Saturday, August 25, 2018

Of slumlords, drugs, and thugs - The cancer that's eating Columbia

Nick Meley: "I think it should be Columbia Borough's motto: 'We can't do anything about it.'"

The citizen comment section of the August borough council meeting was raw with criticism of the way slumlords and criminal activity are being dealt with in the borough. Walnut Street resident Nick Meley suggested a new motto for Columbia: "We can't do anything about it," saying that's the answer he has heard over the past 20-25 years. Meley likened slumlords to a disease, saying the borough "can't put band-aids on this cancer." He told council that one landlord owns 11 properties in one block, each with peeling paint, rotting wood, and weeds. Meley came to the meeting with a solution: Regulate the slumlords.

Meley suggested implementing a progressive surtax on non-resident multiple property owners or progressive licensing, and a "three-strike procedure" for code violations. "Nothing is being done about the real problem," he said. "Make the landlord responsible for the violations, and not the tenants." Meley said he was assaulted in the borough and blamed several factors, notably the fact that "the thugs, the lowlife, the Section 8 tenants know that this town is that kind of place. They congregate here," he said.

Meley noted the previous month's council meeting in which he cited a Michigan township that banned Section 8 and restricted the number of rentals. He said the borough solicitor at the meeting admitted he didn't know what they do in Michigan. "He seemed pretty proud of his ignorance," Meley said. Meley asked what specific statutes prevent council from passing such legislation. Solicitor Barry Handwerger did not answer directly, merely saying that he does not give legal advice without researching the issue.

Meley said that although the renovated library, the trail, and the Columbia Crossing were positives, "It borders on delusional to think that new businesses and new residents are going to come to this town because of a renovated library when the streets are like they are."

Shirley McBride of Perry Street echoed many of Meley's points. She said that when she called the borough about slumlords and trouble on her block, she experienced retaliation: Her car was keyed and her house was egged. "I was threatened. Welcome to my world," she said, noting she has lived in Columbia for 54 years. "This is a nightmare."

She said neighbors scream at two and three in the morning and she was told nothing could be done. "I thought we had a three strikes you're out," she said. "I live in fear." She said her neighborhood is going downhill and compared it to Detroit or Chicago. "Drugs are just rampant in this town," she said. "It's up to you to do something about it. We let this go too long, and now you've got a crisis on your hands. I would not in any circumstances tell someone to move to Columbia because of the slum landlords."

McBride pleaded with council to regulate slumlords. "Please, please, please, please, I'm begging you, do something with the slum landlords. You know who they are. You hear it, and I'll bet you there isn't one person in this borough that can't tell you who they are."

Frank Doutrich of Ironville Pike recommended having a police dog in place in the borough "to let the thugs know." He told council that his house was recently broken into and money was taken. Doutrich has often publicly emphasized the need for a police dog, an assertion the mayor continues to reject. Several months ago, Doutrich hung a banner at his North Ninth Street property, which reads: "FIGHT CRIME AND DRUGS WITH POLICE DOGS!"


[Columbia Spy will continue to post relevant citizen comments.  The borough has not posted citizen comments consistently since October 2017. In addition, the borough still has not posted minutes of the July 2018 borough council meeting, as of today's date.]

25 comments:

  1. Frank for Mayor !!

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  2. McBride for Borough Manager - Go Frank and Shirley !!

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  3. Things are definitely getting worse

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  4. Columbia is notoriously hostile to new residents. It is absurd to think ANYONE would want to move here from elsewhere and hear the "Columbia Pride" nonsense. Only place in the world that takes pride in inbreeding.

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  5. When I bought my first home as a single woman, I decided to return to my birthplace, Columbia. People asked me, "Why would you do that?" I was simply drawn to the town. Also wanted my kids to have a nice small school atmosphere. They both graduated, but I would never make the same decision again. Thankfully, for the sake of their future, neither of them live in Columbia. As soon as I can sell, I'll also be leaving and Columbia will be out one more good resident. One who paid their taxes, kept their property maintained and clean. Maybe a slumlord will buy my place. If I ever feel drawn to it again, I'll ride through and remember why I left.

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  6. The truth always comes out !!

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  7. The "attached" citizen comments for October 9, 2017 actually have a date of September 11, 2017, but the comments are different than the comments "attached" to the September 11, 2017 documents. Following all of this is nothing short of confusing. The June 11, 2018 minutes have the July 9, 2018 agenda posted with them. One has to question why it's acceptable to forego accuracy. There have been no "non-agenda" citizen comments posted since last October. Is this by design? Nothing perceived as negative will see the light of day? I asked about this at the August council meeting. Borough Manager Rebecca Denlinger said that they will be posting them going forward. No explanation was given for why the practice stopped. Sharon Lintner

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    1. This isn't hard to figure out. Any public meeting will start with a review and approval of the minutes from the previous meeting, prior to publishing. This is to ensure accuracy for constituents.

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    2. This isn't hard to figure out? So where's the accuracy? So where are the minutes from July 9th? They were approved earlier in August. And where are all the citizen comments since last fall? I think it's time to work on a better explanation.

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    3. The powers that be need to keep up the positive image so they continue to get the special funding for the pet projects

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  8. I asked a Police Officer one time, why the three strikes rule was not applying to somrone. They told me they csn get called and come out to a place, 100 times and it does not apply unless the person calling tells the police, they want it put through that way. They said that the person calling will have to go to a hearing then. At that time I said ok I will do it. I never heard anything else about it. No hearing about it. Tenants still there. Police there often. That was 1-2 years ago. This is BS!!

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  9. i agree. all good points. now is the time we come together and DEMAND accountability. I'll never understand WHY they have continued to let people keep turning single family homes into rentals and adding a unit. even now. wth???? yes create a tax for ALL the tenants. and the OWNER of the property SHOULD be held ACCOUNTABLE AND RESPONSIBLE for each and every one of their properties. YES to 2 police dogs we need the K -9's NOW MORE than EVER. last but not least.....its a true sin that our police have to work with 2 officers on a shift. we ALL know that Columbia hasn't the 2nd HIGHEST call in ALL of Lancaster COunty. Years ago something changed that MOST of the time there are ONLY 2 officers on each shift. thats downright crazy. THIS COUNCIL MUST DECIDE WHAT THEY WANT IN THE BORO. ART GALLERIES AND TRAILS (which are ok) OR TO CLEAN UP THE STREETS OF DRUGS AND HOLD PROPERTY OWNERS ACCOUNTABLE. and to add icing on the cake.....THE CHIEF HAS DONE AWAY WITH ALL THE POLICE DISPATCHERS. I FOR ONE CAN'T BELIEVE WE ARE GOING TO LET THAT HAPPEN. go to the next COuncil Meeting

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  10. The problem is the k2 selling n using it an its overlooked.people stop using other drugs k2 is live rite now!But to compare this lil town to chi Chicago and Detroit is a joke lol not even close columbia isnt even more dangerous the Lancaster.to me i feel like people are afraid and distraught of the minorities moving into the town now lets blame them huh..There more white users an dealers in columbia (fact)people been coming here for years dont seeing the racism against minorities the police hassing the blacks an blaming them.IVE LIVED HERE FOR 2/1\2 YEARS AN SEEN PEOPLE SMOKE WEED AN CRACK IN THERE YARD THEN HAVE THE NERVE TO CALL COPS CUZ SOMEONE GOT DRUGS ON THEY BLOCK. Hypocrites PLUS THE CIS OUT HERE ARE THE REAL DEALERS AN THEY USE HARD DRUGS SO BLAME WHOEVER IN CONTRAL OF THAT TELL THEM TO BRING MORE ORDER AN CONTINUE AN BALENCE..CUZ PEOPLES WAY OF LIFE WONT STOP JUST FOR U ITS BEEN GOING ON FOR 100 YEARS STOP CRYING AN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.HOE MANY PEOPLE WHO LOOK DOWN ON OTHERS SINS REALLY DO THINGS FOR THIS TOWN��DO U TRY TO HELP THE KIDS DO U OFFER TO HELP GET A JOB OR EVEN A HOWS UR DAY...NO U DON'T U CALL THE COPS AN LIE NOW THE ONLY THING THAT DOES IS ALLOW SOME NYC CAT COME IN AN SELL DRUGS IN UR LIL TOWN.STOP BITCHING AN U GO OUT AN MAKE A CHANGE..STOP WORRYING THESES GOOD OFFICERS TIME THEY DO A GOOD JOB UP HERE TO BE HONEST.MOVE ELSE WHERE THEN U WILL SEE THIS ISNT A BAD PLACE AT ALL AN U GOT SIN EVERYWHERE SO STOP HATING GO BACK INSIDE UR HOUSE STOP BEING SO NOISY TRYING GET PEOPLE LOCKED UP FOR DUMB ISH NEVER WORKED.✌

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    1. What the hell did you even say. 2 1/2 years and you think you know anything about this town. Why should people have to go in their houses to not see what's going on when neighbors talking was the norm before the town was whored out to rental units and the less than desiables that inhabit them.

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  11. My daughter just purchased a home in Columbia and early in the morning Friday, August 24th, someone tried to break into her house. She has 3 of my precious grandchildren in that home. My daughter was petrified!! This person was knocking on all of her windows and trying her doors. She called 911 and when the police showed up this prowler, who I'm sure was drug ridden, had moved to the home next door and gotten in. He threw the female occupant down and pushed her young daughter. The multiple police officers took him to the hospital BUT he was back out when I got to my daughter's house a liitle after noon of that same day. I will be visiting the police station tomorrow. Is Columbia a SANCTUARY TOWN for drug addicts? Are they allowed to just roam free and do whatever to whomever whenever in your neighborhoods? I want to know why this man is not in jail and prosicuted. He evidently resides with his mother who I hear fears him as well as everyone else that lives in that house. If he needs rehab then by all means get him the help BUT if anything happens to my daughter or grandchildren the police department will hear and by God feel my wrath!!!

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  12. TRUTH....EVERY TIME YOU CALL POLICE FOR A DISRUPTIVE YOU MUST TELL THEM THAT WHEN YOU CALL IT IN. EVERY TIME. SO WHEN YOU CALL, IF IT'S A RENTAL PROPERTY TELL THEM THAT...THERE ARE PROBLEMS AND TO DO A DISRUPTIVE CONDUCT REPORT. 3 STRIKES TENANTS ARE OUT. LEGALLY.OTHERWISE, THEY AREN'T DONE!

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  13. Keep making single family homes multi family dwellings and the trouble will continue to grow. The slumlords have sold out our town.

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  14. Vote out Mayor Lutz, and over haul the police station. They're friends or went to school with some of the perpetrators. I was born and raised in Columbia. I moved to York County 4 yrs ago and have no regrets. I'd never move back and I wouldn't reccomend people move to Columbia.

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  15. THAT is one of the reasons WHY we MUST NEVER let them take away our Constitutional Rights!!!!! This kind of thing is getting to be the norm around here. It's time....time to have 4 police officers on each shift and fight back. Get 2 K-9's too. The TAXPAYING HOME OWNERS, WHO BY THE WAY ARE THE ONES THAT CARRY THIS TOWN ARE FED UP!! Something MUST be done before someone is killed. If the powers that be, can't figure it out....then maybe it's time to bring in the Pro's.

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  16. One morning when my husband opened the door to leave for work there was a man lying on the sidewalk. At the end of the block there was a young woman lying in the grass. Neither made any sense, seemed as if they were high and just passed out. This was only one of MANY weird things we have seen in Columbia. I think we would be very, very surprised to find out what all goes on at night. I know there is retaliation and so I have to decide when or if I will call the police in every situation. I actually weigh it out and I have talked to other people that feel the same way, they live in fear of retaliation for calling the police. It's a small town and it doesn't take much for someone to figure out who may have called.

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    1. There is definitely some truth in what you say about retaliation. My aunt lives in Columbia on on their block was a nuisance neighbor and every time the called the Police, the police turned it around and acted like it was their problem not the nuisance neighbor, playing loud music and running a leaf blower at 6am etc. So, they all stopped calling the police. Then, if HE called the police they came down and acted like a kid bouncing a ball was felony! RIDICULOUS! And this guy openly said "I have the Columbia Police right where I want them" ... strange situation and it included one of the dispatchers, which is maybe why the dispatchers are gone.

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  17. I’ve never been to a borough meeting. Although very close, I no longer live or own property within Columbia borough. But I do read many of these blogs and news reports about Columbia’s issues and reviews of the meetings. Seems like the same people meeting about the same issues over and over with no resolution. There is a reason Columbia is targeted by the slumlords, thugs, and drugs. It’s simple. It just works. They get away with the nonsense here. Would lititz borough tolorate such behavior? I feel like not. Columbia needs a professional that is not from Columbia and don’t give a shit about “Columbia pride”. Someone who’s only mission is to clean up what Columbia has left and come down hard on rental property owners. Also FYI, if you ever say “Columbia pride” around anyone not from Columbia, it always gets a chuckle. There really is nothing to be proud of. It’s no different than a failing business. Allow the same people to run the show and you will be left with the same results. Stop sugar coating things for yourselves and acknowledge the fact that your town has become the seas pool of Lancaster county and if you want it to change you need professional help. Heck Columbia even gets screwed over by utilities. Finally get new blacktop and side walks on a block then the water company will rip it up and patch it half assed with some lumpy cold patch and call it a day! WTH! That should not be tolerated. Professional outside help people! Good luck!

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  18. That's why I love Frank Doutrich. Always on the job. Go Frank! :-)

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