Scott to tighten rental oversight
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Concerned about public safety and appearance, Scott officials Wednesday asked for the community's help in identifying structures that are being rented without occupancy permits.
"We're going to have to do our own police work," Commissioner David Calabria said.
Of particular concern -- and most difficult to ascertain -- are single-family homes that are turned into rental units. Officials want to be sure that each unit is safe, livable and has a smoke detector.
Cost for an occupancy permit is $50, and an inspection is required by ordinance each time a rental unit changes tenants.
"The people who live in some of these [units] are often the people who need the most help," noted Commissioner Bill Wells.
But board President Tom Castello pointed out, "Some are professional tenants who beat the system."
Code enforcement officer Bob Fischer said some landlords are reliable and always notify him when new tenants are expected. However, there seems to be less compliance from landlords who don't live in Scott. Under Scott's ordinance, fines for not filing for an occupancy permit range from $100 to $1,000.
Apartment complexes such as Nob Hill, Carriage Park and Greenbriar are not exempt from occupancy inspections either.
Officials said that not having current occupancy lists also decreases earned income tax collections.
To ensure that units have occupancy permits, Mr. Fischer will send out notification letters to the owners of all rental properties and apartments. Residents may call in anonymously to report any houses that are being converted or if they observe a change in tenancy.
"We need to know who's living in these places to clean them up," Mr. Wells said.
In more business, Brent Boger of Allied Waste, Scott's contracted garbage collector, responded to several residents' complaints about recent erratic pick-ups.
"For the first 10 days of July, my neighbor and I had filled garbage bins in our front yards for 10 days," said Phyllis Romano of Seger Road, noting the bins were unsanitary and unsightly.
Mr. Castello said garbage on his street has not been collected for two weeks.
Mr. Boger, who attributed the problem to growth in the market that led to high employee turnover, said the newer drivers need time to learn all of the routes.
However, he offered no excuses and promised the collection problems would be corrected. He asked the township to include a link to Allied Waste's email address on Scott's website.
In other business, Commissioner David Jason talked about his desire to condemn and obtain two abandoned properties for a park near the creek at Bell and Duncan avenues in East Carnegie.
"In my ward, we have no park," he said, adding that he has a plan to convert the properties into green space with trees, benches and possibly a bocce court. To help pay for the project, he is looking for grant money.
Pat Martin of Center Street questioned whether Scott could afford to take on the project. She said new playground equipment is needed at the main park and that the township purchased property several years ago for a park on Hope Street that has yet to be developed.
First Published July 12, 2012 12:00 am