Seniors seeking attorney in code violation case at Savannah Summit

Local News

There are new developments following a long-awaited hearing about alleged city code violations at Savannah Summit Apartments on the Southside.  Some senior citizens who live there now say they plan to hire an attorney.  That’s their intention following a Wednesday morning status hearing in the case.  

Recorder’s court judge William Broker said the case is unusual due to the sheer size of the complex. 138 units and 12 stories tall.  The proceeding was short, allowing the defendant, Michael Godwin, CEO of Ambling Property Management, which owns summit apartments, to have 30 more days to correct noted violations.  

Nine of the 14 apartments in the case are still not repaired.  

Judge William Broker allowed resident questions before wrapping up this status hearing.  

Ellen Corley bluntly asked, “How long?”

“Ya’ know we started in this court with you  December 5th of 2018.  They have been given extension after extension and now we come to court and it’s another extension,” Corley inquired, followed by Cecilia Cook, who wanted to know who speaks for residents in the proceeding, “Do we as tenants, do we need to get our own representation?  So that we can have someone to speak up for us?” Cook asked.  

Judge Broker addressed tenant concerns, sharing the endgame strategy for the hearings.

“What we’re trying to do is allow the defendant, Summit Apartments, um, to, to respond to and correct all of the items for which they were cited previously.  We also are leaving the door open for additional inspections in the event additional items need to be cited,” said Broker, who also informed them of their lack of legal standing to be participants in the case.

“This case is not between you and Summit Apartments.  This case is between the City of Savannah and Summit Apartments.  The City of Savannah is the entity that has standing to issue a citation, Judge Broker told tenants in the courtroom.

“It made me feel like I was nothing.  Because in actuality he was not even talking to me.  Because it’s all about what the city can do, and, and their attorney and what Ambling is willing to do. But we’re going to get an attorney,” Corley said after the hearing adjourned. 

Summit resident Roberta Abrihall said the judges’ words evaporated any hope that someone is on their side regarding what residents call slow and shoddy maintenance work that diminishes their quality of life inside the HUD subsidized apartments for seniors and the handicapped.

“I have no hope in the system of getting any help for us there in the system ’cause the judge said himself, it’s not about us, it’s about the city and the corporation Summit,”  Abrihall said.  

“They are giving them more time and more time, but yet and still they’re not fixing anything,” said Cecilia Cook, who moved into Summit a year ago, but adds that she had a feeling things would not go for tenants when the hearing started with lawyers talking to the judge behind closed doors.

“Cause we don’t know what was said.  All we know is they got more time,” Cook said.  

Residents say they will meet this week to begin their search for an attorney, but that endeavor is a separate challenge all its own according to Abrihall.

“We have to get a lawyer to have any word.  People in there are in fixed income.  Where are we gonna get the money?  To get a lawyer, to afford a lawyer to come and fight for us,”  said Abrihall.  

Part of the deal struck includes additional apartment inspections by the city.  If violations are found in the new round of apartment inspections, a new case will be opened.  The next status hearing in the case is set for July 10.  If Savannah Summit’s code violations are upheld, they can be fined $1,000 maximum for each of the 14 violations in this case.  

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