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Abandoned buildings: Clean 'em up

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Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

The Connellsville Health Board and the city's zoning/health officer are worried about the dangers posed by the former WCVI building.

And so they should be.

The building, vacant for several years, is in danger of falling down. In fact, city officials fear what could happen if a fire occurred.

And, as this building is situated on one of Connellsville's main thoroughfares, a fire or collapse would be devastating.

Owned by Fayette County, the structure recently was sold for $700 to an individual from Phoenix. The new owner has until Sept. 30 to take possession of it.

And then what? Will the city have another fight on its hands, trying to force an out-of-town property owner to do something with a structure that clearly poses a danger to the community?

Out-of-state companies and individuals frequently buy vacant city structures in tax sales and other ways. Then nothing happens. And the buildings eventually become public nuisances.

This cycle must stop.

City, county and state lawmakers and officials need to work together to find ways and/or institute laws to make property owners responsible — most notably, out-of-state owners who neglect their responsibilities.

This is not merely a Connellsville “image” problem. It's a public safety concern that directly affects the city's economic growth and development.

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