Shenango plan to place liens on homes will go forward

Shenango Township supervisors awarded on Thursday night a contract for the demolition of this fire-ravaged home at 2019 Pennsylvania Ave. The house was destroyed in a May 13, 2020, blaze.

Shenango Township’s announcement that it will place liens on homes that have not been connected to public sewer and water lines has gotten results.

Just not nearly enough.

Thus, supervisors reiterated at their Thursday meeting that homeowners who have failed to meet the obligations of a township ordinance requiring them to hook up can expect to receive letters notifying them of a pending lien on their property.

As stated at last month’s meeting, the homeowners will have 30 days to respond after receiving the letter before action is taken. The lien would force the property owner to connect to water and sewage before the home could be sold or refinanced.

“Talking with both the water and sewer authorities, we were at a point that there literally were weeks when there was no water and no sewer tie-ins whatsoever,” supervisor Brandon Rishel said. “At least (last month’s announcement) spawned a little upsurge in that.

“So we’re averaging somewhere between two and three water and sewer tie-ins a day, which is way better than zero a week. We have started to get a few people, but we’re still a long way away from fulfilling everything that we need to.”

Rishel said that the connection rate to to water lines is about 75 percent, while sewer line hook-ups stand between 55 and 60 percent.

“We have to get this water and sewer plan done,” he said. “We are going to hold everybody responsible who is within the distances that are there. This has been an ordinance in our community since the late ‘80s. 

“Every single resident in our community has been held to these standards. This is not something new. These people are definitely going to be mandated, we are definitely going to put these liens into effect and get these letters out.”

The supervisors are working with the water company, Rishel explained, to ensure the accuracy of their records before sending out lien notifications.

“We have to do our due diligence and the water company has to do their due diligence to make sure that we’re not attempting to place a lien on somebody that doesn’t fall under the ordinance,” he said. “That’s what the delays are at this point of the lien letters.

“I think the majority of the people are kind of like, ‘Well, nobody’s really making us.’ I think the more publicity that we get will help. We don’t want to file liens. We really don’t, but we have to. We’re obligated to.”

In other business, the supervisors:

•Reminded township residents to get a building permit before adding a fence, swimming pool or other structure to their properties. “They’re one penny,” supervisor chairman Frank Augustine said of the cost of most, but not all, permits. “If you don’t come, you’re neighbor’s going to call.” To which Rishel added, “And if you get caught, it’s going to cost you more than one cent.”

•Set the first week of May as the township’s spring clean-up week. Pick-up will be on each resident’s normal trash collection day. There is a limit of 20 bags and one bulk item. Bags must be put out the night before.

•Approved the hiring of Matt Benson, Reis Watkins and Jacob Bromley as seasonal, part-time public works employees at a rate of $11 an hour.

•Awarded a contract of $3,500 to Cade Paving to demolish the remains of a fire-ravaged home at 2019 Pennsylvania Ave. The home, which was unoccupied and being renovated, was destroyed in a May 13, 2020, blaze. “It’s basically just a chimney, but it’s definitely a hazard down on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Rishel said. “More than anything, it needs to be filled in. We’ve tried working with the homeowner and the insurance company; they have no intentions of doing anything. We’re at the point where we’ve tried every option to try to get it safe for the community again.” The township expects to be reimbursed by the Lawrence County Development Authority.

•Awarded a contract of $4,250 to Pro-Tech Asphalt to repair damage to Hoover Road done by logging activity in the area. “We’ll go back against the bonding company to get this all settled,” Rishel said.

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Dan Irwin is currently a reporter and page designer. He was most recently the editor. He started with The News in 1978 and spent 10 years as a sports writer. He's a '78 Slippery Rock University graduate with a B.A. in English.

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