Whitehall council wants to pay condo owners to give up property


Tuesday night the City of Whitehall will discuss the $9 million offer to buy the Woodcliff Condominiums. They sit on 37 acres of prime city real estate.

For the past 10 years, Whitehall has worked to remove what they call a "blighted property." This decade-old battle pits condo owners against the city's development department.

The city says the property doesn't meet current code. Condo owners say that's not the case.

Chris Miller owns one condo and says he's not giving up his property without a fight.

"Whitehall wants this property to develop it not because it's blighted, not because it's nuisance it's not a problem in any way they just want the property its government overreach," he says.

Whitehall's Attorney Joseph R. Durham says there's a reason why the city believes the property is a nuisance.

First, the property has a sanitary sewage problem; instead of having two separate sewage lines from each building there's one.

Second, the properties have only one water line leaving the property. He says he gets constant emails from renters who say their water was turned off because their neighbor didn't pay the water bill.

He says every time there's a sewage problem it costs the city $18,000 to fix. He says that's the job of the condo association, but it's broke, he says.

Now the city of Whitehall is offering what essentially is a settlement to end this dispute once and for all.

The condo association will have to approve it.

The city denies it has any formal plans to develop the property, despite documents that condo owners say tell a different story.

10TV investigated the claim and found that the documents were from 2011 and were later rejected by the council at the time.

The documents detail plans for office and retail buildings. Back then, the report said, " Lack of attention to homes creates an aura of decay and crime (real or imagined)."

Condo owners say there have been plenty of improvements to the property since that report was written.

Miller says some owners may not be interested now to fix problems with the property if they know the city plans to take it in the future.

"Would you put money into a property that could be taken from you at any time? It's held down the repair for development," he says.