Mt. Lebanon Landlord With History Of Housing Violations Sued By State Attorney General’s Office

A Mt. Lebanon landlord who has been repeatedly fined for failing to have water service to his properties in Carrick and elsewhere – and who was accused of running a garden hose from someone else’s property to get water – is being sued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office.

The complaint, filed today in Common Pleas Court, names as defendants Davin Gartley, as well as his companies, Davin Investments Inc. and R.A.E.D. Investments Inc.

According to the complaint, the defendants operate at least 11 properties, including 2531-2539 Brownsville Road in Carrick, which has been the subject of the water problems.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are violating Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law by failing to maintain habitable properties, failing to provide water service and failing to return tenant security deposits.

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Logans Ferry Demolition Could Bring Development Possibilities

With the demolition of what once was Alcoa’s Logans Ferry Powder Works, Plum will lose a historic touchstone but could gain a new foothold to the borough’s future.

A real estate company that bought the 20-acre industrial site in 1987 when Alcoa idled the plant recently began to raze more than a dozen brick buildings moldering at the base of Coxcomb Hill Road.

Alcoa moved its powder works to Plum in 1918 after the aluminum powder it produced sparked an explosion at the New Kensington Works the prior year. It was the first of three explosions associated with powder production in Alcoa’s New Kensington and Plum facilities that killed 17 people, the last in 1979.

During its 68 years of existence, the plant produced powder that gave automotive paint its sparkle, added durability and cooling properties to roof coatings, and was used as a base in rocket fuel, dynamite and fireworks.

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Judge Gives South Hills Landlord 30 Days For Tenant Relocation Proposal

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A landlord facing an avalanche of building and health code violations for a row of town houses and a neighboring apartment complex in Carrick will have until the end of the month to clear out the remaining tenants before his next appearance in front of a local judge.

Davin Gartley of Mt. Lebanon has been cited repeatedly since October for problems related to lead paint, sewage, trash, lack of running water and more.

The continuance Magisterial District Judge Richard G. King granted June 26 required Mr. Gartley to come up with a “good faith” relocation plan for the tenants living in three apartment buildings at 2531-2539 Brownsville Road in exchange for the possibility of reduced fines, said Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health for the Allegheny County Health Department.

“We were surprised. This has been a long, ongoing case,” Mr. Thompson said. “Granting another 30 days, with this landlord being so difficult, we’re not sure exactly what that will accomplish.”

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Hazelwood Neighbors Await Bankruptcy Result As Trash Resters At Recycler

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mounds of garbage left behind when a Hazelwood recycling center went bankrupt in January are providing a place for rats to breed and causing a public health hazard, residents and government officials said on Thursday.

Residents say debris at Pittsburgh Recycling Services Inc. along railroad tracks at Vespucius and Dyke streets reeks of decay.

“Since they closed up, I’ve had a major problem with rodent infestation,” said Stanley Benovitch, 71, whose backyard faces the site. “I have two little dogs, and one of them’s a hunter. She’s killed three rats right here in the backyard.”

On Thursday, Benovitch found a fourth that his dog Trixie killed.

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Law Chases Carrick Landlord For Subpar Rentals

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in P...

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  All I can say is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.

For months, a putrid mixture of storm water and raw sewage has pooled outside the town homes on Berg Place in Carrick, a small street tucked behind a row of apartment buildings on Brownsville Road (Update: County officials order tenants to vacate premises).

The modest yards in front of the homes are marred by deep pits covered in flimsy plywood, an incomplete effort to fix problems associated with an unrelated water leak. And on one day this week, more raw sewage soaked one of the front lawns with a child’s wagon and toy car nearby.

The problems don’t end there. Tenants said that at times during the winter, they had virtually no running water, especially after the landlord shut off their main water supply and rigged a hose to siphon water from the nearby apartment buildings. When the above-ground hoses froze, the water stopped flowing, forcing tenants to haul in water in buckets and old milk cartons to even flush a toilet.

“It just dripped,” said Diane Berner, 51, who stayed with her friend who lives in the complex earlier this year. “It was a waste of time to even stand there and fill up a bottle.”

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U.S. Steel Seeks More Time To Cut Clairton Emissions



More than six months after firing up a new battery of coke ovens designed to reduce emissions from one of the region’s most common sources of air quality complaints, U.S. Steel is still trying to bring the new equipment at its Clairton plant into compliance with county emissions requirements.

The Pittsburgh steel producer has asked the Allegheny County Health Department to give the company more time to comply with those standards.

“They have asked to extend the shakedown period,” said Jim Thompson, manager of the department’s air quality program.  “As far as the plant itself, emissions are way down from where they were five years ago.”

The new battery cost $500 million and was designed to enable the plant, a perennial source of air quality complaints, to significantly reduce emissions and meet certain air quality standards months earlier than government officials targeted.  When U.S. Steel held a ceremony at the new battery in January, United Steelworkers union president Leo Gerard hailed it as “the most environmentally sound, emission-reducing coke plant probably anywhere in the world.”

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U.S. Steel Touts Coke Plant Project As Good For Jobs, Air



U.S. Steel today formally commissioned a new battery of ovens at its Clairton coke plant, a $500 million project the company said will preserve steelmaking jobs in the Mon Valley and improve the region’s air quality.

The project is a scaled back version of the $1 billion proposal the Pittsburgh steelmaker announced in late 2007, before the global recession decimated steel demand and caused the industry to retrench.

President and CEO John P. Surma said even after the scope was reduced, the project was the largest in the history of the Clairton plant and one of the largest in U.S. Steel’s 112-year history.  He said it secures the jobs of 1,300 Clairton employees as well as the 1,400 who work at the company’s Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock and the Irvin plant in West Mifflin.

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Whooping Cough Is Back With A Vengeance

The United States is in the midst of the worst epidemic of pertussis, or whooping cough, in more than 50 years, and Allegheny County is mirroring the national trend.

Nationwide, the outbreak is startling: 32,000 cases reported as of Oct. 24, along with 16 deaths, most of them infants.  The all-time recorded peak was in 1959, with 40,000 cases.

In Allegheny County, the incidence has almost quadrupled: 201 cases so far this year compared with 51 cases in all of 2011.  Patients have ranged from babies to those in their 70s, but most have been 12 or 13.

Megan Casey, nurse epidemiologist at the Allegheny County Health Department, said the local incidence peaked in June; the number of cases showing up now are back to normal levels.  No one has died, she said, although seven have been hospitalized.

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