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Brentwood officials try new way to get code violation message across

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
 

A notice that you're in violation of a Brentwood code could come in the form of a door-hanger card with a smiley face or an image of flowers.

Borough leaders say they're looking to fine-tune the first notices they send to alert residents that they have violated a municipal rule.

The idea, borough Manager George Zboyovsky said, is to let people know they need to comply, but in a friendly way — at least for the first time. The “Oops, we understand that we're all a little busy sometimes”-style of notification will precede the borough's traditional first notice of violation of a code or property maintenance rule, mostly for first-time offenders, Zboyovsky said.

The current first notice was amended several years ago by the borough solicitor, Zboyovsky said, in an effort to “add more muscle” and “legalese” to help with enforcement.

The idea is to let residents know that borough leaders want to work with them, he said.

“Especially for a first-time offender, life happens. Especially if we happen to catch you after the weekend and you were away and it was raining,” Councilwoman Stephanie Fox said, referring to cutting grass.

That's why the first notices likely are going to change.

“It's going to be very friendly, maybe a big smiley face,” Zboyovsky said. “Immediately when people get something from the borough, their guard goes up. So we're going to try to make something happy.”

Zboyovsky used the example of an email he received from Net-flix, reminding him to change his credit card information. It was friendly and caught his attention, yet it got the job done with: “Houston, we have a problem. We tried billing your card. Please update your account information.”

But the legalese has to stay, to give the borough power to move forward to the next step, if need be, said Eric Peccon, assistant code officer.

Zboyovsky said he got the idea for the door-hangers from Seven Fields in Butler County.

If residents don't comply with the friendly reminder they will get the traditional — and much more stern — notice of violation from Brentwood leaders, Zboyovsky said. Residents must fix the problem, either immediately or within 20 days, depending on the violation, he said.

Fox suggested that if a resident is going on vacation, he should notify a member of borough council or the police.

The new notices, which are still in the works, are geared toward new homeowners or people who likely would be unaware of the borough's rules, Peccon said.

“It's important to get them to see what the purpose of this is. These are real issues that actually deter from the community,” Peccon said.

The hope is to inform the residents about how important it is that the community looks nice.

“We're trying to maintain a healthy and positive appearance all around this community,” Fox said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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