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Hampton/Shaler

Shaler commissioners vote to condemn home

| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, 2:03 p.m.
Shaler commisioners vote to condemn the home at 939 Middle Road, which was damaged in a June 11 fire.
Shaler commisioners vote to condemn the home at 939 Middle Road, which was damaged in a June 11 fire.

The Shaler commissioners unanimously voted Sept. 11 to condemn a 939 Middle Road property damaged in a June 11 fire.

Fifty-year-old homeowner Dyann E. Carroll died in the fire. Attorney Rebecca A. Rupp, of Auld Miller LLC, is representing Carroll’s estate. Rupp was not present at the commissioner’s meeting.

Under the resolution that the commissioners passed, township solicitor Harlan Stone said the executor of the estate has 10 days to either repair or demolish the property without the township’s intervention. Stone said that mortgage and loan servicing companies Fannie Mae and Seterus Inc., respectively, may also appeal, leaving an overall 30-day appeal period.

The Allegheny County fire marshal sealed the property with a notice condemning it “unsafe” July 27, according to Stone.

During a public hearing regarding the condemnation, Anthony Ferderbar, Shaler Villa Volunteer Fire Co. chief, spoke about the conditions he encountered when fighting the fire.

He described the property as “completely unsanitary,” with garbage everywhere.

“There was, just to the naked eye, roughly 20 to 30 deceased felines laying all over the house. Fecal matter in upwards of 6 inches thick over the entire counter of the kitchen, stove, dining room table, couches, everything in the living room. … empty cans of cat food. In the basement, there was a pile of defecation in excess of 2 feet thick by 20 feet around.”

Ferderbar said he contacted township code official Robert Vita following the fire to inform him of the house’s “deplorable” conditions. Vita testified during the hearing that the property could cause “sickness or disease” and is “unfit for human occupancy.”

“There’s 20 to 30 dead animals in that home that have never been removed from that house, so they are just sitting in there festering and the flies he’s talking about (fellow neighbor Chad Vaughn) make the white house look like it’s polka dotted,” said Stephen Szafranski, who shares a driveway with the property.

Vaughn has resorted to keeping his young daughters indoors on warm summer days, due to the increased number of flies and worsened odor emanating from the home.

He said that about six years ago, he took three cats from the property to an animal rescue, but employees had to euthanize them due to the animals’ poor health.

Township Manager Tim Rogers said Shaler officials were unaware of the home conditions prior to the fire.

“I do have to say a couple of my neighbors do know her,” Vaughn said. “She (Carroll) was a very nice person. It hurts to be her talking about her when she is not here.”

Township engineer Matt Sebastian said that Deller Professional Services Inc. would demolish the house. Township Manager Tim Rogers described the process as difficult because heavy equipment would need to maneuver a steep driveway.

“The township has what’s called a fire escrow ordinance so the insurance company, Erie, I believe in this case, placed a check with us for $9,000 to do the demolition,” Rogers said.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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