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Connellsville council to vote on abandoned building ordinance

| Sunday, July 13, 2014, 8:45 p.m.

Connellsville City Council will vote on an abandoned building ordinance after two months of tweaking parts of the ordinance.

The Vacant or Abandoned Structure Registration and Maintenance Code ordinance was developed by the city's health board and was introduced as a resolution to council in May.

But during that May meeting, Councilman Tom Karpiak expressed concerns with some features of the ordinance, so council tabled the proposed ordinance so some changes could be made.

On Tuesday, council is expected to vote on the newly drafted ordinance.

Tom Currey, the city's health and zoning officer, said the ordinance went through minor changes and tweaks to legal definitions, but the main purpose will remain the same as it was originally proposed.

“It's just more concise and better written,” Currey said.

The ordinance requires owners of vacant or abandoned structures to register their properties with the city and keep up maintenance.

“The biggest and most obvious purpose is the health and safety of the general public,” Currey said.

Part of that requirement is to have the city inspect the properties inside and out, and to find and to display the name and 24-hour contact phone number of the owner or local property manager on the interior of a window facing the street in front of the property so it can easily be read.

If the structures are determined to be unsafe or dangerous, a sign will be posted denoting “Exterior Operations Only” or “Interior Operations Permitted” in accordance with the findings.

Currey said that will help protect the well-being of firefighters. If a structurally unsound building is on fire, and there's nobody living in the building, firefighters don't have to risk their lives by falling through a floor or having something fall on them.

“It says to them, unless you know there's someone in there, don't go in there,” Currey said.

Another important element of the ordinance: It will mandate the upkeep and maintenance of an abandoned structure to help keep up property values.

If council approves the ordinance, it will sit for public review until the Aug. 19 regular meeting, when council can adopt it. From that point, the ordinance would go into effect in 10 days.

In other business, council expects to:

• Accept the resignation of Rebecca Staub as part-time clerk in the tax office effective immediately and hire a replacement at a rate of $7.50 an hour, not to exceed $3,600 for the budget year. Start date will be Aug. 1.

• Place an invitation for bids on city-owned vacant properties on York Avenue to be sold as one lot and West Peach and North Arch streets. Bids are to be received no later than 4 p.m. Aug. 18 and to be opened at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19.

• Vote on allowing the Progress Fund to install a Trail Destination Sign at Yough Park near the concession stand at no cost to the city.

• Remind residents of the following events: Triathlon at Yough Park 10 a.m. Saturday; Adopt a Block Party at Yough Park from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday; Lion's Square Concert featuring High Ryder on Sunday and Nashville Past on July 27; movie “Mary Poppins” at East Park on July 25, “The Never Ending Story” on Aug. 8 and “Friday Night Lights” on Aug. 22 at dusk; Catholic Festival by St. Johns to the train station (Somerset Trust) on Aug. 2 and 3; Phil Foley Race at Yough Park on Aug. 9 (724-439-6116); and the Fishing Derby at Yough Park on Aug. 23 (724-219-7368).

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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