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West Newton cracks down on eyesores

| Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

West Newton officials on Monday defended their efforts to clean up the community's eyesore properties that have overgrown grass, debris scattered through yards and are in poor condition, saying the borough is following the proper legal procedures to address the problems.

“We see junk and garbage in people's yards. People are breaking into empty houses. They are dumping grounds for garbage ... and a haven for rats and snakes,” said Arlene Tomich of North Fifth Street.

A North Fifth Street neighbor, Dolores Lovett, said the borough needs to do a better job to force owners to clean up the properties where building materials and other debris are scattered. Those properties devalue the neighborhood, Lovett said.

Council President George Molovich said that police Chief Gary Indof had cited the owners of 13 properties last month for various ordinance violations, 12 of which were for failure to cut vegetation. The vegetation was cut on four of those properties, while there still is time for the other property owners to respond to the citation.

The police chief cited 16 properties in July for ordinance violations, Molovich said.

Indof also reported that he received a warrant for the arrest of the occupant who had lived at 224 S. Eighth St. Indof stated that he believes she had moved to Monessen.

“These matters take time,” Indof said, noting that the borough's ordinance gives property owners 10 days to resolve a problem before the citation. If the problem is not corrected, a citation can be filed with District Judge Charles Christner in West Newton.

Councilman Adam Paterline said he has made it his “mission” to work on these problems and much has been done.

“There is a lot of room for improvement. It is not easy,” Paterline said.

The borough already is maintaining more than 30 properties, which involves mowing the lawns. A $6,000 lien has been placed against one property, Humenik said.

Solicitor Charles Wade said the problem is rooted in the downturn in the economy. When the borough and the region's economy was in better shape, people had the money to take care of their properties, Wade said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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