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After shooting, questions about Coaldale's quality of life enforcement

Published July 11. 2019 12:19PM

 

A Coaldale woman complained to a borough council member over multiple years about an abandoned vehicle in her neighbor’s driveway which violated a borough ordinance.

Early Sunday morning, one of those neighbors allegedly shot a man who police say was living inside the abandoned van. Police said the shooting victim was a man who was prohibited from going near the house under a protection from abuse order.

The resident who complained about the vehicles, Judy Veron, says the problem may have been avoided if the vehicle was removed for violating the borough’s quality of life ordinance. She came to council Tuesday night to find out why the vehicle is still sitting in her neighbor’s driveway.

“If we had quality of life enforcement, those vehicles wouldn’t be there, and PFA holders wouldn’t be living in them,” Veron said.

On Sunday around 1:45 a.m., police responded to a shooting on East Foster Avenue. William Cannon, 21, admitted to shooting James Englert because Cannon said Englert wasn’t allowed on the property due to a protection from abuse order. Englert was in stable condition following the shooting, police said.

Veron told council Tuesday night that nearly two years ago, she asked Councilwoman Claire Remington to have the borough cite the property owner for the abandoned vehicle, and followed up a year later. But she said no action was taken. Veron said she sent pictures of the abandoned vehicle to Remington in September 2017 and March 2018.

Coaldale has a quality of life ordinance which prohibits residents from keeping nonworking vehicles on their property. Penalties for violating the ordinance range from $25 for the first offense up to $250 for repeat offenders. Any public officer of the borough can enforce the ordinance, but the Coaldale Police Department employs a full-time officer for that purpose.

“I think the borough is strapped for funds. Day to day — 25 dollars, 50 dollars, 100-250 dollars, that adds up,” Veron said.

Remington said she didn’t know why the vehicle was still there two years after Veron complained. She said that she and the officer who enforces quality of life, Ryan Oldt, have been to the property to investigate complaints. She said the owners have been cited multiple times, but they paid the fines and removed some of the junk on the property. She said that she had specifically told Oldt about abandoned vehicles, and he responded that there is only so much he can do at one time.

Council President Angela Krapf, whose husband is the police chief, said she hadn’t heard about quality of life issues at the property. But she said the quality of life officer is working hard on a number of properties around the borough.

“That’s not the only property in the borough that needs attention,” she said.

Following the shooting, Veron expected that police would remove the vehicle. But when an officer came to take down the crime scene tape Sunday morning, he told her that it would be Oldt’s decision to cite the vehicle and remove it.

Veron pointed out Tuesday that the ordinance says any officer can enforce the quality of life ordinance, and she felt that the officer who responded, Todd Weiss, should have done that.

Remington said Veron could be sure that Oldt would be looking into the property for violations of the quality of life ordinance. She said the reason that the borough only has one officer enforcing the ordinance is so he can go to court for all the citations, freeing up the rest of the officers to investigate criminal matters.

The alleged shooter, Cannon, is facing charges, according to state police.

 

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