The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

July 8, 2014

Riverside neighbors sick of blighted property

— RIVERSIDE — Five borough residents attended Riverside’s borough council meeting Monday night to complain about a blighted property on Avenue F.

The residents, all neighbors of 413 Avenue F, said safety issues at the house included a damaged porch and roof and stray and wild animals living in the structure. They also complained that the state of the house was affecting their own property values.

Council vice president Pete Fleming said he agreed with them “110 percent.” However, the nature of Riverside’s zoning laws “does not allow the borough to proceed at an accelerated pace.”

The property at 413 Avenue F is already on a watch list of blighted properties in the borough which are being monitored by codes enforcement officer Jackie Hart. None of the properties on the list have reached the level of condemnation yet by the borough, said solicitor Joseph Michetti.

Before condemnation can occur, a series of citations need to be made against the property and notices have to be filed to the property owner.

Hart has already filed an initial citation notice against Donald Cook, the property owner of 413 Avenue F.

If Cook makes no improvements to the 413 Avenue F property the borough could intervene some time next year, Michetti said.

If Cook were to make one corrective action to the property in that time, though, the process would start over, said council member John LaMotte. “It’s a very long and painful process,” he said.

The residents said they appreciated the council taking the time to explain their position and the legal hurdles they faced. LaMotte encouraged them to “call him (Cook) every day … Make a lot of calls.”

Cook also owns another house on the borough’s blighted property list, 196 D&H Avenue.

Later in the evening, the council members resolved to bring in Hart for their next meeting, on Aug. 4, to determine if there was any more aggressive action they could take against the property owners. Several had not even bothered to respond to request for improvements from the borough, Fleming said.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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