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Middletown puts stop to construction of unusual home built 'a good 15 to 20 feet up'

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/5/19

Welcome to the Neighborhood? Not!

That’s how Middletown residents who live near the structure at Maple and Adelia streets are reacting to their newest neighbor.

The structure is a …

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Middletown puts stop to construction of unusual home built 'a good 15 to 20 feet up'

Posted

Welcome to the Neighborhood? Not!

That’s how Middletown residents who live near the structure at Maple and Adelia streets are reacting to their newest neighbor.

The structure is a trailer, or a manufactured home, sitting high atop an elevated concrete first floor.

The property looks totally out of character with the homes in the neighborhood — which a number of residents were only too happy to point out during the May 28 borough council meeting.

“What they are building there is atrocious,” said Richard Dolan, who lives nearby.

They also wanted to know how, and why, the borough allowed the project to get to this point — before the borough issued a stop work order halting construction May 24.

“Where were you when they were laying this foundation this far off the ground? When they were pouring this concrete? Where in the hell was code enforcement?” asked Michael Kort, who lives in the 700 block of Hoffer Street.

The property is in the R-1 district, which is zoned for low-density single-family residences, according to the Middletown zoning map posted on the borough website.

Resident Dennis Stover, who lives in the 600 block of Adelia Street, asked borough Zoning & Codes Officer Al Geosits if a “single-wide mobile home” is permitted in the R-1 district.

Geosits said it is permitted as a single-family detached dwelling. However, Geosits declined to satisfy Stover’s request that he cite a specific section of the ordinance backing up his conclusion.

Under questioning from the residents, Solicitor Jim Diamond acknowledged the borough had issued the owner a valid building permit.

But the borough discovered “inaccurate representations” that had been made in the permit application, Diamond said.

“There are factual material representations that were not accurate in the application submitted to the borough,” Diamond said, leading to the borough issuing the stop work order. “Right now there is no permit,” and the process to obtain a valid permit has “started over,” the solicitor noted.

No one representing the property owner appeared to be at the council meeting. According to Dauphin County tax and deed records, Charles L. Meinsler II acquired the property for $43,000 from Steven and Susan Weiser on Oct. 11, 2018.

Meinsler lives in the first block of Myway Drive in Palmyra, according to the county tax and deed records. He could not be reached for comment.

So residents for the time being are stuck with a trailer sitting “a good 15 to 20 feet up” atop the concrete floor “looking down on everybody’s yard” — which nobody is happy about, said Bob Lindsey, who lives in the 400 block of Maple Road.

“I honestly think Middletown is cleaning up its act, but that’s a slap in those people’s face down there,” he said. “Whoever bought that property — if they are trying to pull the wool over the borough’s eyes, they should pay dearly for it because it’s sad. It’s very, very sad that it has even gone that far.”

New families are just now starting to move back into the neighborhood, which was hit hard by flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, said Tim Burns of the 700 block of Adelia Street, who has lived in the area more than 20 years.

Dolan is one of those new families, having moved to this part of Middletown from New Jersey less than a year ago.

The borough may have been led to believe that a modular home was going to be built on the land. Dolan told council that according to his research, a modular home increases in value over time, but a manufactured home “decreases in value.”

“What we currently have is a manufactured home sitting in an R-1 residential neighborhood that is going to bring down everybody’s value around them,” Dolan said.