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July 11, 1997     Cape Gazette
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July 11, 1997

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16 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, July 11 - July 17, 1997 Problems of Milton's "The Coops'come home to roost By Rosanne Pack On the heels of Milton Town Council issuing a stern reprimand and time limit to a property owner who has fallen behind schedule in building his house, Richard Moonblatt rose to address council members on an issue that he termed a 30-year-old problem that the sitting council can solve. At the July 7 meeting, he said that he hoped correcting the problem would be met with the same pas- sion that council members exhib- ited in dealing with the, tardy home builder. Presenting a petition signed by more than 70 Milton residents, Moonblatt said, "I want to talk to you about 116 Collins Street, three blocks from the police sta- tion, from the fire hall and the center of town. "Those of us who live in the vicinity have to put up with drug trafficking, loitering, profanity, trash, public urination, loud mu- sic, obstruction of traffic, uncon- trolled animals and rodents." He said that those in the neigh- borhood and residents from throughout Milton will no longer tolerate the conditions at what is commonly called "The Coops," a building that contains several rental units. The petition started that signers want increased police patrols and enforcement of all housing and building codes, and if necessary, finding appropriate housing for those who live there. Moonblatt has owned a vacation home in Milton for almost 10 years. He said the conditions at 116 Collins affect everyone in the area, including many who have put a lot of time and effort into im- proving their own properties. 'q'his council and this mayor in- herited what is a 30-year-old problem, and they are going to be the ones to do something about it," he said. "There is a vapor lock on this property, and we're going to take a sledge hammer to it. If this blight existed on Federal Street or Union Street, people would not put up with it." A property owner on adjoining Mill Street, Moonblatt said that the problems of 116 Collins are widely known, and he had no trouble getting signatures on the petition. He said people willingly signed and recommended others for him to contact. The petition states that signers will take the is- sue as high as they must to see re- suits. Mayor Jack Bushey said that he has directed the police department to increase patrols of the area, and will contact the county about building code inspections. "Law enforcement is a big con- cern, so I have already sent a memo to our police department," Bushey said. "I do know that the owner made some improvements a few years ago to bring the prop- erty into compliance with codes." Property owner Inell Alexander said that she had not received re- cent complaints regarding the property. She said she is willing to allow officials inspect rental units at anytime. She said that she in- stalled an upgraded water system, including hot water, a few years ago, and all units are equipped with smoke detectors. Alexander, 73, said that she is not surehow many units are rent- ed, but it is her belief that each one houses a single person. "I put in showers and face bowls with hot water and the smoke detectors; the state had me do all that," she said. "I was told that somebody came to a meeting, but I haven't had plain to me. I heard that they said there are something like 40 people living there, but that's not so. I Rosanne Pack photo Activity at rental units at 116 Collins Street in Milton has drawn criticism from neighboring residents. don't rent to families, and there are no children there." Alexander said that she does not know if.drugsare used at her rental properties. "When I go up there and see a crowd, they see me and they leave,"-she said. 'q'hey don't let me see anything. "Me and my boys work in there. We take out what is rotten and re- place it. Doors and windows, and locks that are bad. We are doing that now, changing things." Moonblatt said that he will con- tinue to gather names on the peti- tion. He has contacted Rep. George Carey (R-Milford) and sent him a copy of the petition. "The town has a tendency to brush aside things like this, but we are not going to let this go," he said. "I am like a pit bull on thig issue." Milton Landing lands on its feet after council flip-flop the position of finding additional funding thought better of their action and recon- sewer up-grading and expansion. In return, By Rosanne Pak In a sudden, double reversal, Milton Town Council almost killed Milton Land- inghousing project, and then gave it life again, all within two hours time on Monday night, July 7, 1997. First, because of concern for a possible cost overrun on the sanitary sewer segment of the project, Milton council officially vot- ed down the proposal that members had tentatively agreed to at a workshop meeting last month. The first Monday night vote would have relieved the town of responsibility for an overrun, and would have put Milford Hous- ing Development Corporation (MHDC) in should there be one. Council members Robert Blayney and Paul "P.D." Cammenish voted against changing the proposal because they wanted to honor the commitment that they felt council had made to MHDC. Leah Betts, Dale Magee and Jeffrey Stephens voted in favor of the motion to change the proposal. Neil Essick, executive director of MHDC, said that move would have effec- tively ended the project since the housing group had exhausted their options for addi- tional funding. However, after a non-related executive session, Milton Town Council members vened in order to further discuss their earli- er vote. They then voted unanimously to go with the original proposed agreement as de- fined in a letter prepared by Robert Kerr, the town's engineer. Approval of the letter of agreement is a final necessary step needed for MHDC to go to settlement on the land on Tuesday, Ju- ly 15. The result of many previous meet- ings and workshops, the agreement states that MHDC pays full impact fees of $160,000 plus $17,500 in engineering and bidding fees to the town and grants Milton administration of a $126,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Milton uses half of the impact fees to match the CDBG funding and guarantees to cover any over-run of the estimated $220,000 for sewer work to serve Milton Landing and the existing northeast segment of town. Had the project not gone forward, Milton would have lost the'S126,000 block grant. Mayor Jack Bushey said that the re-vote is in the best interest of the town and the 48- unit housing development. Located in the north side of Route 16, it will serve families of moderate income. Essick was relieved at the turn of events that made it possible to close on the land, and start construction sometime in August. Milton property Owner gets extension; digs self into hole By Rosanne Pack If Damalier J. Molina's "hole in the ground" does not contain a completed block foundation .by Tuesday, July 22, officials of the Town of Milton say that they will send back hoes to fill it, and re- voke his building permit. Ruling at the July 7 town coun- cil meeting, members were reluc- tant to allow Molina even that much time to do something about the excavation that has been open since February. However, with the stipulation that foundation block work and a first floor deck must be completed and pass inspection by the named date, they granted an extension to the time limit be- fore the town takes action. Council member Paul "P.D." Cammenisch told Molina, "You have been guilty of bad judg- ments. That [construction site] should have been secured. "I am willing to say two weeks; and that is it," said Cammenisch. Molina, the commissioner of the Wilmington Licensing and In- specti'ons Department, assured them of his intent to finish base- ment block work, and then his house, in the appointed time. He claimed that circumstances be- yond his control led to the delay of the house he wants to build at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Behringer Street. According to the property own- er, his contractor paid for his own legal matters with money paid to him by Molina. The contractor then had no money for materials and workers to complete block work at the Milton job. After the passage of several months, the Town of Milton issued a letter in- forming Molina that the uncov- ered excavation must be filled in, and he would lose his building permit. Referring to the correspon- dence, Molina said, "I come to you to plead for relief before you take final action on my property." He said that he had negotiated a new agreement with his contractor and he expected to have the block work completed, backfilling done and that phase of the project in- spected well before the July 22 date. He said the entire house should be complete by the end of August. "I have copies of receipts for materials, for the lot, for close to $50,000," he said. "I want to demonstrate that my intent is to complete my home. I am looking to the end of August for the house to be finished." Before the vote to allow Molina an extension, Council member Robert Blayney said, "You should be aware of and familiar with building codes. It's .part of your job. If you don't meet the fail-safe date, then the city should take ac- Roaanne Pack photo Workmen resume action on the block foundation for Damalier J. Molina's home at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Behringer Street in Milton. Until the town took action, the excavation remained open and unsecured since Febru- ary, tion." Violations cited by the town in- eluded the open and unsecured nine-foot deep, 1,350 hole and the overgrown state of the building lot. A plastic mesh fence is stretched around the pit; however, there are openings in the fencing. Area parents have complained of Continued on page 17