State College

Borough Council discusses Property Maintenance Code

Borough Council discussed various parts of the Property Maintenance Code at its meeting Monday night in front of packed house.

Among them were the identification of violation responsibility; the interior furniture violation portion of the code and whether maximum occupancy of fenced-in exterior areas should be included in the code, a separate ordinance or both.

Manager Tom Fountaine said there will be at least three additional sessions covering the PMC before the public hearing, scheduled for April 3.

Language in the identification of violation responsibility was added to make it clear that every effort would be made to identify the specific person responsible for violations within a dwelling unit. Only if a specific person cannot be identified, would the tenant be issued the violation.

When it was reviewed by the public, there were a number of comments about why code enforcement officials were trying to identify who committed the violation and not just automatically giving it to the tenant, said Tom King, assistant borough manager.

Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said she thinks it’s wordy, redundant and unnecessary.

“It’s not code’s job, and it’s not our job. (Tenants) are legally responsible, and if they can’t, you know, accept their own signatures then there’s something wrong,” she said.

The interior furniture violation section deals with furniture classified as interior being outside in a resident’s yard or driveway.

Councilman Evan Myers asked how the difference between interior and exterior furniture will be determined from a practical standpoint.

“It doesn’t have to deal with safety. It’s not something that the borough should be involved with,” said Morgon Goranson, University Park Undergraduate Association representative to council.

King said there’s a concern with insects, rodents and mold being brought inside with interior furniture that’s been outside.

As for large gatherings in fenced-in areas and associated impacts — lack of restroom access, for one — staff recommended they be addressed through a standalone party registration ordinance.

Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said she does not agree with staff and doesn’t want just an ordinance.

“I think that we need to control the number of people in and the occupancy within them,” Lafer said.

She said it can be dangerous to have too many people crowded into an area, adding that controlling the occupancy is to keep people safe and the community livable.

Myers said he thought that council had already decided to separate the fencing issue from the PMC.

The community faces a number of problems that need to be addressed, including public drunkenness, Myers said.

It’s a complex issue, and he said that once again, council is trying to solve all the problems the community faces through one solution.

Myers added that the fencing issue needs to be discussed more deeply.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz