State court rejects appeals by Cranberry junkyard owner

A local junkyard owner’s appeals against litigation filed by Cranberry Township were rejected Wednesday by state Commonwealth Court judges in Harrisburg.

Randy Spencer, who owns a junkyard at the intersection of Route 322 and Deep Hollow Road, had appealed an injunctive case and zoning enforcement actions filed by the township in 2019.

The litigation stemmed from a July 2019 flash flood in which Spencer’s vehicles were cited as being a threat to the safety of other residents.

Daniel Conlon, who is Cranberry Township’s special counsel, said the township tried to enforce the order, but Spencer has waited to act until the Commonwealth Court weighed in on his appeal, Conlon said.

Commonwealth Court judges Rene Cohn Jubelirer, Michael H. Wojcik and J. Andrew Crompton affirmed the Nov. 13, 2019, order of the Venango County Court of Common Pleas. Wednesday’s ruling upholds the order that Spencer must remove the junked vehicles and trailers from his property for being a public nuisance that created safety concerns.

In a separate ruling Wednesday, Jubelirer affirmed the township’s enforcement actions against Spencer related to the property along Deep Hollow Road, and he quashed the five other appeals pertaining to the rest of Spencer’s properties for being improperly filed.

“Had he appealed properly for all six cases, there would have been the same outcome… the fines still would all stand,” said Conlon.

Spencer must pay fines on the six different properties he owns for operating a junkyard in violation of Cranberry Township ordinances.

“The township is enforcing its ordinances aggressively and we’re winning,” Conlon said.

Moving forward, both Conlon and Cranberry Township manager Chad Findlay declined to comment on any further potential legal actions against Spencer if he fails to comply.

Spencer is also facing litigation from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and PennDOT.

The DEP directed Spencer in September 2019 to stop placing items in the floodway along Lower Two Mile Run and remove what materials were there. Last month, Spencer was held in contempt of Commonwealth Court for failing to heed the order.

He has has until April 6 to remove the materials or face arrest and sentencing.

PennDOT action against Spencer came to a standstill in December 2019 after he was given until June 2020 to remove vehicles from the Deep Hollow location.

When the owner failed to meet the deadline, PennDOT took the issue to court to force compliance. No decision has been issued to date on the filing.