Washington City leaders hope new plan encourages homeowners to improve properties

WASHINGTON, Pa. — Washington City leaders are hoping a new plan to combat blight will kick homeowners into action to improve their property.

Code Enforcement officers will soon be ticketing homes, similarly to how they ticket cars.  The homeowners will also receive a ticket in the mail, and have 72 hours to fix the property.  If the property is fixed in that time frame, the fine will be waived.  Fines range from $25-$100.

“It’s almost like a parking ticket.  It’s less than if we were to take you to court on the blight issue, and you can remedy it,” said Donn Henderson, Washington City Administrator.

“It’s a mess! A slum! And our city isn’t really like that on this street!” said Grace Martin, who has lived on her street for 58 years.  Her view of an Arch Street home is an eyesore.

“I don’t know who lives there, or if anyone even lives there.  These white and black trucks are covered in junk and have been there forever with junk piled on it,” Martin said.

City leaders say they’ve been trying to track down the Arch Street homeowner for a long time.  It’s an issue they’re seeing across the area, and they hope this new plan will see results.

“What we want is the problem remedied, we aren’t trying to make money,” said Henderson.

The city also revised their Abandoned Building Ordinance as well.  The new ordinance has harsher penalties of $300 for the first two years, and $750 every year after.  Henderson says they’re hoping this forces homeowners who bought property at auction to actually fix up the purchased home.  He says a high number of these owners live out of state and have no intention of fixing the property.

“I don’t want to punish people who have sincere intentions,” Henderson said.

“It’s going to be $300 for the first two years.  Abandoned properties lead to more crime and other issues in the community.  Every year after that is 750 dollars.”

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