Condo residents told to pay for building's electric

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - September 20, 2012

The borough has advised the homeowners, who have dwindled from 52 to now only 6, that come Monday, the borough will no longer pay to maintain the building's security, fire alarms, sprinkler systems and lighting to common areas of the 5-story building and wants the homeowners to pay instead.

"The borough has a gun to their head and says 'if you don't [pay], I'm going to turn off the electric,'" attorney Charles Mandracchia, who represents the homeowners, said.

The Rittenhouse Club is a building whose construction was deemed a disaster by Norristown itself.

The building was condemned after serious structural defects were found.

The builder went under.

An independent review commissioned by Norristown found that the borough failed to properly inspect the construction project from day one.

"The borough never stood over the builder to make sure everything was done correctly," Mandracchia said.

A court ordered the borough to fix it.

It took the borough two years to clean up the mess.

Homeowners had been forced to rent apartments.

Now, as they were just moving back in, the borough tells them come Monday they are on their own and will have to pay to provide electricity to the building's fire alarms, sprinklers, security system and lighting in the hallways and exterior.

Homeowners say it's another slap in the face.

"This whole experience has been like a nightmare that I still haven't woken up from," homeowner Paula Peyton said.

"I rode out all their delays only to move in on Saturday and two days later, get a notification 'hey, we're done. We're out. Good luck,'" homeowner Ryan Schofield said.

The attorney for the borough, Ken Trujillo, says in a statement, "Nothing is going to be shut down. Just as of Monday, the borough will no longer be footing the bill for this. There's no obligation to do so, and the homeowners are going to have to come up with a plan going forward."

But homeowners say:

"We can't physically do it. We can't afford to do it. We're six people who have had rent and mortgages for the past two years. We don't have any savings," homeowner Kelly Doyle said.

The lawyer for the homeowners is hoping the borough changes its mind and works something out, but is prepared to go to court seeking an injunction against the municipality.

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