Clearfield Borough: Options Limited in Dealing With Abandoned Church

CLEARFIELD – Clearfield Borough has limited options when it comes to an abandoned property on Merrill Street.

At Thursday’s regular meeting, members of the Clearfield Borough Council discussed what they can do about the property, which used to be a church.

Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott said the borough is well aware of the problem and she has made several calls to the property owners.

Stott said that the property owners had been told about the problems and the borough had been trying to work with them.

However, Stott said she has made as many as six calls to the property owners in just the past week and none of the calls have been returned.

Stott said the borough has tried to e-mail, text message, call and send letters to the property owners, but they have had no response.

Stott said she has been getting many “frantic” calls from the owner of a neighboring property because the former church building is in such a state of disrepair.

Stott said the chimney has become very unstable and is in danger of falling, possibly on the neighbor’s house.

Solicitor F. Cortez Bell III said there is very little the borough can do at this point. He said because the building is on private property, the borough cannot go on to the property.

He said because the property owners are refusing to contact the borough about demolition of the property, the borough can file citations with the magistrate.

Bell said the magistrate would have to issue an order to have the property demolished.

Bell said the police chief has contacted the bus company (for the Clearfield Area School District) and had them move the bus stop for that area to the other side of the street.

Bell said the police chief has also placed “caution” tape around the property to keep people away.

Bell said the borough is aware of the problem, but they cannot do anything with private property.

Council member Jim Kling asked if there was anything the council could do under the health and safety ordinance. He said when he had served as code enforcement officer, there were several times where he had a contractor handle the problems and had the cost of the work added on to the citation.

Bell said the property has not been condemned and the work can’t be claimed under public health and safety.

Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack said the borough has been doing everything they legally can. He said citations are being issued daily and the property owners were warned months ago that these problems needed to be addressed.

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