The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 14, 2013

10 more ‘blight’ sites targeted by city

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — SUNBURY — In June of 201, David Persing announced he would be beginning to “fight the blight” and the long time Sunbury mayor continued that quest Monday night when it was announced the city is now looking at 10 more properties to take over.

The nuisance homes include, 237 Pine St., 152 Bainbridge St., 416 S. Fourth St., 416 N. Second St., 245 Chestnut St., 1036-1038 Line St., 613 Catawissa Ave,, 217-219 N. 12th St. and 420 and 422 Chestnut St.

City solicitor Michael Apfelbuam named the 10 city homes Monday night that are now in the radar of officials.

Those owners will be getting a letter, giving them 10 days to clean up the properties or the city is going to go to Northumberland County Court to acquire the properties.

“This is great,” Persing said. “We are going to keep going with full steam ahead.”

Persing kept to his word in 2011 and has since razed four properties and, thanks to the reincarnation of the Sunbury Redevelopment Authority, the city even built and sold a new home on Washington Avenue this past summer.

The city has also been able to acquire and sell five homes at public auctions.

The cost of demolition is about $25,000 per home, and even though the city has $300,000 set aside for redevelopment, it can use only 30 percent a year, or $90,000, for demolition, said Jamie Shrawder, a block grant specialist at SEDA-Council of Governments.

“We are not just going and throwing people out of their homes,” Persing said. “These are houses that have been vacant for years and they are not producing any tax dollars for the city. It’s time we go after them and clean them up.”

Apfelbaum explained that council must first approve the homes as nuisance properties and then give home owners — when they are actually located — a 10-day clean up notice.

If at that time nothing is done with the property, the city will seek permission from the courts to acquire the homes.

“These are people who have just up and abandoned their homes,” Apfelbaum said. “Some of these people have huge debt and they just left the properties.”

Persing and councilmen Jim Eister, Kevin Troup and Todd Snyder voted in favor of the take over, while councilman Joe Bartello voted against the move.