MDJ Morris Addresses Clearfield Borough’s Abandoned Property Issue

CLEARFIELD – Magisterial District Judge Mike Morris is addressing an abandoned property issue on Merrill Street in Clearfield Borough.

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.

According to a previously-published GANT News article, 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, 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.

According to the previously-published article, 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.

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.

On Monday afternoon in an interview with GANT News, Morris said the magistrate’s office has received one citation to date. “And, it was received today; we will process it expediently.

“This is the borough’s responsibility. My office doesn’t handle the code enforcement work. Our job is only to process the citation and sit on a hearing if one is contested.”

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