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Jeannette strengthens loitering ordinances

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 6:39 a.m.

Jeannette Council plans to update a few ordinances.

City council on Wednesday unanimously approved the first reading of three that address current problems and consolidate amendments to established ordinances.

"It's better to have them in one, consolidated ordinance," Solicitor Gary Falatovich said.

A series of amendments in the disorderly conduct ordinance would be combined to include the prowling and loitering ordinance and open-container regulations.

Falatovich said the ordinance will increase the scope to "include loitering in front of commercial establishments." An area of concentration will be Clay Avenue.

"The ordinance will help us give the police a little bit more teeth to help vacate the alley from people who shouldn't be loitering on the street," said Mayor Michael Cafasso. "We don't need to see a bunch of people hanging on the street."

Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit the parking of trucks, tractors, tractor-trailers, house trailers, other hauling devices, tow trucks and commercial equipment on city streets and alleys.

"It provides some additional definitions to what a trailer is," Falatovich explained. "We were having some difficulties with that definition. This includes all trailers, all hauling devices."

Included in the two ordinances is a minimum $300 fine and a maximum of $1,000 for violations.

Another ordinance would require restaurants and food establishments to apply for and display a valid, annual health license. It would increase the health license fee from $25 to $100.

A second reading of each must be approved before enactment. They will be on the agenda for a vote when council meets in September.

Councilman Michael Minyon is looking to clean up properties in the city with the help of volunteers and his own equipment.

If grass or weeds are deemed too high, the property owner will be notified what must be done to avoid a fine.

Then the cleanup will be handled by Minyon and his volunteers.

"We have to notify the property owner and they have five days to comply," Minyon explained. "If they don't comply within five days, we, as volunteers ... are going to take in our own equipment, our own gas and whatever and we're going to weed-whack these places down."

They may even be able to charge the property owner for their services, Minyon said.

"If we do that, obviously we're not going to get the money, we'll just put a lien against their property," Minyon said. "If they want any kind of permit and they owe the city money, we have that new ordinance, they won't be able to get a permit to do anything."

Volunteers will sign a liability release form in case of injury.

He said he's already had four people volunteer to help him and anyone interested can contact the city or him.

"If anybody wants to volunteer, my number is in the book, you can contact me," Minyon said. "Any residents that know of properties, just call me."

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