South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Oliver borough to take action against disruptive properties

 


At the Oct. 19 meeting of Mt. Oliver council, an ordinance was adopted that adds a disruptive property clause, and a disruptive property appeals board clause, to the borough code.

With the disruptive property clause, if arrests or citations/summons for disruptive activities occur on a property three times within 60 days, the police chief may proceed with enforcement procedures, such as pursuing charges or levying administrative costs.

Property owners may appeal citations, summons, or arrests for a disruptive activity to the borough’s new Disruptive Property Appeals Board.

All hearings before the board will be open to the public.

The vote to adopt the ordinance was 6-0. Council member Billie Michener was absent.

The ordinance is an updated version of the former nuisance property ordinance.

At last month’s council meeting, Council President Darnell Sains called the nuisance property ordinance “antiquated,” and said he wanted to make sure the new version did not infringe on people’s civil liberties.

To that end, final approval was sought from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The meeting began with the report of Mayor James Cassidy.

In September, there were 471 total police calls. Of the 57 drug arrests, 23 were on traffic stops. The mayor said it is clear from the number of arrests from traffic stops that criminals cannot drive through Mt. Oliver and do as they please.

The k-9 unit was used 14 times. There were two burglaries, and two DUI arrests. Ten arrest warrants were served.

All police equipment is up and running.

Mr. Cassidy concluded his report by swearing in full-time police officer, Raymond Boyer. He is a new officer who was recently added to the force.

In the engineer’s report, council voted to award a Brownsville Rd. ADA handicapped ramp contract through the South Hills Area Council of Governments (SHACOG) to R&B Contracting and Excavation for $61,830.

Council also awarded the contract for the demolition of vacant 151-155 Brownsville Rd. to Schaaf Excavating.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel said a Giffin Ave. resident wants to convert a house into a two-family dwelling. The issue will appear before the zoning board on Oct. 28.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for Sept. 4 thru Oct. 7, Councilman Frank Bernardini reported there were 13 complaints; 26 rental inspections (61 units); 16 violation/notices; 10 citations issued; six occupancies; and two legal citations.

“He’s not dragging his feet on anything,” Mr. Bernardini said of Mr. Knaus.

In the economic development report, borough manager Ricky Hopkinson said there was a town hall meeting the prior week about Brownsville Rd. streetscape.

Mr. Sains said he was surprised at the meager attendance of council.

“This is borough citizens inputting what they would like to see in their community,” he said.

There will be a future meeting, and council members should try to be there, he said.

In public safety, Councilwoman Barbara Keener said she spoke with police Chief Matthew Juzwick about residents’ comments about not seeing police officers on patrol as often as before.

Council members Amber McGough, Nick Viglione, and Mr. Sains said they have seen more officers in their areas.

Mr. Bernardini said the police are doing their job, and cannot be everywhere around-the-clock. Residents must keep their eyes open and call 911 when they see something suspicious, he said.

Noting the 471 total police calls in September, Mrs. Keener said, “they’re working.”

Mr. Sains said the drug arrests require two to three hours to complete reports for each arrest. For multiple suspects, the reports could take four to five hours.

Chief Juzwick said if there are only two or three officers on a shift, they could get tied up in the office.

Mr. Sains said while the borough could hire more officers, it would require raising taxes, which no one wants.

The mayor said if you need an officer, call 911.

“Don’t wait to see them drive down the street,” he said.

Mrs. Keener also reported that Halloween trick-or-treat will be held in the borough from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Oct. 31.

In the public works report, Councilman Dave Lowe said to avoid water shutoffs, the borough will work with delinquent sewage account holders to reconcile their accounts, or sign on for a payment plan.

To a question about winter readiness, Mr. Lowe said the borough trucks are ready to go with salt.

To an attendee’s question of who shovels sidewalks, Mr. Lowe said the owners of buildings have 24 hours to clear sidewalks after a snowfall, or else they will be cited.

The attendee, who uses a wheelchair, said he sometimes gets stuck in snow on sidewalks. He shovels in his wheelchair.

In the question-and-answer session, an attendee asked if the traffic on Brownsville Rd. will be affected by the upcoming demolition.

Mr. Hopkinson said the work will occur in January or February, and probably affect the traffic on Brownsville Rd. for a week.

To a question about loiterers on Brownsville Rd., an attendee said the police can move them along, but they return once the officers leave.

Mrs. Keener said the borough is working with property owners to try to get them to put up “no loitering” signs.

“They defy our cops,” Mr. Viglione said of bold youngsters staring back at officers without moving.

To a question about dogs without leashes, Mr. Sains said to call 911 as dogs should be on leashes.

To a question if there is an ordinance for how late youths can be on the streets, Mr. Sains said to call 911 if late.

“I don’t want to see a kid killed,” the attendee said of youths on busy streets.

At meeting’s end, Mr. Bernardini said a new business recently opened on Brownsville Rd. near the municipal building which advertises drug paraphernalia. He said a person cannot promote drug use if interested in youngsters.

“This is not going to fly,” he said, adding he will contact any agency he can to fight this.

Mr. Sains said it will take some investigation, but it will be straightened out.

Mr. Bernardini said he does not want to see youth “subjected to this kind of stuff.”

The next council meeting will be on Nov. 16.

 

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