locally owned since 1854

Londonderry Township has stood in the way regarding efforts at 230 Diner: Letter to the Editor

Posted 7/10/19

My name is Helen Haggag. I am the wife of Essam Haggag that has owned the former 230 Diner since the year 1999. I would just like to say that the only truth in the article dated June 5 seems to …

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Londonderry Township has stood in the way regarding efforts at 230 Diner: Letter to the Editor

Posted

My name is Helen Haggag. I am the wife of Essam Haggag that has owned the former 230 Diner since the year 1999. I would just like to say that the only truth in the article dated June 5 seems to be what was quoted by the township official’s comment made by township solicitor Mark Stewart. He says, “All efforts are being made, and they’re being made with the eye toward an actual resolution of the property where it’s frankly not in this person’s hands anymore because nothing is going to happen if it is.”

Unfortunately he omitted the fact that Londonderry Township has been trying to rid my husband of his property since the day he first restored it back in 2000. We as a family had all good intentions of creating a business that would employ many townspeople and provide the community with a diner they could be proud of as well as earn an income to support his family like any hard working immigrant looking to fulfill his dreams in America as well as his desire to contribute where he was able. 

Frankly, Mr. Jeff Burkhart, code enforcement officer could have easily located, contacted called or emailed my husband as he certainly has all of our information. Mr. Burkhart has had no problems finding us since he became a part of the township when he has sent fine after fine and denial after denial of permits and permission to open for business to the same address on file since we purchased the property. 

He is correct when he says we may have gone bankrupt. We are now paying back an expensive Chapter 13 bankruptcy as a result of the realization that we would never be permitted to utilize the property in any way at all. 

In fact, the diner was renovated and opened three separate times since the fire. It has not been vacant as he was quoted in the article. After the building was seriously flooded in 2011 we were entangled in a drawn-out court battle to recoup finances on an insurance policy. Ever since, we were consistently denied a permit to do business of any kind for every reason under the sun. In fact, the reason it has been vacant since 2014 is that Mr. Burkhart informed us that if we obtained an appraisal of the property he would be willing to apply for a block grant to buy out the property. We are still waiting until this day to receive any consistent reason or outcome of his proposal. Even with past violations presented to us we tried in earnest to correct the violations only to be notified with a sticker order to stop all work.

In conclusion I would like to implore the township to at least try to be truthful. How dare they say what they say and do what they do!

We do, however, apologize to the townspeople for losing out on what could have been a place of business that would have been an asset to the community in so many ways. Instead it has become nothing more than a blight that frankly has put our family through hell. We were, I believe, intentionally discouraged in every way possible and unfortunately are now between a rock and a hard place and still the township wants only to harm us consistently, assuring themselves that we have no chance of returning. You can be the judge of why.

Helen Haggag

Cleona