South Heidelberg Township Property Maintenance: Maintaining Safe, Clean and Attractive Communities for our Citizens.
By Township Manager Sean McKee
SOUTH HEIDELBERG TOWNSHIP, PA – South Heidelberg Township strives to maintain a safe, clean and attractive community for our citizens. As you may know, in 2017 the Township adopted Ordinance 264 which implemented the use of the International Property Maintenance Code. The adoption of Ordinance 264 allows the Township and its Codes Enforcement Officer to proactively address property maintenance issues while protecting citizens who do maintain their properties from those who do not.
Why Property Maintenance is Important
By not allowing properties to go un-maintained the Township:
- Reduces the opportunity for blight
- Reduces the potential for crime
- Reduces vermin or infestation
- Increases property values by ensuring maintained and attractive communities
- Ensures the well being and safety of its citizens
Commons Property Maintenance Violations
Unfortunately, the Township has experienced a number of property maintenance concerns over the past few months. Our Codes Enforcement Officer attempts to work with the property owner productively to educate on what proper property maintenance means, how it impacts the community and what steps need to be taken to come into compliance with property maintenance standards. Some of the more common property maintenance issues include but are not limited to:
- High Grass and Weeds. Per Section 302.4 of the International Property Maintenance Code, “all premises and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or plant grown in excess of six (6) inches in height”.
- Abandoned Vehicles. Per Section 302.8 of the International Property Maintenance Code “no inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicle shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled”.
- Accumulation of Rubbish or Garbage. Per Section 307.1 of the International Property Maintenance Code “all exterior property and premises…shall be free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.”
Reporting Property Maintenance Concerns
Citizens can utilize the Township website to report property maintenance issues. By clicking on the Report A Concern feature, Citizens can select the Property Maintenance concern type. The Report a Concern form allows citizens to report the address of the property maintenance issue and includes the ability to provide comments and attach pictures of the issue. The form does ask for your information to include name and phone number as many times the Codes Enforcement Officer may contact the citizen reporting the issue to obtain more details or potentially request access to the property of the citizen reporting the issue to document the concern from a neighboring property. It is important to note that concerns reported by citizens are 100% confidential meaning the property owner involved with concern is not notified of who reported the issue.
Property Maintenance Process
Once a property maintenance issue is reported the Township Codes Enforcement Officer will go through the following steps:
- A site visit will be scheduled to review the property maintenance report and determine if the issue is in violation of the Property Maintenance Code.
- If the issue is verified as a violation the Codes Enforcement Officer will document the violation to include taking photographs of the issue and referencing the sections of the International Property Maintenance Code that the violation falls under.
- An initial “Notice of Violation” (NOV) will be issued to the property owner with details which include:
- The violation(s) is, the section of the International Property Maintenance Code that is in violation
- The corrective action necessary to come into compliance
- The time-frame in which the property owner is expected to come into compliance
- The potential penalties which may citation and fines for lack of compliance and action.
- The contact information for the Codes Enforcement Officer is also provided to the citizen in violation in case questions arise on the notice, action, etc.
- If compliance still does not occur based on the initial Notice of Violation, a Final Notice of Violation (NOV) will be issued, restating the violation, corrective action, time-frame and penalties for lack of compliance.
- If the Final Notice of Violation does not result in action from the property owner, the Codes Enforcement Officer will issue citations which include monetary fines.
- The Township has the ability to take action in certain cases such as contract to have high grass cut and pass the costs of those contracted services on to the property owner in violation.
- The property owner in violation has the right to appeal the notice and fines before a District Justice.
Working Together to Maintain a Great Community
The Township’s property maintenance ordinance is a tool that is used should a concern arise with a property within the Township. The ordinance and International Property Maintenance Code provides adopted standards that are meant to maintain a great community for citizens. In many cases, when property maintenance issues are reported the Township is able to productively work with the property owner on resolution and very rarely is there a need for penalties or court time. The Township attempts to work with property owners in violation to inform and educate on property maintenance standards so that all citizens can enjoy a safe and clean neighborhood and area to live.
South Heidelberg Township is a community of good neighbors which means keeping our properties well maintained. Please help the Township and our citizens by ensuring your property is maintained meaning:
- Grass and exterior are addressed regularly through cutting and maintenance.
- Vehicles that are damaged or inoperable are not left in driveways or parked on yards.
- Rubbish or garbage to include appliances are not gathered or accumulated on your property.
The Township would prefer property owners consider each other and maintain their properties but if concerns are reported the Township will act in enforcing the Property Maintenance Ordinance.