PT council moving on abandoned properties

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McMURRAY – In an effort to clean up some of the 14 abandoned properties in Peters Township, council voted Monday to begin the process of property maintenance on three of the sites.


The three vacant properties are at 106 Elfwood Drive, 111 Spring Meadows Drive and 101 Parkwood Lane. All of the parties involved, from owners to banks to estates, have been notified, said Ed Zuk, township planning director. The other 11 properties are on Old Washington Road, North Heidi Lane, Venetia Road and Thomas Road, to name a few. In a majority of cases, the township’s Public Works Department will handle the necessary cleanup with a lien placed on the property to recover costs, said Michael Silvestri, township manager.


As for the Elfwood property, an open pool in the rear will need to be covered or the liner removed to prevent insect infestation.


When Councilman David Ball suggested a bulldozer could be used to collapse the house, Silvestri said the township is not permitted to raze the structure because the house has not been declared structurally unsound. Zuk said he does not believe the taxes are being paid and the house is in foreclosure.


Banks are involved with all the 14 properties, Zuk said.


Silvestri said he was to meet with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Tuesday to tour some of the businesses and houses affected by the heavy rains and resulting floods July 10. In the township, 80 residences and 11 businesses incurred some type of damage.


Following an emergency meeting of council July 10, after which the township issued a disaster declaration, council formally voted on the declaration Monday.


In other action, council unanimously declared vacant the seat of the late Councilman Robert Atkison, who died July 7. Atkison’s term was to expire Jan. 5, 2016.


The seat must be filled within 30, but no sooner than 10 days after the vacancy was declared.


Solicitor William Johnson said he would research whether the Home Rule Charter, under which the township is governed, or the state’s election code would apply as to when the appointee’s term would end. Any township resident interested in filling the unexpired term is asked to submit a letter to the township by July 29.


Any resulting interview process would be open to the public. Atkison was a Republican. However, Silvestri said any eventual appointee does not need to be Republican.


Council also:


• Awarded the household hazardous waste collection contract to MXI at an estimated cost of $26,664. The actual amount will be based on the number of items collected. The date for the collection, for township residents only, is Sept. 28. To be collected are items such as paint, batteries and pesticides.


• Awarded a bid of $37,728 to Dom Folino Construction for the conversion of the Hidden Brook erosion pond to be paid through the confiscated bond from the original contractor. Works will begin in the fall or winter, weather permitting. Ten bids were received, with the highest being $102,270 from a landscaping company.


•Agreed to conduct a traffic-calming study on the township portion of Hays Road. No action would be taken until the completion of the Valley Brook Road ramp project, which is not expected to be finished until at least July 2014. Officials estimate that detoured traffic has more than doubled the number of vehicles using Hays Road since Valley Brook Road closed for construction in mid-May. Using temporary speed bumps to stop speeding on Hays was discussed.


• Special permission was granted to install a temporary banner on the McMurray Trail Bridge welcoming Doug Vitale and his township-native wife, Alexis Abraham Vitale, home in August, and to promote a fundraising concert to raise money for a new home for the couple. Doug Vitale was severely wounded in Afghanistan.


• With the recent resignation of Noel McMillan, former deputy chief of Peters Township Fire Department, council agreed Silvestri, fire Chief Dan Coyle and the president of the volunteer firefighters should interview six applicants, all current fire department paid employees. Township regulations require a deputy chief to hold a college degree. Coyle said of the six, three have either bachelor or associate degrees, with the other three in varying stages of advanced education. McMillan left for a job in the gas industry.


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