Vacant Buildings a Cause for Concern in Clearfield Borough
CLEARFIELD – After the recent fire at an abandoned house on Ulerich Avenue, Clearfield Fire Chief Todd Kling became worried about vacant/abandoned houses and the danger they pose to the public and emergency responders.
“We need to come up with a plan to secure these buildings,” said Todd. He said that for many of these properties, Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack’s hands are tied.
He was unsure of the legalities, but said, in laymen’s terms, the borough should secure abandoned buildings/houses with OSB over the windows and doorways, then mark them off on all four sides. He said this would give them some notification if someone entered the building, should the board’s or tape be removed.
“It’s a severe situation in the borough,” Todd said of abandoned buildings.
Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott agreed: “And it’s getting more and more (so).”
Later in the meeting she said she supported the fire chief’s stance on the subject. Council member Fred Wisor asked if the owners of the property could be notified. Stott said in some instances, yes. She indicated the majority of the buildings have simply been abandoned. She told council that last year 22 houses were submitted to Clearfield County for judicial sale, with nothing yet coming of that request.
Council member Jim Kling noted that under the property maintenance code, the borough can secure/close a house for safety reasons. He said any work that goes into that from the borough can then be sought from the property owner through a lien. Stott confirmed that, but added that should it go through a judicial sale, the lien would essentially be vacated.
Council agreed to secure vacant properties in the borough and to proceed against the owners. Council member Tim Winters recommended that the worst properties be targeted first, something that other members of council agreed with.