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Tougher Code Enforcement Eyed by Duke Officials

Council considers liens, sheriff’s sales against blighted properties

By Tom Leturgey
The Tube City Almanac
June 27, 2023
Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne officials are working on ways to make absentee landlords and other property owners more responsible for blighted and neglected land.

“Some properties are not being taken care of,” Mayor R. Scott Adams said at this month’s council meeting. “The city is cutting grass. We have to find a way to bill (property owners).”

Solicitor Myron Sainovich said the city has ordinances in its municipal planning code for such measures. Property owners could be sent leaders threatening to send invoices for services rendered, he said, adding that some property owners — such as banks — provide crews to do some of the work.

The city could establish a price per-hour for any work provided, according to Sainovich. The city could then bill the property owner. In addition to cutting grass, public works employees board up properties and provide other maintenance services.  

“Or they could go to the magistrate,” he said, and place a lien against the property. That’s the first step in beginning the process of sending an abandoned property to sheriff’s sale.

Sainovich cautioned that pushing a property to a sheriff’s sale is a last-resort option, but, he said, it is one of the “hammers” in the city’s enforcement tool-box.

City leaders said Duquesne needs a “pro-active code enforcement officer” to helm that work. New City Manager Samuel Sulkowski said officials are interviewing for the position and that someone could be in place “within the next month.”

Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. His work also appears in The Valley Mirror and other publications.

Originally published June 27, 2023.

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