North Huntingdon residents want yard maintenance rule
By Amanda Dolasinski
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Just before Marbury Drive curves into a cul-de-sac, house No. 354 stands on a property that some say resembles a jungle bungalow more than a suburban home.
Neighbors complain about its appearance amid their vibrant flower boxes and trimmed hedges. Owner Margaret Paulone however, says she purposely has 500 different plants growing in her front and back yards.
Complaints to township commissioners, fire departments and zoning officers have been futile because North Huntingdon has no ordinance to regulate yard maintenance. Now, the neighbors of Marbury Drive have banded together to push the township to create one.
“I don't believe there's anything in the property maintenance code to regulate this,” said Andy Blenko, township planning director. “Under the present set of rules, there's really nothing we can do.”
A potential ordinance would have to be objective, something Blenko said he is unsure how to approach.
“It's tough for us to regulate,” he said. “It's like trying to regulate what color a house should be painted. It really comes down to aesthetics. How do you set an objective standard?”
Paulone's two-story blue house on Marbury Drive is blocked from street view by vegetation, including tall decorative grass, ivy and pine trees.
If such an ordinance passes, she said she's not sure she would conform.
“If it says I have to dig out all my plants, then no I'm not going to comply,” she said. “That's unconstitutional.”
Paulone said some of the plants are taller than she would like. It has been at least three years since she has trimmed some of the bushes and larger trees, she said.
Paulone said none of her neighbors have approached her regarding her yard. She calls herself an “avid gardener” and says she spent about $1,000 on different kinds of plants.
“These are plants. These are beautiful garden plants,” she said. “These plants are just being themselves.”
But beyond the appearance, neighbors have noted increased sightings of feral cats, raccoons and groundhogs.
“It's terrible,” Tom Regester, who lives a few doors down from the home, said. “I've called the fire company at least four times.”
Regester said he is particularly concerned with an ivy plant that has wrapped itself around a telephone pole and extended its reach to the top wires of the pole.
Neighbor Stephen Dorazio, who has collected 23 signatures on a petition, said the home is causing “health and safety” issues, among other things.
“I'm sick of it,” Dorazio said. “It's defacing the value of my house. It just needs to be rectified.”
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Prom dress consignment sale a hit with Norwin High School students
- North Huntingdon chief says officer has been creating a ‘negative environment’
- North Irwin council members fill final vacancy