City seeks a dozen volunteers

Tired of complaining about issues within the City of Warren and ready to do something about it?

You may be just who the city is looking for.

There are currently 12 vacancies, largely due to term expirations, on six different city authorities, boards and commissions and most only require an interested individual to be an interested city resident.

The city’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Board of Appeals has an opening, the Parks and Recreation Commission has three, the Planning Commission has two, the Redevelopment Authority has one, the Zoning Hearing Board has two and the Property Maintenance Code Board of Appeals has three.

“These boards are important to functioning of the city,” City Administrator Mary Ann Nau said. “In some cases, they provide advisory help or make decision that are law.”

The city will be looking for related backgrounds for potential appointees to the UCC and maintenance code boards. In the case of the UCC board, such requirements are specified by law.

For the remaining positions those on parks and recreation, planning, redevelopment and zoning the requirements are limited to being a resident of the city and, in some cases, not being an elected official or city employee.

“Any training that they need the city liaison should be making sure they get it,” Nau said. “So we really need interested citizens.”

UCC board members must be residents of the city or any of the other municipalities that receive code enforcement services from the city, including Clarendon Borough and Brokenstraw, Glade, Mead, Pine Grove, Pleasant and Sheffield townships.

In most cases, an appointee cannot be a city employee or elected official.

“As far as the criteria,” Nau said, “mostly we’re looking for interested citizens. We’re looking for people who want to serve, since these are volunteer positions.”

The UCC Board of Appeals is charged under the Pennsylvania Code with hearing and ruling on, “appeals, requests for variances and request for extension of time,” under the provisions of the Uniform Construction code.

According to the Pennsylvania Code, members of the board, “shall be qualified by training and experience to pass on matters pertaining to building construction.” Specifically, “Training and experience may consist of licensure as an architect or engineer, experience in the construction industry and training or experience as an inspector or plan reviewer.”

“The member whose term expired is a design professional,” Nau said. “So we’ll be looking for someone with a background like that.”

Individuals elected to one of the governing bodies of the municipalities served by the board and municipal code administrators are ineligible to serve on the UCC board of appeals.

The parks and recreation committee is charged by city ordinance with, “developing and recommending parks and recreation programs, for the periodic review of those program and for advising council on recreation needs, use of facilities, fee structures and related matters.”

The only requirement for appointment is residency in the city.

The planning commission is authorized under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. According to City Planner David Hildebrandt, the commission reviews the city’s zoning map divisions and makes recommendations, makes recommendations on subdivisions of land and is responsible for making recommendations regarding the city’s comprehensive plan which guides municipal development and planning.

“Planning commission members must be city residents,” Hildebrandt said.

Residency is the only requirement for appointment, though, by law, a certain number of members must not hold office in or be employed by the city.

The redevelopment authority works hand-in-hand with the planning commission and blighted property review committee.

It is charged, under state law, “to procure from the planning commission the designation of areas in need of redevelopment and its recommendations for such redevelopment.”

After doing so, it studies the recommendations provided to it, further investigates and makes its own recommendations to city council on redevelopment.

The authority works with the blighted property review committee by acquiring and re-developing areas designated as blight.

“The RDA (redevelopment authority) work with property,” Hildebrandt said. “In the past they’ve acquired some property, basically, to alleviate blight and then they’ve re-sold it to get it back on the tax rolls.”

Redevelopment authority appointees must be city residents.

The zoning hearing board is charged with hearing and adjudicating cases of land use zoning exceptions and challenges to zoning designations and laws.

Appointees must be residents of the city and may not hold any other elected or appointed office in or be an employee of the city.

The property maintenance code board of appeals is charged with hearing appeals of property owners whose holdings have been designated as blight.

Members of the board must be city residents, but, according to Nau, the city is looking for members with a related background.

“Someone with experience in property maintenance is what we’d be looking for,” she noted.

Individuals interested in filling any of the openings can visit the city municipal building at 318 W. Third Ave. during regular building hours from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekdays to pick up an application, or obtain one online at www.cityofwarrenpa.gov/volapp. Applications should be submitted by Thursday, Jan. 16. Appointments will be made by city council.

Individuals whose terms have expired are eligible to serve again upon city council’s approval, but all applications are being considered.

“People currently on these board and commissions… were sent a letter letting them know their terms were expiring,” Nau said, adding that those individuals had the option of sending a letter of interest to continue their duties.