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Homeless man at center of bench controversy in Red Lion

Over the last year and a half, several benches have been removed from the town square. More recently, the large chair by the Lions building was put on the porch.

RED LION, Pa. — Over the last year and a half, several benches have disappeared from the center of Red Lion.

More recently, the large ROARS chair that used to sit under the tree by the Lions Club building was placed up on the porch.

The mayor, Gene Lau, and his wife Amy, who's on the borough council, own Red Lion Karate and the sign-making shop next door.

They removed the bench outside their business a year and a half ago.

"That mainly came because kids coming into our business weren't comfortable with what they were seeing happening," said Amy Lau.

They said what children were seeing was Mike Strausbaugh, a homeless man who has been seen camping out around the town square.

The Laus said he had been sleeping on the bench and publicly relieving himself around it.

"With the one individual that appears to be homeless I know people who have had not good interactions with him just like I know people who have had good interactions," explained Lau.

The mayor was previously criticized for posting the below sign on the fence between his two businesses. 

Credit: York Daily Record

The Laus told FOX43 the sign was up for about a month

They also said it's the decision of a private business owner, not the borough, to remove a bench that may sit outside their store.

"On the same note I would guess if a business would like a bench they could request to have one," said Lau. "I would suggest going to a borough council meeting to ask to have a bench installed on their sidewalk."

On Wednesday, Mike was seen underneath the same tree where the big chair used to be.

Maria Favorito owns Central Pizza down the street and has been using a "Pay It Forward" board to help feed Mike.

"He's an awesome guy," said Favorito. "He's quiet, he doesn't want to be bothered. If you don't provoke him, he just wants to be left alone."

She said if a bench is donated to her business, she'll put it on her property and allow anyone to use it.

"The thing is, it could be your son, father, brother that could be in that situation so I think in this time and day we need to help each other out," added Favorito.

Other business owners in town said people need to be more cognizant of why someone may be homeless.

"I think we need to be very careful of how we judge and that we try to make it easier for people who are homeless rather than more difficult," said Bethany Miller, who owns Lion Pharamcy.

FOX43 did ask Mr. Strausbaugh if he wanted to speak with us for this story, but he declined.

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