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Sharpsburg rental inspection rules changing

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:08 p.m.

Revisions to Sharpsburg's rules on inspections and rental properties are coming into focus.

Councilman Lou DeLuca presented changes to the ordinance last year. He, along with Councilwoman Karen Pastor and Barb Ruhle, utilities administrator, had worked on updating regulations.

Under the proposal, rental properties would be inspected once in a two-year cycle instead of annually. The cost would be $60 every two years instead of $50 each year.

DeLuca said inspections could happen more than once per cycle if there is a fire, complaints are received or occupancy changes.

“Even though it's been inspected, we can reinspect,” DeLuca said.

The revisions also add a fee if appointments for inspections are missed. DeLuca said often an appointment is made, but when the inspector arrives, the landlord or tenant is not at the site.

“To avoid that, what this does is set a fee after the second time,” DeLuca said.

That cost would be $30. Council President Renee Procopio said the added fee is fair.

“If you make a doctor's appointment or a dentist appointment and you cancel and you don't show, they'll charge you,” Procopio said.

A $30 fee also was added for appeals.

Appeals are heard by the zoning hearing board and code-enforcement officer.

Procopio said that fee is needed to pay the code officers to attend hearings.

DeLuca noted that most violations are clear, and many appeals are unlikely. Still, procedures for those cases are needed.

“In some cases there may be some gray areas,” DeLuca said.

Councilman Tony Sacco objected to that fee. He said the fee should be refundable if the appeal is won. Under the proposal, it would be a nonrefundable fee.

The borough solicitor will review the proposal and advise officials before a final decision is made.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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