South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Boro considers attaching rent payments of landlords, reduce number of planning commission members


November 29, 2011

Animal cruelty, a so-called "three-quarters house," and a proposed ordinance reducing the number of planning commission members were among the topics at the Nov. 21 Mount Oliver council meeting.

All seven council members were in attendance.

In the mayor's report, James Cassidy said the only complaint he received on the mayor's hotline of 412-431-7333; extension 110, was about Fremont St.

There are "no parking" on Mondays signs posted on Fremont St. during certain hours to allow for rubbish pick-up. When a resident's car was parked on the street, police were unable to contact him to remove it although he was inside the home. A tow truck was called and the vehicle was ticketed.

In the meantime, the garbage truck broke down and never made it to Fremont St.

At the council meeting, council agreed to reimburse the resident for the ticket but not the tow charge.

The mayor also reported the police department responded to 809 calls last month.

In the engineer's report, Kurt Todd said he hoped for approval in December by council of bids for mandated sewer repairs. Funding will come from a $575,000 loan from PennVest, the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority.

In the public safety report, George Farneth said the fire department in October had 15 calls, including a serious fire at a multi-family unit on Giffin Ave.

In the police report for October, there were 12 narcotics arrests, three DUI task force arrests, and 16 nuisance properties under investigation. Only two of the nuisance properties are Section 8 housing.

Regarding a light post at 313 Brownsville Rd. that was damaged by a vehicle, the borough received a check from the driver's insurance company for $5,466.50 to pay for repairs.

Updating attendees on a so-called "three-quarters house" on Giffin Ave., council President Patrick Malloy said the owner will vacate the house and rent as a normal dwelling.

At last month's meeting, it was revealed that three or four recovering drug addicts, all women and unrelated, were living in separate rooms at the home. The presence of the Giffin Ave. group home came as a surprise to the police and borough officials last month.

The street is not zoned to allow group homes.

To a question from Councilman Corey McGough on the borough's policy on sex offenders moving here, solicitor James Perich said the borough must comply with state laws.

In the public works report, Mr. McGough said street commissioner Ron Smith finished inspecting the winter equipment, such as for snow removal, and everything is in working order.

Mr. Smith also wants to cut the grass once more at Ormsby Park before the bad weather.

Mr. McGough said there are 10 decorative street lights on Brownsville Rd. that are burned out. It is the borough's responsibility to replace them.

Mr. Malloy said for years, when curbs needed replaced, residents were asked to get two bids for the sidewalk and curb, with the borough paying for the curb. The borough will continue handling it that way on a case-by-case basis, he said.

In the finance report, Christine Brendel said council has met five to six times so far regarding the 2012 budget. The next budget meeting will be Nov. 28 at 7 p.m., followed by meetings at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 if agreement cannot be reached on Nov. 28.

A final budget must be adopted by Dec. 31. Prior to being adopted, in mid-December, it will be publicly displayed.

In the economic development report, Darnell Sains said last month's Redd-Up Day drew 30 volunteers, which includes residents and Pitt students. It was a big success, as was the "Crank it at the Clock" after-Halloween event sponsored by the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation.

He also reported the borough can rent, for free, scales from the South Hills Area Council of Governments (SHACOG) to weigh trucks passing through. But the borough must pay for the manpower.

In the solicitor's report, Mr. Perich said the planning commission is having trouble getting members. The borough will advertise an ordinance changing the number of members from nine to three as the minimum allowed by borough code.

Council will also consider at its next meeting a rent attachment strategy for reducing the property tax delinquency. According to state law, rent payments due from tenants may be attached and applied to reduce the property owner's tax deficiency.

The rent payments would be made to the borough tax collector instead of the landlord. The renter would have no further liability to the landlord for that amount for rent.

In the public comment period, a resident said the borough should adhere to its commercial revitalization plan that was created in 2009 from a $50,000 grant.

She added she would like to help the fire department, but would also like to see its financial statements. She also said instead of incurring so much overtime costs, the police department might be better served by hiring another officer.

She also suggested the possibility of foot patrols to write traffic tickets from 4 to 6 p.m. on Brownsville Rd.

"Let's build bridges with our neighbors on the Hilltop," she said.

The next resident said an abandoned house on Frederick St. needs demolished as it is a fire hazard. Ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said he is aware of the problem house.

The next speaker said a Church St. resident was beating a pit bull so hard in the head that the dog was wailing very loudly in pain. While the speaker's wife called 911 during the incident about wailing on the property, no officers came.

The speaker said because the wailing could have come from a child or someone having a heart attack, officers should have been sent.

Police Chief Frank Mosesso said he would look into the matter. He will also have Triangle Pet patrol the area in which the incident occurred.

Mr. Farneth said residents should report anytime they observe animal cruelty.

Chief Mosesso said if there were other high priority calls to the 911 center it could explain why there wasn't a response to the call.

In unfinished business, Councilman John Smith was appointed as a delegate to the Allegheny County Boroughs Association, with Mr. Perich an alternate.

The next council meeting will be on Dec. 19.


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