explained that on June 26, 2015, Sauers and Sam Bigler entered the property and conducted a room-by-room and floor-by-floor inspection, looking especially for separations of interior/exterior walls. Sauers found unsupported areas on the second floor that required remediation, and his opinion was to vacate. Bigler opted for a third-party inspection by Sanchez & Associates of Millersville.

The borough subsequently suggested that the Biglers select an engineer with knowledge of older structures. The Biglers hired engineer Dan Fichtner, who determined that the building could remain occupied if the interior were re-supported. Fichtner did not believe it was structurally unsound.

Bigler requested that the committee waive the $600 bill for the borough engineer. Councillor Mary Barninger said that she agreed with Bigler's request and made a motion to send the issue to council at its May 9 meeting. Council President Kelly Murphy seconded the motion. Councillor Sherry Welsh, who was substituting for Councillor Cleon Berntheizel, opposed it.

Notice of Condemnation at the Avenue G property, prior to the September 4, 2015 fire.

20 comments:

  1. Um......I would say this bill is small, in the grand scheme of things Sam. Pay the Borough the thousands you owe for 208 Locust Street. And repair you Avenue G property as it has become a nuisance to those neighbors.

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  2. Ummmmm..."Councillor Sherry Welsh, who was substituting for Councillor Cleon Berntheizel."

    How does THAT work?

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    1. This was a finance committee meeting not a council meeting.

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    2. While all three are on council, Sherry Welsh is an alternate for this committee. Kelly Murphy is chair. Mary Barninger is a member.

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    3. There were five council members present at this meeting. Three of them serving on the committee.

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    4. I believe that is how the alternative committee person works.

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  3. What is the plan for the eyesore on Locust St. 10/months and still looks like crap.How long do they get?

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    1. Bank museum has been looking like crap going on for 15 years.

      (yeah, I know you probably won't publish this - but no harm in trying).

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  4. Pay the thousands owed for the flagger force and then we can talk about the $600. Really it takes a lot of nerve to appeal this bill after all the inconvenience to so many people between both properties. Are they serious?

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    1. While I agree he should pay for flagger force, the entire concept of bringing them on site was ridiculous. Barricades and detour signs could have done the job without the cost of actual flaggers on the scene. In fact, I noticed the flaggers simply sitting in a vehicle or standing next to a barricade at one point in this operation.

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    2. I have to agree. That block could have easily been shut to traffic with barricades not people. Temporary signs set up at Front and Locust to warn that road is closed. They do it for the Car Show and the Art Show, what's the difference?

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  5. Ridiculous!!!!!!!!
    Shame on the the council,,,, but what the heck.

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  6. i agree. ridiculous. council what the hell are you thinking? i do NOT want to pay one cent towards this bill and as a taxpayer....councilpersons better rethink.

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    1. Sam Bigler has gotten away with crime in this town with little to no consequence. He has taken beautiful buildings in Columbia and has single-handedly destroyed them with total neglect. Do we not require all landlords to maintain their property at a minimum standard? The minimum meaning that the property should be safe and sanitary in the interior and exterior. In order for downtown Columbia to flourish we first need to enforce the law – our laws in our town that our people have put into place and enforce that across the board. Not just for certain property owners. How much longer must we wait until someone forces him to either make the repairs on the 200 block of Locust St. or take the property from him? From: Frustrated Business Owner

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  7. When will code enforcement push Sam on getting Locust St. building done. If Columbia wants to attract visitors to downtown, that eyesore does not help. I bet if that was in other towns, that structure would be done.

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  8. I do not recall (in any city that I've visited) seeing a building sealed in what looks like plastic wrap! This has gone on too long. For the Bigler's to have two large historic buildings condemned in the same month not only speaks volumes, it SHOUTS!! Something is very wrong here.

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  9. Eminent Domain and give it to Pagans.
    Yup my OPINION

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  10. The council had the perfect opportunity to tell the Biglers that Enough is Enough and we mean business - pay up or face the consequences. But once again they chose to succumb to the Biglers. The system is rigged.

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  11. Mean while,,, Bigler still is at LARGE,,, Just look for the White Lexus SUV

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  12. SHAME ON COUNCIL. Biglers have been getting away with all this bs for years and years. Look at 200 block of Locust St. NO. PAY EVERY STINKIN PENNY YOU OWE THIS BORO. You should be thanking the good Lord that you've been able to get over all these years. The gig is up. Codes STEP UP. COUNCIL start with the big stuff. Stop worrying about stupid, lame bs.

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