Former Jeannette Glass owners cited
The former owners of the Jeannette Glass property have been cited by the city for causing blight and danger to the public.
Two citations each were filed last week by city code officer Ed Howley against Zion Bullitt Avenue; its owner, Abraham Zion; and his son, Mark Zion, all of New York.
“These citations are an example of the city doing its part to continue to require the Zion family to abide by the law and to maintain the property in a condition that is safe to the surrounding community,” said solicitor Scott Avolio. “The city plans to do everything within its legal power to require compliance with existing city ordinances.”
Mayor Richard Jacobelli said Jeannette plans to direct its efforts to the Zion property now that another abandoned site, Monsour Medical Center, is in the hands of West-moreland County officials and will be demolished.
“It’s always been a priority, but now, in a sense, we’re focusing more on (Jeannette Glass),” Jacobelli said.
The city has tangled with Abraham Zion since he purchased the former plant for $4 million in 1983. The relationship soured during years of failed negotiations to get Zion to reopen the factory, clean up the 13-acre property or turn over ownershipto the city.
City and state officials have tried to force Zion Bullitt to clean up the property. The latest citations are another attempt to hold the developer accountable for unsafe conditions, hazardous waste from years of glass production and environmental violations at the site, officials have said.
“These have been an ongoing issue with the property since they walked away from it,” Jacobelli said.
The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. purchased the parcel for $305,000 in September 2012 after it was put up for bid for delinquent taxes. Zion Bullitt appealed, but a judge upheld the sale this summer. The company is appealing that decision.
The Zions could not be reached for comment Monday. An attorney representing the company did not return a message.
Jeannette Glass and Monsour Medical Center took similar paths into ruin. Both were abandoned, and taxes went unpaid.
About four years ago, cooperation among county, state and city officials resulted in the county purchasing both parcels, Avolio said.
On Oct. 24, the Westmoreland County Land Bank purchased the 6.7-acre Monsour site for $15,712 at a free-and-clear sale.
“Within the last four years, there’s really been a pressure, and that’s been an intentional act,” Avolio said. “They kind of are on the same path.”
The former hospital closed in 2006 after failing a series of state health inspections. Members of its board of directors at the time have moved away or have died, leaving a vacant facility along Route 30 that was targeted by trespassers, vandals and arsonists. County officials plan to demolish the structures and redevelop the site.
On Oct. 21, the state Department of Environmental Protection ordered that Zion Bullitt comply with a January consent order to remove toxins and other hazardous waste after the company stopped cleanup efforts during the summer, claiming its employees were unable to access the site.
Department spokesman John Poister said Mark Zion’s attorney, Thomas Williams of Camp Hill, responded to the letter. The two parties could discuss the matter next week.
“They have agreed to meet with us,” Poister said.
Williams had contended that the court’s decision regarding ownership of the property, coupled with the city’s posting of it as condemned, absolved the business of its cleanup duties under the consent order because its representatives could no longer access the site. The DEP disagreed and ordered work to resume.
Remaining work includes removal and disposal of glass waste.
The owners of Zion Bullitt include Abe Zion; his sons, Mark and Joshua; and daughter, Adina. Mark Zion testified during a nonjury trial this summer that Abe Zion was in poor health.
The three defendants were cited by the city for:
• Failure to maintain premises in a clean, safe, sanitary condition; failure to remove garbage and hazardous material, posing a threat to public health, safety and welfare; and causing a blighting problem.
• Failure to repair, remove or demolish all unsafe structures and equipment, causing blighting and danger to the public.
The six citations carry fines of $1,500 each.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.