Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Council, Codes, and Artsy Trashcans

It's April Fools' Day AND there's a Council Meeting tonight. Not that I'm implying any kind of a link between those two statements.

You can look at the full agenda here, but the highlights are mainly code-related--adopting ordinances regulating the height of grass and weeds, throwing snow and ice into the traveled area of the street, and regarding snow and ice removal. One would hope the latter two won't be put to the test for another 9 months, but with summer coming, I have a few concerns about the 1st.

First of all, I believe this code was written to deal with owners who purposefully neglect their properties--mostly landlords who don't live in town and don't care if their properties are derelict. We've all seen these kinds of houses, with tall grass and weeds, that make Norristown look bad. However, I've also seen certain landlords who have friends at Municipal Hall get away with not caring for their properties while the elderly and sick in the same neighborhood are harassed by code enforcement if their grass grows over 3 inches high.

I was sick a few summers ago and got a citation about the hedge on my back fence. The temperatures that week were in the high 90s, and not much cooler overnight. When I tried to explain the situation and ask for an extension, until I could find someone to come and trim it, I wasn't given any slack. I was told to "have a younger member of my family do it." I explained that I WAS the youngest member of my family. No good. So I had to go out in the heat and trim the hedge, sick as I was. My doctor later told me I could have easily had a stroke. I've heard similar stories from other residents, one of whom had cancer. All I ask is that someone from code enforcement assess the situation in person. If it's an elderly resident or someone who shouldn't be doing physical labor, then work with that resident to find a solution.

On the other side of it, we can all help out code enforcement by taking a photo of overgrown properties and sending it with the address in question to Joe Januzelli (jjanuzelli@norristown.org). Also, if you know of any of your neighbors who have trouble physically taking care of their properties because of age or sickness, please give them a hand. We can all chip in to keep Norristown looking good.

On another topic related to keeping N-town looking good, The Norristown Project purchased 20 trash cans a few weeks ago with the thought of giving them to persons or groups who'll turn them into artwork. The decorated cans will then be placed around the community. They'll keep trash off the ground AND provide community-based art.

10 groups/individuals have accepted the challenge and are working on their trashcans, but TNP has 10 cans left. Come on, local organizations, businesses, paint a trashcan for Norristown. If you're interested, email NorristownProject@gmail.com and they'll send you more information on the program. You can read more on TNP's blog.

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