Worst summer yet for code violations in Williamsport

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s been a busy summer for some city workers in Lycoming County. The Williamsport City Codes Department has spent weeks cleaning up properties that have been left a mess by owners.

The Department says this has been the worst summer yet when it comes to violations, and it’s all caused by unnecessary growth of high grass, weeds, and garbage.

A front yard that looks like this is not acceptable within Williamsport’s city limits. According to the codes department, the grass here is about 20 inches high and the only solution is to have the city pay for a maintenance person to work on it.

“Now I’m going to spend an hour here cause it was left alone. Another house I was there five hours with a whole truckload. That was just one property, so if you just keep up on it once a week, it’s nothing,” James Flanigan said.

For those who live in houses, they get notified and end up cutting their grass. The problem lies with properties that have been abandoned. Right now, there are 22 unkept houses on the maintenance list. Most of them are owned by out-of-state banks and mortgage companies.

“Well, somebody who lives in California, or the bank is in California, no one is going to go out and get someone in California that lives in Williamsport, PA for a grass complaint,” Joseph Gerardi, Code Administrator for the City of Williamsport said. “So our job is to maintain that property.”

Gerardi says this is now put on the taxpayers, who have to pay $800 to $1000, which could have easily been avoided.

“I don’t think that’s fair. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay,” Arista Huffman of Williamsport said.

Another reoccurring issue is open garbage being left outside. The rule in the city is to have sealed garbage containers at all times.

“If you have lids on them, sealed containers, you don’t get the rodents, the mice, the rats, and that kind of stuff,” Gerardi said. “The problem is people are just dumping their trash outside in bags. Well, the next day a dog will run through the place, or raccoon, or something like that will rip out the bag. Now I have trash and garbage around.”

“It’s terrible because there’s a lot of wild animals over there and it just looks awful. I mean, you’re afraid to let your kids or grandkids out there,” Huffman said. “Something might come out and bite them or something, it’s terrible.”

The codes department said they have two of the seven new properties added to the list done already. It will probably take another two weeks to tackle the remaining five.

Citations for high grass and non-sealed garbage in Williamsport can range from $200 to $2,000.

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