Hershey: “This isn't due process when you have to pay $100 to appeal something. It just doesn't make sense.”
Wayne Hershey asked for common sense when officers hand out tickets. Hershey said he was ticketed recently for high grass “after a month of rain. One of the hottest and wettest Mays in the last hundred years,” he said. “Five inches of rain in 11 straight days.”
Hershey admitted that his grass was high and the person he hired to mow could not do it. Hershey said he had standing water in his yard at the time. He said he must now pay $100 to appeal the ticket to the borough manager. “Everybody I talked to said, 'That's extortion.' I'm not going to pay $100 when I can pay 25 and just get out of it,” Hershey said. “This isn't due process when you have to pay $100 to appeal something. It just doesn't make sense.” Hershey noted that the borough does not run leaf pickup or the street sweeper when it rains, because it makes sense.
“Just use common sense with the code officers and get some due process that makes sense, because this certainly doesn't.” Hershey said he has heard “some real horror stories about code enforcement” from people who replied to him on social media. As an example, he pointed out that his grandson got two tickets in nine days even though he had mowed in between. “I went to look at his lawn. The highest thing there is asparagus and rhubarb.”
He said another person got ticketed when disposing of patio cushions. The ones that wouldn't fit into the trashcan were placed alongside it, as directed by the trash hauler. The person received a ticket. Someone else said they were ticketed for “dog poop” in their yard. “It was decorative rocks,” Hershey said.
A person on Chestnut Street got ticketed on consecutive days but the tickets did not arrive in the mail until two days later, according to Hershey.
He also said someone got a ticket for placing two bags of trash beside their house after returning from the mountains, and another person got a ticket because a trashcan lid blew off. “That's not common sense,” Hershey said.
Hershey said he asked a code officer about his ticket for high grass. Specifically, he asked him if he measured it, and the officer said he did not need to, because he “knew” it was 18 inches high. When Hershey told him that he must be “good” to be able to estimate that closely, the officer thought he was being praised. “I am very frustrated with this whole thing,” Hershwy said. He asked council to make corrections on the issues.
Weaver: “Maybe sometimes common sense just needs to be used.”
Rose Weaver told council she received five tickets in two months last year for placing an old mattress at the side of her house on a Thursday. She said her trash hauler picks up on Mondays, and she got a ticket.
She said she received a ticket for daisies in her flower bed that the rain had pushed over onto the sidewalk. The ticket stated that the daisies were a tripping hazard. “It's a daisy,” she said. “Some of the tickets were just ludicrous.”She also received a ticket for a sumac tree on her property line with a neighbor, but she paid the ticket anyway.
The next ticket was for trash that was sitting out for over 24 hours. “My trash gets picked up Monday. The ticket was written on Tuesday,” she said.
In February she received another ticket, this one for ice. The sidewalk was treated with ice melt that day, but the next day she got a ticket for ice. “It hadn't even been 24 hours since the sidewalk had frozen,” she said. She called and spoke to the borough manager, who said she could pay $100 to appeal the ticket at the borough office. She paid the $25 instead. “I got stuck paying another ticket,” she said, but added that the ticket was later rescinded. “Maybe sometimes common sense just needs to be used.”
Kaufhold: “My job is to enforce this book. If you don't like what's in the book, you need to go to the legislative committee and have it changed.”
Codes Manager Steve Kaufhold told Hershey he would not address his case at the meeting, since it's under appeal. He then introduced himself to residents in attendance and explained some of the workings of the codes department. He said that some problems may stem from codes not being enforced in the past. “Most people have gotten complacent with the fact that a lot of the codes were not enforced for many, many years.”
He said that this month there were 261 tickets written. [It's unclear if he was referring to May or June.] He said he does not see every ticket that goes through the system: “It's just too much for any one person to start going through and doing that.”
Kaufhold said six more code enforcement officers were added at the beginning of last year. Two officers work three days a week and their schedules overlap. He explained that he doesn't have any thing to do with the $100 appeal fee, since he didn't set it.
He advised residents to talk to him first before an issue goes to appeal. “Come talk to us. Give me a call. I will look at it,” he said. “I try to talk to my code officers about frivolous things, but we do make mistakes.” Kaufhold said if he does not return a phone call, the resident should contact one of his superiors or a member of council. He said that returning calls is respectful, and he tries to instill the importance of that in his officers.
“My job is to enforce this book," Kaufhold said. “If you don't like what's in the book...you need to go to the legislative committee and have it changed.”