Cranberry Township Supervisors Expected to Vote on Proposed Property Code on Thursday

| November 7, 2018

CRANBERRY TWP., Pa. (EYT) – Supervisors in Cranberry Township are expected to vote on a new property maintenance ordinance at their upcoming meeting on Thursday morning.

The township supervisors’ meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The proposed ordinance has been a topic of some contention over the past few months.

This isn’t the first time a property maintenance code has been enacted in the township.

According to Township Manager Chad Findlay, an ordinance from 2008 was on the books for years before it was deemed unenforceable.

“When it was brought to court, the courts noted in a decision that there was never the ability for a second class township to enact and enforce a property maintenance code,” said Findlay.

Thus, with help from Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, Cranberry Township spearheaded a push that led to state lawmakers to approve a bill to officially permit townships to adopt property maintenance codes.

The township supervisors then began the process to adopt a new property maintenance code in 2016; however, the idea was met with some strong opposition among residents of the township.

Several subsequent proposals created debate among residents, with some in favor of utilizing a property maintenance code to put a stop to blight in the area, while others considered the proposals an infringement on property rights.

According to Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Ben Breniman, the most recent proposed property maintenance code is based on the code from 2008 with just a few changes, making it slightly less restrictive than the previous version.

“We made it a little less stringent as far as grass goes. It had a ten-inch limit; we made it twelve-inch limit,” said Breniman.

“Another thing changed was in reference to junk vehicles and garbage. It’s now only a violation if you can see it from a public roadway, while before it was anywhere on the property. Now, if it’s not visible from the road, it won’t be enforced.”

According to Breniman, the change in the junk vehicle and garbage part of the ordinances is one of the things that has been a sticking point for some residents.

“We’ve had a lot of comments about the ‘as seen from public roadways’ part. Changing that to everywhere on the property sounds good on paper, but it’s pretty hard to enforce when we have so much,” he noted.

A draft of the new code is available on the township website.

Some of the main points the new code includes are:

– Specific definitions of what is considered a junked motor, garbage, junk, and refuse within property maintenance code.

– Prohibition of storage and accumulation of any junk material that can be seen from a public roadway maintained by the state or township.

– Prohibition of storage or accumulation of more than two abandoned or junked motor vehicles that can be seen from a public road, with special provisions for businesses engaged in the sale or repair of motor vehicles.

– Prohibition of the burning of garbage, shingles, tires, tar, or similar products.

– Prohibition of grass, weeds or similar vegetable material exceeding a height of twelve inches.

The proposed code sets the following fines for violations: $300.00 to $1,000.00 for garbage, refuse or rubbish, junk material, and abandoned vehicle infractions and $100.00 to $300.00 for burning garbage, shingles, tires, tar, or similar products and failure to maintain grass, weeds, or similar vegetable material over twelve inches high.

The Cranberry Township Code enforcement officer will be responsible for enforcing the new code.

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