Freeport wants to step up its code enforcement policies
Freeport is getting ready to crack down on code violations and blighted properties.
The borough might eventually hire its own code enforcement officer.
Currently, members of the public works crew handle code enforcement.
But council this week heard a presentation from Dave Knox, who is involved in New Kensington’s code enforcement unit.
Knox, who has been in code enforcement in New Kensington and Monroeville over the past 23 years, suggested Freeport develop a game plan for what a code enforcement officer would do.
The borough, two years shy of its 190th birthday, mostly has problems with high grass, unlicensed vehicles, snow shoveling and junk in yards.
“Right now, you have employees who ordinarily mingle with people doing code enforcement,” Knox said. “It’s best to get an objective, impartial person.”
Council members said public works employees have a number of other regular duties that cut into the time needed for code enforcement.
Knox said Freeport needs to adopt policies detailed in the Uniform Construction Code and a property maintenance code.
Freeport also needs to redesign its citations to detail any code violations for the property owner. Cases have been thrown out in court because violations weren’t adequately specified, he said.
Knox also offered to develop a job description for Freeport should the borough proceed with hiring a code enforcement officer.
“Our codes are antiquated and this is going to be a process,” said Councilman Sean McCalmont. “This is not going to happen overnight.”
Council took no votes on the issue Monday but will formulate a plan for code enforcement.
Freeport also plans to be involved in the Armstrong County land bank to convey vacant and abandoned properties.
A letter of interest to Armstrong County Planning and Development, which operates the program, was too late for the latest round of approvals.
George Guido is a freelance writer.