Pennsburg officials have taken the first step in Montgomery County Court to defend the borough against a lawsuit filed in late May by a former Main Street restaurateur.
The suit, filed by the former owner of Riviera’s Spaghetti Inn, 369 Main Street, Anthony Randazzo of Quakertown, seeks more than $325,000 in damages from the borough and additional monies from the borough’s insurance company, Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Risk Management Association (PIRMA).
Randazzo accuses the borough of failing to file an insurance claim and paying him the proceeds after he purchased an adjacent commercial space at 371Main Street from the borough back in 2007. He paid $323,300 for that property which bordered the borough-owned Alma Mullen Park. Borough officials said Randazzo had planned to demolish the building on the property to renovate and expand his restaurant and build a parking lot.
But on October 1, 2007, a five-alarm fire that broke out in an apartment above the restaurant and led to the demolition of the restaurant. During that demolition, the building at 371Main Street sustained irreparable damage and it, too, had to be taken down.
The borough and Randazzo didn’t have final settlement on the property until after the fire on Dec. 7. An addendum to the sale was reportedly agreed to and filed several days after the fire stating the sale would proceed without any other changes to the contract.
Last Wednesday in Norristown, the borough’s law firm, Siana, Bellwoar and McAndrew of Chester Springs filed preliminary objections to the suit, borough solicitor Chuck Garner announced at the close of Tuesday night’s council meeting.
The same firm is representing the borough’s insurer PIRMA.
The first objection states that the addendum to the sale releases the borough from all damages caused by the fire. The second claims that TJM Rental LLC owns the building, not Randazzo. The borough thus claims that Randazzo is not the party who should be seeking any damages in the case.
Randazzo is principal of TJM Rental LLC according to state records.
“The borough has a plethora of factual defenses but this in a preliminary stage is an attempt to have the matter dismissed,” Garner, of Garner and Bauer of Pottstown, said.
Council went into executive session following the meeting to discuss the litigation, but no action was taken.
Garner said he expects it could be several months before the borough sees court action on the objections filed to the suit.
In other news, Councilman Mike Mensch spoke to council about a sinkhole that developed in a lawn at 434 Macoby Street. The sinkhole, several feet in diameter, appeared in late spring at the location. Roads Supervisor Rick Krupp said after digging up the site, borough employees found the sinkhole was caused by a water inlet problem on the street.
A metal corrugated pipe deteriorated where it connected to a plastic pipe, creating the hole from water runoff. The pipe eventually drains to the borough’s nature preserve on 5th Street. Borough employees laid 28 feet of replacement pipe at the location, but said they needed to rip out the resident’s concrete steps, bushes and trees against the house to gain access to the rest of the piping.
Council moved to check into whether or not there was an easement for the property, but Garner said it was unlikely since the house was reportedly built in the mid-1950s. They agreed to pursue the easement with the property owner and draw up a written agreement for the work.
Officials said there was no public health or safety issue and that crews were working to reconstruct the area after doing the first phase of work.
Mensch also asked for council’s approval to file for a grant for PennDOT grant money to fund a new battery backup system for the traffic light at routes 663 and 29. He said he found out $1.5 million was available in funding, but that the application had to be filed by the end of the month.
Officials said a malfunction within the current system makes it impossible to repair and it must be replaced. Mensch estimated the cost at $20,000-$40,000. Borough Administrative Manager Jeannie Hopkins was instructed to prepare and submit the application.
Council later approved a 10-year lease for radio upgrades for the Upper Perk Police Department, conditional upon East Greenville, police commission partner, agreeing to the same purchase. The lease, which is really a loan according to Council President John Lear, will cost $3,400 a year and will upgrade the department’s radios to a digital frequency in line with upcoming FAA mandates.
Lear said the borough could put off spending the money for a few years at best, but right now the department is working with 13-year-old radios that the manufacturing company doesn’t even make parts for.
Pennsburg resident and Upper Perkiomen High School student Ronnie Gillespie was presented with a certificate of achievement from the borough for recently winning the state PIAA title in the 200 meters in track and field.