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Borough of Homestead, PA
Allegheny County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Homestead as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Brush, grass and weeds — See Ch. 105.
Dangerous buildings and structures — See Ch. 118.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 199.
[Adopted 5-13-2010 by Ord. No. 1208]
The Council finds as follows:
A. 
When the owner of a vacant building fails to actively maintain and manage the building, the building can become a major cause of blight in both residential and nonresidential neighborhoods. Vacant buildings that are boarded, substandard or unkempt properties, and long-term vacancies discourage economic development and retard appreciation of property values.
B. 
It is the responsibility of property ownership to prevent owned property from becoming a burden to the neighborhood and community and a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare.
C. 
One vacant property that is not actively and well maintained and managed can be the core and cause of spreading blight.
D. 
Owners of multiple buildings, either concurrently or serially, that are vacant and a blight to the community are a significant problem in the Borough. Owners of multiple buildings who fail to correct deficiencies and blight conditions contribute to the decline of neighborhoods to a greater extent than owners who own only one building. Some owners have acquired multiple vacant and blighted buildings at depressed prices and have not improved or cared for the properties. It is in the interest of the welfare of neighborhoods that owners of multiple properties who fail to maintain properties and correct vacant and blighted buildings are subject to imposition of higher administrative penalties in order to encourage these owners to correct violations of this chapter in a prompt manner.
A. 
For the purposes of this chapter, the term "vacant building" means a building that is unoccupied, or occupied by unauthorized persons, for any amount of time.
A. 
For the purposes of this chapter, "boarded" shall mean the covering of all entry points, including all doors and windows, with plywood or other materials for the purpose of preventing entry into the building by persons or animals.
B. 
Vacant buildings shall be boarded so that the building can no longer be secured against intrusion by the closing and locking of doors and windows.
C. 
Vacant buildings that are immediately dangerous and are open and accessible to the general public may be summarily boarded by the Borough, and a lien may be placed against the property.
D. 
Any building that is boarded, whether by voluntary action of the owner or as a result of enforcement actively by the Borough, shall be boarded in compliance with Borough standards promulgated by the Borough Manager or Code Enforcement Officer.
No owner shall allow a building designed for human use or occupancy to be a vacant building for more than 30 days, unless one of the following applies:
A. 
The building is the subject of an active building permit for repair or rehabilitation and the owner is progressing diligently to complete the repair or rehabilitation.
B. 
The building meets all codes, does not contribute to blight, is ready for occupancy, and is:
(1) 
Actively being offered for sale, lease, or rent; or
(2) 
Actively being maintained and monitored by the owner, as defined in § 118A-5.
Active maintenance and monitoring shall include all of the following:
A. 
Maintenance of landscaping and plant materials in good condition.
B. 
Maintenance of the exterior of the building, including but not limited to paint and finishes, in good condition.
C. 
Regular removal of all exterior trash, debris and graffiti.
D. 
Maintenance of the building in continuing compliance with all applicable codes and regulations.
E. 
Prevention of criminal activity on the premises, including but not limited to the use and sale of controlled substances, prostitution and criminal street gang activity.
F. 
The posting of a notice in a conspicuous place on the front of the building stating the name, address, and telephone number of both the owner and, if applicable, the owner's agent in control of the building. This notice shall have lettering not less than two inches high and shall be generally readable from at least 30 feet away.
A. 
Any owner of a building that is in violation of this chapter shall be subject to a penalty, in an amount not to exceed $1,000 per building, for the first violation.
B. 
A second penalty shall be imposed upon an owner pursuant to this chapter if the owner's building remains in violation of this chapter 30 days following the imposition of the first administrative penalty. Additional penalties may be imposed each thirty-day period following the imposition of a penalty under this chapter. Additional penalties may be imposed so long as the violations continue. A second and any subsequent penalty shall be in an amount not to exceed $5,000.
C. 
If a previous penalty has been imposed pursuant to this chapter upon an owner within two years of the date of the imposition of the present penalty, and that previous penalty related to a vacant building other than the building presently the subject of a penalty, any penalty imposed shall be imposed pursuant to this chapter but in no case shall be less than $2,000 not more than $10,000.
Any vacant building that also constitutes a public nuisance as defined in this chapter shall be subject to monthly monitoring fees and enforcement response fees to recover the Borough's regulatory costs to monitor and respond to the vacant building. The separate monthly monitoring fee and enforcement response fee shall be set by resolution of the Borough Council. The monitoring fee shall be applicable even in the absence of any action, administrative or otherwise, by the Borough pursuant to any other provision of the Borough Code. The monitoring fee shall be imposed upon the initial determination that the vacant building constitutes a public nuisance as defined in this chapter. The fee shall thereafter be imposed in each thirty-day period following the imposition of the initial monitoring fee. On buildings requiring more than one involuntary Borough enforcement response within any thirty-day period, an additional and separate enforcement response fee shall be imposed, for each response, upon the owner. Monitoring fees shall be imposed as long as the vacant building remains a public nuisance as defined in applicable provisions of the Borough Code.
[Adopted 1-8-2015 by Ord. No. 1233-2015; amended 3-9-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-03]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BLIGHTING INFLUENCE
Any structure that, whether vacant or otherwise:
A. 
Has one or more window openings that is/are boarded up, and/or is lacking a secured or securable window with frames and glazing and/or has one or more exterior doorways that is/are boarded up or otherwise lacking a functioning and securable exterior door; and
B. 
Is located on a block that predominately consists of structures 60% or more of which are occupied.
OWNER
Any person, agent, operator, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in a structure, including owner(s) of record identified in the official records of the Allegheny County Department of Real Estate, guardian(s) of the estate of an owner, executor(s) or administrator(s) of the estate of an owner, or anyone having a right of possession and control of a structure pursuant to court order.
STRUCTURE
A structure used as a place of residence or business for a natural person or persons or a former place of residence for a natural person or persons or a place of business or former place of business that is or has become unoccupied.
A. 
Structures constituting a blighting influence are hereby prohibited.
B. 
The owner of a structure constituting a blighting influence must cure the violation of this article by placing and maintaining in all exterior openings in the structure intended to be window and door openings with securable windows and doors with frames and glazing.
C. 
The owner of a structure constituting a blighting influence must cure the violation of this chapter by placing and maintaining in all exterior openings in the structure designed to be doorways for ingress or egress into and out of the structure a functioning and securable exterior-grade door.
D. 
Attempting to cure the blighting influence status of a structure by the use of anything other than windows in window openings and exterior grade doors in exterior doorway openings is hereby prohibited.
E. 
This article shall not apply to structures that temporarily lack doors or windows as the result of ongoing, properly licensed or permitted construction or remodeling project so long as door and window openings are otherwise reasonably or properly secured with due regard to the nature and extent of the remodeling or construction work being performed.
F. 
This article shall not apply to structures that are temporarily deprived, in whole or in part, of one or more functioning windows or doors so long as the loss is a result of events beyond the control of the owner, such as vandalism, storm, accident, etc., and so long as the owner immediately secures same temporarily and then replaces said lost or damaged door(s) and/or window(s) within 72 hours from the time of loss.
Any owner who shall violate any provision of this article shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000, and in default of payment thereof to undergo imprisonment for a term not to exceed 30 days. Each day that a violation continues beyond the date fixed for compliance shall constitute a separate offense.
This article is intended to supplement other ordinances and codes of the Borough pertaining to property maintenance and blight abatement and shall only repeal such words, sentences, clauses, etc. of any conflicting ordinance or code to the extent necessary to cure the conflict.