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Youngwood officials worry about too many tenants in homes

| Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, 2:49 p.m.

A Youngwood councilman expressed concerns this week about too many tenants living in borough buildings constructed for fewer occupants.

“We have multiple hotels in our borough,” Dave Hixson said. “We have houses built to be single-family that have six to eight (utility) meters on them. These single-family homes ... now have dozens of people living in them.

“There's a tragedy coming,” he added.

Hixson said he knows of one building where a tenant knocks on the wall to inform another tenant not to use a microwave. If the two use microwaves at the same time, Hixson explained, they lose power.

“All of these are putting an added stress on the community,” Hixson said. “Violence is on the increase. Drugs are on the increase.”

President Lloyd Crago, also borough fire chief, said he knows of residential structures that present firefighting nightmares.

“They're chopped up so many times. They're an efficiency apartment,” he added.

Council discussed the need to have some form of regulations in place for residential units. Council has discussed the merits of zoning, but has not enacted regulations.

Borough officials would have a better idea who is where in the borough if permits, such as for building or occupancy, were issued at the municipal level, Crago said.

“Occupancy permits, zoning, that's the only way we can enforce that,” he added.

Earlier in the meeting, Crago suggested enforcing the Uniform Construction Code in-house, rather than through the state Department of Labor and Industry. “I think we do the people of Youngwood an injustice,” having the state enforce the construction regulations, he said.

A few years ago, municipalities were given the choice to enforce construction code requirements on their own or to have Labor and Industry do it. Unlike most municipalities, Youngwood opted in favor of the state regulatory agency.

In December, the state agency found the borough in violation of construction code regulations for the new playground near the municipal building.

Inspectors, who came to the playground as construction was ending, issued a stop-work order and threatened to fine the borough or ban use of the playground until the borough took corrective steps.

The inspectors said approved construction plans and a permit were needed for the playground and a storage shed on the property.

The borough solicitor, secretary and engineer are trying to work out a remedy with Labor and Industry, Crago said.

“I appreciate everything everybody's doing to try to reach this solution,” Crago said.

Crago, who oversaw the playground construction, said he did not know construction code regulations applied to a playground.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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