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Ross resident’s glad-turned-mad Christmas tidings targeted by township

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Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
The yard of a Ross resident Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 features items that used to be in a Christmas light and holiday decoration extravaganza that attracted visitors. Vulgar signs, broken decorations, and a variety of other items now fill the yard of William Ansell.

A Christmas display in Ross that once brought delight but later degenerated into a rundown collection of ornaments and debris may soon be coming down.

Ross Solicitor Bonnie Brimmeier said this week that the township will try to get help from Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to force Bob Ansell, owner of a house at Fairley Road, and his brother Bill, who lives there, to remove the trash and signs with foul language on the property.

“We are in the process of (getting) a court order that the rubbish and signs have to be removed,” Brimmeier said.

Bob Ansell declined comment, and his brother could not be reached for comment.

Brimmeier said if the Ansells don’t comply and remove the trash, the township will take it down and ask for repayment of the cost to do so.

If they don’t pay, she said, “We could lien the property for whatever the costs are.”

That’s an approach the township uses when it has to mow high grass and the owner won’t pay the cost.

For years, visitors drove to Fairley to admire the Christmas display with tens of thousands of lights. But a neighborhood dispute about the traffic, parking and other issues prompted Bill Ansell to protest by placing plastic headless choristers, traffic cones with the heads of the choristers, overturned children’s pools and plastic bicycles on the property.

In addition, large signs with foul language target neighbors and township officials.

Bill Ansell has said the township forced him to remove the lights, but Ross officials say that is untrue. The Ansells unsuccessfully went to court to fight the township’s order to remove the trash and signs.

“The township never had anything against their Christmas display,” Ross Commissioner Dan DeMarco said. “The township got involved because the township was continually up there because there was continual fighting between the Ansells and neighbors about the parking of cars.

“It’s a neighborhood feud.”

Pamela Heck, a neighbor who is targeted in the sign display, said she won’t know how she feels about the township’s actions until she sees the results. “I feel sorry for him,” she said of Bill Ansell. “I feel sorry for us. I wish he didn’t try so hard to hate everybody.”

Brimmeier said officials hope to have the issue resolved by spring.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in August upheld a magistrate’s order fining the Ansells for violations of township code related to rubbish cluttering the yard and for prohibited signs containing foul, vulgar language directed at neighbors and township officials.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-772-6353 or [email protected].

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