Palmerton plans to take a stand against unkempt properties in the borough, most likely with the eventual adoption of a quality of life ordinance.
To that end, borough council, on a 5-0 vote Thursday, agreed to authorize the borough code enforcement officer to take action to abate the property at 3 Hillside Ave. Councilman Michael Ballard and council President Terry Costenbader were absent.
Resident Stuart Henritzy questioned why the property at 662 Mauch Chunk Road was given an "emergency" permit to put on a new roof.
Henritzy said the property is a safety hazard, and that kids were reportedly going in and drinking and smoking.
Borough Manager Rodger Danielson attempted to address Henritzy's concerns. "It is in the hands of the (borough) code enforcement officer," Danielson said. "The last I knew they were doing regular maintenance of it."
Henritzy continued to express his frustration, and said, "So we still get to look at the house that dilapidates our properties?"
Danielson said the borough has certain standards it has to meet, and may not have quite as many regulations on matters such as aesthetics as it would like.
Mayor Chris Olivia then interjected his viewpoint.
"How many times is he going to have to look at this?" asked Olivia, who said he believes the home should be torn down immediately. "Nobody should have to live next to this; it's a disgrace."
But Danielson noted doing so could leave the borough in a similar situation it found itself in several years ago with the property at 910 Edgemont Ave, where that lot is now vacant.
Danielson said that he believes there is a lien on the 910 Edgemont property, "but it's more than anybody wants to pay."
The borough has since taken over ownership of that property, Danielson said.
Regardless, Councilman Richard Nothstein said, "I don't see where the taxpayers should have to suffer."
Councilman Kris Hoffner said he and Olivia recently took a drive through the borough and found several properties that were extremely unkempt.
The properties Hoffner specifically mentioned were 3 Hillside Ave., 662 Mauch Chunk Road, a property on the 900 block of Mauch Chunk Road, 309 Lafayette Ave., 313 Lafayette Ave., and 615 Lafayette Ave.
Hoffner said the home at 3 Hillside Ave. is abandoned and has no windows, overgrown brush, feral cats and kids reportedly doing drugs.
The home at 662 Mauch Chunk Road, while it has a new roof, has weeds that are 1-foot high, Hoffner said.
The property on the 900 block of Mauch Chunk Road, Hoffner said there is a garage falling down and unlicensed vehicles.
Over at 309 Lafayette Ave, there are weeds in the backyard, a garage door is falling off, rain spouting is down, and all kinds of garbage as well as debris in the yard and on the front porch, he said.
The home at 313 Lafayette Ave. has weeds in the backyard, and the home at 615 Lafayette Ave. has high weeds, a garage falling down and garbage, Hoffner said.
He said it's one thing when a resident attends a meeting and talks about how deplorable a property is, but it's another thing to actually see it in person.
"We pride ourselves in Palmerton being a nice place to live, and yet we have some properties that look like this," Hoffner said. "I think it's time we adopt a quality of life ordinance."
Hoffner said, "these people have waited too long; it's a disgrace."
Olivia said, "we've got to do something with (the property at) 3 Hillside. Somebody's going to get killed there."
Nothstein then asked if the borough could proceed with the condemnation of several of those properties.
Danielson said, "what it's going to amount to is it's going to become a cost to the borough."
It was then agreed that the matter would be passed on to the borough's public relations borough code committee for review, and possible consideration of, the adoption of a quality of life ordinance.
In a related matter, Olivia asked council to consider holding a cleanup day in the borough, where residents would be able to put things they no longer want out for the borough to collect.