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Solving Citgo Blight Back On Township List

SANATOGA PA – Years have passed since the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners publicly proclaimed the abandoned Citgo gasoline station and convenience store at the corner of Mervine and North Charlotte streets to be an eyesore, a public blight, and a poor reflection on the township’s north end. Commissioners admittedly have had little luck addressing the problem, but said Thursday (June 8, 2017) they are undeterred and ready to try again.

Board members have been agonizing over the bedraggled look and lack of a business use at the 1258 N. Charlotte St. property since 2009.

They’ve sought information from, and talked with, almost anyone connected with the land: representatives of the owners, who were legally battling themselves; court-appointed supervisors, lawyers of all stripes, real estate marketers charged with trying to sell the parcel, and officials of Redners’ Markets, whose store is the anchor tenant of the adjacent North End Shopping Center. They’ve made little progress with any.

All that investigation costs money, of course. And the township has been advised by previous solicitors to avoid condemning or buying the property themselves, for fear it would be saddled with even higher expenses to clean earlier leaked petroleum products from the surrounding soil. Damaged or unused storage tanks were removed from the property years ago.

Commercial property agents have promoted the corner for sale on several occasions, for as much as a quarter-million dollars, because of its prime location. Most recently, though, the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau was willing to let it go last August for as little as $1,608.77 in a “free and clear” judicial sale at the county courthouse in Norristown. There were no takers.

In an attempt to at least make the corner more presentable, members of the township public works department now occasionally mow weeds and remove debris there. That news caught the attention during the board’s meeting of Commissioner Earl Swavely. “Those are our dollars paying for their time,” Swavely said. “We should have some way to bill the owners for it.”

“Can’t we even put a lien on the property?” to collect money previously spent by the township on maintenance and codes enforcement,” Vice President Stephen Klotz wondered.

At which point, most heads at the board table turned toward Solicitor Charles Garner, who became the township’s legal representative in January 2016 and hasn’t yet been involved in the Citgo station fight. “Can we have you take a look at it?,” commissioners’ President Bruce Foltz asked Garner. The attorney said he’d be happy to pursue the matter.

Related to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ June 8 meeting:

Photo by The Post Publications

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