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Woman gets deadline for repairs to Shafton house

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 11:58 a.m.

A former North Huntingdon Township woman has 90 days to save from demolition the home she and her late husband built.

At their meeting Wednesday, township commissioners gave Marietta Mayfield of Delmont until the end of summer to fix her former home at 600 Lime St. in Shafton.

Commissioners voted 6-1 to demolish the structure, however, if 'substantive progress' has not been made on the repairs by then. Commissioner David Herold cast the lone dissenting vote.

Mayfield's attorney, Keith Houser of Greensburg, asked for a six-month delay.

'That would be too long of a time,' Township Solicitor Thomas P. Cole II said. 'We have a really dangerous structure here and need no more than three months.'

During a public hearing before the vote was taken, zoning officer Keith Evers testified the Mayfield home has been in violation of building and safety ordinances for at least two years and is steadily deteriorating.

The foundation is crumbling, with cracks large enough to let water and rodents into the home, he said. Pieces of the roof are missing and the ceilings have caved in, Evers said. In addition, the wood-fiber siding has rotted away, exposing the lath. The stairs and porches are also unsafe, he said.

Township Engineer Donald Glenn went further, testifying that the cost of repairing the home exceeds its replacement value. All of the plumbing and wiring has failed and the chimney is in danger of collapse, he said.

'It fails to provide the minimum amenities to be fit for human occupation,' Glenn said. 'It is a threat to the surrounding neighborhood.'

The Mayfields have a sentimental attachment to the residence, Houser said, and do not want to see it torn down. Marietta Mayfield spoke with a real estate agent this week interested in showing the property, he said.

Buyers are interested in purchasing the property, Houser said, but are afraid the township will demolish it before the sale is complete.

The house has been sitting empty for several years only because Marietta Mayfield's husband, Robert, died, Houser said. Mrs. Mayfield went to California to stay with relatives, but she has returned, he said.

'She would like to sell the place or transfer it to her children,' Houser said, 'but she needs some additional time.'

'I have had a few people contact me with interest in purchasing the property,' Evers said. 'I will give them time to rehabilitate the property.'

There was no such lenience granted to Thomas Drylie, who owns a house and garage at 951 Main St. in Hahntown. The two-story frame structure, which was first condemned in September 1996, is a health and safety hazard, Evers said. An attempt in June to dispose of the property through sheriff's sale failed, he said.

All of the windows are broken and the walls of a brick and block garage attached to the home are beginning to collapse, Glenn said.

More than $150,000 in local and federal liens have been filed against the property and against Drylie, whose last-known address was in Florida, Evers said.

'The sooner it gets demolished, the better off we'll be,' said Commissioner Angelo Furlin, whose ward includes Hahntown.

North Huntingdon taxpayers will foot the $8,600 bill for the demolition, however. Though the township will file another lien against the property, Manager John Shepherd said there is little hope of recovering the money, with so many other debts outstanding against Drylie.

North Huntingdon Township commissioners on Wednesday granted a developer another six months to work on his plan to construct condominiums along Barnes Lake Road.

Several weeks ago, Robert Shuster of North Huntingdon withdrew his plan for Victoria Villas, a group of 10 duplexes to be built near Delaware Avenue, in the face of conditions imposed by the township planning commission that he viewed as too restrictive.

Among other items, Shuster disagreed with the planning commission's insistence that he install sidewalks in front of the condos, which are to be marketed to senior citizens. Shuster said it would pose a hardship on elderly residents to maintain the walkways.

Allen Cohen, township planning and zoning director, said last night that Shuster has since reconsidered his decision to withdraw the plan. Under state law, if no action were taken by the commissioners to approve or deny the plan within a certain time limit, the proposal would have been granted approval by default.

The commissioners voted unanimously to give Shuster until December to revise the plan. With the time waiver, Cohen said, Shuster can now incorporate the planning commission's changes, ask for another hearing, or put the plan to a vote before the township commissioners the way it is.

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