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Judge gives woman one week to leave farmhouse in county

September 25, 2005|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT

A district judge on Friday gave a woman one more week to move out of a house owned by the Town of Williamsport.

If Patricia France does not leave by Sept. 30, the town could ask the court to have the Washington County Sheriff's Department remove her belongings.

That won't be necessary, France said Friday afternoon.

"We'll be gone," she said. "I guarantee it."

The town requested Friday's "tenant holding over" hearing when France, her son and her daughter stayed past an Aug. 20 deadline.

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France has lived at a farmhouse at 6 Springfield Lane for four years. Under a contract, she could stay there, rent-free, as long as she followed a schedule for making improvements.

On May 5, she gave the town 60 days' notice that she was leaving.

Seven weeks later, France wrote a letter saying she still planned to move out, but not by July 5. However, town officials didn't agree to the extension and recommended evicting her.

In a memo, a town zoning enforcement officer reported finding in April that most of the improvements were incomplete or not done at all.

Last month, France said she had invested more money in the property than she initially promised and had done about three-quarters of the work.

Visiting Frederick County District Judge Janice Rodnick Ambrose presided over Friday's hearing in Washington County District Court.

France argued that she only had 10 days' notice before the Aug. 20 deadline.

"I guess I can't leave fast enough for them," she said.

Williamsport Town Attorney Edward Kuczynski replied that France and the town previously agreed she would leave. When she tried to change the deadline, the town said no.

"She's essentially a trespasser," Kuczynski said.

France said in August that she expected to move to a house in Emmitsburg, Md., this month. On Friday, though, she said that plan fell through, so she and her family will live with relatives for a while.

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