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'Nuisance property' in Harrisburg is shut down

Violations of code lead to city's action

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The Harrisburg rental property that mayoral candidate Lori Davis called a "known neighborhood drug house" when she sued its landlord this year is being shut down by code enforcement after inspectors paid a visit and found a family living in squalor.

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Residents of 223 Eve St. must vacate the rental property owned by John B. Weigle Jr. Inspectors discovered buckets of urine, feces in the backyard and roach eggs throughout the premises.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Residents of 223 Eve St. must vacate the rental property owned by John B. Weigle Jr. Inspectors discovered buckets of urine, feces in the backyard and roach eggs throughout the premises.

At a court hearing in May, insurance salesman John B. Weigle Jr. testified that he knew nothing about any drug dealing going on at his property at 223 Eve St., that he wouldn't mind his tenants living next door to him and that he checked on the house frequently.

City inspectors checked this week and found a family living there without electricity or running water, with buckets of urine inside, feces in the backyard and roach eggs throughout the premises, according to Code Enforcement Manager Pam Costabile.

"The house in its current state is unsanitary," Costabile said in an e-mail, "and we are going to require that it be vacated, repair work done on (the) building and cleanup of the premises."

No evidence of drug-dealing or use was found, Costabile said, but she noted she is not qualified to do that kind of search.

The yellow bungalow at Eve and Ellis streets, two blocks from the Kroc Center construction site, has played heavily into Harrisburg activists' fight against drug peddlers and deadbeat landlords -- which started with a protest march July 4, 2009, included demonstrations outside Weigle's home and workplace, and culminated in Davis' current bid for the mayor's seat.

Earlier this year, she filed a small-claims case against Weigle over his management of the property, but she lost.

Davis complained to code enforcement Monday that an extension cord was running into the house from another house two doors down. Costabile and two other inspectors went there the next day and warned tenants at both ends of the cord that what they were doing was illegal.

A woman lives at Weigle's property with her three teenage grandchildren and two brothers, one of whom is sick, Costabile said. She told the inspectors that she had been hospitalized for three weeks and her utilities got cut off.

On Wednesday, several men sat on the front porch, the windows and front door open, when tenant Rebecca Tanksley pulled up riding in the passenger seat of her son's minivan. Wearing a mask over her mouth, she told The Chronicle she had nothing to say about the situation. Her son said she had just had some teeth pulled.

The men on the porch also said they had nothing to tell the newspaper, though one did say they were trying to clean up. Ms. Tanksley's son said he didn't think it would help because the rear part of the house was in such poor shape.

In the backyard, trash had been raked into a pile and furniture had been stacked on a rickety porch, near a stray grocery cart and a satellite dish.

City inspectors also found broken windows, a sagging ceiling, a leak in a bathroom, and windows and doors blocked by furniture and junk, causing a fire hazard. Costabile said she has spoken to Weigle and that he said he would address the problems right away.

The house has to be vacated first. Costabile said she has tried to find the family a place to go, but because the Augusta Housing Authority has no vacancies in public housing, she hopes Weigle can accommodate them.

They have until the end of the week to be out of the house.

"It's just unhealthy for them to be in there," Costabile said. "There's no way for them to be able to go to the bathroom, cook or do anything."

Weigle has so far declined to speak to The Chronicle about the house and did not return a message left at his office Wednesday.

Davis has tried to talk to him, too, sending a certified letter more than a year before the first protest, and trying to arrange meetings through relatives and intermediaries.

"If he would have just come to the table with us in Harrisburg, it would never have come to this point, but he refused," she said. "A decent landlord would have come to the table and helped with a situation like this."

A chronic nuisance properties ordinance could have solved the problem, she said. Davis was part of a study committee that chose instead to fund a Neighborhood Task Force, a recommendation the Augusta Commission has yet to implement.

Neighbors protested 223 Eve St.

Harrisburg activist and mayoral candidate Lori Davis has called 223 Eve St. a "known neighborhood drug house," though it's never been classified as such by police or through criminal charges.

When the Concerned Citizens of Harrisburg staged its first protest march July 4, 2009, Davis said the house was among those generating the most complaints to the neighborhood association, with men who don't appear to live there milling about outside, making cell phone calls and waving down cars. Cars with out-of-county and out-of-state plates come and go, she said.

Davis hammered a "nuisance property" sign in the dirt out front during the first march, and the activists group later picketed outside Weigle's home in Forrest Hills subdivision and in front of his workplace, Dawson Taylor & Co., on Wheeler Road.

In March, Davis filed a small-claims complaint against Weigle, part of an effort to prove the city needs a chronic nuisance properties ordinance. To back up her allegations of drug activity, she called Charlotte Ginn, the children's pastor at Harrisburg's Bible Deliverance Temple, as a witness.

Ginn described how she, Pastor Kelly McKnight and his wife once passed by the Eve Street house and saw a woman who rented a unit from the church's Another Chance Ministry Network homeless outreach. She was "looking sick," broke down and cried in the church office when confronted, and flunked a drug test, Ginn said.

Richmond County Magistrate Court Chief Judge William D. Jennings III ruled in Weigle's favor in the case, saying Davis failed to prove that he owes her $5,000 because of his management of the property.

-- Johnny Edwards,

staff writer

Comments (107) Add comment
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FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/22/10 - 10:58 am
0
0
I'm glad to hear that this

I'm glad to hear that this has been followed through. It is bad when just a few run-down properties can set up a neighborhood to be plagued by all kinds of vermin. This has been happening in the suburbs, too. It is a nightmare getting some problems addressed. I commend Lori Davis and her supporters for illuminating the problem and her (and their) persistence. I also want to thank code enforcement, better late than never.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 09/22/10 - 11:10 am
0
0
God, I hope they don't move

God, I hope they don't move in next to me. Lori, Butch & the Gang, cleaning up Harrisburg!

ruudvonbaron
0
Points
ruudvonbaron 09/22/10 - 11:23 am
0
0
Good job Lori. It is too bad

Good job Lori. It is too bad it takes months for local government to actually show up and do their job after numerous complaints.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 11:34 am
0
0
amazing how now that we are

amazing how now that we are 40 days away from the election and code enforcement actually decides to do its job. Better late than never, but this really should have been taken care of more than a year ago.

CATFISHSTEW
14
Points
CATFISHSTEW 09/22/10 - 12:03 pm
0
0
Mr. Weigle said that he

Mr. Weigle said that he wouldn't mind his tenants living next door to him......well Big Boy they need a place to stay,.. so they should be real confortable over at your house..Guess whos coming to dinner!!!

ruudvonbaron
0
Points
ruudvonbaron 09/22/10 - 12:07 pm
0
0
The Weigles are weak-minded,

The Weigles are weak-minded, lying, hypocrites. Come on out of hiding and speak to the media about your tenants and your frequent checks on the rental house. They should be arrested on perjury charges if nothing else.

raul
5544
Points
raul 09/22/10 - 12:10 pm
0
0
Maybe Mr. Weigle can let them

Maybe Mr. Weigle can let them live with him until this issue is resolved. LOL.

yawningloudly
0
Points
yawningloudly 09/22/10 - 12:18 pm
0
0
hahahahaha and what you dont

hahahahaha and what you dont think ol butch was once a slum lord

creolechick
72
Points
creolechick 09/22/10 - 12:20 pm
0
0
I think we should elect Lori

I think we should elect Lori Davis for mayor! She's the only one who got anything done about this. Granted it took a while for anyone to listen. I wish I had a Lori Davis in my neighborhood.

Little Lamb
48048
Points
Little Lamb 09/22/10 - 12:25 pm
0
0
Lori's got my vote!

Lori's got my vote!

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 12:30 pm
0
0
well I can say this.. if Lori

well I can say this.. if Lori is having this much impact as a candidate to get these departments to do their jobs, then imagine what she can do as mayor.

Riverman1
90855
Points
Riverman1 09/22/10 - 12:39 pm
0
0
Lori is having a big impact.

Lori is having a big impact. Of course, she is angering the powers that be because she wants them to do their jobs. It would be amazing to have a proactive person like her as mayor. Can you imagine?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 12:41 pm
0
0
You are right Riverman.. just

You are right Riverman.. just imagine if we had a proactive, no non-sense mayor.. I bet you The Patch thing would have been resolved. I mean where has Deke even been on that issue?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 01:18 pm
0
0
And Weigle claims he made

And Weigle claims he made routine inspections of his property.. either the man is blind or he is lying.

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 09/22/10 - 01:56 pm
0
0
Someone square these two bits

Someone square these two bits of info for me, THEN "John B. Weigle Jr., testified that he knew nothing about any drug dealing going on at his property at 223 Eve St., that he wouldn't mind his tenants living next door to him and that he checked on the house frequently."

NOW, "Weigle has so far declined to speak to The Chronicle about the house and did not immediately return a messge left at his office this morning."

Looks like the old, "We have NOTHING to hide!" ruse did not work.

Good work Lori and Butch.

VOTE OUT THE INCUMBENTS,

Brad

Little Lamb
48048
Points
Little Lamb 09/22/10 - 02:10 pm
0
0
Emerydan wrote: If we had a

Emerydan wrote:

If we had a proactive, no non-sense mayor, the Patch thing would have been resolved. I mean where has Deke even been on that issue?

Emerydan, the Patch thing is controversial. Therefore, Deke has no position on that issue.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 09/22/10 - 02:27 pm
0
0
It's about time something was

It's about time something was done. The typical "head in the sand" approach from the bureaucracy has back-fired yet again. If the deaf ears at code enforcement had really been listening this could have been handled two years ago. And the irony is that now Mr Weigle, after accepting rent for all that time without accepting ANY responsibility for allowing the property to deteriorate and not holding his tenants accountable will now have to shell out some bucks to get the place livable again.
Maybe new leadership at the top (Go Lori!) will fix the lax enforcement issue and maybe the Mr Weigle's of this town will get the message and realize they are dinosaurs whose time has come and gone.We can only hope.

dreamcatcher_ga
15
Points
dreamcatcher_ga 09/22/10 - 02:42 pm
0
0
One woman's determination not

One woman's determination not to be sidestepped by the powers that be seems to have Augusta's "leadership" finally waking up. If people want to clean up Augusta I say elect Lori as mayor and then fill every possible office with women....I bet you that would be a whole lot more accomplished in this city.

urright
465
Points
urright 09/22/10 - 03:10 pm
0
0
The only box Lori has stood

The only box Lori has stood on is the nuisance thing. How about the rest of the issues? Just because she was the squeaky wheel on this issue doesn't mean she's qualified to be Mayor. Does she have any experience running anything--so much for a city?

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 09/22/10 - 03:14 pm
0
0
She runs a small business,she

She runs a small business,she has a Bachelor's and a Master's degree, she has more practical experience as an actual leader in my opinion that Mr. Copenhaver did when he was elected.
She also has a comprehensive platform for what she will do when elected. www.loridavisformayor.org.Check it out.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 03:15 pm
0
0
She has as much political

She has as much political experience as our current mayor did before he took office. Lori has more education than Deke.. a master degree. She helps run a small business. Most importantly Lori seems to understand better what the priorities of this city are. And the only one issue that Deke has stood for is the ballpark.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 03:18 pm
0
0
countyman
21303
Points
countyman 09/22/10 - 04:01 pm
0
0
The Lori Davis supporters

The Lori Davis supporters bring up the ballpark more than Deke.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 04:05 pm
0
0
The ballpark is the single

The ballpark is the single issue that Deke has built his tenure as mayor around.

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 09/22/10 - 04:22 pm
0
0
One queastion. Who owns the

One queastion. Who owns the majority of the property around where the ball stadium is proposed?

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 09/22/10 - 06:03 pm
0
0
Lori concerns and issues seem

Lori concerns and issues seem to only be in the Harrisburg area. Augusta is alot bigger than Harrisburg.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/22/10 - 06:10 pm
0
0
Ohwell.. Lori is quite aware

Ohwell.. Lori is quite aware that these problems are bigger than Harrisburg and that's why she has been fighting for beefing up code enforcement all over Augusta and getting a CNPO passed to clean up neighborhoods all over the city. She has been speaking to groups all over the city on what needs to be done to make Augusta a top residential destination, rather than a place residents flee from. Check out her platform, you will see it goes beyond just Harrisburg.
http://www.loridavisformayor.org

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 09/22/10 - 06:55 pm
0
0
Deke has already made Augusta

Deke has already made Augusta a top residential destination.

Augusta is the #1 city in the US to buy a starter home
http://www.cnbc.com/id/39213223?slide=11

Augusta is ranked the 5th best bang for buck city in the nation
http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/30/cities-affordable-cheap-lifestyle-real-...

Augusta is ranked the 6th best building market in the nation
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/09/09/0917_booming_housing_markets/7.htm

Augusta is ranked one of the top ten cities to raise a family in 2010
http://geoparent.sheknows.com/articles/149/10-best-cities-in-the-us-to-r...

Augusta is ranked #20 on the top 101 cities for families
http://www.parenting.com/article/Mom/Work--Family/Best-Cities-for-Famili...

countyman
21303
Points
countyman 09/22/10 - 06:57 pm
0
0
Before Deke Copenhaver became

Before Deke Copenhaver became the mayor of Augusta. When has Augusta ever been ranked 9th in the southeast for new housing construction?

Deke is taking Augusta to a whole diffrent level. New airlines, companies, industry, jobs, hotels, businesses, etc. Look at the cities in the top 10 for new housing construction...

1. Tampa
2. Atlanta
3. Raleigh
4. Orlando
5. Charlotte
6. Miami
7. Jacksonville
8. Charleston
9. Augusta
10. Columbia
http://southeast.construction.com/southeast_construction_news/2010/0401_...

To make sure you understand the significance of this accomplishment. Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Greenville, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Louisville, Greensboro, Winston Salem, Huntsville, Richmond, Norfolk, Savannah, VA Beach, etc are southeastern cities..

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
Points
Harrisburg Homeowner 09/22/10 - 07:12 pm
0
0
Augusta? you said Augusta is

Augusta? you said Augusta is ranked one of the top ten cities in which to raise a family???? You've got to be kidding! Where did they get that data? More than likely it was gleaned from the families who send their kids to private school and live in relative isolation on the Hill and other expensive neighborhoods inaccessible to most Augustans. If Augusta is such a wonderful place to live, put your kids in public school and live in the less expensive neighborhoods where the house next door is owned by a landlady who lives near Atlanta and only takes care of it when made to do so. Live up the street from a lady who burns trash in her backyard in a barrel. Live near a drug dealer. Live where someone walks down the street with his boxers almost entirely showing. Have someone drop his drawers and raise his T-shirt to expose himself entirely to you from chest to ankle. Then let me hear you say Augusta is a top-ranking city.

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