Garbage piling up in White Oak mobile home park
By Stacy Lee
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 4:26 a.m.
Residents of Biros Mobile Home Park in White Oak are angry that their garbage is not being picked up.
They presented a petition of complaint with approximately 40 signatures to council on Monday.
Biros Mobile Home Park at 3285 Jacks Run Road has 60 individual trailer pads.
Residents said their garbage has not been collected since the end of December. Council passed an ordinance in 2011 requiring owners of properties with more than two tenants to supply collectors for solid waste and recyclables.
Borough manager Jack Petro Jr. said the ordinance wasn't enforced until this year because the borough wasn't able to give property owners enough time in 2012 to prepare.
Petro said owners were notified twice in November about the changes.
Following council's executive session on Monday evening, interim solicitor Pat McGrail told residents that Biros Brothers, which owns the park, will be cited by the borough code enforcement officer every day that they fail to comply with borough ordinances.
The fine for having trash on the property is $300.
“From the borough's point of view, they've adopted a legal ordinance and they've notified Mr. Biros and provided significant notice with regards to the enforcement of that ordinance,” McGrail said.
“It's not fair what these people are doing to us,” park resident Peggy Pokrant said. “It's discrimination. We are residents of White Oak.”
She said residents shouldn't have to pay borough taxes/
Petro responded that garbage collection is a service that now has to be paid for by the property owner.
He said it has nothing to do with taxes.
“We just don't understand why we were excluded all of a sudden,” park resident Reida Lindquist said. “We all own our own mobile homes.”
She said the borough and park owner are in a dispute about garbage collection, and the residents are the ones who have to suffer.
“I've been here for more than 21 years and this has never happened before,” resident Jan Arnold said.
Park resident Glenda Roberts said cats and rats are getting into the garbage bags.
Some residents are having their trash picked up by another service or are taking it elsewhere. Pokrant said that is something she never will do.
“My garbage will sit out there until Hell freezes over,” she said.
Council president Dave Pasternak said the borough doesn't want to deal with collecting garbage on commercial properties, and most municipalities don't.
“There's a delinquency issue that we've had with commercial properties,” he said.
“This is not new what council did,” Petro said. “Many other municipalities are doing the same thing.”
He said five other borough properties with multiple dwellings are affected, and the borough hasn't received complaints about the ordinance from them.
Park owners Robert, George and Steve Biros filed a lawsuit against the borough on Jan. 8. It claims Robert Biros received a letter indicating that the borough's interpretation of the ordinance is that the park “fell within the specifications of an apartment building.”
“Plaintiffs disagree with the borough's interpretation and argue that each mobile home is equivalent to a single family house as defined in the ordinance,” Biros Brothers' attorney Robert Goldman said. “Moreover, each mobile home pad has been assigned its own individual block and lot number, thereby designating each pad as a separate parcel of property.”
He requested a preliminary injunction, or that the borough continue to collect garbage until the matter is resolved in court.
In the defendant's response to the request, McGrail wrote, “It is denied that each pad is assigned an individual lot and block number by the Allegheny County Block and Lot system.
“By way of further pleading, it is the entire parcel of land that comprises BMH Park that has been assigned a lot and block number and each individual mobile home, and not the underlying pad, has assigned a ‘T' or ‘Trailer' number.”
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael McCarthy denied the Biros Brothers' request for a preliminary injunction on Jan. 14.
“The injunction was denied, but the underlying case goes forward,” Goldman said.
He said the Biros Brothers were given only two months' notice and they had no time to change the lease of all of the property renters to be billed for garbage collection.
He said he's working on an amendment to his lawsuit complaint, citing the 2004 New Jersey Superior Court case Barker's Trailer Court Inc. v. Borough of Lakehurst.
He said the court ruled that the municipality had no basis to treat the mobile home owners differently than other single-family homeowners.
Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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