Heights looks at property maintenance

Residents of Ben Avon Heights soon could face a fine if their properties are not kept clean and free of debris and other "nuisances".

The borough council is considering a new law that, according to Mayor Scott Dismukes, is an attempt to have an enforceable ordinance on the books to avoid nuisance conditions such as high weeds, abandoned vehicles and other unsightly conditions.

The proposed ordinance comes after a number of residents expressed concern that the appearance of Ben Avon Heights is not what it once was, Dismukes said. He agreed that some property owners have not maintained their homes and yards.

The conditions defined in the ordinance as nuisances include litter and debris, some types of vegetation, any stagnant water, pest infestations and the obstruction of waterways.

Litter and debris is any garbage, rubbish, waste materials, old building materials, junked, scrapped, dilapidated or outworn construction equipment or machinery, as well as junked vehicles. A vehicle is considered "junked" if it does not have a current inspection sticker and is either rusted, wrecked, discarded, dismantled or partly dismantled, inoperative or abandoned.

Residents also would be required to keep their grass under eight inches in length, and remove weeds, poison ivy, poison oak and any other toxic vegetation. Any trees that are dead, dying or diseased that pose a hazard to any property or person also would be a violation of the ordinance.

The ordinance also states that any form of vegetation that impedes a public right-of-way is a nuisance.

The ordinance, would give residents a notice of five days to clean up or remove any violations. Residents who fail to comply with the notice could face a fine of up to $25 and up to 10 days imprisonment.

Each day after the initial five days given to comply with the ordinance would constitute a separate violation.

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