The appropriation of almost $11 million toward the anticipated cost of the city’s efforts to acquire Woodcliff Condominiums will wait until at least Sept. 4.
Rather than approve legislation introduced Aug. 7, Whitehall City Council opted to advance the legislation for a second reading Aug. 21, Council President Jim Graham said.
The legislation is scheduled for a third and final reading at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.
Council is considering three separate ordinances, each making a specific appropriation.
One ordinance appropriates $9 million -- nearly the amount for the agreed purchase of the 317-unit apartment complex at the northeast corner of North Hamilton Road and East Broad Street.
The others appropriate $1 million and $725,000, respectively, all through the issuance of bonds, for the costs associated with the acquisition, Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said.
Joe Durham, an attorney with Eastman and Smith who represents Whitehall in its action against Woodcliff Condominiums, said the city is awaiting an order from Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Daniel Hawkins.
“There is no time line for the order,” said Durham, adding Hawkins will issue the order to the involved parties.
It will not be handed down from the bench, Hawkins said, therefore it cannot be known with certainty when the order will be issued.
“But the legislation won’t be approved until the order is issued," Durham said.
The order, he said, is expected to include his decision concerning Woodcliff Condominium owners who disputed the payments they are to receive.
On June 26, City Council approved a purchase agreement with the Woodcliff Condominium Unit Owners Association, ending an 11-year battle in the Environmental Division of Franklin County Municipal Court against Woodcliff Condominiums concerning the city’s complaints about conditions there.
Council’s action followed that of the association May 14 when its membership voted 172-77 to accept the city’s offer to buy the property.
The agreement included court-ordered disbursements to be paid to the owners, but at least 56 different owners are disputing the amounts that are part of the $8.9 million purchase agreement.
Hawkins received the objections to the disbursements at a June 28 hearing, Durham said.
Hawkins' order, when issued, can yet be appealed, Durham said.
“We expect a lot of expenses” connected to the purchase, Maggard said.
These include, she said, continuing legal expenses for owners challenging court-ordered disbursements and paying off parts of mortgages in some instances.
“Some people are upside-down on mortgages,” owing more than the value of the property, Maggard said.
Whitehall first filed a complaint against Woodcliff Condominiums on July 12, 2007, seeking injunctive relief and Feb. 4, 2008, an agreed entry declared the property a public nuisance.
City officials, while continuing to negotiate in court, said the property remained a source of code violations and generated a considerable number of calls for police service.
The city levied the same complaints about code violations and calls for police service against the owners of the nearby Commons at Royal Landing before the city and its New Jersey-based owners reached an agreement in 2016 for the city to purchase it for $5 million.
Construction is expected to begin later this year at the former Commons at Royal Landing on a $50 million mixed-use development by Continental Realty to be known as Norton Crossing.