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Health officer, quality-of-life ordinance, suggested in S. Hill

Published August 14. 2012 05:01PM

Summit Hill Borough Council last night indicated it will consider hiring a health officer.

Although no formal action was taken, the council said it might either hire its code enforcement officer, Barry Isett & Associates of Trexlertown, for the position, or select an independent local inspector.

Meanwhile, a borough resident, Shireen J. Parsons of East Holland Street, encouraged the council to consider adopting a "quality-of-life ordinance" for the borough.

"This town has so many properties that are not kept up," she said, adding that some yards are full of construction wastes and other debris.

She told the council, "When people are in violation of the codes, they should be warned and then they should be fined."

She presented newspaper articles of such an ordinance that exists in other communities. One article states that such an ordinance allows a more efficient way of dealing with violations such as high weeds, garbage in yards and porches, and more.

The council didn't take any action on her request but held some discussion on the matter.

Parsons mentioned one property which has asbestos shingles covered with black smears. She was concerned that the black is mold which could be toxic to children who live in the residence. She said the borough has a responsibility for protecting the health and welfare of children in the community.

Another resident said there is a vacant property on White Bear Drive in which weeds are so high you can't see the house.

Councilman Bill Chapman sided with Parsons, stating Scranton and other communities have ordinances which hold landlords responsible for their properties.

"The character of this town is marred by people who don't take care of their property," Chapman stated.

The monthly report by Isett on "update on the property maintenance projects" being handled by his firm listed 10 site concerns. Of those, eight had notations "nothing to report," which irked at least one council member.

Attorney Michael Greek, the borough's solicitor, suggested the council form a committee that meets once a month and target specific properties. He said there also must be funds available to tear down certain targeted structures.

He said approaching the problems must be done on an individual basis. For example, a bank will obtain a property after foreclosure. If maintenance is kept up, the borough can intervene and place a lien on the property to recoup its expenses. If an individual owns a property that isn't maintained, the borough can issue citations which carry fines.

"Shouldn't Barry Isett be following up on some of these things?" asked Chapman.

"That's why you need the (committee) meetings," responded Attorney Greek, noting that Chapman must be given priorities.

Chief of Police Joseph Fittos said if the borough has a problem with property owned by an individual, the police will issue the citation - not Isett.

Regarding hiring a health officer, Borough Secretary Susan Gibiser said Isett has offered to assist the borough.

Chapman said he feels it would be advantageous to have the borough hire a separate health officer.

He added that he would like to hear a proposal from Isett, including what the firm would charge for its services.

In one other property matter, a man complained that his neighbor has a swimming pool that has water in it but hasn't been used for about five years.

The individual said the water in it is black, it has an odor, and it attracts flies. He said he is concerned about West Nile Virus.

The council said it will have a code enforcement officer investigate the complaint.

Council President Michael Kokinda urged residents who have property matters that need to be addressed to contact Gibiser.

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