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West York Borough Mayor Shawn Mauck talks about the borough's response to growing blight issues.

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West York Mayor Shawn Mauck took a walk around his borough last weekend, hoping to clean the place up with just a few simple conversations.

Mauck said he delivered about 750 letters to homes in the borough and spoke to nearly three dozen residents, warning them that the borough is putting a new focus on enforcing its property-maintenance and nuisance-abatement ordinances.

The letters were based on residents’ complaints about their neighbors’ properties, including illegal dumping of trash and old furniture, fences and garages in disrepair and yards overgrown by weeds, he said.

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“We’re making a plea to them to do their part before they get a citation or warning,” Mauck said. “Nobody is excited about giving people a fine, but by the same token, we have to uphold the laws and ordinances of the borough.”

More: York City to crack down on neglected properties

Citations range from less than $50 for simple violations for simple property-maintenance violations to fines worth thousands of dollars for extremely blighted properties that cause health or safety issues, the mayor said.

West York has one full-time property maintenance inspector and three other employees who perform inspections who have been going around the borough over the past several weeks, handing out warnings and citations, Mauck said. 

The stepped-up enforcement efforts will continue throughout the summer, he warned.

'Be a good neighbor': Property maintenance issues are often near the top of the borough’s to-do list, and residents make it clear at each borough council meeting that they want something to be done about neglected properties in the borough.

Nuisance properties, like those that are covered in trash or have weeds growing several feet high, can depress property values throughout the borough, Mauck said. 

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Besides property-value considerations, these properties bring down basic living conditions and the overall quality of life for many borough residents, he said.

Imagine you wanted to host a cookout to celebrate the Fourth of July, but your neighbors haven’t picked up after their dogs for weeks — “you won’t want to sit outside and cook a hamburger,” Mauck offered.

“I think we should do all we can to make West York a better place to live,” he said. 

Since taking his trek around the borough Saturday, Mauck said he has already seen some of the problem properties making decent progress. 

In fact, the impact of the letters and conversations was immediately obvious, he said, noting that several people began cleaning while they spoke with him about the borough’s ordinances.

Handing out fines and citations won’t fix all the borough’s problems, but hopefully it will make some property owners take better care of their land, Mauck said.

“At the very least, it helps the psychology of the neighborhood to know that somebody’s watching and paying attention and that they have to be respectful and be good neighbors,” he said.

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