Demolition is a hot topic in Tamaqua these days. Last night, Borough Council voted to authorize Borough Manager Kevin Steigerwalt to proceed with the demolition of a property at 208 Gay Street.
The property owner, Kathleen Cuoco, who has a mailing address in Jim Thorpe, has until the end of the week to respond to citations regarding the property or the borough will proceed with the demolition. The property has been the subject of numerous resident complaints over the last few meetings, and Steigerwalt previously said that the Borough's code enforcement officer called the property "the worst he's seen" in the town.
The proposed demolition of another property at 54 Mauch Chunk Street, the site of the old Napoli restaurant, was stalled yet again. HARC approved the request of the owner to demolish the property earlier this month, however, following questions related to the historic value of the property and whether or not the HARC protocol for demolishing a structure were being followed, the motion to demolish did not receive Council's approval. The item came up for a vote again at last night's meeting, however, received a tied vote, with Council president Micah Gursky and Councilmen David Mace and Tom Cara approving it, and Councilmen John Trudich, Ken Smulligan, and Dan Evans denying it. Councilman Brian Connely was absent from the meeting, along with Mayor Christian Morrison, who would normally cast the vote needed to break a tie.
As a result of the tied vote, Council will need to call a special meeting to allow the Mayor to cast his vote. Borough solicitor Michael Greek advised Council that the meeting must be called no less than five days and no more than 10 days after the original vote. Greek also advised that in the event that all council members are present at the meeting, the Mayor still needs to cast the tie breaking vote, and then council can act to rescind whatever decision is made and make a new motion, if they are interested in pursuing the matter.
Council approved the advertisement of a Quality of Life ordinance. The ordinance would enable Borough personnel to issue immediate citations to anyone in violation of the ordinance. It covers seven specific areas, including animal waste, garbage and rubbish, putting trash out prior to 24 hours before pickup, the use of indoor furniture and appliances outdoors, abandoned vehicles, tall grass and weeds, and snow and ice removal. Greek said that he modeled the borough's proposed ordinance mainly on one from the Pottsville. Gursky said that he hopes this will "clean up properties faster and show people that we aren't going to accept this anymore."
Council discussed the review and possible reallocation of CBDG funds from previous years that have not been used yet. Three of the projects that were approved in previous years include Wabash Tunnel work, a new roof for the Tamaqua Public Library, and a parking lot for the Community Center. Council will hold a public hearing to discuss these projects and others potential uses for the funds.
Council approved a change order for the Lower Owl Creek Dam project that will involve installing riprap in the place of soil and grass. They previously approved a similar change order for the Upper Dam.
Steigerwalt noted that no bids had been received by the Borough for the sale of 223 Pine Street, so they are now free to try to sell the property privately through a realtor.
James Barron submitted his resignation from the HARC board and the planning commission, effective immediately.
The borough moved to advertise for an RFP for professional services to codify the borough ordinances. The work is to be advertised to be completed in 2013 and will be included in the 2013 budget. The borough's ordinances have not been codified since the 1970's.