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Summit Hill plans special zoning meeting

Published July 23. 2019 12:24PM

Several zoning related matters were discussed during a meeting of Summit Hill Borough Council on Monday.

After about 20 minutes on the topic, Councilman David Wargo suggested a special meeting strictly for zoning issues be held. The council will announce the time and date of such a meeting.

Zoning officer Danny Matika and assistant zoning officer David Hiles attended the council meeting. Last week, they conducted an informal roundtable discussion on zoning.

Both Matika and Hiles were appointed to their respective positions last month. Matika told the council their initial emphasis will be compliance of borough regulations by landlords and addressing vacant houses.

He said there are other issues involving zoning which must be addressed as they are seen.

“We’ve got to take care of the people who pay taxes in Summit Hill,” he said.

Hiles said he is concerned if zoning issues are ignored, it will cause property values to decline in the borough.

“The problem is enforcement,” he said.

He told the council that four months ago, he complained about a property with a pile of tires. “There is still nothing done,” he said, adding by now the owner of the property with the tires should owe thousands of dollars in fines.

Matika agreed, saying he saw a citation issued nine years ago that has never been satisfied.

Hiles said, “Danny and I both agree, and the people who were here at the (roundtable) meeting, the problem isn’t with the ordinances. The problem is enforcement.”

He said the borough must deal with the violators. “We don’t want to give people fines,” he said. “We want people to keep their property nice.”

Of the zoning discussion that was held, much centered on burn pits in backyards.

Barbara Christopher, a borough resident, said, “I know people like to light them and want to have fun.”

She said she is concerned because such burning affects people with asthma. A lot of children has asthma, she said.

“We don’t get a lot of complaints on fire pits,” said Chief of Police Joseph Fittos Jr. He said they become an issue when the fire becomes too large or the pits are near other buildings.

There have been instances where the fire department was summoned to extinguish pit fires, Fittos said.

Council President Michael Kokinda said besides the zoning officers, the borough’s codes are enforced by Lehigh Engineering, a professional engineering firm.

He asked solicitor Michael Greek who is authorized to issue citations.

Attorney Greek responded, “Police officers and individuals appointed by the borough to enforce the ordinances.”

Kokinda said the police officers are busy on other matters but he doesn’t like to pay $70 per hour to the code enforcement officer for enforcement action.

Matika is paid for eight hours per week as zoning officer. Hiles isn’t paid as the assistant zoning officer.

One concern of Matika is that people park campers, trailers and other vehicles along the road by the borough’s cemeteries. He suggested the borough contact the mining company which owns land near the Summit Hill Little League field and create a parking area behind the field for these vehicles.

Meanwhile, the council voted to review an ordinance regarding the shooting of fireworks in the borough. The ordinance is similar to one that is being proposed in other local communities.

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