Hawthorne Borough Council Addresses Sidewalk Repairs, Property Maintenance, and Resident Displacements in Latest Meeting

In the most recent meeting of the Hawthorne Borough Council, several issues were brought to the forefront, including debates over sidewalk assessments, property maintenance, and the displacement of families due to a building issue. The council also engaged in discussions regarding the ongoing legal proceedings involving a resident’s neglected property, the rezoning of a property on Scon Avenue, and the settlement of significant tax appeals.

Residents expressed concerns about being billed for sidewalk repairs, with particular attention to cases where damage was caused by borough trees. Barry Houston, a resident, voiced his frustration about this issue, leading the council to clarify that future sidewalk repairs would be the borough’s responsibility, and a different approach to tree planting would be considered to avoid similar problems. Another resident, Alexander Mena, sought clarification on being charged for repairs on recently purchased property, while Donna Spiegel questioned the accuracy of her property’s sidewalk repair assessment.

The council also addressed property maintenance issues, with Council member Joseph R. Wojtecki highlighting concerns around an abandoned house on Franklin and a poorly maintained property on Wagaraw. The discussion extended to a debate over the responsibility for an 8-acre trench on County property, which raised larger questions about jurisdiction and borough-County relations. Additionally, there was contention over the placement of fencing on County property, which was seen as impeding access, and the need to relocate an Eagle Scout project due to boundary issues.

The displacement of families due to a compromised building foundation was another significant topic. The council discussed the situation, reporting that the Red Cross provided lodging for affected individuals and that other residents had found alternative housing solutions. The emotional and legal ramifications of the displacement were acknowledged, with suggestions that the property owner may be liable for failing to maintain the property.

Legal proceedings surrounding a resident, referred to as Mr. Spoiled, who obtained a court stay, delaying the cleanup of his disorderly property, were also a point of discussion. The council expressed concerns about the impact on the neighborhood and the potential for further delays.

Moreover, the council discussed a settlement with the 3M company and the reintroduction of an ordinance for rezoning a property on Scon Avenue to correct a procedural defect and preclude legal challenges. The resolution of one of the largest tax appeals involving the Van Dyke property was deliberated, emphasizing the positive outcome for the borough’s finances.

Borough Engineer Pete K. Kate presented updates on various infrastructure projects, including water line replacements and recreational facility upgrades, while Borough Administrator Eric M. provided updates on budget transfers, grant applications, and the public safety radio project.

Council member Wojtecki raised the issue of recycling center operating hours, proposing the possibility of Sunday openings to compensate for frequent closures. This led to a larger discussion on how to better serve the residents’ needs.

The introduction of two new ordinances was also part of the agenda. The first ordinance aimed to create a scavenger redevelopment zone, and the second sought to amend speed limits on certain avenues. Both passed the first reading and would be considered further in upcoming meetings.

The council addressed several resolutions, including a tax overpayment refund and authorization of a temporary budget. A resident’s concern about a neighbor’s construction of a retaining wall without proper permits was also discussed, with council members advising the resident to seek more information from local authorities.

The meeting concluded with public comments and administrative updates, including the appointment of a new prosecutor, Elizabeth Cruus, and the acknowledgment of efforts by various individuals including prosecutors Beth Crues and Hasham Masri in managing challenging situations.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
John Lane
City Council Officials:
Frank E. Matthews, Bruce A. Bennett, Rayna Laiosa, Dominic Mele, Joseph R. Wojtecki, Mike Sciarra, Anna Marie Sasso

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