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Countryside Blight Prompts Nuisance Law Request

Condition of certain properties in Upper Milford Township, including the Countryside Restaurant, causes resident to ask the Upper Milford Board of Supervisors to consider enacting a public nuisance ordinance.

For the most part, Mike Makoul thinks his friends and neighbors in are pretty reliable people. Nonetheless, the Zionsville resident asked the Upper Milford Township Board of Supervisors at last night’s meeting to consider adopting a public nuisance ordinance in the township.

Makoul, of 6600 Granville Road, listed conditions at properties like the , which was that happened more than a year ago, among his reasons for coming before the board.

Would you favor a public nuisance ordinance in Upper Milford Township?

“I think the township could benefit from such an ordinance,” he said. “I think the vast majority of residents are responsible people who take pride in their properties.

“But there are places like Countryside that has been vacant for over a year and in need of repair. A public nuisance ordinance would give the township a tool to deal with situations like that,” added Makoul, who said he has lived in Upper Milford Township for three years.

Makoul provided the supervisors with a public nuisance ordinance recently passed in Southampton Township in Franklin County, Pa., as an example of what Upper Milford could do. That ordinance, he said, covers everything from uncut grass to junk vehicles.

“I think it is a balanced ordinance,” he said. “It has provisions for people who might make frivolous complaints. It is a common sense approach and I think it will have support.”

Board of Supervisors Chair Daniel Mohr thanked Makoul and said the board would take the issue under consideration.

After the meeting Makoul said that he brought the Southampton ordinance to the supervisors because Southampton has a similar population size to Upper Milford and is also a rural community.

Dead tall grass remained strewn about the lot of the Countryside Restaurant Thursday evening and a Cityline Construction sign also was posted to the right edge of the building.  The Allentown company specializes in reconstruction and redevelopment of damaged buildings, according to its website. Cityline performed the removal of fire debris this week from the interior, according to township officials.

Ronald Weaver June 08, 2012 at 10:54 AM
We have enough laws
Ronald Weaver June 08, 2012 at 11:02 AM
We have bigger problems than measuring peoples grass, especially during rainy weather. I believe we already have laws on abandon vehicles etc. I can see more complaints turning citizens against citizens.
Sue Adams June 08, 2012 at 11:57 AM
If the Township would pass that law, they'd have to fine themselves. The grass/weeds at the property on the corner of Shimerville and Mill Roads is pretty high! I believe they still own that piece of land.
Ronald Weaver June 08, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Upper Milford is a very rural Township with some landowners having large properties in which they might feel parts of their property should be natural for wild life concerns. I think we should let well enough alone. People moving into Upper Milford because they like the rural setting should possible want to keep it that way instead of bringing new rules along with them .
Kathi Ramsdell June 08, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I think it is a great idea. I believe everyone would understand normal high grass when you've got a lot of rain and not enough time to mow, but people who have junk vehicles, overgrown areas, abandoned homes -- these things need to be taken care of and I believe the ordinance would give the township the tools they need.
Ami Lanning June 08, 2012 at 12:34 PM
100% in agreement. We own several acres and have grown a natural barrier on purpose along the side of our property. This is a rural community and we don't need a nuisance law for overgrown grass!
David Stern June 08, 2012 at 12:53 PM
For a bit about Emmaus's past, read "U.S. Journal: Emmaus, Pennsylvania—Mowing the Lawn", December 10, 1979, by Calvin Trillin, in the New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1979/12/10/1979_12_10_164_TNY_CARDS_000332431 This documents the time when my father, who was Borough Secretary at the time, had to negotiate with Rodale over conflicting views of civic responsibility. There are lessons to be learned, here. One can draw their own conclusions.
Trish June 08, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I agree with Ronald & Ami. In the Summer 2011 township newsletter it mentioned converting large yards and public spaces from mown grass to meadows as a way to help protect our water supply.
Mike Makoul June 08, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Grass cutting/weeds would not apply to large rural tracts of land. We are talking about obvious cases of neglect -- Countryside, the vacant property across from Vitos Pizza, etc.
Ronald Weaver June 08, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Good point, but realistically it is very difficult to define. Again I believe the Township already has laws for dealing with abandon vehicles. Maybe a good approach is if someone would confront those vacant lot owners in a nice way and they might correct the problem without passing a law that would be very difficult to enforce and not infringe on those who like the natural setting for parts of their peoperty.
Ronald Weaver June 08, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I was born in a living room in an old farm house 70 years ago and lived in this Township all these 70 years and my grandfather and great grandfather go back to the 1850's owning and farming hundreds of acres in this Township. Personally I like the good old days but I also realize that because of population increases we cannot live like the good old days, however, we can allow unnecessary levels of change destroying traditions that have made American for what it stands for, freedom and minimum government control. Control and being in the limelight seems to be too many peoples goals. I see the direction this country is going but also realize we probably can't stop it but hopefully slow it down. I own 104 A in north Columbia county in a very rural Township where wild black bears still exist bothering no one. People move in this area from urban areas and complain to the game commission about black bears and they are forced to add extra bear hunting to kill off the bears to satisfy these folks. Why do people move into areas where they know bears have existed for thousands of years and because of false fears and want them eradicated? How does this information relate to the subject of other peoples grass, hopefully you can figure it out.
Dawn June 08, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I don't agree with having that law put into place. If I own my home, and the property my home sits on, then no one entity has the right to govern my personal property. I find it will only create a Hatfield and McCoy situation with in the community. I feel the person who suggested it should keep his eyes in his own yard, and stop worrying what the yard next door looks like.
Jen June 08, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I think this would have a positive outcome for the township. I don't believe it is about the height of someone's grass or clearing meadows but rather about cleaning up the "junk" that detracts from our beautiful township.
Robert Sentner June 08, 2012 at 10:25 PM
We need to work with our neighbors not have the government make more non enforceable rules and regulations.
Christoper Theis June 09, 2012 at 12:26 AM
In reading the posts above, it seems that there is negative reaction not consistent with the intent of the proposal from Mr Makoul. I live in Upper Milford Township and have red all 24 pages of the proposed ordinance. The focus is actually safety. Abandoned refrigerators that children could climb in to, unsafe structures that could collapse, waste that could leach into streams and rivers and pollute. I am not at all a fan of big government, but I have small children and am willing to support such an ordinance knowing it could be discussed and modified to fit the needs of us all.
tamarya June 09, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I do not know, I was born in 78 and growing up as a child people shot anything, including feral cats. We have a feeling our cat that was outdoors at the time was also shot, because he never returned home and was found nowhere on the roadways.
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 01:05 AM
When I read the beginning article it speaks mostly of long grass not about dangerous junk. A total different subject. I don't believe anyone has a problem with cleaning up dangerous unsightly junk. No excuse to add all the add ons unrelated to safety issues.
Robert Sentner June 09, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Mr. Theis, 1972 President Nixon signed into law "the consumer product safety law" It is a federal offense to leave the refridgerator door on. As far as waste leaching into the streams that also is a federal and state law controled by DEP and the EPA. The township has rules and regulations on scrap and junk already, along with abandon vehicles. Noise and grass is something that the township can not afford to enforce. I think there was an ordinance years ago and it was scraped because of the $$$$ to litigate. Unsafe structures is something that the township will look into, you have to remember that we can not go on anyones property without permission.
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 01:49 AM
You don't like big government..when is enough, enough, it is obvious enough is never enough and just keeps growing and continues to infringe on citizens freedoms always with good intentions. The facts are very clear, we have a problem with over control. Much is based on politicians justifying their existence and trying to make their mark. It goes well beyond safety, health and welfare which in itself is ok at the right level.
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Did you know laws already exist about removing doors from abandon refrigerators? Where in Upper Milford is an abandoned refrigerator?
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 02:42 AM
We have responsible people living in Upper Milford and an a very fair and reasonable group of Township Officials, lets keep it that way. We don't need to evolve into producing unreasonable and unnessary new ordinances that cause division and hatred which generally is the result of over reach.
Mike Makoul June 09, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Mr. Weaver - I agree that the vast majority of Township residents are responsible. Absentee landlowners that live outside the Township (eg. Countryside) and leave vacated and blighted property do not fall into this category. Why should the irresponsible actions of a few be permitted to create health/safety issues and lower the property values for the rest of us? Just like overreaching government regulation has no place in the Township, neither does blight. A properly structured ordinance would be used sporadically - and only as a last resort to deal with exceptional situations (not the neighbor vs neighbor disputes that are being insinuated here). The Board is a check and balance to ensure that the ordinance woud be used as intended. This ordinance is NOT about trying to change the Township, it's actually the opposite -- ensuring that the irresponsible actions of a few don't lower the quality of life that we currently enjoy in the Township.
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Mike, if only it was that simple, the last resort is usually not the Township as the last resort, litigation is the usual last resort depending on the issue . I believe, as mentioned earlier, there are laws and ordinances already in place to cover the important issues relating to health, safety and welfare and also dealing with junk and abandon vehicles. What is in the ordinance request that is not already covered that citizens should be subjected to? The risk of wasting Township money to defend areas that possible infringe on a persons Constitutional rights is not worth it unless it is of real importance. Take a lesson form Macungie, and Lower Macungie Tswp. and the potential cost of litigation regardless of the reason, obvious sometimes justified.
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Many Township residents may not have the financial resourses to keep up with there wealthy neigbor, God forbid that their resource limits might devaluate their neighbors property. When a person purchases a property does he not know if their neighbors property devalues their's?
Ronald Weaver June 09, 2012 at 07:26 PM
My good mom passed away a little over a year ago at 91, she used to say I was opinionated. I think I am a believer in her opinion of me after thinking about it. My dad, better know as Buddy still is alive and pretty well, both grew up in Upper Milford. I look at my neighbors as they did, as my friends, not as possible liabilities, no matter how high their grass is. I have been blessed in countless ways with God's help, and hard work, and I am thankful and look at my neighbors as equals, and actually at 70 living in different parts of the Township have not one incident of a neighbor or Township officials I could complain about or see a need for any new restrictive ordnances that they don't already cover. My opinion... If it ain't broke don't fix it.
Jen June 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM
In reference to Mr Weaver's comments, it is a shame that you have turned this into a personal attack and had to mention financial situations. I believe that Mr Makoul's intention was to hold abandoned property owners accountable. It is likely that these property owners don't live in the township so they don't necessarily care what their property looks like. I would be happy to see abandoned properties (Countryside, house near Vito's) cleaned up. I think we should be asking why they have been allowed to look like they do for so long not making this about neighbor vs neighbor.
Emmaus 4 Life June 10, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Just yesterday I noticed a house along Vera Cruz Rd. that is much worse than the Countryside property. I believe that area is Upper Milford.
Ronald Weaver June 10, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Not a personal attack but an attack on the idea of new set of ordinance which may infringe on other citizens not only those owning abandon properties. Why not deal with people owning abandon properties only? In reality who is going to determine if a property needs to be cleaned up, they will become defensive and say what about this persons property, thus the litigations. I am sure this suggested new ordinance involves all citizens not just abandon unsightly property owners. Again I say it is not that simple and it will become a financial issue both to individuals and the Township trying to enforce new ordinances as well meaning they may be. Never disagreed with cleaning up these abandon properties just agains a whole new set of ordinances, never do I question Mr. Makouls good intentions.
Ronald Weaver June 10, 2012 at 11:07 PM
a example of enforcement..You pass a law about unsightly property, usually grass uncut (abandon vehicles, junk already covered by ordinances) A complaint from a neighbor about this certain property, a Township enforcement officer has to react because of this new ordnance. A letter goes out and most may comply and fix the problem. A few might respond and say I know 20 other properties that have unsightly uncut grass, but you say it only pretains to certain properties that are not rural. Who defines what is rural, or maybe someone has the argument that they allow their choice of certain parts of their property for wild life.Take this to court and see who wins. Best keep the ordnance to those with abandon properties because no one will have an issue with this type of ordnance addition. These ordnances types make attorney's happy. Personally I keep a very neat property.

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