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Local Residents Reach Out to NBC 10 Investigators for Help

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A group of neighbors in Montgomery County claimed their water was making them sick and nothing was being done to fix it, so they went to the NBC10 Investigators. NBC10’s Mitch Blacher reports. (Published Monday, Feb. 8, 2016)

    A national property management company committed to fixing a Montgomery County communities water system after the NBC 10 Investigators got involved. Complaints of broken water pipes, sewage backups and an environmentally compromised home demolition have the attention of Lower Providence Township staff and the Montgomery County Health Department.

    The complaints came from residents at the Sunnyside Mobile Home Park in Eagleville. Initially residents were concerned about the way an old mobile home was demolished in the community. “It was pretty bad," one of the workers demolishing the home said. "It was a moldy house. It wasn’t the greatest place. That’s for sure.”

    The NBC 10 Investigators found Lower Providence Township issued at least six notices of violation for conditions at the park.

    “The insulation and mold was airborne," neighbor Patricia Durdeen said. "Our home is just feet away." Lower Providence Township officials cited Sunnyside property owners, United Mobile Homes (UMH) for demolition without a permit and other violations which the township manager said included failing to wet down the structure and not bagging smaller materials to prevent mold and dust from becoming airborne.

    “They didn’t follow proper protocol in the demolition to make sure there wouldn’t be a dispersion of mold or dust," Lower Providence Township Manager Rich Gestrich told the NBC 10 Investigators.

    In an email, a UMH spokesman wrote the company only received two violation notices. The township claims and records show at least seven violations were issued since December 23, 2015.

    Residents have also expressed concern over broken water pipes and what the township confirmed was at least one sewage back up. Notices to residents show the Sunnyside community was told to boil water at least three times since September because of "risk from microbial contamination." UMH said the boil water warnings were precautionary.

    Lower Providence Township issued UMH another health and safety violation in January because of an uncovered hole left behind as the company looked for a recent water line break. “It wasn’t properly secured," Gestrich said. "There was an excavation. It had water in it.”

    Lower Providence Township and Montgomery County Health officials said Sunnyside's water and sewer lines are buried only feet underground which is why they often break.

    County Health officials say when pipes lose positive pressure contamination can seep in.

    Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental protection said Sunnyside's water was safe when it tested.

    UMH officials would not schedule a time to discuss Sunnyside resident concerns on camera. UMH attorney Craig Koster said he had "no comment" when asked about what the company planned to do to fix the reported issues at Sunnyside.

    In a response to an OSHA complaint about the demolition at 38 Ivy Circle, Koster wrote that the contractor the company hired took extra safety precautions, including wearing respirators and gloves, to prevent their exposure to mold. It also used a mixture of water and Clorox bleach to suppress mold spores.

    The NBC 10 Investigators tried to talk to Koster as he arrived at a meeting at the Lower Providence Township offices to discuss resident health and safety concerns.

    Two days after the meeting, Sunnyside spokesman Ken Frydman emailed the following comments:

    Sunnyside's is on a public water system. The name of the water utility is Pennsylvania American Water. Sunnyside has a certified water operator that routinely inspects the water to make sure it meets PADEP standards.

    Sunnyside's water has always been found to be in compliance with PADEP standards and the community has never received a violation notice from PADEP or the Health Department. All home removal is performed by licensed contractors.

    Sunnyside management has worked diligently to remove all abandoned homes since it acquired the community. The abandonment process is Pennsylvania takes a minimum of 3-4 months to complete.

    There are currently only two abandoned homes left in the community and both of them should be removed within the next 30 days.

    We are unaware of any resident complaints to government agencies about the community except from one particular resident regarding the water quality and a water leak that had occurred in the community.

    The water was tested by both the community and the Health Department and the water was found to meet all PADEP standards. The water leak has been repaired and management will be replacing all water lines in the community this year.

    Many residents have thanked Sunnyside management since it acquired the community in 2013 for investing in the community and taking steps to transform it into a first-class communities (sic) that residents can be proud to call home.

    In addition to replacing all water lines and removing abandoned homes, management will be replacing the community's street signs, and is planning additional improvements such as the installation of a playground and constructing an office in the community to have on-site management during all weekday business hours.

    The community currently has a 24 hour emergency line in place for residents. Management has only been issued two violation notices by the Township, both of which were solely related to home demolition activities and the concerns have been addressed.

    The Township will be coming to inspect the community to confirm that the issues have been resolved and close out the violations. The community has not received any violation notices from the County Health Department or PADEP.