'Leading blight culprit' in Shamokin found guilty of 36 violations
MOUNT CARMEL - "We're not going to stop our challenging efforts of cleaning up blight in the city. This is just the beginning."
That was the reaction of Shamokin Code Enforcement Officer Rick Bozza after Shamokin landlord Larry Burda was found guilty Thursday of more than 30 code and nuisance ordinance violations involving his rundown property at 701-703 N. Shamokin St., Shamokin.
The 63-year-old Burda, who resides on North Marshall Street in the city, also was found guilty of five code violations filed by Kulpmont Code Enforcement Officer Russ Moroz relating to incidents at 1425 Chestnut St., Kulpmont.
In all, the defendant was found guilty of 36 of the 38 citations filed against him by Bozza, Moroz and Shamokin Cpl. Bryan Primerano and was ordered by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones of Mount Carmel to pay $5,694 in fines and court costs.
Burda was found not guilty of one code violation filed by Moroz for 1425 Chestnut St. Bozza withdrew a citation for a violation at 913 E. Chestnut St., Shamokin.
Four citations filed by Bozza concerned roof and drainage problems at 701-703 N. Shamokin St., while Primerano's 28 citations involved the same property causing a public nuisance and hazard to neighboring structures and the community.
Jones presided over the 2 1/2-hour hearing involving the city violations after Magisterial District Judge John Gembic of Shamokin recused himself from the case about a month ago due to a conflict of interest. He also presided over the hearing involving the Kulpmont code violations.
A hearing involving a dilapidated garage in the 700 block of East Clay Street in Shamokin owned by Burda was continued for 30 days because the property reportedly is in the process of being sold.
Testifying at the hearing involving the Shamokin property were Bozza, Primerano and engineer Michael Brinkash Jr. Shamokin Solicitor H. Robert Mattis represented the city.
Burda, Moroz and Kulpmont Deputy Code Enforcement Officer Angelo Venna testified at the hearing involving the property at 1425 Chestnut St.
Burda was represented by Attorney Richard Feudale of Mount Carmel.
Bozza described Burda as "one of the leading blight culprits in the city."
"We've been working hard with police on following through with a new process to fight blight by citing owners for violating the nuisance ordinance," Bozza said. "We're determined to make sure properties are brought up to code or demolished. We want to remove as many eyesores as possible from the city and make the community as safe as possible."
Burda has been cited numerous times by officials from Shamokin and Coal Township since September 2007 for alleged ordinance violations regarding trash, weeds, landlord registration fees and more. Including Thursday's legal proceedings, he's been levied approximately $7,000 in fines and court costs. Some of the citations have been withdrawn by the issuing agent or dismissed in magisterial district court.