Looks like we may a have new “WILD ANIMAL SANCTUARY” next door!! Saw a cat coming out the other day – hope the stray cats and wild animals don’t get hurt when the trailer collapses.
Since West Penn Township is bound by The Pennsylvania Right-To-Know Law to respond to me within 5 days, I should get a reply..
On 27Jan20, I emailed a request for a proper NOV Enforcement Notice (which states the “date of completion” for code compliance of the condemned trailer) to West Penn Township (no reply), and to the Zoning “staff expertise” authorities of Lehigh Engineering of Pottsville (the firm that is paid to enforce our ordinances) — so far I am ignored for
3 days. (..now 11 days of being ignored by this Code Enforcement Company) AFTER 2 WEEKS, IT IS MY OPINION THAT THIS ENGINEERING CONSULTING COMPANY SHOULD TRY TO LEARN WHAT ‘PROFESSIONALISM’, AND ‘RESPECT’ MEANS. …NOT THE FIRST TIME LEHIGH ENGINEER CODE INSPECTORS have been accused of hassling residents that they do not like….
1. Rodd J White, Firm Manager (my email bounced back- sent online message –got ignored)
2. Ralph L Hummel Jr., a ‘Building Code Official’ (got auto-reply that he is not available, then ignored)
3. William P Anders, SEO, BCO Manager of Engineering Services (got ignored)
4. Nick Hazlett, No title? but he is the fill-in for Ralph Hummel (got ignored)
I have been requesting this date since November 2019, but Mr. Ralph Hummel Jr still refuses to tell me. THIS was his exact reply on 11/15: “(
property address) had been posted condemned and with an NOV” –Why is he afraid to tell me the status of my complaint or when the corrective action will be taken?
West Penn Township says that even though the property was posted and condemned, it is still under investigation – how many years does it take a Professional Zoning Inspector to “investigate” an already-condemned trailer and why is he refusing to follow the ordinance and state a time limit for compliance?
This is the email I sent:
Apparently, the township is annoyed by so many complaints and is tired of being “bombarded” with work. (see the quotes from Dec. 2019 Board Of Supervisors Meetings) Is this lawyer really suggesting creating “A process” where, if the township feels a complaint is a nuisance or is frivolous, they can sue or fine the person who complains?? He also mentions that they can simply ignore a violation complaint for 30 days, then the complainant has to take the violator to civil court himself – and they don’t have to be bothered enforcing whatever they don’t want to enforce. Selective Enforcement or are the engineers responsible for enforcing codes simply incompetent and unable to handle their jobs in a prompt and efficient manner??
Instead of the new ‘revisions’ to our local laws they are working on, perhaps lawyer Paul John Datte can help West Penn Township ABOLISH ALL West Penn Township Ordinances – if there are NO LAWS, there can be NO ‘numerous’ NUISANCE complaints! Then, the township employees can relax and not worry about those pesky law-abiding-citizen complaints and we ALL can do whatever we please!
(I wonder how much it is going to cost me to ‘bother’ the township with further complaints of LAW or CODE violations that deny me my right to enjoy my property?
Here’s a quote from their 11/18/19 meeting :
“Chairman is concerned with the amount of money spent on investigating complaints in the Township. Every time we send our Code Enforcement Officer out to investigate a complaint it costs the Township money. Lately, the Township has been bombarded with a lot of complaints dealing with the same issue between two people. Chairman is hoping it will eventually stop and become a civil issue and the Township can get out of it. Attorney Datte said there was an enforcement notice issued and we are waiting to see how it plays out. Attorney Datte said it does look like two individuals should resolve their differences in civil court not litigating through the Township Code Enforcement.”
Here’s another meeting quote [all spelling errors are not mine, these are exact quotes]
Monday, December 2, 2019
“C. Complaints – Chairman asked Paul Datte what the Township can do if they are getting numerous complaints between two residents that seem to be having the Twp. in the middle of their dispute. Attorney Datte said if the complaint is a false or a nuisance then the Twp. can establish a process which can have a fee or a fine attached. Chairman asked how do you determine it is a frivolous compliant. Attorney Datte said the Twp. would in the first instance. Then you would have to go after the individual that made the false or nuisance complaint. The Complainant may be responsible for court fees, fines & any other fees associated with the complaint. Tim Houser feels the Code Enforcement Officer needs to be involved and enforce our ordinance. Tim Houser questioned a property that has been storing cars for a towing company. Mr. Houser wanted to know if they had a permit. Rodd White from Lehigh Engineering, LLC will look into that property. Tim Houser said if they don’t have a permit a cease & desist order should be issued. Attorney Datte said Twp. is frequently in the middle of disputes amongst neighbors when it can possibly be a civil issue. Chairman’s issue is we spentso much money investigating these complaints where can the Twp. draw the line. Attorney Datte said he cannot advise West Penn Twp. not to follow our policy. Attor Datte said there is a procedure under the Municipality’s Planning Code that if someone feels that the Twp. is not actively pursuing enforcement of a zoning violation then the property owner can put the Twp. on notice that they intend to bring a civil action against the individual if the Township doesn’t take action within 30 days”
Are my code-violation complaints being labeled as “FRIVOLOUS Or NUISANCE” by the township? I know they are not considered important like Mr. Steigerwalt’s worries about the smelly soil across the street from him (wonder how he would like the smell of soil that has had raw sewage deposited on it for almost 4 years) and he is bothered by some blighted properties – and Code Enforcement needing to investigate Mr. Houser’s complaint of car storage on some property because they may not have ‘permits’.
|The trailer before being “condemned”|
|The trailer 10 weeks after the violation notices|
.. will get you harassed.
This neighboring property has finally been condemned by West Penn Township Zoning officer, Ralph Hummel Jr. of Lehigh Engineering. However, this does not affect my neighbor since he lives in the car anyway and it does not mean that the property will be cleaned up any time in the near future. (It does mean that the rodents must be pleased to be able to breed peacefully now in their ‘nesting trailer’. I doubt that this “officer” even dared to enter the trailer to inspect inside. Selective Enforcement? OR is the Lehigh Engineering official Incompetent????
Dan paid $50,000 cash in 2016 for this trailer next door (it did NOT look like this then!) but instead of improving the illegal sewer system and water supply, he started destroying it – he removed sewer and water access, blew up the electrical panel, and tore off siding and insulation (which he is burying). Eventually, he could no longer live inside because of the mold and rodent infestation.
He has no water, sewer, or electricity and no bills to pay. He lives in a junk car at the property entrance and his ‘toilet’ is the ground. Apparently, West Penn Township condones the dropping of pants and urinating, wherever you are at the time. As an ‘outsider’ in this rural village, I was required to install a legal sewer system, but why is he exempt? Why is he permitted to live illegally and use junk cars as “structures” for living purposes? Selective Enforcement?
Since he has a history of schizophrenia, alcoholism, and drug abuse, this guy receives Social Security Disability Benefits (for the purchase of alcohol, drugs, and electronics – he has no normal living expenses.) YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK? His SSDI income is given without any requirements and they do not check on his welfare, but some people are denied Disability checks even when they need it for food, shelter, or medical expenses. Some recipients of this income for a mental disability are given a representative to control the funds to ensure that the money is used for living expenses instead of for drugs and alcohol.
West Penn Township Zoning officer, Ralph Hummel Jr. of Lehigh Engineering in Pottsville, PA was reluctant to enforce any of the zoning ordinances that Dan is violating. I was told that Mr. Hummel had to first ask permission from the chief of police, Brian Johnson, to address any ordinance violations. (WTF? Unfortunately, it appears that the bias in this rural village protects some like Dan’s neighbor friend, so should assume that he is now also ‘above the law’? Dan told me that he does not buy our neighbors’ Meth, just the Weed at $100/bag) Selective Enforcement? Corruption?
Mr. Hummel did finally condemn the trailer 6Nov19 – on paper, but he either can’t or won’t enforce the zoning and property maintenance ordinances. When I heard complaints about how it costs them money every time Lehigh Engineering has to go to an inspection, I offered to pay them extra to do their job – no reply, so I must assume the reason for non-enforcement is due to bias. (UPDATE: February 2020: According to the township invoices, after MR Ralph Hummel posted the pretty notices in November of 2019, he simply called him in December to give AN EXTENSION OF TIME – and it only cost West Penn Twp $19.50 for the phone call!)
According to West Penn Township Ordinances, the zoning officer should have given Dan a deadline to complete the compliance, but he did not. Our “Code Enforcement” officer only ‘asked’ Dan what his ‘plan’ was. So all Dan had to say was that ‘someday’ Les will come back from FL to help .. meanwhile, all he has to do is move a shovel from one place to another every few months to show “progress”? Selective Enforcement? OR does this “official” just lack the guts to enforce the codes???
I have always had respect for all law enforcement, and believed that I could trust them all to protect and serve all residents equally – but since a few of our local officials believe that they are ‘above the law’ and put their personal relationships above impartial law enforcement, they have lost my trust and respect. I have witnessed too much selective enforcement and bias in this township. How can there be fair and just law enforcement in a rural town where it appears that almost everyone is ‘connected’ in some way?
West Penn Township CODE 810.B.2.d
If it appears that a violation of any zoning provisions has occurred, the zoning officer shall initiate enforcement proceedings by sending an enforcement notice as provided below:
2. An enforcement notice shall state at least the following:
d. The date before which the steps for compliance must be commenced and the date before which the steps must be completed
According to the township response on the complaint, it appears that Dan’s neighbor will take charge when he comes back from wintering in FL.
Should I assume by this Official Township Response to the complaint below that this matter is on ‘hold’ until the neighbor friend comes back from FL in the spring?
I wonder – if this trailer were next door to a township official, would Ralph Hummel ignore his duty to enforce the codes?
THANKS, LES! … and I don’t even have to use Marijuana and Meth to be one!
For the years that he was ignored by his neighbor, Dan and I were friends and he was really trying to better himself. Although he had problems with alcohol and bi-polar schizophrenia, he was a kid that had moments of wisdom and we spent many hours talking. However, since this new ‘friendship’ with the drug-selling neighbor, this kid has become reclusive. His behavior has changed, he is becoming more unstable.
As if he didn’t have enough problems with his mental illnesses, his new ‘mentor’ is trying to get him into trouble by ‘advising’ him to do whatever makes him happy regardless of any laws or what advice I give him.
This so-called friend of his is taking advantage of a sick person – it’s ‘weed’ for now…but is “meth” the next sale?
–quoted from Schizophrenia.com
“Substance abuse complicates almost every aspect of care for the person with mental illness. First of all, of course, these individuals are very difficult to engage in treatment. Diagnosis is difficult because it takes time to unravel the interacting effects of substance abuse and the mental illness. They may have difficulty being accommodated at home and may not be tolerated in community residences of rehabilitation programs. They lose their support systems and suffer frequent relapses and hospitalizations.
Violence is more prevalent among the dually diagnosed population. Both domestic violence and suicide attempts are more common, and of the mentally ill who wind up in jails and prisons, there is a high percentage of drug abusers. Given severe consequences of drug abuse for the mentally ill, it is reasonable to ask: “Why do they do it?” Some of them may begin to use drugs or alcohol for recreational use, the same as many other people do. Various factors may account for their continued use. Probably many people continue their use as a misguided attempt to treat symptoms of the illness or the side effects of their medications. They find that they can reduce the level of anxiety or depression — at least for the short term. Some professionals speculate that there may be some underlying vulnerability of the individual that precipitates both mental illness and substance abuse. They believe that these individuals may be at risk with even mild drug use. “
Or is email@example.com /firstname.lastname@example.org just trying to impress me with their “research” skills?
I am not afraid to speak, and if more than ONE grazing animal appears on that property, papers will be served. (sorry, no pig farm either)
This message sent to me gave me a chuckle, especially with their gripe about tires along Dairy Rd from Dan Romig’s Auto Repair (who is only trying to protect his property) – – yet an overgrazed property strewn with tires, trash, garbage, and dead cats is perfectly normal to them:
“I would like to know, why do you only seem to bother these people? There is so much more that goes on in this township that should be addressed. Is it because they are you neighbors? I know who you are, and i know where you live. I’ve done my research to know, who i would be talking to. I can tell you, that if it was my daughter, i would of had some choice words to tell you. How about you complain about the property our township supervisor bought on kepners road and is filling it with shale. How about the tires laying next to dairy road that you drive by everyday. How about Mark Boyle Welding and Sandblasting on 443, before ag industrial. This property has how many businesses being run their under the supervisors noses. It looks like a tractor trailer junkyard. They paint tractor trailers, and trailers there and don’t have a spray booth. Very safe for the environment. Look at the Shriners property by the township building, that looks like a garbage pit, But you worry bout your neighbors and no one else. Maybe you should drive around the township and file a complaint about other things that are not in code. “
Then … when I didn’t react immediately, there was a second rant with:
“I AM STILL WAITING FOR SOME GOOD REASONS WHY YOU DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT OTHER THINGS”.
Well, I am not afraid of capital letters … perhaps some psychological therapy would help in coping with that temper before it gets Hertzog-like, and people or animals get hurt.
As for “if it was my daughter” – – – well, if this girl had more than “words” from all those who supposedly cared for her, she would not have had to go back to an abusive boyfriend after getting pregnant. Where were all these concerned people when she was pouring her heart out to friends last summer about being physically abused and having nowhere to go? (I have some interesting documentation re his temper)
I have every right to complain about code violations that I have to live near. I have seen plenty of violations around this area (Valley, Summer Valley, Golf, Pine Hill, Mahoning Mountain, Friedens -just to name a few) but as long as they do not affect my family or my property, that is not my problem.
Does this westpenner/racingj really think that by complaining to me that I will take care of these other township gripes that clearly bother them –not me?? Some people are just too cowardly to put their own name to an official township complaint.
The Judge gave Hertzog a deadline to downsize his girlfriend’s ‘farm’ on his property to ONE grazing animal.
Also, in the future, they are to have no more than ONE (1) horse or ANY OTHER grazing animal on that property.
It is far from being ‘over’ and that property will constantly be closely monitored in a multitude of ways (so no animals can be ‘hidden’) … but at least Schuylkill County may get much richer with those “fines of $500 per day” that Hertzog may be donating!
Was the $500 fine for Trial #1 just a minor nuisance to Joshua? His reaction to the court decision that he must downsize to 1 horse: he adds more horses.
CONTEMPT: willful disobedience to or open disrespect for the rules or orders of a court (contempt of court) or legislative body
An honorable, respectable citizen does not show open contempt for a Judge’s decision. Hertzog’s decisions are a reflection of his values and beliefs.
West Penn Township Zoning ordinance allows only ONE grazing animal on a property that size – but this property at one time, had 11 grazing farm animals overgrazing that small pasture. (4 horses, 5 cows [there were 6 but 1 died], 1 goat, 1 pig)
So I got a call from a Tamaqua fan telling me that Brittany claims to have called the Police on Friday to report me. I put the coffee on, but nobody came.
What was the crime she accused me of? I committed no crime. Animal Cruelty is a crime, and Animal Welfare and Public Health is a matter of public concern.
Can I be charged with damaging the reputation of a person who has already been found guilty of Animal Cruelty?
What is her actual injury, and which of my statements can be proven to be false? A defamatory statement must be false to be considered damaging. Even terribly mean or derogatory things are not defamatory if the shoe fits.
We’ll see if this was just another dramatic rant – I filed this Right-To-Know Request today and should receive a reply within 5 business days.
UPDATE: Got a reply and there are NO records of her ‘complaint’. WHAT A SURPRISE!!! SHE LIED AGAIN! …Pathological Liars Need Psychological Help
The broad category of hoarding has only recently been recognised as a psychiatric disorder. It first made an appearance in the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the global reference book of mental health. But while society seems to be aware of the problem of hoarding objects, animal hoarding, where dozens or hundreds of animals can be kept under bad and unsanitary conditions, remains under-recognised.
However, this is not because it is uncommon. Up to 2,000 new cases are estimated to appear every year in the US. And this is likely to be an underestimate, because there is a lack of public awareness that it is a condition and only very severe cases are identified.
This also means that very little research has been done on animal hoarding. Most has been done in the US by a group of experts called the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium. But interest in researching animal hoarding has been increasing, including two new studies published this year; one by myself and colleagues in Spain and another in Australia.
From this research, it is clear that this condition appears and has similarities across different cultures, but there are still many aspects of animal hoarding to uncover.
There are a number of symptoms, which when combined constitute an animal hoarding disorder. A prerequisite is having a large number of animals at home – we have seen cases of only ten animals, to people hoarding more than 500 in their homes. Sufferers are unable to provide the minimum standards of care for those animals and will deny or downplay the deplorable conditions they and their animals are living in.
This being such a new area of study, this is a very practical and descriptive definition of the disorder, which could change in the future when we know more about it. For example, the boundaries between functional and dysfunctional pet ownership are still not completely defined. Discovering these boundaries could lead to a different kind of definition and understanding of the problem.
However, if we take into account the current definition of animal hoarding, there are some key negative consequences of this psychiatric disorder. From the perspective of the animals, there can be severe welfare issues. Most of the animals found in animal hoarding cases are in deplorable conditions: sick, dirty, full of parasites and many dead animals can even be found when you enter an animal hoarder’s home.
Cases of animal hoarding can also lead to several public health issues in the surrounding environment including infestations of parasites, such as fleas and ticks, or environment toxicity, such as dangerous levels of ammonia from animal urine, in the air that people breath.
Then there are the hoarders themselves to think about. Animal hoarders live in the same unsanitary environment as their animals, maybe without being able to have a functional kitchen or even a clean bed to sleep.
The most common profile of an animal hoarder is a socially isolated, middle-aged or old woman who hoards cats or dogs – or both. However, men or even whole families, with children or other dependent relatives, can be animal hoarders or live in a hoarding situation. And not only dogs and cats are hoarded – other species that have been found include farm animals and reptiles.
From a health perspective, there is a way to go to understand what leads a person into these hopeless situations, where they are surrounded by dozens or even hundreds of animals and their faeces and urine. Early research shows that animal hoarding is often associated with attachment problems to other people, which leads to an excessive attachment to animals. This could be due to being a victim of neglect or abuse during childhood, as many of the known animal hoarders’ investigations indicated.
Animal hoarding sometimes appears alongside other mental disorders, like object hoarding or dementia. A common trait is the lack of insight or awareness in hoarders of their situation, and there can also be certain lack of empathy with other creatures.
Even though the exact cause of animal hoarding needs more analysis, the first steps for tackling this problem are broadly agreed on by those researching it. Earlier detection of cases could come from increasing public awareness of the problem, and a simple change in society’s perception of animal hoarding could save many animals’ lives and prevent severe human and public health consequences.
There also needs to be standardised policies for effective interventions when animal hoarding is identified. These need to respond to both the animals and the hoarder’s needs. Currently, only a few states in the US have policies in place to deal with the disorder.
It’s also important that those found hoarding animals are taken care of. At present, when a case is detected, the animals are removed but no attention is given to the person suffering. More often than not this person doesn’t realise that their animals are in poor health and are likely to soon start hoarding again. They need individual mental health treatment, as soon as possible, to prevent the usual evolution of a terrible and long-term condition.
WEST PENN TOWNSHIP ORDINANCE
ARTICLE 3: 317 C.8: Keeping of Animals and Pets.
a.) No more than six (6) customary household pets or domestic animals (e.g., dogs, cats, canaries, etc.) and no more than fourteen (14) fowl (e.g., chickens, turkeys, etc.) may be kept. Six (6) or more adult dogs or cats shall constitute a kennel
b.) Commercial Use. Commercial breeding or use of these pets shall not be permitted under this use.
c.) Large Animals and Fowl. Large animals (such as cattle, horses, goats and pigs) and fowl (such as chickens and turkeys) shall be stabled or housed in buildings at least one hundred (100′) feet from any lot line. Large grazing animals may be kept only on lots 1-1/2 acres per animal.
…no, they do not.. there can’t be equality and uniform code enforcement when there is Selective Enforcement of laws
Having lived in this township about 20 years, I am disappointed that we no longer have equal rights when it comes to local code enforcement. Living in West Penn Township in the past was a pleasant experience. Residents were treated uniformly and the zoning ordinance was applied uniformly to all . Today, it seems as though these authorities use their power to harass some, but give absolute freedom to friends who violate the codes. Is there no code of ethics? What happened to the zoning officer’s duty to (as stated in the West Penn Township Zoning Ordinance) “to adopt rules of procedure, consistent with this Ordinance, for the purpose of ensuring efficient and uniform administration of its provisions“??
I was under the impression that all residents must pay permit fees and adhere to the rules, but it appears that friends of West Penn township or township zoning officers ( of Lehigh Engineering LLC) are exempt from obeying local ordinances and don’t have to pay a penny for permits. The West Penn Township Ordinance also states “The Zoning Officer shall not have the power to permit any construction, use or change of use which does not conform to this Ordinance“.
We needed zoning permits, building permits, an occupancy permit, and inspections when we moved here. However, this ‘friend of a friend’ is permitted to erect new buildings, barns, sheds, and electric fencing pastures – No permits required! This neighbor’s property is used as a farm for animal hoarding – No permits required! Our zoning allows 1 grazing animal per 1.5 acre – NO LIMIT of animals for this township friend – after a few deaths, they still have 10 grazers when codes allow for 1!
As of today, 17August2017, they own at least 3 horses, 5 cows (there were 6 cows but 1 died), 1 goat, 1 pig. (that’s outside – there is also what would be classified as a kennel inside)
Google aerial view of property 2016: (camper & car removed by previous owner)
COMPLAINTS ARE IGNORED………….
I filed written complaints on 9/15/16, 10/26/16, and 7/11/17.
— Conversation 9/22/16 with William Anders, Code Enforcement officer for West Penn Township: Anders claims ignorance and does nothing about permits. He had no reply and said “maybe the buildings were already there” and did not care when I said that I could prove that the new owner added the structures. He stated that an inspector (the new guy) will go inspect. No reply, so I went to the township office and was told that there are NO permits paid for by this neighbor.
I was told that RALPH L HUMMEL Jr, another Lehigh Engineering ‘expert’ that just got his license, then visited the property but apparently he did not have the ability to recognize new structures or compare the property structures to the Schuylkill County Cama where 1 barn and 1 garage are the only structures at time of purchase.
Conversation also included the overgrazing issue: he stated that the neighbor’s girlfriend has a relative next door with 40 acres where animals can graze during the day, so she can have as many animals as she wants (The relative next door actually has only 10 acres)…HEY BILL!—-EVEN WITH THE FAKE COMBINING OF PROPERTIES, THERE IS STILL TOO MANY GRAZERS…do the math..
RESULT: NOTHING! He was supposed to have a ‘contract’ between the 2 neighbors regarding pasturing. I am assuming they got exempt from any legal inconvenience , because the animals are on this property 24/7 (except when the horses and goat are left to roam freely on my property).
I have been lied to and ignored, while my property value is being affected by this property full of animals, manure, trash piles, racks of tires, garbage, etc.
I believe that township officials have a duty to use their powers fairly and adhere to the law. It appears that this will be a long battle, and I need to gather more documents, pictures, tapes, and chronology.