Hoarder's hobby plagues Port Richmond neighbors

After the Marquis of Debris wrote about scads of old tires (left) ditched in this vacant lot in Fishtown, the owner of the lot finally cleared and fenced it (right). PHILLIP LUCAS / DAILY NEWS STAFF
After the Marquis of Debris wrote about scads of old tires (left) ditched in this vacant lot in Fishtown, the owner of the lot finally cleared and fenced it (right). PHILLIP LUCAS / DAILY NEWS STAFF
Posted: June 22, 2012

FOR PORT RICHMOND neighbors on Mercer Street near Allegheny, warmer weather means facing the prospect of opening their windows to a breeze heavy with the stench of garbage and cat urine.

The culprit, neighbors said, is an epic trash heap festering in a privately owned lot that stretches for nearly a block behind a house on the corner. The woman who lives there has been hoarding trash for years, neighbors said.

Help might be on the way, says Tom Conway, city deputy managing director — and all it took was a year of complaints from angry neighbors, code violation notices from the Community Life Improvement Program and Licenses & Inspections, and a municipal court hearing.

Private-property regulations kept CLIP from immediately intervening after Port Richmond neighbors reported the trash heap taking form behind the house last year.

"CLIP has issued violations to the property owner but since it is a fenced-in property, we need a court order to enter onto the private property which is in the process," Conway said.

The first code-violation notice was written to the homeowner on May 2, 2011. Conway said a court date had been set for recently and he expected the court order to finally be granted soon after. After that, CLIP will remove the garbage from the lot and bill the homeowner for the cost.

Although some progress is better than nothing, neighbors wonder what is taking so long for the city to take action.

"I don't want to knock the city — I love this city — but a situation like that has to be dealt with," said Tony Myers, who lives across the street from the mess.

A row of dilapidated brown garages across the street from his house, with razor wire running the length of their roofs, blocks the trash from view. However, they're no barrier against the putrid smell.

"In the summer, you might as well forget about it," Myers said.

The Marquis checked the property again this week and noticed that a few soiled mattresses had been added to the mix.

So, what's the holdup?

Marquis gets results

A gargantuan lot on Beach Street near Susquehanna Avenue in Fishtown was overgrown, littered with thousands of used tires, and was set on fire — twice — after I wrote about it last spring.

But, I'm happy to report that the tires have been removed and a chain-link fence has been erected around the space since my last visit — when I was attacked by an especially aggressive swarm of mosquitoes.

Tire roundup

Speaking of tires, neighborhood groups from across Philadelphia are invited to participate in the 2012 Streets Department Tire Round Up to rid the city's streets of the round rubbish, and earn some cash for their organizations.

For more information, call the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee at 215-685-3981 or the Streets Department at 215-686-5560.

If you have a bone to pick with litterbugs and want to talk trash, email the Marquis at trash@phillynews.com, or find my page on Facebook.

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