Deal Reached On Home Inspection Neighbors In New Britain Twp. Say It Is Run As A Boardinghouse. The Owners Deny Any Code Violations.

Posted: February 20, 1996

NEW BRITAIN TOWNSHIP — The owner of a New Britain house and officials who say it violates township codes have reached an agreement for an inspection.

New Britain Township Solicitor George Bush met with the owners' attorney, Bill Benner, in Bucks County Court Judge Issac S. Garb's chambers on Thursday. As a result, an inspection will take place on Thursday, said Township Manager Bob Bender.

On Jan. 8, police and fire officials were called to the residence at 117 Devon Rd. and reported that it appeared to be in violation of fire-prevention, building and electrical codes. They said the building appeared to be run as a boardinghouse, with a pay telephone in the living room.

According to Bender, the township tried to inspect the property, but was prevented by its owners, Patricia Hopkins, a Chalfont councilwoman, and her husband, Richard Hopkins. They have owned the property since 1979.

Benner said his clients had three requests for any inspection: that they be told who the inspectors would be and when the inspection would take place, and that they be present. The township agreed.

``I feel like a very large mountain was made out of a molehill,'' Patricia Hopkins said. She said the property did not violate any code, fire-prevention or zoning regulations. She said she had hired an inspector who said the property was up to code in all respects.

Neighbors have filed several petitions complaining about the house, which they say is run as a boardinghouse. In 1981, neighbors signed a petition saying, ``We are concerned with an environment that is not family-oriented.''

Benner said that, according to the township ordinance, ``a family or group of people related by blood or marriage or five unrelated individuals'' can live in a single-family house. With four tenants in the house, he said it did not violate that ordinance.

``They rent it as the ordinance allows,'' Benner said.

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