Council seeks to put foot down on blighted properties

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Monday, Punxsutawney Borough Council President Larry Chenoga said he has been working on a plan on how to better enforce borough codes that have to do with property maintenance.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time meeting with officials from other boroughs and cities on how to better deal with the problems of dilapidated buildings and high grass that has permeated throughout the area,” and other municipalities are dealing with the same problems as Punxsutawney, he said. “It seems that when a bank repossesses a property, no more grass cutting occurs, and something needs to be done about it.”

Chenoga said there are new regulations and approaches to dealing with these often-difficult problems in municipalities.

He said he wants to hold a meeting with Borough Manager Ben White and other department heads to see how the borough can go about taking action against owners of blighted properties.

“I’ve got some good ideas on how we can tackle this problem,” Chenoga said. “We’ve fooled around with these people long enough. It’s time to get serious about this and force them to take care of their properties.”

Council member William Spencer said there is one property across from SS.C.D. where the grass is two feet high, while council member Toby Santik said there are some properties that look as if the grass has never been mowed.

Chenoga said he hopes that by the end of July, council will have some better solutions on how to deal with these problems.

Solicitor Jay Lundy is also researching better solutions than just sending letters.

Council member Michele Lorenzo said she is tired of seeing property owners who don’t pay their taxes getting away with blighted properties, while everyone else pays their taxes and takes care of their property.
Lorenzo also noted that there were numerous locations where rats have become a huge problem.

According to the code enforcement officer’s report for June:

• Three properties on Beyer Avenue, Pine Street and Elk Street received notices for property maintenance violations one of which was certified.

• Thirteen properties throughout the borough received notices of high grass violations, two of which were certified notices.