City may sue developer who spent $20,000 to remove 40 tons of trash from vacant lot; Fair or Foul?
developer in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Point Breeze is facing
legal action after voluntarily cleaning up more than 40 tons of trash
from a vacant lot neighboring his local business.
As the old adage goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Ori Feibush
says he visited the local offices of the Philadelphia Redevelopment
Authority four times, sent in seven written requests and made 24 phone
calls to the agency asking them to take care of a major eyesore: an
empty lot next to his coffee shop was home to more than 40 tons of
Not only did the agency fail to act but it also denied Feibush's offer to clean up the mess himself.
But the Daily News
reports that Feibush went ahead with his plans anyway, reportedly
spending more than $20,000 of his own money not only to remove the trash
but also to level the soil; add cherry trees, fencing and park benches;
and repave the sidewalk.
"This was a lot of garbage," local resident Elaine McGrath told the paper. "Now it's gorgeous. I'm excited."
However, the city agency was less
excited, demanding that Feibush return the vacant lot to its previous
condition and saying it is considering legal action against him.
"Like any property owner, [the
authority] does not permit unauthorized access to or alteration of its
property," Paul D. Chrystie, director of communications at the Office of
Housing and Community Development told the paper. "This is both on
principle (no property owner knowingly allows trespassing) and to limit
And the situation is not without
irony. Feibush says he received a citation in August 2011 from the city
for litter on the same lot that the city now points out is not his
Nonetheless, the city's request
puts Feibush in an unusual position. In theory, he committed a good
deed, investing his own time and money to improve the condition of his
neighborhood when city authorities refused to step up to the plate. But
he also knowingly did so after the city refused his request to
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