The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

October 4, 2012

Giving teeth to blight laws

Windber serving notice to property owners

— Drive through Windber Borough and you’ll observe a community whose residents take pride in their properties.

Or, perhaps we should say “most residents,” because as in any municipality, there are some people who simply have no pride in their properties or are just too lazy to keep them presentable.

To Windber council’s credit, it is putting in place updated guidelines, ones that are more specific and will give maintenance laws more teeth for policing purposes.

In the end, however, it will take neighbors watching neighbors and borough oversight and enforcement to achieve the goals Windber has in mind. And that’s to put an end to yards filled with junk, high grass and untrimmed hedges and trees.

“It’s all about upkeep,” borough Manager Fred Oliveros said last week as the board unanimously approved amendments to the borough’s open-storage and grass/weed ordinances – among several that have been on the books for decades but needed updates.

Open-storage guidelines will now prohibit residents from hoarding junk, second-hand items and other goods that often sit on properties for months and years and create blight, Oliveros added.

The council was reacting to complaints from its residents, those who are tired of working long hours and spending large sums of money to keep their properties beautiful, only to have their work overshadowed by blighted nearby properties.

With their latest laws, borough officials can send warnings to offenders, giving them 30 days to address issues.

Failure to do so can result in fines up to $1,000.

While we realize most area municipalities have ordinances prohibiting junk, weeds and high grass, for various reasons, few strictly enforce their laws. That should stop.

At least we know Windber apparently has good intentions.

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