NEW WILMINGTON, PA. Council targets rental property

The borough's cable television system could be up for sale.
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Borough council has taken steps to address residents' complaints about poorly kept rental properties.
Lawmakers said Monday that they intend to adopt amendments to three ordinances that deal with property maintenance.
Two amendments make grass cutting and snow removal the responsibility of tenants as well as landlords.
Questions about whose responsibility it is to keep properties presentable had hampered prosecution in several situations.
The grass cutting amendment also provides that the fine and cost of enforcement, as well as the borough's cost of cutting grass, be levied on violators. The snow removal amendment also will make each day of a violation a separate offense.
A third amendment deals with the borough's garbage removal ordinance. It drops a requirement that the resident be notified of the violation by mail and allows them to be notified personally or served on the premises.
It also makes clear that prosecution will proceed before the district justice and provides for a fine up to $600.
The amendments will be available for review at the municipal building and will be advertised before council's August meeting when the lawmakers are expected to adopt them.
Cable sale: Council agreed to prepare an advertisement for bids by the next meeting for possible sale of the borough's cable television system. Council faces a decision on whether to upgrade the system or sell it to a cable operator.
While several council members said they do not favor selling the system, they want to compare the costs of upgrading with the benefits of selling.
Several residents who have complained about noise problems caused by college students living in nearby multifamily housing learned that Borough Solicitor Tom Mansell has signed a complaint with the district justice against a multifamily property owned by Edward and Katy Bell Bishop of New Castle at Vine and Park Streets.
Too many units: The complaint says the structure does not conform to the borough zoning ordinance because it has three rental units where only two are allowed.
Mansell and council member George Shaffer also reported they met with the Westminster College president over problems students are causing in residential neighborhoods.
They learned that one problem, Mansell said, is that students are living off campus even though they are not permitted by the college to do so.
Police Chief Richard Hanna also told the residents not to feel they are imposing on the duty officer by calling him twice in one night to complain about noise at the same residence.
Hanna said citations will be issued for chronic problems.
Council President Larry Wagner pointed out that recent legislation by council has made it more difficult to make multifamily dwellings out of single dwellings, which is one way to avoid the problems.
Requirements now call for two sewer lines, two waterlines, two electric meters and dual entrances and exits in duplexes. The cost already has discouraged at least one property owner from converting an old home into a duplex, he said.

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