MASONTOWN – Borough council wants to keep its blight-fighting momentum going and made a move at its most recent meeting they hope will do just that.
In a 5-0 vote, council adopted a quality-of-life ordinance that institutes ticketing processes for property maintenance failures that add blight to the borough.
The SWEEP (Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program) ordinance sets $50 fees for quality-of-life violations including accumulation of rubbish or garbage, weeds, grass or plant growth exceeding 10 inches, littering or scattering rubbish, burning trash or waste, and failing to remove snow or ice from a sidewalk within 24 hours of the snowfall or icefall ending.
The ordinance sets $100 fees for violations including storing hazardous materials
Failure to pay fees within 14 days of a violation ticket will lead to a citation with a magisterial district judge, although code officials may issue citations without first issuing tickets if violations are “continuous or egregious,” according to the ordinance.
A conviction before the magisterial district judge will result in a fine between $300 and $1,000 on each offense or imprisonment up to 90 days.
Appeals of tickets will be heard by the borough’s recently filled Board of Appeals, with appeal applications to be filed within 10 days of the ticket being issued.
The ordinance is effective immediately, borough Solicitor Gary D. Monaghan said.
Under the ordinance, the borough and/or its contractor may abate violations at an owner’s expense, with total cost including hourly wages and all materials used.
Borough code enforcement officer Josh Nypaver of PMI Services welcomed the ordinance, saying it will allow for more aggressive enforcement.
“It’s a big step forward,” Nypaver said.
And it’s the latest step among several.
Council adopted an International Property Maintenance Code in May and approved PMI Services to assume code enforcement duties as an independent contractor at a rate of $26 an hour in April.
Nypaver reported that citations had been filed against several property owners.
“We’re just trying to maintain a proactive approach to everything,” Nypaver said.
In other business, council voted to amend its application through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program to adjust the construction cost to $183,000 for a total renovation of the roof of the borough-owned Masontown Borough Municipal Center.
Council also approved a bituminous paving project at a cost of $157,816 to low bidder Morgan Excavating, L.P. whose coverage area will include Woodland, Columbus, Provins and Cross avenues, as well as a $4,274 supplement to cover work in the municipal center parking lot.