Two properties took a step forward in the blighted process Tuesday evening.
Members of the Warren County Planning and Zoning Commission voted to forward the McWilliams property on Kinzua Road in Mead Township and the Darr property on Route 6 in Weldbank to the county Redevelopment Authority.
Planning Director Dan Glotz explained the William Darr property has its windows boarded up and is in rough shape.
It consists of a residence, Glotz said, as well as a detached garage.
Mead Township supervisors first notified the owner of their concerns in May 2009, Glotz said, which included the uninhabitable structure being a fire hazard with high grass in the yard.
The solicitor notified Darr the property had been declared a nuisance through a certified letter, Glotz said.
In response, Glotz said Darr wrote a statement informing them he could not afford to tear it down now but hoped to by February.
In December, Glotz said the Blighted Property Review Committee received a letter from Darr explaining he could not tear the house down until he got his tax return which he expected by the end of March.
Paul Pascuzzi, first vice chair of the zoning commission and chair of the blighted committee, said a neighbor offered to buy the property but the deal fell through due to friction between them.
Commission Member Jeff Zariczny said the deal may have benefited the owner as the property no longer has much monetary value.
Commission Chair Dale Forbes said the commission should not offer such advice to avoid accusations of collusion.
The Redevelopment Authority would still take time to decide on the property, Forbes said, and the owner could bring the process to an end before that.
Every letter the owner sent pushed the time frame back a month, Pascuzzi noted, and the owner had been invited to meetings.
Township supervisors tried to work with the owner between May and August, Pascuzzi said, before the case was brought to the blighted review committee.
Commission Member Kent Wilcox said the property may still mean something to Darr and his family.
Darr admitted he doesn't have enough money, Wilcox said, and he has written correspondence.
Zariczny said the owner's financial circumstances do not eliminate the requirements he has to the property.
The township supervisors, blighted review committee and zoning commission only has to decide whether a property is blighted or not.
Wilcox said the groups are still moving the property another step toward action being taken.
The Redevelopment Authority will work with Darr, Glotz said, as part of their responsibility.
It would probably be several months before the authority looks at the case, Pascuzzi said, as it already has six properties it is reviewing.
The authority could arbitrate a deal between Darr and his neighbor, Pascuzzi said.
The building could also be rehabilitated, Glotz said, as the authority is currently working with one which it felt was salvageable.
The road construction took away its value, Wilcox said.
Taxes are also currently paid on the property, Glotz said, and there has been no discussion to rebuild.
Forbes said his feeling was to give Darr another month and have the commission decide what to do at its next meeting.
The commission has to follow a consistent process, Zariczny said, or it will open itself to liability.
The winter is not a prime time to work with blighted property, Wilcox said, and the process has been rushed to get it done.
Nobody is taking the property yet, Olson said, but the process should be kept going.
"The commission should see if the process so far has been met," he said. "Period. Paragraph."
Darr had the entire summer and fall as well as most of December and January to do something, Pascuzzi said, and nobody pushed the property through the process.
Pascuzzi said he didn't know if the owner would ever have the financial means to take down the property.
Commission Member Gary Wareham said it looks like Darr is stalling the process.
Second Vice Chair Joanna Freeberg said she felt Darr was holding up the process.
Wilcox and Freeberg cast the only votes against forwarding the property to the RedevelopmentAuthority.
The McWilliams property was forwarded with unanimous approval.
The next regular commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 6 in the Warren County Courthouse Basement Break Room #5.