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Westmoreland

Penn Township hopes to find new code officer before busy construction season

Jacob Tierney
| Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, 9:33 p.m.

The search is on for a new Penn Township code enforcement officer, and it's taking longer than municipal leaders had hoped.

The Township Community Development Department, which handles construction permits and building inspections, has been short an employee for months.

Director Dallas Leonard retired late last year following charges of simple assault and harassment stemming from allegations that he brought guns to the municipal building and pointed them at his coworkers as a joke.

Leonard was sentenced to one year in a probationary Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program last month.

Community development technician Bill Roberts was promoted to director, leaving a vacancy for a code enforcement officer.

Commissioners were hoping to hire someone at their meeting last week, but the township isn't quite ready to decide, Manager Alex Graziani said.

The township interviewed five candidates from a field of 21 applicants and narrowed it down to three, he said.

“We're currently trying to negotiate with the top applicant. And it's challenging, because we want people with certifications, and those are few and far between,” he said.

He said he hopes to present a final candidate at next month's meeting.

Roberts told supervisors it will be important to have someone in place by the time construction season ramps up this spring.

There are multiple major projects in the works in Penn Township, including several housing developments , with more expected to break ground this year.

“We're looking forward to hiring somebody to take some of the workload off the two guys who are here right now,” he said.

The township brought in $435,000 in real estate transfer taxes in 2017, soaring past projections. It's the highest amount since at least 2004, according to Graziani.

These taxes can be used as a rough metric for property sales, Graziani said. With so many houses in various stages of development, 2018 is expected to be another good year for construction and real estate sales.

“We're seeing some healthy home sales in this township,” he said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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