Problem Property in Swoyersville

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SWOYERSVILLE -- Patti Opsitos of Swoyersville takes pride in the house she's lived in for 27 years. The flowers are watered and the grass trimmed. But the house next door makes it hard to appreciate hers, with its overgrown land and a tree just about touching her roof.

"We have rodents. We're catching mice. We see rats and things coming out of the basement windows. We have skunks. Now I have raccoons in the backyard," said Patti Opsitos.

Patti says the former owner of the house didn't take care of it. When he died, the borough condemned the building. But that was almost a year ago, and it's just getting worse. She says the tree is a fire hazard.

"That's my bedroom and that's my kitchen," said Opsitos.

"Is it touching your house?" Newswatch 16 asked.

"It's hanging on it."

The borough zoning officer says he knows the property is a problem and he's been trying to clean it up for years. He says unfortunately, his hands are tied.

"It would cost quite a bit of money because you'd have to get a dumpster and you'd have to employ our borough employees and our borough just can't afford that," said Swoyersville zoning officer Joe Ruscavage.

Zoning officer Joe Ruscavage says the house will go up for tax sale in August. Once new owners buy it, they can pay to fix it. Until then, it will continue to sit.

As for the tree, he says if it's grown into Patti's property, she can legally take it down herself. But she says she can't afford to do that.

"It isn't my responsibility, but I really think swoyersville should step up to the plate," said Opsitos.

But that's a job that will be left to the next owner, who will hopefully care for the house more than the last one did.