City administrators reshuffle responsibilities for staff in three departments

Sam Galski, Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
·2 min read

Feb. 25—Large industrial projects that could soon begin to take shape in Hazleton prompted a restructuring of the city's code enforcement, zoning and planning departments, Mayor Jeff Cusat said.

Cusat cited industrial development in the southern section of the city and larger work loads for the departments as reasons for splitting duties that historically have been the responsibility of Zoning Officer Charles Pedri.

"With all of the progress that's going on in the city, there's even more demand put on the code department, zoning and planning and it was all being handled by one individual," Cusat said Wednesday. "We are moving ahead with these projects and there's going to be a lot of things happening. It got to the point where there's no way one person can handle everything."

Administrators decided to "split duties" among various personnel, with Tino Nocchi overseeing inspections as building code officer and Diane Panzarella handling the code office, Cusat said.

The developments give Pedri more time to focus on zoning and planning, the mayor said.

Cusat said the developments are not intended to reflect negatively on Pedri's role with the city, as Pedri's pay remains unchanged.

Shifting code and planning responsibilities to others will help Pedri address an increasing amount of zoning-related inquiries, Cusat said.

With large industrial projects on the horizon from developers such as Blue Creek Investments and Hazleton Creek Commerce Center Holdings, zoning and planning processes become even more crucial, City Administrator Dan Lynch said.

"Zoning is more important than people give it credit for in the sense that you consider you have these developers that want to build these big buildings," Lynch said. "It's a tremendous amount of revenue to the city. We want to make sure we're checking all the boxes we can."

Administrators, meanwhile, will continue evaluating how Panzarella will carry out the responsibilities of her role with the code department and as environmental specialist.

Last November, Cusat announced plans for using Community Development COVID-19 funds to pay for the environmental specialist, a position that will ensure businesses are complying with CDC regulations for "COVID and health compliance."

"We'll have to address the federally funded part," Cusat said of the environmental post. "She can still do it, as long as the hours are tracked. So, if she spends 10% of her time doing it, we can pay her 10% (from federal funds)."

Three full-time code enforcement officers and one part-timer works in the code office, he said.

Council President Jim Perry said that he's aware of the reshuffling of staff, but said that function is an administrative responsibility.

"I guess it's something to organize better, but that's under Jeff's purview," Perry said.

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