Peters to begin cleanup on abandoned properties

Published Jul 23, 2013 at 8:48 am (Updated Jul 23, 2013 at 8:48 am)

In an effort to clean up some of the 14 vacant abandoned properties in Peters Township, council voted July 22 to begin the process of property maintenance on three of the properties.

The three abandoned properties are 106 Elfwood Drive, 111 Spring Meadows Drive and 101 Parkwood Lane. All of the parties involved, from owners to banks to estates, have been notified, said Ed Zuk, township planning director. The other 11 properties are on Old Washington Road, North Heidi Lane, Venetia Road and Thomas Road, to name a few. In a majority of cases, the township’s Public Works Department will handle the necessary clean-up with a lien placed on the property to recover costs, said Michael Silvestri, township manager.

As for the Elfwood property, an open pool in the rear would need to be covered or the liner removed to prevent insect infestation.

When Councilman David Ball suggested a bulldozer could be used to collapse the house, Silvestri said the township is not permitted, as the house has not been declared unsound. Zuk said he does not believe the taxes are being paid and the house is in foreclosure.

Of all the 14 properties, banks are involved, Zuk said.

Silvestri said he was to meet with the Federal Emergency Management Agency July 23 to tour some of the businesses and houses affected by the heavy rains and resulting floods July 10. In the township, 80 residences and 11 businesses incurred some type of damage.

Following an emergency meeting of council July 10 after which the township issued a disaster declaration, council formally voted on the declaration July 22.

Council unanimously declared vacant the seat of the late Councilman Robert Atkison, who died unexpectedly July 7. Atkison’s term was to expire Jan. 5, 2016. The seat must be filled within 30 days, but no sooner than 10 days after the vacancy was declared.

Solicitor William Johnson said he would research whether the Home Rule Charter, under which the township is governed, or the state’s election code would apply as to when the appointee’s term would end. Any township resident interested in filling the unexpired term is asked to submit a letter to the township by July 29. Any resulting interview process would be open to the public. Atkison was a Republican. However, Silvestri said any eventual appointee does not need to be a Republican.

In other action, council:

• Awarded the household hazardous waste collection bid to MXI for an estimated bid of $26,664. The actual amount will be based on the number of items collected with 50 percent of the bid to be paid by a state Department of Environmental Protection grant. The date for the collection for township residents only is Sept. 28. To be collected are items such as paint, batteries and pesticides.

• Awarded a bid of $37,728 to Dom Folino Construction for the conversion of the Hidden Brook erosion pond to be paid through the confiscated bond from the original contractor. Works will begin in the fall or winter, weather permitting. Ten bids were received, with the highest being $102,270 from a landscaping company.

•Agreed to conduct a traffic calming study on the township portion of Hays Road. No action would be taken until the completion of the Valley Brook Road ramp project that is not expected to be finished until at least July of 2014. Unofficial detour traffic has more than doubled the amount of vehicles using Hays Road since Valley Brook Road closed for construction in mid-May. Using temporary speed humps to stop speeding on Hays was discussed.

• Special permission was granted to install a temporary banner on the McMurray Trail Bridge welcoming Doug Vitale and his township native wife, Alexis Abraham Vitale, home in August, and to promote a fund raising concert to raise money for a new home for the couple. Vitale was severely wounded in Afghanistan.

• With the recent resignation of Noel McMillan, former deputy chief of the Peters Township Fire Department, council agreed Silvestri, fire Chief Dan Coyle and the president of the volunteer firefighters should interview six applicants, all current fire department paid employees. Township regulations require a deputy chief to hold a college degree. Coyle said of the six, three have either bachelor or associate degrees, with the other three in varying stages of advanced education. McMillan left for a job in the gas industry.

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