It appears likely that a majority, if not all, of Woodcliff Condominiums will receive a final reprieve.

It appears likely that a majority, if not all, of Woodcliff Condominiums will receive a final reprieve.

A two-week hearing that began Aug. 20 in Franklin County Municipal Court instead evolved into a settlement negotiation.

Attorneys representing multiple property owners at Woodcliff Condominiums, the city of Whitehall and a receiver appointed for Woodcliff Condominiums, as well as an official for the Franklin County Board of Health, all advised visiting Municipal Judge Teresa Liston that the involved parties desired to reach a settlement.

The parties spent all day Aug. 20 and 21 and a half day Aug. 22, attempting to reach an agreement, but they were unsuccessful.

It had appeared that settlement negotiations were at an impasse as of Aug. 23, but Liston ordered the parties to continue their efforts, said Bryan Wagner, chief environmental specialist for the environmental division of the municipal court.

Wagner said Aug. 24 that the five-day effort resulted in a tentative agreement. That agreement will be put into writing and proffered to Liston during the course of this week, Wagner said.

A hearing was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 27 in Liston's courtroom, after ThisWeek's press deadline.

"We are confident an agreement was reached (Aug. 24), and we will ask Liston (at the Aug. 27 hearing) for a two-day leave to reduce this settlement agreement into writing," Wagner said.

Upon its completion, the settlement agreement will be submitted to Liston as a written entry for her consideration.

The two-week hearing had been scheduled to conclude Aug. 31, and Wagner said he anticipated the entry would be accepted by Aug. 31.

The tentative agreement is that nearly all of the 317 condominiums, except a small number that might be deemed uninhabitable and beyond repair, will remain standing, Wagner said.

The city of Whitehall, frustrated with the failure of property owners to comply with health, safety and building-code violations at Woodcliff Condominiums, had appealed to the court's environmental division to order the demolition of the 317 condominiums at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and South Hamilton Road.

Whitehall officials opined that the Eisenhower-era condominiums represented a continuing threat to the safety and welfare of the city and that the owners and receiver of the property have had ample time to repair what the court previously determined to be a nuisance.

The owners of the condominiums argued that some progress has been made, and the condominium association for Woodcliff voiced concern about where displaced residents would reside.

The development has multiple unit owners, and three receivers have been named since the city first took action against the complex in 2007. Whitehall first filed a complaint in 2007 against Woodcliff Condominiums, citing it as a public nuisance.

In February 2008, Municipal Judge Harland Hale ordered Woodcliff owner Tom Oleander, having been cited for numerous health and building-code violations, to cede daily management of the facility to a court-appointed receiver; however, he retained ownership of more than 200 units.

"Most -- if not all -- of these units can be brought into compliance with city code," Wagner said.

The tentative agreement includes phases when specific units must meet required standards.

"One group will need to meet code by one date and another group by the next date ... and so on," Wagner said.

He and Liston visited Woodcliff Condominiums on July 26, with Wagner noting disrepair to the siding, windows and downspouts of many units.

Whitehall officials have noted mold and electrical and HVAC installations that lack permits.

Wagner told ThisWeek on Aug. 27 that if the violations aren't corrected, "demolition of structures is not off the table."

"I think the structures can be corrected, although some owners might find it not financially feasible to do so," Wagner said, adding that noncompliance could result in the voluntary demolition of some units.

Court-ordered demolition remains a future possibility if property owners don't meed code by deadlines written into the agreement.