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North Charleroi dealing with problem properties

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

North Charleroi officials are making progress dealing with problem properties in the borough.

Borough Solicitor Christine Cardinale told council during Monday's business meeting that two properties on Seventh and Lock streets have been deeded to the borough. She said a resident who lives near the Seventh Street property is a potential buyer, and is interested in demolishing the property to create a parking area. The Lock Street property, the site of the former Williams Jewelers, will likely be razed by the borough. Council is seeking grants for the project.

The owners of three other properties have been cited for various violations. Resident Rosemary Larkin, of Center Avenue asked council what it plans to do about vacant homes on her street. Larkin spoke on behalf of two other concerned neighbors, as well.

Councilman and Code Enforcement Officer Steve Hega and Cardinale said that they have been aware of the violations and appropriate citations have been issued to the owners of properties located at 305, 311, and 324 Center Ave.

Council is awaiting a hearing date for the owner of 324 Center Ave., and expects to continue with condemnation proceedings. A demolition of the property would be at the owner's expense.

The violations at 311 Center Ave. are less severe, and council wants the owner to bring the property up to code, making a demolition unnecessary.

Property owners in violation of codes may choose to ignore citations and give the ownership of the home to the borough, but a property demolition is not inexpensive, council officials said.

“It's a costly operation – $12,000 and up,” according to Cardinale. “Our goal is to get the properties back to compliance.”

Cardinale, who has been vital to the code enforcement proceedings, was sworn in as a code enforcement officer following the meeting. Upon Mayor Lee Hall's recommendation, council passed the motion to deputize Cardinale – who joins Hega as the borough's code enforcement officials.

Council announced two upcoming meetings representatives will be attending. A final agenda meeting for the opening of the new John K. Tener Bridge will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Monessen's Municipal Complex. Officials from Monessen and North Charleroi are co-hosting a June 29 celebration marking the opening of the bridge.

Council will also be meeting with the Mon Valley Transit Authority board concerning a park and ride project.

In other business, council announced that the borough's worker's compensation insurance carrier will not renew its policy due to losses incurred over the past three years, effective in September. Cardinale intends to request a detailed report from the insurance company of the losses, which total $30,000.

Miranda Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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