Vandergrift officials pondering options for abandoned structure | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Vandergrift officials pondering options for abandoned structure

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Officials in Vandergrift are looking to Westmoreland County to begin the process of getting rid of a deteriorated structure.

On Monday, Melissa Adams, who lives near the deteriorated property at 113 East Adams Ave., asked council if there is something more that can be done about it.

She said although it is roped off with yellow caution tape, young people are ignoring it and going inside. She is concerned someone might get hurt.

Solicitor Larry Loperfito said it’s difficult for the borough to act unilaterally on a property that is privately owned — even when it is abandoned.

“The problem is it’s a property, and somebody else owns it, not the borough,” he said, adding that in Pennsylvania, property rights reign supreme.

“We know there are heirs (to the property), but they just walked away,” Loperfito said.

He said the heirs live out of state in the southern U.S. and the estate, of which the property is part, is being handled by an attorney in Virginia. Loperfito said he has contacted the attorney regarding the property but that person has refused to respond.

Loperfito said he will contact county officials to see if they can do anything about expediting the placement of property on the next judicial tax sale list for nonpayment of taxes. He said that would be the first step.

Meanwhile, he suggested that the borough engineer, Lucien Bove, examine the property.

He said while the borough is limited in what it can do, the borough does have greater power if a structure constitutes a public safety hazard.

“If Lucien takes a look at it and says, ‘This thing is going to collapse,’ then the borough might have to take emergency action,” Loperfito said.

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