Codes official: Dangerous York City garage demolished

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch


The unstable garage that a York City official said could fall "at any moment" has been demolished.

Steve Buffington, York City's deputy director of permits, planning and zoning, said the structure has been torn down and the area is now safe.

York City officials realized on May 8, 2018, that the already-condemned garage had become unsafe and could fall at any moment. By the next morning, the garage had been torn down.

He said York City will now work to have the property owner clean up the debris.



York City officials have closed a portion of an alley behind North Queen Street because a garage there is unsafe.

"Literally, it could fall down at any moment," said Steve Buffington, York City's deputy director of permits, planning and zoning.

The two-story brick garage "is in an active state of collapse," Buffington told The York Dispatch. "I'm working now to try to make arrangements to get a contractor to get it on the ground."

The brick walls of a garage, which is part of a vacant property at 203 North Queen St., buckle in York City, Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The garage is at the rear of 203 N. Queen St., a vacant property that is part of an unsettled estate, he said.

On Tuesday, May 8, York City fire officials closed off the 200 block of Alice Avenue (an alley) to all traffic for safety reasons, he confirmed.

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"I originally issued demolition orders in August of last year," Buffington said, but nothing happened because the property is part of the unsettled estate.

"Today during our Clean Sweep, we discovered it's much worse than it was back in August," he said.

The situation is now an emergency, "hence the alley being blocked off," he said.

York City will pay to have a crew demolish the garage, then bill the eventual owner of the property, Buffington said.

But for now, "it's a shame, but it falls back on city taxpayers to deal with it."

'Dangerous situation': York City Mayor Michael Helfrich spoke about the condemned building during his weekly Facebook Live video chat Tuesday.

"It was a very dangerous situation," he said, especially because children play in that alley.

The mayor said the condemned building is exactly the kind of quality-of-life issue that Clean Sweeps are supposed to find and fix — issues that he said bring down the entire community.

"The alternative is we come in and start fining everybody, and that's not the kind of city I want to see," Helfrich said. "I want to see people working together and addressing (a) problem."

Many city departments participate in Clean Sweeps, including police and its nuisance-abatement unit, public works crews and planning, zoning and codes officials.

York County deed records state the property is owned by James Pessognelli, sold to him for $1 in 2015 by James and Michael Pessognelli.

A phone message left for Michael Pessognelli was not immediately returned.

York Dispatch obituary records note that James Pessognelli, 75, died in 2003.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.