Vandergrift residents who turn a blind eye to code violations on their property are about to see the light.
Council on Monday approved the so-called Quality of Life ordinance that will allow the borough to issue tickets to code violators and fine them. The fine for the first occurrence is $25 but increases with repeated violations.
Solicitor Larry Loperfito said the process is different from when citations are issued, which is a situation that can drag on for months and end up in county court before any improvement is made to the property in question.
The point of the new ordinance is to speed up the process by issuing immediate fines and, in doing so, provide an incentive to maintain properties throughout the borough.
The tickets can be issued for everything from high grass to trash left in a yard.
“It is just like a parking ticket,” Loperfito said of the ordinance violation tickets.
When such a ticket is issued, the fine is paid directly to the borough.
The ordinance does allow for the ticket be appealed to the district justice, again, just like a traffic ticket.
But, Loperfito said, unlike a district justice’s ruling on citations, which can be appealed to Westmoreland County Court within 30 days, there is no further appeal for ordinance tickets.
“As with the parking ticket, you are either guilty of a violation or you are not guilty,” Loperfito said.
However, a citation can be issued if the violator fails to pay the fines.
“The only thing we wanted to eliminate was it going to the borough and then to the magistrate,” Council President Kathy Chvala said.
Council members favored the ordinance because it has been used successfully in other communities to help reduce code violations.
Loperfito said one of his legal associates who researched the ordinance found several communities in the eastern part of the state where that is the case.
The ordinance took effect Monday.