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Bunky’s owner cited, summary trial set for May 8; borough takes another step to fix up property

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/18/18

Middletown borough has taken another step in the slow process of getting a downtown property owner to fix up the building at 10-12 S. Union St. known as Bunky’s.

On March 26, borough Chief …

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Bunky’s owner cited, summary trial set for May 8; borough takes another step to fix up property

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Middletown borough has taken another step in the slow process of getting a downtown property owner to fix up the building at 10-12 S. Union St. known as Bunky’s.

On March 26, borough Chief Code Enforcement Officer Al Geosits filed a summary citation violation of the property maintenance code against property owner Al Dolatoski. The citation was filed with District Judge David Judy.

A summary trial in the matter has been scheduled by Judy for 11 a.m. May 8, at Judy’s district judge office in Royalton, according to online court documents.

The citation is for alleged violations of the property maintenance code pursuant to a report by a structural engineer the borough hired to inspect the inside of the Bunky’s building. The borough obtained a warrant from Judy so the engineer could get inside the building and conduct the inspection on July 26, 2017.

The citation also refers to $4,173.86 in unpaid water and sewer bills that the borough says Dolatoski owes on the property.

The borough also has sought to collect this money through a municipal lien that the borough through its solicitor filed in Dauphin County Court in November 2017. The lien is for $5,067.48, the amount the borough says is owed after attorney and collection fees are added in, according to the lien filed in county court. The lien is pending, according to online court records.

According to the citation, Dolatoski is being assessed a $300 fine, with another $90.25 in court costs added in for a total of $390.25.

The borough condemned Bunky’s as unsafe for occupancy, based on the Aug. 2, 2017, report submitted by the structural engineer following the July inspection.

Dolatoski received a notice of violation from the borough on Sept. 21, giving him 30 days from when he received the notice to address the alleged code violations at the property. The date of the offense on the citation filed with Judy is Oct. 5, 2017.

Shortly before filing the citation, Geosits told borough council on March 19 that Dolatoski had not “done anything” to address the situation, except to board up windows that the borough had asked him to board up.

Dolatoski, of Lower Allen Township, acquired the property in 1998 for $129,500.

In April 2010 the borough had arranged for Bunky’s to be sold at a sheriff sale, in order for the borough to collect unpaid utility bills.

The sale was averted through an agreement that was reached between Dolatoski, property co-owner Joyce Sipe, and the borough, according to documents the Press & Journal obtained from the borough through a Right-to-Know request.

In June 2012, Dolatoski received a notice of violation from the borough regarding Bunky’s, following an inspection of the property that the borough had requested on June 18, 2012, due to concerns about the inside of the building caused by a leaky roof.

The 2012 notice referred to unsanitary conditions in the building as a result of garbage, rotten food, insects, and potential signs of mold and mildew. The letter also referred to water damage raising concerns about the stability of the front wall, and bricks along the front line having fallen unto the sidewalk.

The outcome of the 2012 notice is not known. The code officer who filed the action no longer works for the borough.

The borough in September 2017 denied a Right-to-Know request from the Press & Journal for a copy of the report the structural engineer submitted following his inspection of the inside of Bunky’s in July 2017.

The report was part of an investigation that could end up in court, borough Manager Ken Klinepeter told the Press & Journal at the time.

According to Klinepeter, the report details more than 20 issues found by the structural engineer, including water damage inside from when the building had a hole in the roof.

The hole appears to have been repaired, Klinepeter told the Press & Journal. He and Geosits have both said that they believe Bunky’s is structurally sound.

During the March 19 meeting, borough Solicitor Adam Santucci told council officials had developed a plan to do “everything we could under the law” to get Dolatoski to address the alleged violations.

Council has also adopted ordinance changes that allow the borough to take full advantage of Act 90, a state law passed in 2010 that gives municipalities more power in dealing with blighted properties, Santucci said.

Santucci and Geosits in past months have both referred to supposed efforts by Dolatoski to sell the building, but nothing has materialized, according to the two officials.

“I have no idea why there is not a for sale sign” in front of Bunky’s, Geosits told council on March 19.

The borough has given Dolatoski more than enough opportunity to correct the situation, Mayor James H. Curry III said during the March 19 meeting.

“He’s had a ton of chances and many years to do that repair. At what point are we taking the building? I don’t know how many chances you give. I’ll be here eight years in October. It looked like that eight years ago,” Curry said. “At some point I think the chances are up. … I think it’s time we move forward.”

Besides the unpaid water and sewer bills that the borough seeks to collect, Dolatoski also owes $5,469.48 in delinquent property taxes on the Bunky’s property for 2016 and 2017, according to online county records.