The president of the company that owns the Featherton Crossing development in Mount Joy Township said he has no choice but to sue after township supervisors voted unanimously to reject a request for a volume discount on apartment inspections.
“We will absolutely pursue litigation,” Metropolitan Management Group President Kevin Timochenko said in a brief phone interview with the Advocate on Tuesday, Jan. 16, the day after supervisors voted to reject his request. He said he was not sure if he would sue in federal court, state court or both.
Supervisors voted unanimously on Monday, Jan. 15, to reject the request. They discussed the matter briefly before voting. Supervisor Lisa Sargen Heilner said the fees are not based on the time it takes to inspect the apartments; Supervisors Chairman David Sweigart said research has shown Mount Joy Township’s fees to be competitive with other municipalities. Timochenko was not at the Jan. 15 meeting; a lawyer for his company, Jill E. Nagy, was present and asked to discuss the matter, but supervisors would not allow discussion.
Timochenko told supervisors at their Dec. 18 meeting that it took six hours for 120 apartments to be inspected and he was billed $6,000 for the inspections. Timochenko said he was OK with paying $200 per hour, but said the current fees are unreasonable and he should get a discount for economies of scale.
“A tax I can’t argue with. A fee has to be reasonable,” Timochenko told supervisors in December.
After his request was rejected, Timochenko also released a written statement in which he said by law, fees charged by municipalities have to be reasonable and comparable to what a private business would charge for a similar service.
“To put in perspective what is in dispute, the township and their engineers have already charged me thousands of dollars to inspect brand-new buildings that have just been placed in service,” his statement said. “Now, on top of that, they want to charge me continuing inspection fees that equate to roughly $1,000 per hour. I simply cannot accept that.”
He went on to say that when other municipalities charged fees that he considered unreasonable, he was able to meet with municipal officials to resolve things and he hoped that would happen with Mount Joy Township, but he said supervisors “slammed the door on any further negotiation” by rejecting his request, leaving him with no choice but to sue.