‘Why do we have to live like this?’

VE-Around-County
By JUDITH O. ETZEL
Contributing writer

A junkyard filled with campers, trucks and cars that flanks part of Deep Hollow Road and extends along the intersection with Route 322 once again drew extensive comments at a Cranberry Township supervisors meeting on Thursday.

The stretch of vehicles, owned by Randy Spencer, has sparked numerous discussions from township residents who object to the sprawling junkyard.

It has been a catalyst for township residents to call for a property maintenance code that addresses how and where junkyards can be located as well as how all private and public properties should be generally maintained.

In starting the conversation, township resident Steve Eakin asked the supervisors to shelve any type of new property maintenance restrictions and insisted the township’s current zoning and nuisance ordinances are “sufficient… and are the tools you need – enforce them.”

Patrick Logan, whose property is close to the rows of parked vehicles, said he is “surrounded by that junk” and contended that although he has made numerous upgrades to his home and land, his “property value keeps going down” as a result of the expansive junkyard.

Logan said lead acid batteries, “jugs filled with oil” and vehicles containing motor fluids are risking land contamination.

“Oil City adopted this code and is doing fine. Cornplanter Township adopted this code and is doing fine,” said Logan. “You need to do something. … Something has to be done. Why do we have to live like this?”

Obviously exasperated, Logan said, “It’s unimaginable.”

Petition is circulated

Logan referred to an online petition effort that began Sunday and has, to date, drawn more than 1,000 signatures. The signers, in addressing the township panel, “implore the supervisors … to address the blight which is proliferating within the township.”

The blight decreases the value of their properties, insist the petitioners, who observed the existing regulations and zoning “need to be enforced to eliminate the blight.”

The petition specifically cites sections of Route 322, Riverside Drive and Deep Hollow Road as blighted and identifies the Spencer junkyard as “a scourge on the whole county.”

“We want action now to have the blight removed, not hidden, before it spreads further. We want to restore a sense of pride within Venango County, making it a better place to live rather than to drive future prospects away from the county,” notes the petition.

In response, Harold Best, chairman of the supervisors, replied, “We understand and we are working on it, quite actively.”

The supervisors will discuss the proposed property maintenance code, available for public inspection on the township’s website, at their May 10 meeting. It is not known whether a vote will be taken on it at that session.

Proposal is rejected

In a related matter, Best and supervisors Fred Buckholtz and Jerry Brosius voted to send a letter to Spencer to inform him they would not grant him a junkyard license “without a formal application” as required by township code.

The application would trigger a review of the request by the township code enforcement officer before the supervisors could address it.

The letter was in response to an agreement proposed three months ago by Spencer and fellow township resident Steve Eakin.

In the letter, Spencer asked that the supervisors immediately issue two separate junkyard licenses to him. One would be for Spencer’s property on Garden Lane and the other for a parcel he identified as “the 322 Hill Property.” He insisted “no formal processes or applications” should be required since he described the offer as a result of negotiation.

In the proposal, Spencer said he would then transfer all vehicles and campers from his property along both sides of Deep Hollow Road and move them to the 322 Hill Property. He also wanted reimbursement for a $6,000 fine levied earlier by the supervisors.

The second part dealt with the removal of vehicles near Garden Lane, a property known as the Waugaman Property.

The two projects to remove vehicles, noted the proposal, would result in the “items … no longer (being) visible by the motoring public.”

In refusing Spencer’s proposal, the supervisors said while they “agree with the overall ‘goal'” in removing the vehicles, no agreement would be reached without Spencer submitting a formal application to operate a junkyard.