Several structures targeted for demolition in White Oak as blighted and unsafe are receiving 120 day reprieves before council takes further action.
Of the six properties discussed at a hearing this week, five owners came forward and asked council for an extension.
Councilman Ken Robb said the owners of the following properties were granted the extension to bring their structures up to code: 606 New Jersey St., 738 O’Neil Blvd., 2420 O’Neil Blvd., 608 Osborne St., and 1828 California Ave.
Another property at 700 New Jersey St. was approved for demolition, but Borough Manager John Palyo said he believes council will hold off until the 120 days pass for the other properties.
“We would get a better cost for demolition services if we had multiple structures and not just one,” Palyo said. “While it is in bad shape, we are not in imminent danger of a collapse onto a public street or neighboring structure.”
Solicitor Krisha DiMascio said the hearing was publically advertised and property owners and any organization with a vested interest in the property were notified prior to the hearing.
Code Enforcement Officer Brian Dinkfelt gave council an evaluation of each property, along with his professional opinion regarding whether the structure was a safety hazard and if it currently had any code violations.
Regarding 606 New Jersey St., property owner Karl Honse said he has two buyers interested in the property, both of whom have plans to renovate the structure and roadway leading up to it.
The owner of 738 O’Neil Blvd., Keith Strozier, said he purchased the property as an investment but didn't realize that the water line to the structure had been cut, which has delayed renovations. A contractor spoke on his behalf and said the structure had “good bones” and confirmed that the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County can restore the water service.
Attorney Christopher Manzi appeared on behalf of MO Rentals, representing 2420 O’Neil Blvd.
Manzi said his client has recently taken steps to improve the property and a report from a structural engineer indicated the house was structurally sound. Taxes have not been paid on the property, but Manzi assured council MO Rentals would comply with paying any back taxes owed.
Munir Chohan of Rostraver Twp. reported that all taxes on his property, located at 608 Osborne St., are paid up and he has been begun renovation to the structure. He plans to get a permit and begin roof renovations as soon as possible, he told council.
Ken Pitchford purchased the property and structure at 1828 California Ave. several weeks ago and said he, too, has also begun renovations. A family member plans to live in the home. He is current on all taxes and hopes to have the renovation completed by Christmas, Pitchford said.
Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer who covers municipal news from Duquesne and White Oak, along with other topics, for Tube City Almanac. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published August 22, 2018.