Nuangola Blighted Properties Getting Council’s Attention

Nuangola Council is taking a hard line on blighted properties.

A few residents attend most council meetings to inquire about the borough’s progress in requiring property owners to clean up unoccupied properties that have fallen into disrepair.

Attorney Meghan Carey announced at the Sept. 12 meeting that two property owners have received notices of default and one property owner had hired a contractor to clean up his property before demolition of a crumbling building could occur. Councilman Michael Johnson said an additional property might need to remain as-is until foreclosure because relatives of the deceased former occupant are not responding to council’s communications.

The process to deal with such properties can seem long, but “we have to be careful and do everything by the law,” Chairman Joe Tucker said.

Johnson and Zoning Officer Barry Jacob will attend a Sept. 25 meeting at the Luzerne County Courthouse where they will learn more about how to refer properties to the new Luzerne County Blighted Property Review Committee. The committee has the legal teeth to push for seizure through eminent domain if owners don’t clean up vacant properties. The committee was created last year specifically to help small municipalities.

In another matter, council decided to postpone a decision on whether to enter a financial agreement with the SPCA of Luzerne County. The SPCA has sent letters to all county municipalities asking for financial agreements in lieu of charging municipalities $100 per animal when they’re dropped off at the SPCA facility.

Rice police typically take any stray

dogs they find to council member Michelle Zawoiski’s house instead of to the SPCA anyway. Zawoiski takes animals to a veterinarian to check for microchips and puts notices out on social media, and owners normally claim their pets within a few hours.

“I’ve never had to keep one overnight,” she said, noting Nuangola is small enough that when an animal strays from home, the borough can usually handle the problem in-house.

Tucker said shortly after he moved into his property, someone picked up his dog from the edge of his own yard and took it to the SPCA, and he had to pay to get the dog back.

Carey said some municipalities are considering using free apps on social media to help owners and their lost animals find each other.

Tucker said council would wait to see what other municipalities do about the SPCA agreement.

In other busines, council:

Agreed to invite a representative from First Keystone National Bank to the next meeting to discuss its services. Secretary Sabine Thomas said this would be in council’s best interest because the borough is paying fees to PNC Bank for its current accounts.

Heard a road report from Tucker, who contacted state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s office to ask if the borough could buy a new dump truck and plow and then use next year’s gaming grant to pay for them. The answer was no: Any purchases would have to be approved before awarding of the grant. Tucker plans to look over borough finances before the Oct. 10 council meeting to determine how the borough can finance a new truck, which he said is needed before snow removal season begins. He said he still hopes to use next year’s gaming grant for a second truck because both of the township’s trucks are old. Also, he announced this year’s salt supply has been ordered at the same price as last year’s.

Heard a Sewer Authority Report from Johnson. While the eventual hope is to merge Nuangola with the Mountain Top Joint Sewer Authority, this would not happen before the end of 2017 because both the authority’s own board and the member municipalities would need to vote on whether to take on Nuangola.

Gave the library board permission to use the council room from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. Sept. 30 for its Fall Fest and from 10 a. m. to noon Dec. 9 for its