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Zoning issues discussed in Summit Hill

Published July 16. 2019 12:46PM

Summit Hill’s two new zoning officials want to see ordinances — especially those pertaining to residential rental units, pet waste, fireworks and quality of life matters — vehemently enforced.

A roundtable discussion was held in Summit Hill Borough Hall on Monday by the newly appointed zoning officer Danny Matika and his assistant, David Hiles with about 20 residents of the town present. Also at the meeting were three borough council members — David Wargo, Karen Ruzicka and Debra Ranck.

The meeting was an informal gathering to air suggestions from the public.

Hiles led most of the discussion. He said, “We don’t have a problem with the ordinances in this town. We have a problem with enforcement.”

He said enforcement is a matter which must be addressed by the mayor.

Matika said the zoning officer has no arresting powers.

“I can’t cite anybody,” Matika said, adding he informs the police officer of the violation, and the officer then issues the citation.

One of the priorities of the zoning officer will be to put together a pamphlet listing borough regulations for rental properties. The pamphlets will be given to the landlords. Such regulations include making sure all utilities payments are up to date before a property is rented, having the property inspected, obtaining a rental certificate and making sure tenants have moving permits.

“If you are going to be a landlord and you’re not doing it right, it’s going to suck for you to be a landlord in Summit Hill,” Hiles said.

He said presently tenants are responsible for moving permits, but he wants to see this changed so landlords are required to make sure their renters have them.

Wargo said, “One of the biggest problems we have is we don’t have a database of landlords.”

Hiles and Matika said they also want a system in which zoning complaints can be submitted to the borough anonymously.

Matika said presently zoning complaints must be given to borough secretary Kira Steber, who then turns them over to the zoning officer.

“We want it to be like the LCB (Liquor Control Board),” Hiles said. “The complaint comes in anonymously. Police investigate and then they’re the complainant.”

Backyard fire pits also were discussed. Hiles said most lots in Summit Hill are too small “that you shouldn’t be burning fires in your yard.”

He said he would like to see changes in the regulations permitting such fires.

Illegal fireworks are a concern of Hiles. He said state legislators “failed us because they’re looking for money.” He said they legalized the sale of fireworks because it carries an 18 percent sales tax.

“Imagine what they (the state) made on the fireworks shot off in Summit Hill,” he said.

He expressed concern that unless fireworks are kept under control, death or serious injury will occur or someone’s house could burn.

Hiles said he and Matika have concerns about campers and boats parked on borough streets.

He also would like to see stricter enforcement of weed control on vacant parcels. He said many are owned by banks or estates. He suggested the grass be cut and the property owner have a lien attached to the property for the cost, which should be excessive.

“We need to decide what we want to do to get our town back,” Hiles said. “We need to tell (Mayor) Paul McArdle and the police.”

He also said he and Matika would like to meet with the council to express their concerns.

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