Harrisburg landlord denies tenants run drug house

Landlord denies claims his tenants run drug house

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Harrisburg landlord John B. Weigle Jr., speaking from the witness stand Monday in Richmond County Magistrate Court, said he doesn't know anything about any drug dealing going on at his rental house at 223 Eve St.

A woman lives there with her two grandchildren, whom she's been raising since her daughter died of cancer, and Weigle said he wouldn't mind living next door to them.

"I would be glad to," he said.

The property has been the subject of three protests by neighborhood activists -- one outside Weigle's home in the Forest Hills subdivision.

Lori Davis, the president of the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association, called the Eve Street home a "known neighborhood drug house" when she filed a small-claims complaint against Weigle in March.

Davis had her day in court Monday, telling Judge William D. Jennings III that she has been trying since 2007 to get Weigle to come to the table to resolve issues she has with his tenants but that he's been dodging her.

She's suing him for $5,000, which includes her donation toward bringing nuisance-properties expert John H. Campbell to Augusta earlier this year to talk to a commission committee she sits on.

Jennings didn't rule on the case Monday, but he's expected to before week's end. Weigle's attorney, Jack Long, asked him to dismiss the complaint because state law holds that landlords can't be held responsible to third parties for tenants' behavior.

The judge held off after Davis pointed out the state's nuisance and disorderly house codes.

Davis also called a witness: Charlotte Ginn, a children's pastor at Harrisburg's Bible Deliverance Temple. She 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.

Davis has said she doesn't expect to win the lawsuit, but she wants to prove homeowners have no recourse against problem landlords without a chronic nuisance properties ordinance.

Making the same statement, activist Butch Palmer filed two $15,000 Magistrate Court claims in March -- one against Joe Smith, the owner of the building at 1739 Fenwick St. that houses Mercy Ministries, and the other against the ministry itself.

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ZenoElia
1
Points
ZenoElia 05/10/10 - 10:29 pm
0
0
Sounds a lot like these two

Sounds a lot like these two are gunning for money, not safety. Why should a landlord pay for his tenants actions be they good or bad? Lots of funny stuff going on in Harrisburg. Tell ya what..hire me to fix those places up and I'll shut up..otherwise keep going to court and wasting taxpayer money so you two can line your pockets...

rjv
0
Points
rjv 05/10/10 - 11:10 pm
0
0
I PASS THIS HOUSE GOING HOME

I PASS THIS HOUSE GOING HOME FROM WORK EVERY DAY AND SOMEBODY IS LYING ! YOU DON'T SEE A "GRANNY" AND TWO CHILDREN THERE ! YOU SEE FOUR, SOMETIMES SIX,AND EVEN MORE PEOPLE IN THE YARD AND ON THE PORCH ! USUALLY HALF DRESSED AND CARS PULLING UP ALL THE TIME ! SOMETIMES YOU CAN HARDLY GET BY ! AND LET ME TELL YOU THEY LOOK LIKE "TRASH" AND ACT IT! GO LOOK FOR YOURSELF IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME !

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 05/11/10 - 01:25 am
0
0
RJV, you're right on the

RJV, you're right on the ball. Zeno, a person who stands by and profits off of people who lower the quality of live for others, deserves to get his day in court. Lori and Butch aren't out for money. They're trying to make a point. I go by there almost several times a week on my bike, when the wind blows in the right direction you definately get a whiff of White Owl... and a little sumthin else.

Trey Enfantay
9
Points
Trey Enfantay 05/11/10 - 05:09 am
0
0
I'd be curious to know how

I'd be curious to know how many times RCSO has responded to calls about this property. That might bring us a bit closer to the truth. Johnny, can you possibly get that information?

sdrwtcn
0
Points
sdrwtcn 05/11/10 - 04:52 am
0
0
If there is so much "obvious"

If there is so much "obvious" drug activity going on there, why can't the regular old police just go up and bust the place. People congregating does not make a crime, even if they may be people you would not prefer to be around!

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 05/11/10 - 05:09 am
0
0
Ignoring a situation doesn't

Ignoring a situation doesn't make it go away, either. While some people refuse to read body language or analyze an obvious situation, police are trained to be a little more observant than that. If the house hasn't been busted, someone is intentionally not paying attention (besides John Weigle).

corgimom
36853
Points
corgimom 05/11/10 - 05:46 am
0
0
You have to ask yourself this

You have to ask yourself this question- why would Lori Davis make this up? The answer- there isn't any reason. She isn't making this up.

belle
311
Points
belle 05/11/10 - 06:06 am
0
0
Zeno, please read again. It
Unpublished

Zeno, please read again. It states that Lori Davis does not expect to win the case. She is trying to raise awareness. Regretfully, if you take someone to court, you must sue them for some amount. Otherwise it would be cool to have the landlord spend a week next door to the residence.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 05/11/10 - 06:30 am
0
0
Isn't Lying on the stand

Isn't Lying on the stand perjury? John B. Weigle Jr need to be in jail....just saying

ZenoElia
1
Points
ZenoElia 05/11/10 - 07:16 am
0
0
civil action will not cure

civil action will not cure the problem..they need to round up the perps and lock 'em up...if they aren't then someone IS ignoring the problem and it must be law enforcement...they have the right to question anyone on a public street they suspect of acting criminally...so the problem rests with law enforcement...no one else.

harrisburgwillrise
0
Points
harrisburgwillrise 05/11/10 - 07:49 am
0
0
ZenoElia, There is no other

ZenoElia, There is no other recourse than going to court at this point, and I am sure that you are aware that you have to ask for damages of some amount. The Sheriff's Dept would not handle the problem, and even though Richmond County Nuisance code mentions behavior, they say that it is not their problem. Enter John Weigle. He has not done one thing in good faith to make this situation any different. He has received three letters from the Harrisburg Association, has been personally contacted by family and friends, as an intervention tool, and has been personally protested. What's in it for him, one must ask? I know for a fact that if Lori Davis wins any money which is highly unlikely, it will be donated to charity. Glad that Judge Jennings decided to look at this case a bit closer.

harrisburgwillrise
0
Points
harrisburgwillrise 05/11/10 - 07:51 am
0
0
Trey, RCSO has responded 43

Trey,

RCSO has responded 43 times in the past two years with 10 filed reports. This was presented in court.

chel
0
Points
chel 05/11/10 - 08:09 am
0
0
I can fully understand the

I can fully understand the frustration of Lori Davis and others in Harrisburg as I have Calvin Walker as my neighbor who as many know has been negligent in a "judges order" to clean up his property. So Zeno, even if you have a judges order the police still have their hand's tied. Our properties have suffered great financial damages because of our environment and the negligence of the landowners and I don't see anyone coming to our door and saying "we will help pay for this" but I do hear our insurance company tell us, "if you file another claim we will drop you". This must stop!

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 05/11/10 - 08:22 am
0
0
Why not just kick out the

Why not just kick out the section 8 people out of Harrisburg and alot of the problems would be solved. They sit on the porches all day, drink, walk the streets, sit on the curb drunk at the corner store, hang out at Mom and Pops, hang out at the BP station and have just ruined the neighborhood. Fine group of people the government has thrown in with decent hard working citizens. Cut off the benifits and make them get a job but I forget work is not their "STYLE".

disssman
6
Points
disssman 05/11/10 - 08:26 am
0
0
Just what is the status of

Just what is the status of the "nuisance ordinance"? It would seem that it wouldn't be that hard to draft such an ordinance. Has anyone seen a draft copy of what is being proposed? Will a draft come out this year? Who is on the committee doing the writing, how often do they meet and are minutes of the meetings available? P.S. I just hope there is something in it for Ghetto Blasters and section8 misfits.

55 F-100
1
Points
55 F-100 05/11/10 - 08:28 am
0
0
Probably just a satellite

Probably just a satellite office of A.C.O.R.N. with their workers making strategy plans.

grinder48
2040
Points
grinder48 05/11/10 - 09:00 am
0
0
How many times must this be
Unpublished

How many times must this be said, the responsibility for law enforcement belongs to law enforcement. The responsibility for code enforcement belows to the city / county government. Landlords are NOT responsible. Enforce existing codes and laws, the problem goes away. This whole thing about trying to hold landlords responsible is absolutely absurd! (No, I do not own any rental property)

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 05/11/10 - 09:04 am
0
0
Sounds to me like Lori and

Sounds to me like Lori and Butch need to be protesting in front of the RCSO instead of the landlords.....

veggie-d
0
Points
veggie-d 05/11/10 - 09:30 am
0
0
more than one criminal could

more than one criminal could be found in the white house during the bush administration...were his landlords held accountable?

myparrot
18
Points
myparrot 05/11/10 - 09:39 am
0
0
My mother's best friend is

My mother's best friend is afraid to even stay at her own home, which is located in the 500 block of eve, because she has come home and found 15 guys half clothed on her porch. They have no right to be on her property yet they do so anyway. They have no respect for anyone or their property. She has called the police and then they damaged some of her property. I drove by just last week and they were back again. You have no other course of action other than make someone responsible. What can you do?

dani
12
Points
dani 05/11/10 - 09:45 am
0
0
veggie-d. Aren't we, the

veggie-d. Aren't we, the voters, the landlord?

cakewalk30904
0
Points
cakewalk30904 05/11/10 - 09:53 am
0
0
I think that since the

I think that since the landlord wouldn't mind living next door, rather than be sentenced to pay, he should have to try living next door. Better yet, let them live in his home for a week.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 05/11/10 - 10:12 am
0
0
Ostriches stick their heads

Ostriches stick their heads in the ground so they don't know what is going on around them. Sounds like some landlords have dirt in their hair.

Frank I
1203
Points
Frank I 05/11/10 - 10:22 am
0
0
cakewalk: I think that would

cakewalk: I think that would be a FANTASTIC judgement to be handed down. 3 or more months required residency next door to his property at his own expense.

baronvonreich
0
Points
baronvonreich 05/11/10 - 10:29 am
0
0
Keep up the good fight Lori

Keep up the good fight Lori and Butch.

Nightwing
0
Points
Nightwing 05/11/10 - 10:47 am
0
0
Better yet, if reliable

Better yet, if reliable witness, let the law bust the house and confiscate the property.

Trey Enfantay
9
Points
Trey Enfantay 05/11/10 - 11:04 am
0
0
Harrisburgwillrise - Thanks

Harrisburgwillrise - Thanks for the information. That must be one wild grammy!

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 05/11/10 - 11:35 am
0
0
MyParrot -- I'm sorry for

MyParrot -- I'm sorry for your mother's friend.
To Ronnie Strength -- find out the address, and clean this lady's porch off -- permanently !! Y'all can't seem to be able to tackle Jones St.; maybe you can handle Eve St. better. There is no excuse for behavior like this, and no punishments.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 05/11/10 - 11:38 am
0
0
Mr Weigle , probably gave the
Unpublished

Mr Weigle , probably gave the only answer he could give under the circumstances, as we all know "ignorance is bliss". Of course most people probably feel he and most other owners of problem properties are aware of the actions of their tenants, what's unknown as to why anyone would knowingly rent their property to tenants that dabble in such seedy elements. It's beginning to look like they're just purposely trying to make life miserable for those who have dared to petition them publicly.
While I do not live in Harrisburg, I sympathize with the residents there who are absolutely being abused by not only the seedy tenants but by the landlords, the sheriffs office and now the very government which should be gladly stepping up to help right a gross wrong. I can tell you if this activity was happening along Broad Street, Reynolds street, the Hill area or anywhere else downtown where it would negatively impact quality of life or safety, the full weight of government would be falling on them like a sledge hammer. I seldom mention the descrimination word but it looks an awful lot like the Harrisburg residents are being ignored because of the demographics.
I'm hopeful the judge will muster some wisdom and give these people the help they deserve. It's high time someone in a high place did.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 05/11/10 - 12:03 pm
0
0
There's one simple way to nip

There's one simple way to nip this in the bud... license landlords! Now I don't mean require someone who simply rents out a room in their home should be licensed.. but let's set a threshold of more than 2 rental properties would require some sort of license. Think about it.. don't other businesses have to have a license? Why is renting out property for a profit any different from any other business using an address? Have a yearly fee.. nothing extravagant.. say maybe $20 per year... and base it on how many properties you rent out. This would covere the cost of enforcement. Require that some sortt of rental agreement or lease (in the form of writing) must exist with clear terms of breach of contract.. such as drug activity, prostitution, and having more people residing in the residence then allowed by code. An arbitration process could be set-up to mediate between neighborhood groups and landlords. Fines or revokation of the rental license could then be levied against problem property owners who fail to take any action and correct the problems.
If Lori doesn't get any help from the courts.. I say she should take her crusade to the state capitol at the next legislative session..or better yet, see if a gubernatorial candidate is interested in taking this issue and making it part of their platform. I think ultimately state law will have to be amended to get a CNPO with any real teeth. Lori, contact Sen Hardie Davis and see what he can do about introducing a bill to do this.

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