South Williamsport corner eyesore nears demolition


South Williamsport borough officials are trying to clean up unused and blighted properties to put the land back into the hands of potential developers and build the tax base.

The latest substantial blight removal project is the impending demolition of what has become an eyesore and hazardous structure at the corner of Riverside Drive and Maynard Street.

Earlier this month, the borough council approved an engineering and project management agreement with HRG to prepare the required demolition bid specifications in accordance with federal Community Development Block Grant regulations to safely raze the “Protasio” building.

“The borough considers this building to be a fire hazard and a serious threat to children who may gain access to it,” said Steven W. Cappelli, borough manager and public safety director.

In late 2018, borough officials met with the owner, Brad Gordner, to ascertain what, if any, future redevelopment work was planned for the vacant structure.

A voice message to Gordner was not


Gordner, meanwhile, assured the borough he intended to renovate and repurpose the building in 2019, Cappelli said.

Other than installing replacement windows, no zoning or building permits were applied for and no work occurred to rehabilitate the building, Cappelli said.

As a result, the borough drafted and adopted a Blighted Property Ordinance and, pursuant to this local law, initiated the required review to certify the property as blighted

That certification occurred in 2019, and the owner appealed this certification to the Blighted Property Review Committee, which was denied.

He then appealed that decision to the Lycoming County Court, and in 2020, a county judge affirmed the borough’s blight certification.

About three months ago, the borough’s codes and zoning enforcement officer served the owner with a Notice of Demolition requiring him to raze the structure in 30 days or the borough would commence demolition.

The owner has appealed this notice. This appeal hearing will go before the borough’s Board of Appeals and should take place in early to mid-November.

If the owner’s appeal is denied at this stage, he may appeal back to county court one final time.

From the borough’s perspective, the owner has failed to demonstrate any real or meaningful effort to cure the blighted nature of this building for over two years, Cappelli said.

The interior of the building is gutted and it lacks certain utilities making it uninhabitable, he said.

Upon final disposition of pending demolition notice appeals, and if the borough is affirmed, demolition bids will be solicited, a low bid awarded and a much needed end to this saga will be achieved, Cappelli said.


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