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Penn Township sues to get blighted property cleaned

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 11:36 p.m.

As a last resort, Penn Township is suing the owners of a property blighted by overgrown grass, junk vehicles and dilapidated buildings.

Community Development Director Dallas Leonard said for about 12 years township officials have been asking members of the Klingensmith family to clean up a Frye Road property.

“We've been trying to deal with this situation for quite a few years,” Leonard said Tuesday. “It's a total mess.”

The suit, filed Monday, seeks an injunction preventing further accumulation of garbage and inoperative vehicles and ordering that the property be cleaned up. Named as defendants are Lee R. Klingensmith of Loyalhanna Township, his brother Boyd N. Klingensmith of Penn Township and their mother, Helen Klingensmith.

Phone numbers for Lee Klingensmith and Helen Klingensmith could not be located. Phone numbers listed for Boyd Klingensmith were disconnected or rang unanswered Tuesday.

The property was formerly owned by Cecil Klingensmith, who died in May 1995 at 73. Township officials are unsure of the whereabouts of his wife, Helen Klingensmith, and believe Boyd Klingensmith may spend time at the property.

In the suit, township solicitor Leslie Mlakar wrote that the accumulation of debris, tall grass and unlicensed, inoperable vehicles has resulted in “unclean, unsafe and unsanitary” conditions that violate township code. The vehicles are “in a state of major disassembly, disrepair or in the process of being stripped and dismantled,” Mlakar wrote.

Some of the vehicles are registered to Boyd Klingensmith, Leonard said.

An old farmhouse and a few small structures on the property are “so dilapidated, they're ready to fall down,” Leonard said.

Complaints from neighbors have been “ongoing” throughout the years and seeking a court injunction is “not the way we like to conduct business” but the property is in need of remediation, Leonard said.

“We've done almost everything,” he said.

A hearing has not been scheduled by Judge Anthony Marsili.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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