Keep it clean! Warmer weather means code enforcements are back

PUNXSUTAWNEY — In case you haven't looked out the window lately, the grass has been growing in your front and back yards, which means it's time to mow.

It also means that it is time for Mary McHenry, Punxsutawney Borough Code Enforcement Officer, to travel around looking for yards that are not mowed and other code violations.

"We give them more than ample time to get it cut," McHenry said, adding that most of the time, those in violation won't cut it until she sends out the notice.

She said rentals aren't typically too bad if there's a tenant in there.
"Once a house has gone into foreclosure, it's not that easy to get the grass mowed,” McHenry said. "People used to borrow local, now they refinance with Wells Fargo National mortgage company or Quiken Loans, which takes a lot of time to talk to the right person who manages the homes that have foreclosed on and track someone down to get it cut."

She said they'll send someone out to give an estimate, and then she'll tell the bank, which is why yards don't get mowed overnight.

McHenry said another large bank to deal with is Bank of America.
"Their property maintenance on foreclosed properties is located in another state," McHenry said.

Other code violations include:
• Junk Vehicles Borough Ordinance states that all vehicles on properties in the borough must be legally operable for the road, McHenry said, adding that, “We find many vehicles where the inspection ran out in the last year, and they are waiting to get something fixed, inspected and licensed.”

• Property Maintenance:
— Old stoves, most of which are old ones that someone is getting rid of.
— Tires in the backyard property.

McHenry said everyone is required to have a garbage collector, and if residents put their garbage in someone's dumpster or in their garbage collector, it is considered theft of services.

"Bags of garbage may be put out the night before collection," she said.
McHenry said what happens is a lot is garbage companies cut off those that don't pay and still set it out or switch to another garbage company.

The garbage companies that service Punxsy are: Veolia/Advanced; Yeager Sanitation; Williams Sanitation Services; and Hugill Sanitation.

"The collector provides a list of its customers for the borough to review," McHenry said.

She said permits are required for all yard/garage/porch/estate/moving sales conducted for a residential property in the borough.

"The cost for the permit is $5 and you are permitted to have no more that three sales per calendar year," McHenry said, adding that if you wish to place signs on your own property, that is fine.

"However, if you place signs on the corner, at the end of your street, or anywhere else, you must first obtain written permission from the property owner stating that they will allow you to place a sign on their property," McHenry said.

She said permits are required for the placement of all swimming pools containing at least 24 inches of water.

"The borough has specific zoning requirements, which regulate where the pool can be placed on the property," she said. "Swimming pools are not permitted in the front yard, and there are side and rear setback requirements, which vary, depending on how a specific property is zoned."

McHenry also said residents’ house numbers must be visible, and sometimes, the house number is covered with paint or can't be seen.

"Emergency services needs to be able to see them in an emergency," she said. "I put that in the Chamber newsletter, and I did receive a positive response regarding that information.”

For questions and more information, contact Mary McHenry, Code Enforcement/Zoning Officer at 938-4480 or by email at