Trial delayed, but Kulpmont wants Eagle Sign site addressed by Sept. 30
MOUNT CARMEL - A Kulpmont property owner was granted 20 days to come up with a formal plan to remove a debris pile at the former Eagle Sign Co., and then have the site cleaned up by Sept. 30.
The deal between the borough and Thomas Valeiko, of Commack, N.Y., was reached following two hours of negotiations Tuesday morning at the office of Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones. Jones was to have presided over a summary trial for Valeiko, who faces 20 code citations related to the collapsed building, but agreed to delay the proceeding in light of the arrangement.
Code enforcement officer Russ Moroz said he and borough solicitor William Cole will meet with Valeiko and his attorney, Richard Feudale, of Mount Carmel, to establish a written plan.
"We don't want another 'Dubbs deja vu' situation," Moroz said. He was referencing a property cleanup dispute last year that resulted in 92 citations totaling more than $85,000 being filed against David Dubbs.
The two-story cinder-block Eagle Sign building, which takes up half of a block along 13th Street between Oak Alley and Chestnut (Route 61) Street, has been home to a number of businesses besides the sign company. It was a bowling alley, garage, bike shop and knick-knack store.
On Feb. 21, the second floor of the structure collapsed, mostly falling on itself, but also smashing a box truck parked nearby. Demolition crews took down the second floor because it presented a hazard to neighboring properties.
Valeiko told Moroz at the time he was claiming bankruptcy and had no money to clean up the site.
Tuesday, in a conversation between Valeiko and Feudale in the waiting area of the magistrate's office, Valeiko said he was looking to fix up another property in the borough, sell it, and use the profits for the cleanup, but that Kulpmont wouldn't give him a work permit.
Moroz, asked later about that situation, said it's borough policy to not issue work permits to individuals who have code citations against them.
Moroz said while the borough did negotiate Tuesday, he won't tolerate any further delay.
"We agreed to the continuance, but if nothing is resolved, we will reinstate the fines until the matter is settled one way or the other," he said.
A 2002 borough ordinance gives the code enforcement officer authority to set fines of between $25 and $1,000 per citations. Moroz said fines were set at $500 each against Valeiko, which could have cost him $10,000 in fines, plus court costs, if Tuesday's trial had proceeded and Jones would have ruled in the borough's favor.