27 Investigates: Churchill Road apartment building faces problems

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GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) — Problems with the roof have caused former tenants of a Girard apartment building a lot of headaches this winter.

An apartment building at 751 Churchill Road was home to eight families, until the roof collapsed, and all of those people found themselves without a home.

People who used to live there said the landlord could have prevented it.

“He had a lot of problems with maintenance,” said former resident Angie Borden. “He took the shortest way and the cheapest way to get a job done.”

Former residents said the building fell further and further into disrepair.

Then, during a snowstorm just three days before Christmas, things took a turn for the worse.

“My roof came flying down. There was so much water, I couldn’t keep up,” Borden said.

“I went out into the hallway and there was a stream of water coming through the light fixture, so I called the fire department and they came and shut the building down,” said former tenant Ashley Sweet.

Girard City zoning officials said they are keeping a close eye on the building and no one will be allowed to live there until repairs are made and the work is done correctly.

Inspectors said the building owner used unregistered contractors for maintenance. Other times, former residents said he would knock money off the rent for some tenants in exchange for work.

Even after the collapse, the city said the landlord kept trying to cut corners.

“The people who put the roof on, they were not registered in the city of Girard. So we had a professional roofer go up there and get his evaluation of the roof,” said Girard inspector James Pallone.

He said the flat, replacement roof was built in rainy weather, and it cost a quarter of what the city’s experts said it should have cost.

“They just laid the roof over water. Eventually, this could come in again. And we have six or eight tenants in that one complex. If this happens again, you’re endangering a lot of people,” Pallone said.

We tried to talk to the landlord, Gary Woolensack, by going to his house and two other addresses listed on county tax records. We also tried to call a cell phone number provided by sources we spoke with for this story, but we could not reach him.

City officials said repair work has resumed on the building, but it still has not passed inspection.

Right now, no one is allowed to live at the complex and we will keep a close eye on the building to make sure no one moves in until the city declares it safe.

No one was injured when the roof and ceilings collapsed in December.

 

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