WILKES-BARRE — City Councilwoman Maureen Lavelle wants a resolution to a situation on Spring Street, but if that can’t happen, she is proposing changes to the city’s building code.
Lavelle said the owner of a house at 96 Spring St. does not live there, but he has claimed he intends to live there, avoiding having to pay a contractor to renovate the property. At Tuesday night’s council work session, Lavelle said the owner, Don Kasper, is renting the property to a family.
“I have information that shows the person living there has her name on utility bills,” Lavelle said. “If the owner was going to live there, his name should be on the bills. We’re letting a lot of money get off the table here. We need to enforce our code.”
William Vinsko, assistant city solicitor, said the current city code is being reviewed and changes will be proposed soon. He said that if a building owner can prove intent to live in the unit, he can be the general contractor for any renovations.
Lavelle said she alerted the city to the Spring Street situation months ago and she wants it resolved. Marie McCormick, city administrator, said the building recently passed inspection.
“We need to clearly define primary residence in our code,” Lavelle said. “Primary residence means where you sleep at night — where you wake up and go to work in the morning.”
In other business, council reviewed Mayor Tom Leighton’s agenda for Thursday night’s regular meeting. Three projects to be funded through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Local Share Account had to be re-submitted with more detailed information and more accurate cost estimates, McCormick said. The project funding comes from casino revenue.
The three projects seeking approval are:
• $765,000 to retrofit existing floodgates at Solomon Creek.
• $1.3 million to upgrade the city’s wireless surveillance camera system.
• $1.5 million to renovate the track and field areas at Kirby Park.
Council also will consider authorizing the execution of a deed of easement for six traffic signals on North River Street that are a part of PennDOT’s project to address traffic in the area of the River Common Park.
The project, aimed at taming traffic on the busy thoroughfare, is expected to begin in 2015.