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Lehighton to demolish blighted building

A longtime blighted eyesore in Lehighton will eventually be razed.

Borough council on a 6-0 vote Monday agreed to demolish the building at 209 N. First St.

Before the vote, borough Manager Nicole Beckett discussed the borough’s 2021 Community Development Block Grant situation.

Beckett said the borough could either acquire the building or demolish it, before recommending that demolishing it would be the more prudent move.

Councilwoman Autumn Abelovsky said she agreed that the demolition of the building makes sense, especially since council has made improvements to the downtown a priority.

Councilman Ryan Saunders said he also believes it’s the right move.

“We’ve gone through everything with code enforcement,” Saunders said. “I think we don’t have any other option.”

Beckett said the borough has also submitted an application with Palmerton and Jim Thorpe to the Department of Community and Economic Development Blight Remediation Program for funding.

After the meeting, Beckett said council has attempted to have the property owner correct the issues since 2014.

She said that in 2017, the property had changed hands to an owner out of New York, and had provided the borough with plans to repair the building, and a building permit application was submitted and approved.

“Since then, we have heard nothing further from the property owner,” Beckett said.

Beckett added that last year, the borough had to secure various locations of the building, has proceeded through additional legal action, and in September the property owner had been ordered by Carbon Courts to raze the structure.

She said that after 30 days of that order, the borough was authorized to do so and place judgment on the property.

“We have heard nothing from the property owner since the order, and the building continues to deteriorate,” Beckett said.

She said she couldn’t provide final figures until it’s discussed further with the Carbon County Office of Planning and Development.

Beckett said three years of total funding would be about $240,000.

As a result, council on Monday decided to reroute the borough’s applications in order to allocate funding to the demolition of the blighted building.

Beckett said that until the project is engineered and bid, council won’t know the total costs.

She said she had received an estimate from a contractor in the amount of $100,000 for the DCED grant application, however that was only an estimate for grant purposes.

Beckett noted that the borough also has an order from Feb. 16 regarding 135/139 N. First St.

She said the New York property owner had 60 days from the date of the order to apply and obtain building permits to bring the building in compliance.

After 60 days, she said the borough is authorized to raze the structure and place judgment.

As of Tuesday, Beckett said the applications have not been submitted.

“The borough has exhausted all avenues through code enforcement on both properties in the downtown,” she said.

This building at 209 N. First St. in Lehighton will eventually be razed after borough council agreed on Monday to demolish the building. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO