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Piles of trash a hot topic at Bethlehem City Council

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: May 07 2013 08:03:21 PM CDT
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The topic of trash is not unusual at a Bethlehem City Council meeting, but Tuesday night's discussion of the issue had nothing to do with Mayor John Callahan's controversial plan to switch to a single hauler.

This time, a resident of the city's west side brought up the subject because of the mounds of garbage she says are stacked in the back yard of a home next to hers and the alleged indifference of the city's housing inspectors to the problem.

Paulette Moll, of 710 Second Ave., first brought the issue to council's attention on April 18, saying she had video documentation that there were 18 people living in the home next to hers. She also recited the names of the 18 people living in the home.

Tuesday night, she presented council with a three-page update of the situation -- illustrated with photos -- and another plea for action to resolve what she says are "intolerable conditions."

Moll said four of the 18 people no longer live in the home, and a dumpster full of garbage has been removed from the home's deck and back yard. The dumpster was dropped at 712 Second Ave. about 10:30 a.m. April 15 by order of the health department and was full in about six hours, Moll noted.

However, Moll said, garbage continues to be a problem because the people living next to her put out 20 to 25 bags a week on the ground, not in cans. She also said she suspects garbage is being stored inside the home, "because my basement smells."

Moll said the home next to hers should be subject to inspection like any other privately owned rental property. "Hoarding is becoming a national problem [and so is taking in family members who cannot make it on their own," Moll said. By allowing overcrowding, city officials "are creating intolerable conditions for all of us."

Council members appeared sympathetic to Moll's plight, and promised to keep an eye on the situation.

In other business, Jose Espinal and Jeannette Vazquez, owners of the Flama Tropical restaurant at 821 Linden St., told council they want to put a food trailer they recently purchased at Stefko Boulevard and Irene Street. Business hours would be 10 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday, Vasquez said.

Espinal and Vasquez were advised to meet with the city's community development department and business administrator Dennis Reichard for help in getting the project off the ground.