PITTSTON — The city’s new Neighborhood Action Team conducted its second sweep Friday, this time focusing on Market Street.
The team issued 15 violation notices and two verbal warnings to the owners of five apartments and other properties for a range of problems, including high grass and weeds, rubbish/debris accumulation, deteriorated railings, and swimming pools that were unsanitary or had inadequate enclosures, officials said.
Electrical issues, inoperable windows and missing smoke alarms were among the violations found in the five apartment inspections, the city said.
Councilman Michael Lombardo said residents have expressed overwhelming support for the initiative because they want monitoring and enforcement of regulations impacting quality of life.
While targeting blight is a primary focus, the crackdown also aims to make properties safe for both inhabitants and emergency responders who may be called to assist, said Lombardo, who also is an attorney and firefighter.
“It’s not just aesthetics. It’s about safety,” Lombardo said. “It’s our job to make sure neighborhoods do not deteriorate.”
The neighborhood visits also connect city leaders to residents who may be hesitant to share concerns in writing or at a public meeting, he said.
For example, one resident urged the team Friday to address a blighted structure at 117 Market St., said city Community Development Executive Director Joe Chacke.
The owner has been maintaining the lawn, but the property is “in bad shape and probably needs to be demolished at this point,” Chacke said. Residents are “extremely” worried it will burn or collapse, he added.
City officials condemned the property in June 2012 and have issued multiple citations.
“The city has been trying for six years to get the owner and the bank who holds a mortgage on the property to address the issues,” Chacke said.
The team conducted its first unannounced sweep of the Oregon Heights neighborhood earlier this month, issuing violations to 27 properties.
According to Chacke:
Property owners receiving violation notices must contact code enforcement within 24 hours to develop an action plan.
Some violations, such as high grass, must be addressed within 24 hours, while owners typically have up to 30 days to address more substantial issues.
During Friday’s sweep, police also issued five parking violation tickets, tagged an abandoned vehicle and ordered relocation of a recreational vehicle parked on the roadway.
As part of the effort, city workers completed street sweeping, trimmed trees and bushes, and cut grass on Market Street.
More unannounced sweeps are planned in other neighborhoods.
The team includes representatives of the city code enforcement, police, fire, emergency management, public works and community development offices, Chacke said.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.