The knock knock on nobody’s home

By on March 28, 2012

There is no proverbial welcome mat when it comes to abandoned properties.

Such was the brief topic of discussing during last week’s meeting of the Warwick Township supervisors, who are clearly frustrated with what seems to be a no-win situation.

The township currently has eight properties that are considered abandoned, and zoning officer Tom Zorbaugh explained that the process of dealing with them is slow, and banks are not fast in turning them over to new owners. Add that the grass growing season is underway and spring brings a new round of complications for the township in regard to maintaining the grounds around these neglected homesteads.

In a few cases, concerned neighbors have banded together to share in the effort of keeping the grass cut and plants pruned. In other cases, the township can complete the maintenance and place a lien on the property until the costs of the work are paid. Collecting, however, creates a whole new set of challenges.

"We can end up with tremendous legal costs and end up recovering nothing because the property values are so low, regardless of the number of liens we place on them," Zorbaugh explained. "You cannot collect on these because there is no money there. We can win in court, but lose because of how difficult it is to actually collect. One property has four banks to work through. The township does not have the money to burn to proceed and win, but not be able to actually collect on it."

Township manager Dan Zimmerman told supervisors of a blighted property in the township which is current on its mortgage and taxes, but for whatever reason remains unoccupied. He spoke of the frustration neighbors share with the township of living next to properties falling into disrepair, sometimes becoming havens for rodents and other animal life.

Zorbaugh and Zimmerman will continue to brief supervisors on the progress of the matter in the coming weeks. More ABANDONED, page A3

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