PITTSTON — The council adopted an ordinance Wednesday to create a registry of abandoned or foreclosed properties within the city.
The ordinance, labeled File of Council No. 5 (2016), was adopted to establish a registry requirement and property maintenance regulations for certain abandoned properties in the city. It also provides penalties for violations. The registry will be operated by an outside company at no cost to the city. It will also create revenue for the city.
According to city Administrator Joe Moskovitz, there are around 3,900 properties in the city with 300 to 400 of them either vacant, abandoned or foreclosed upon. He said this will help dramatically with foreclosed properties.
“We’re not interested in fining them. We’re interested in them cleaning up the house,” Moskovitz said. “Kingston and Scranton currently do this.”
Moskovitz said this is just another “tool” the city has to go along with the Neighborhood Housing Initiative and the Land Bank. Both of those authorities are used to fight against blighted properties in the city.
In the past, Moskovitz said, banks or mortgage companies would hold foreclosure notes of properties and the notes would bounce around from LLC to LLC. Now, the properties will be required to register with the city each time a property is transferred. The company handling the registry will then split the fee with the city.
“In that gray area between foreclosure and the banks, this requires them to register to the city at a fee,” Moskovitz said. “We split the fee with the company, and they maintain the registry.”
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the city presented a proclamation to the Greater Pittston Historical Society and announced that June 25 will be a day to remember the 120th anniversary of the Twin Shaft disaster. On Sunday, June 28, 1896, 51 men and boys were killed when the roof caved in at the Red Ash Vein of the Newton Coal Company’s Twin Shaft Mine.
On the afternoon of June 25, the city will remember the tragedy with a ceremony at the Coal Miner Statue on North Main Street in Pittston. There will also be a mass at 3:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Eucharist in Pittston.
Council also approved Bovani Towing for a three-year contract at $20,100 per year to be the city’s towing company.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-602-0178 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick