In a city desperately short on cash but probably in need of a facelift, members of the Fox Chase Town Watch think they know how to spruce things up while generating tens of thousands of dollars.
Sadly, nobody in City Hall seems to be listening to them.
Since last summer, a couple members of the group have been collecting what they understand to be illegal signs from utility poles throughout their neighborhood and beyond. One member has even made a list of them.
During the Jan. 12 Town Watch meeting, the group’s president, Steve Phillips, showed a tally sheet of some 1,100 signs removed from local streets. Mostly, the plastic and cardboard ads solicit for people looking to sell their old houses and junk cars, or they promote organizations offering work-at-home and weight-loss programs.
Whatever the message, Phillips said, the bottom line is that people are not permitted to hang signs arbitrarily without the approval of the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.
Legal signs will have an official L&I sticker affixed to them. Those who post signs illegally are subject to a fine of up to $300 per offense.
Problem is, according to City Controller Alan Butkovitz — who spoke at the same meeting about his own investigation into alleged corruption in the sheriff’s office — L&I doesn’t have the manpower to enforce the city’s own ordinances.
“They don’t have enough people to do what they’re supposed to be doing,” Butkovitz said.
In 2007, the controller compiled a report on the very same problem. He appealed to the news media to publicize the issue in hope of affecting stricter laws and enforcement.
City Council subsequently raised the amount of the applicable fines. The problem seemed to wane. Unfortunately, the relief only lasted a year or two.
“It’s worth taking another shot and you’ll probably get relief for a while, but it will happen again,” Butkovitz said.
Supplied by the Town Watch with a list of offenders and their contact information (via phone numbers posted on the signs), the controller said he’d “get a group (in his office) working on this again.”
“It’s almost a matter of staying power and perseverance,” he said.
In Phillips’ opinion, neighbors can’t sit back and ignore it.
“If you don’t do anything about them, they’re just going to keep loading up on the poles,” the Town Watch leader said.
In unrelated meeting activity:
• Officers of the Fox Chase Homeowners Association reported that they had sent a letter to the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment opposing an application by a local coin dealer for permits to buy and sell precious metals.
Although Fox Chase Coin, at 326 Loney St., is a long-established collectible coin dealership, neighbors are concerned that the precious metals license might attract undesirable business activity to the shop, according to FCHA zoning chairman Craig Turner.
• Police Officers Rich Simon and Mark Mroz reported that residential burglaries continue to be the prevailing crime problem in Fox Chase.
Simon’s 7th district has seen 15 break-ins in a six-week span in the area between Pennypack Park and Rhawn Street. Meanwhile, Mroz’s 2nd district had 21 burglaries in a 30-day span in the area between Rhawn Street and Tyson Avenue.
• The next Fox Chase Homeowners Association and Fox Chase Town Watch meeting will be on Wednesday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m., at American Legion Post 366, 7976 Oxford Ave. ••EndFragment