Coal Twp. explores new avenue that would equal harsher blight penalties Coal Twp. looks to 2010 state law to increase penalties
COAL TOWNSHIP - An ordinance is being considered by Coal Township commissioners to implement provisions of a 2010 state law allowing harsher penalties against owners of blighted properties.
The move comes at the request of the Northumberland County Blight Task Force, and was announced during Thursday's monthly board meeting.
The Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act was signed into law by former Gov. Ed Rendell in October 2010 and put into effect in April 2011.
If a code violation is left unaddressed by the property owner for six straight months, the law allows a municipality to take action, even having an out-of-state offender extradited for prosecution.
Punishment also includes placing a lien against all of the alleged offender's properties, not simply the blighted properties, towards recovering the costs of repair or prevention. It also allows a municipality to go after a mortgage lender, limited partner and others to recoup costs.
Such an outstanding code violation can prevent a property owner from obtaining a municipal permit, too. Permit denials are also allowed by law if a property owner has an outstanding code violation has a delinquency for services like water or garbage collection as well as taxes that are final and ineligible for appeal.
If the permit is necessary to fix a code violation, it can not be denied, and there also are avenues for appeal.
Coal Township is among the counties largest municipalities that have dedicated funding towards the cause as leverage to pursue larger sums of money for demolition projects and the like.
Apart from joining the newly created task force, this year the township has instituted a ticketing system to more quickly punish code violators and adopted a more frequent inspection schedule for rental properties.
Coal Township will pay $163,008 to its pensions in 2013.
The state's share of the township's minimal municipal obligation is $132,316.06. That leaves the township on the hook for $30,691.94, all of which will be covered with money remaining from a prior state allocation for the MMO and other tax money, according to Township Manager Rob Slaby.
Those monies will dry up with the 2013 payment. The township's obligation increases to $180,048 for 2014, and if the state's allocation remains unchanged, that leaves $48,048 to be paid by the township.
The following reports are submitted monthly by the respective department heads:
The township police department responded to 263 complaints in September; patrolled 5,353 miles; issued 22 parking tickets, 29 criminal complaints or citations, 29 traffic citations; abated three abandoned vehicles; investigated 16 traffic accidents.
The code officer issued 39 building permits and 18 occupancy permits while following up on each of the 124 complaints received at the office.
The fire department logged more than 201 man-hours while responding to 26 calls in September, including one "high occupancy" fire, three traffic accidents, five automatic fire alarms, one brush fire and one vehicle fire. Of those calls, seven were to provide mutual aid.
The township street department, among other jobs, repaired roadway or curbing at Highview Estates and on Washington Boulevard, repaired a wall and installed curbing on Locust Street, painted yellow lines, and filled in pot holes in the Edgewood and Ferndale sections. Trucks and leaf vacuums were prepared for leaf pickup, which will begin Monday.
Coal Township Commissioners also:
- Set Trick or Treat for 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31;
- Hired Richard Capps as a full-time mechanic, beginning Monday. He will be paid $13.05 hourly with a 90-day probationary period;
- Accepted the treasurer's report, which included an account balance of $282,532.39 in the township general fund;
- Approved an addition to the police manual for audio and video recording;
- Allowed Union Fire Company to conduct its annual fund drive this month;
- Acknowledged correspondence from PennDOT about its erosion and sediment control plan having been approved for its proposed bridge replacement project on Route 61 over Shamokin Creek near Tharptown;
- Announced its 2011 audit was completed;
- Said the township was selected by state Department of Environmental Protection selected it for a sample review of its recycling grant applications;
- Voted to allow the sale of properties on the repository list, including 1212 and 1218 Chemung St., 22 S. Poplar St., 114 S. First St. and three other parcels;
- Approved spending $212.73 to cover the insurance for the portion of a fundraising scavenger hunt, Grave Robbers Run, to be held Oct. 20 in Coal Township. The event will also be held in Shamokin and that municipal entity will insure the portion inside its lines;
- Vacated a section of a paper street from Independence to Walnut streets in the 1600 block of W. Walnut St. at the request of Ronald Grzybowski;
- Adopted ordinance to establish stop signs at Clay and Hunter streets and Fern and Locust streets, and create a 15 mph speed limit on Upper Excelsior Road;
- Acknowledged receipt of a letter from township resident David Sage, also a township police officer, saying only municipalities "within the footprint" of the developing outdoor adventure area above Burnside receive any proceeds, not places like the City of Shamokin "who are not directly impacted by the park."
- Received notice of approval for an erosion and sediment plan for John Reidinger of 1627 Trevorton Road, along with notice that such a plan was approved for a stream bank stabilization project at 119 18th St., Tharptown, was approved.