Owners start raze work on Shamokin buildings
SHAMOKIN - All but one property owner whose vacant buildings were damaged or destroyed by accused arsonist James L. Neidlinger Jr. have taken steps to raze their buildings, Shamokin Code Enforcement Officer Rick Bozza reported Friday.
Police charged James L. Neidlinger Jr., of Shamokin, for setting the fires at 717-719 N. Shamokin St. on Sept. 5; the former Hardshell Cafe at 422 N. Shamokin St. on
Jan. 24; and 602-608 E. Sunbury St. on Jan. 28.
Larry Burda, owner of 717-719 N. Shamokin St., has less than six months to remedy the condition of his property, which was extensively damaged and caused a partial collapse near the rear of the building. Bozza said the law provides the owners of the buildings one year after the day of devastation to either raze the building or bring it up to code.
Burda began placing metal sheeting on the south side of the building, but work has been idle for the past several weeks.
"I am not sure what his plans are. He is still required to tear it down," Bozza said Friday. "Burda is the only one who is not compliant."
Burda had previously stated at a city council meeting that he was "unhappy with the situation" at the fire-damaged properties and that he would be contacting "counsel," though he elaborated no further on what he would be doing with the properties.
The most visible fire-damaged building is that of a three-story brick apartment building along highly traveled Route 61. A portion of the roof collapsed during the fire. Loose bricks cover the porch roof, and there are two gaping holes in the facade on the top floor. Debris falling from the structure could land on the sidewalk and cars parked or traveling on Route 61, a state road.
"PennDOT did not express any concerns, as I am aware of," Bozza said. "However, the city has great concern."
According to information provided by the Northumberland County Tax Claims Bureau, Bettina Senessey, of Paxinos, owns 604 and 606 Sunbury St. The third part of the structure, 608, is owned by Barbara Frazier, of Coal Township, and Ruth Miscavage, of Shamokin.
Frazier's brother, Andy Britton Sr., is expected to apply next week for permits to raze the large building. The top floor will be manually dismantled, and the rest of the building will be pulled backwards, away from Sunbury Street, according to Bozza.
Frazier said previously she bought 608 E. Sunbury St. just a few weeks before the fire. Her intent was to fix it up with Britton and friends, and eventually put it up for rent.
The owner of the former Hardshell is also expected to raze his property. The poor condition of the building is evident by the heavy damage on the exterior of the building.
Bozza said he's willing to be flexible, as long as owners are doing what they can to remove the burned out structures.
"I know not everyone has $10,000 lying around to tear down these buildings," Bozza said. "As long as they are chipping away and tearing them down, I will not pursue citations."
A fourth suspicious fire occurred at 725 N. Shamokin St., at the corner of Shamokin and Sunbury streets, also on Jan. 24. Kevin Kish, 50, of 704 N. Shamokin St., was recently charged in connection with that fire. Damage was limited to the first floor of that building.