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Owner of defunct 230 Diner facing numerous citations; 'It’s been flooded, it’s been burned'

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/12/19

Citations have been filed against the owner of the former 230 Diner on East Harrisburg Pike in Londonderry Township, and more might be coming.

The building has stood in disrepair since fire gutted …

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Owner of defunct 230 Diner facing numerous citations; 'It’s been flooded, it’s been burned'

Posted

Citations have been filed against the owner of the former 230 Diner on East Harrisburg Pike in Londonderry Township, and more might be coming.

The building has stood in disrepair since fire gutted it in December 2003.

“It took a little while to get to this point because there were some legal issues with who he was, where he was, whether he was the owner or bankrupt or gave it to somebody or whatever,” said Jeff Burkhart, township codes and zoning officer, during the board of supervisors meeting June 3.

Five citations have been filed against Essam M. Haggag, of Cleona, with District Judge David H. Judy for a number of issues — unsanitary conditions; overhangs not properly anchored and incapable of supporting loads; roof defects with inadequate drainage; and the siding and masonry joints between the building, windows and doors not maintained water tight.

Residents, supervisors and staff raised concerns over the past several months.

“It’s been flooded. It’s been burned. It’s not been inhabited since. It doesn’t have any heating, any cooling,” Burkhart said during an April 1 meeting. “The building is in bad disrepair. People are using the back lot for a dump.”

In November, Supervisor Ron Kopp said he saw cars parked behind the building when he was working in nearby fields.

“It’s a shame. It’s like, ‘Welcome to Londonderry Township’ when you come in,” Kopp said at the time.

More citations will be coming, Burkhart said during the June meeting.

“There’s a mess of things that are wrong with the place. So, we’re going to just keep hammering at it until we get somewhere,” Burkhart said.

“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,” township solicitor Mark Stewart said.

According to the citations, the township is requesting $5,000 in fines plus costs. Burkhart said they’re looking for more than just having the fine paid.

“We want this thing fixed, one way or the other, whether we can or somebody else can, but it needs to be fixed,” he said.

Stewart said the citations are part of building a record to have the court recognize the property as a threat to public health, safety and welfare and “take any and all remedies that are available to us through the legal system to take the property, put it in the hands of the conservancy, do something with the property to actually address the situation.”

The deed was transferred to Haggag in April 2004 for $70,000 from Snodo Inc. Efforts to reach Haggag were unsuccessful.

This is not the first time that Haggag has been cited. In September 2014, the township issued three citations against him which were transferred to District Judge Kenneth A. Lenker. All three citations — for a structure needing repair, structural members, and defacement of property — were withdrawn.

But in December 2014, the Dauphin County Department of Solid Waste Management and Recycling cited him with unlawful activity, to which he pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $500 fine and $2,126 in restitution, as part of the county’s crackdown on illegal dumping.

The case was appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, and the court upheld his sentence, noting that he failed to submit a court-ordered statement and he had waived his appellate claims.

In 2007, repairs were being done both inside and outside of the former restaurant, including replacing the floor and drywall, and in 2009, there were plans to lease the building to a Lancaster man who wanted to reopen it as Don’s Diner, according to Press & Journal articles.

According to Burkhart, the process may take months between Haggag’s response to the citations, when a hearing may be set and any action to come out of the hearing.

No hearings have been set.