Blair Township divides code officer’s work

DUNCANSVILLE – The duties of a former Blair Township employee are being divided among a contracted agency, a supervisors and the police department.

Tom O’Leary, who worked more than a decade for the township, mostly as the building code official and code enforcement officer, submitted a resignation effective May 29 after a health-related absence.

The Middle Department Inspection Agency, which has been handling building inspection duties in O’Leary’s absence, is willing to continue providing those services, Supervisor Ed Silvetti said Tuesday during the monthly supervisors meeting.

The police department has handled 22 code complaints and ordinance violations since the beginning of the year, Chief Roger White told supervisors. So far, all but four have been resolved, and the department is willing to continue in the role, White said.

The typical complaints, White said, are overgrown grass and brush, dogs running at large, open burning and the moving of dirt which encroaches on a neighboring property.

Silvetti said he was OK with allowing the police department to handle this work while Supervisor Palmer Brown said he prefers having a code enforcement officer. An officer, Brown said, could handle the administrative work of tracking violations, in addition to efforts or the lack of efforts to address them.

Brown’s suggestion led to a discussion about the township’s ordinances, including a need for updates, the removal of conflicting provisions and simpler language. Silvetti, who was leading that portion of the meeting in the absence of Chairman Richard Lasek, who arrived late, suggested allowing the police department to keep handling code enforcement issues for now, while the ordinances are further reviewed.

“We have 240 to 250 ordinances,” Brown said. “I’ve been trying to go through them and see where there are conflicts.”

The township’s stormwater management ordinance was described as “written for engineers,” and Teddie Kreitz of Keller Engineers said her office remains ready to assist with understanding it. She also said that O’Leary usually referred those kind of concerns to her office.

The township needs “technical language” in its stormwater management ordinance, Kreitz said, because the state has pushed responsibilities “down to local level.”

White also suggested that the township could benefit through some educational efforts to benefit its residents, perhaps during an open house or by posting of more information on its web site.

Solicitor Frederick Gieg Jr. said he and White have addressed ordinance violations in magisterial district court and White does well on behalf of the township.

Silvetti also agreed to take on the role of Right-to-Know officer for the township, another duty that O’Leary handled. In that role, he will be responsible for addressing written requests for public information.