CURWENSVILLE – Residents of Curwensville question the Curwensville Borough Council about the Vacant, Blighted and Abandoned Property Ordinance. However, the council voted to move forward with the ordinance and to establish a property review committee.
At Monday’s meeting, several residents questioned the council’s impending ordinance. The residents said they were concerned because just because a property is not presently occupied, does not mean it’s blighted.
The residents said for example, if they presently were in the process of renovating a property, and it has been unoccupied for two years while the renovations are occurring, they will have to pay the borough $200.
The residents said there needs to be more clarification between the terms “blighted,” “abandoned” and “vacant.” They said there are occupied properties in the borough, which are in far worse conditions than properties they own, which are vacant.
Council Member and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Carfley said the ordinance is necessary to address issues with properties in the borough. Carfley said the ordinance will establish a board, which will review the properties.
Council Member Harriet Carfley said the borough was having problems with properties, which are left unattended. She said one property in the borough has been sitting empty for 25 years.
She said the windows are broken out, the grass isn’t cut, and rodents have been leaving the property and infesting neighboring property.
One of the residents said he had no problem with the borough enacting an ordinance to address property that has been abandoned, however, he said, he does not agree with the fines that will be imposed on vacant properties.
Tom Carfley asked why a person would buy a property and just let it set empty.
The resident said some people use these properties for storage, some people wish to keep the properties “in the family” and renovate them to be used for future generations.
Harriet Carfley said if the properties are being maintained, they will be given different consideration than a property that is simply abandoned and falling apart.
However, the residents pointed out that the ordinance, as it’s presently written, does not make that distinction.
Council President Sarah Cruella said the borough is trying to do what they can to “clean up the town.” She asked how the residents would feel if they had to live next to a property that had been abandoned for 25 years.
The council voted to move forward with the ordinance and to establish the review board
According to the ordinance will establish a committee comprised of the code enforcement supervisor (borough secretary,) one member of the borough council, one member of the planning commission and two residents of the borough. Members shall serve for terms of three years.
The ordinance specifies that every owner or responsible agent of a vacant property shall register the property with the borough by Jan. 31 of each year.
If an owner fails to register, fails to respond to notices or cannot be located, the property will be considered abandoned and will be presented to borough officials as such.
An annual fee shall be set at $200 per building per year to be paid at the time of registration and each subsequent annual renewal.
The ordinance also specifies the duties of property owners or agents, inspection guidelines, the duties and procedures for the review board, as well as a process for eminent domain proceedings.
A full copy of the ordinance is available at https://curwensvilleborough.com/property-management.