A new Peters Township “Quality of Life” ordinance is in place following council’s unanimous approval Monday.
“We wanted to improve our property maintenance enforcement toolkit, and one of the ideas that my fellow planning staff came up with was a ticketing program,” township planning director Ed Zuk said. “This is a way in which the township can quickly enforce common property maintenance issues.”
The ordinance calls for the planning department to inform property owners of violations by hanging notices on their doors. According to township manager Paul Lauer, the practice should go into effect in about 30 days, after the notices are printed.
Five sections of the township code are addressed by the ordinance: domestic animals, littering, nuisances, exterior property areas and swimming pools, spas and hot tubs. Nuisances include “the collection of junk or debris, overgrown weeds, hazardous trees, standing water and infestations.”
“We would canvass the township,” Zuk told council. “As we see violations, there would be a door hanger that would be clearly placed on a property so that the property owner can see it. That door hanger will give clear notice of what ordinance is being violated and how many days they have to get that violation abated.”
Fines are $35 for the first “Quality of Life Ticket,” and if the violation is not addressed within the required time period, a second, $50 ticket will be issued. Failure to take action after that would result in the township issuing a citation with District Judge Jesse Pettit.
Property owners who received tickets can appeal them through Pettit’s office.
“This is analogous to a parking ticket that would be issued,” Lauer said. “So if you fail to pay the ticket, you’re going to the magistrate and you’re going to assume the cost of having gone to the magistrate.”
He said township solicitor John Smith reviewed the ordinance, and municipal staff members have talked with Pettit about the new procedure.
Council member Frank Arcuri voiced a concern regarding an aspect of the ordinance’s effectiveness.
“How are you going to deal with those individuals who say, ‘What door hanger?’” Arcuri said.
Zuk replied the process will be documented by photograph.
“We’ll put them in places where property owners can clearly see them,” he said. “We’ll document that we’ve placed them there, and we think that we can attack these property maintenance code issues quicker.”
Council member Monica Merrell said she agrees with the intent of the ordinance.
“I think your staff came up with something smart,” she told Zuk. “I think it’s a good way to approach the problem.”