Johnstown, Pennsylvania – Dealing with code violations in the city of Johnstown involves everything from dealing with a complex legal system to searching for workers to cut overgrown grass on a hot summer day.
City officials often struggle to handle this issue, so in recent months they have been working to develop a more comprehensive plan to deal with code violations. The process continued at Wednesday’s workshop attended by city administrators and all city council members.
“I think it would be nice to get everyone in groups and talk about some of these issues and how best for the city,” said Code Enforcement Manager Dave Williams.
No formal decisions were made, but officials discussed a number of subjects, including finding workers, the future creation of code courts, and detailed schedules for offenders.
City Councilor Marie Mock has proposed significantly increasing fines and reducing the time suspected violators are given to respond to notices of violations.
“We are too kind,” Mock said. “I think we’re too nice to them. We’re too nice.”
Johnstown Fire Chief Robert Statler said getting property owners to stay compliant is the “hardest part.”
“We can write all the codes and ordinances we want,” Statler said. “We chase everyone until they want to follow. That’s kind of the bad part of it.”
City Councilman Reverend Sylvia King said the city needs to find a use for the 800 vacant homes before they fall into disrepair.
“Some of them I’ve seen are just vacant and need TLC and really need to be occupied,” King said. “Maybe we can help people move into these and sell[them]. I would love to see them for sale.”
Plans for a spring cleanup day involving volunteers, the city’s garbage hauler Pro Disposal, or both were also discussed.
The government will consider whether the cleanup can be held in conjunction with the Great American Cleanup, an annual nationwide effort by grassroots organizations to improve the environment. According to Pro Disposal officials, this could help eliminate dumping fees, potentially cutting spring cleanup prices in half.
“The only thing that makes it work is whether or not you can throw your trash away for free,” said City Councilman Charles Arnon. “This is the biggest key to making all of this work in the best possible way.”
The spring cleaning price tag can run into the tens of thousands of dollars without dumping fees.
Deputy Mayor Michael Capriotti said, “We are investing heavily in the code to make this city better and cleaner and to do what we need to do. We’ve made a lot of investments,” he said. on our side. I think we should discuss that at some point. “
Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. follow him on twitter @ Dave Suter.