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Gas leaks still worrying Church Street Manor residents
About a third of residents at Church Street Manor were evacuated Wednesday night after another gas leak at the complex.

About a third of residents at Church Street Manor, a subsidized affordable housing complex in Gainesville, were evacuated once again Wednesday night after reports of another gas leak prompted health scares.

The smell of gas was evident in a few apartment units, and Gainesville firefighters responded to the complex for at least the third time in a week to investigate.

The utility company shut off the gas lines again Wednesday as fixes continue.

Gas powers hot water heaters and stoves at the complex, and residents have been unable to cook, shower or do laundry for days at a time.

Property management and maintenance at the 54-unit complex located Jesse Jewell Parkway across from the Northeast Georgia Medical Center continue to inspect units and replace faulty stoves, which appears to be the source of the gas leaks.

All new stoves will have automatic ignition switches.

The latest concerns about leaking gas have many residents asking to be moved into a hotel until the problem is fixed. They are worried about being poisoned. And the prospect of an explosion, however likely or not, is on their minds.

Residents at the complex are primarily elderly and disabled, living on fixed incomes covered by Social Security and disability checks.

The gas leaks have also sparked rumors that the property might be condemned, though city officials said this is not a prospect at this time.

“We have no plans to condemn the site,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said. “We stand ready to assist the owners as our resources and jurisdiction allow.”

Meanwhile, residents have reiterated concerns that the complex might fail an upcoming inspection of the property by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Frank Norton Jr., president and CEO of The Norton Agency real estate firm in Gainesville, represents a group of investors who own Church Street Manor.

The property is managed by an outside company that is certified by HUD.

“So we have relied on them,” Norton said.

Norton said property managers are doing everything they can to remedy the problem, and he noted that HUD evaluations have improved since new owners acquired the property a few years ago.

“We have done all corrective measures in our power after receiving the … score to correct the things we were deficient on,” Norton said.

He added that gas, water and sewer systems passed inspections last year. The complex was only docked points for its age and the interior condition of units.

“The safety of our residents is paramount,” Norton said.

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