NEWS BRIEFS

Stay up to date on current News & Issues.

General News
Infrastructure reform among 2019 NAR policy priorities

Bucks County
Warminster tax hike must be approved by court

Chester County
Landscapes3 adopted by Chester County Commissioners

Delaware County
Cost of new middle school in Clifton Heights to be evaluated

Montgomery County
Norristown budget includes $1.8M deficit

Philadelphia County
City council downsizes new protections for renters in ‘Good Cause’ bill
 

 



 

News Briefs Archive January 15, 2018

 

General News

New REALTORParty.com website launches
The National Association of Realtors® has launched a new action center website. REALTORParty.com provides advocacy materials for state and local association staff, and facilitates two-way opportunities to engage individual Realtors® and associations in the Realtor® Party. The Realtor® Party works to advance public policies and candidates that build strong communities, protect property interests and promote a vibrant business environment

Video: Tax reform’s impact on real estate professionals
Evan Liddiard, a senior policy representative with the National Association of Realtors®, and Peter Baker, a CPA with Business Planning Group, recently participated in a Facebook Live video to discuss how provisions in the tax bill passed by Congress will affect real estate practitioners. Watch the video here. Additionally, NAR published an issue brief, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — What it Means for Homeowners and Real Estate Professionals,” that illustrates how the new tax changes would affect different real estate professionals based on how their income is earned, whether they claim income earned by a spouse, and how their business is structured. NAR members and homeowners should consult a tax professional about their own personal circumstances.

Bucks County

Tinicum to consider ordinance to regulate transient residential uses
Tinincum Township supervisors will hold a public hearing on Tues., Jan. 16 to consider an ordinance that would regulate short-term rental properties in the township. The ordinance defines “Transient Use of Residential Property,” requires an annual zoning permit for transient use of residential property for remuneration, and sets forth regulations for obtaining the zoning permit. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the township building, 163 Municipal Road, Pipersville. A copy of the full text of the ordinance is available on the Tinicum Township website, at the Bucks County Law Library and at the Tinicum Township Building during regular business hours.
Source: The Intelligencer; 1/9/2018

Special election date set for 178th District
A special election to choose a new state representative for Bucks County’s 178th District will be held Tuesday, May 15, the same day as the primary election. Former state Rep. Scott Petri left the state House to become executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Voters in Solebury, New Hope, Upper Makefield, Wrightstown and Northampton will decide who will complete Petri’s term and choose a candidate to represent their parties in the November general election. Deena Dean, director of the Bucks County Board of Elections, said that her office is working out the best way to make the two separate elections clear to voters on May 15. All voters can participate in the special election, but only voters affiliated with a political party can select their party’s nominee for November.
Source: The Intelligencer; 1/9/2018

Richland approves conditional use for age-restricted development
Richland Township supervisors unanimously approved a conditional use request for the Greenway Development-Frontgate Community on Station Road. The development was originally approved more than a decade ago as 402 age-restricted condominiums, however a revision to the plan calls for 278 total units, with 180 senior mid-rise residences and 98 townhouses. The approval is subject to a variety of conditions, and the project must next go before the township planning commission, and then again before the supervisors for preliminary and final land development approval.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 1/8/2018

DEP says Falls waste treatment facility application is incomplete, again
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has rejected an application for a proposed hazardous waste treatment facility in Falls Township. Proposed to be built by Elcon Recycling Services LLC, the plant would treat between 150,000 and 210,000 tons of chemical and pharmaceutical waste each year. The recent rejection marks the third time application materials have been determined to be incomplete by the agency. Elcon’s application was originally rejected during Phase I when Elcon failed to provide enough information about flood risk at the site. The company successfully resubmitted the Phase I application, which led to more rigorous review of the entire application in Phase II. The Phase II application was rejected in May 2017, and after resubmission in October, has still failed to clear a “completeness” review that would enable DEP to move on to a technical review of the proposed materials. The recent rejection deals with site ownership. According to a news release from DEP, “Although the application has been returned to the applicant as incomplete, it has not been denied. Elcon may resubmit its application after addressing the deficiency.”
Source: The Intelligencer; 1/9/2018

Chester County 

Kennett Township officials focus on acquiring open space
The emphasis on municipal policing and open space seen last year in Kennett Township seems likely to continue. Township supervisors approved a resolution that would enable them to avoid paying transfer taxes if they are successful in negotiating the acquisition of new and sizable pieces of land to keep as open space. The acquisition of open space has been going on for several years, with 68 acres preserved in the township last year. Township Manager Lisa Moore included open space preservation as one of Kennett’s achievements last year, along with improvements and events in Barkingfield Park, establishment of a traffic impact fee for developments, extension of the township’s program to develop indoor agriculture and its trails network, and the successful applications for large grants for those and other efforts. The township also began installing sidewalks in areas where they would promote recreation and safety, Moore said, set up a scrap metal collection container, finalized a regional emergency services management commission, and had a second successful holiday village event.
Source: Daily Local; 1/4/2018

Downingtown Council withdraws from Kardon Park lawsuit
Downingtown Borough Council recently voted to withdraw from the Kardon Park lawsuit, in which developers sought to build homes in Downingtown Borough and East Caln Township. Anthony “Chip” Gazzerro, the only current council member who was in office when the developers first sought the housing project, noted that it has been an ongoing process for more than a decade. He initially had voted against it. In the past few years, six council members, including Gazzerro, have often voted in favor of matters regarding the development, with Councilwoman Ann Feldman dissenting. He hopes that both sides will now focus efforts on the cleanup process of the soil in certain areas of Kardon Park. “We want to keep it clean for generations to come,” Gazzerro said. “We lost millions of dollars in grants to clean it up because of the process. We will try to get more grants for the cleanup, and it may help with getting more trails.” Developers had plans to make improvements to 14 acres of Kardon Park, including remediating the soil and stormwater management to the lakes nearby, which are referred to as the Ponds of Kardon Park.
Source: Daily Times; 1/8/2018

Tredyffrin/Easttown school officials plan 2.4 percent tax hike
The Tredyffrin/Easttown Board of School Directors last week unanimously adopted a 2018-2019 preliminary budget proposal that would increase taxes on the average home by $178 per year. The preliminary budget includes $147.2 million in expenditures, with a planned 2.42 percent increase in the property tax rate. School officials say the tax hike will help to bring the projected $9.5 million deficit down to about $6.87 million. The proposed property tax rate increase consists of 2.4 percent from the legislated Act 1 index and .02 percent projected from referendum exceptions.
Source: Daily Local; 1/8/2018

Uwchlan eyes action against Sunoco pipeline
Uwchlan Township voters expressed their opinion at the polls in November, and what they wanted was more township action when it comes to the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline that cuts across their neighborhoods. Two newly elected supervisors, Bill Miller and Mayme Baumann, immediately took action upon taking office by hiring an environmental law firm, Curtin & Heefner LLC, of Doylestown, as township solicitor.
Source: Daily Local; 1/7/2018

Company plans bus service from West Chester to New York City
Chester County residents are now able to take a bus to New York City for the day. Buses will depart from and arrive at the corner of Chestnut and High streets in West Chester Borough twice a day, seven days per week. There might be several stops in Chester County, such as Malvern, but typically after leaving the county, the bus will run an express route to the Big Apple. Independent bus companies will work with OurBus which does not own or operate any buses. OurBus amenities include onboard Wi-Fi, movies, restrooms, reclining seats, charging ports, free bottles of water, and technology that will allow riders to track arrival and departure times. Tickets are sold online and on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Trips typically cost about $25 each way. For more information, visit www.OurBus.com.
Source: Daily Local; 12/16/2017

Delaware County

Data collection for Delaware County reassessment underway
Delaware County Council has contracted with Tyler Technologies Inc. to provide real property appraisal services for the County's 2020 general reassessment. The reassessment, which was court ordered in March 2017, will be effective for the 2021 tax year. The project, which is being implemented through the county treasurer's office, will utilize Tyler's appraisal and street-imaging services. During the initial phase, Tyler will provide the county with detailed, high-resolution street level images, photographing properties from inside white vans which will be clearly marked. The images will only be taken from the street, and Tyler staff will not enter private property. The reassessment project includes data gathering, verification of data, establishment of assessed values and an opportunity to appeal. The digital images will improve the quality of visual data used by the county and Tyler appraisers. The project will also allow verification and correction of address discrepancies. To alleviate privacy concerns, images will not be taken of homeowners or children. For further information, residents can contact the treasurer's office at 610-891-4879.
Source: Delaware County; 1/2018

Middletown Township announces sewer lateral inspections
The Middletown Township Sewer Authority (MTSA) has announced the development of a sanitary sewer lateral inspection program that will likely be implemented in the spring of this year. The program will require a smoke test to be conducted on all laterals in addition to having an MTSA-qualified inspector televise the lateral. The Suburban Realtors® Alliance has contacted the township and the authority to discuss the details of this program.
Source: Middletown Township Report; Winter 2017-18

Ridley Township Use and Occupancy process
The Suburban Realtors® Alliance has received a number of calls from Realtors® regarding the use and occupancy inspection process in Ridley Township. Reports that buyers and sellers are being required to make sidewalk repairs ahead of closing have been noted. If you experience a similar issue, please contact the Alliance staff at sra@suburbanrealtorsalliance.com or 610-981-9000. Realtors® are reminded that an important amendment to the Municipal Code and Ordinance Compliance Act has been in effect for all Pennsylvania municipalities since January 2, 2017. The Act forbids municipalities from requiring code-related repairs prior to settlement as a condition of granting a resale certificate, i.e. a use and occupancy permit. The Act applies to both interior and exterior property maintenance issues, including sidewalks and curbs. 

Lansdowne receives $95k for economic development
A $95,000 grant from the state will help to expand the art and business scene in Lansdowne Borough. The old Noel Schmidt Furniture Building at 32 E. Baltimore Ave. will be the site of a creative space and business-building spot for creative professionals who need a place to work. A grant from the state will help with the renovations to the building. Governor Tom Wolf announced recently that the Lansdowne Economic Development Corp. would be the recipient of the grant through the Keystone Communities Program, under the state Department of Community and Economic Development that supports community revitalization projects.
Source: Daily Times; 1/7/2018

Montgomery County

Pottstown council looks to reduce budget
Pottstown Borough Council President Dan Weand has appointed a seven-member committee to look for ways to save money and reduce the 12-percent tax increase passed in December. The Ad Hoc Cost Reduction Task Committee includes Weand, Councilman Joe Kirkland, Councilman Dennis Arms, who voted against the $54.4 million budget, Finance Director Janice Lee, Utilities Director Brent Wagner and two members who are not members of the staff or council — David Renn, a member of the Pottstown Borough Authority, and James Smock, a former Pottstown School Board member who now heads up West-Mont Christian Academy. Council has until Thursday, Feb. 15, to reopen the budget and try to reduce the tax rate, either by raising revenues or cutting costs.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 1/10/2018

Narberth posts council vacancy
Narberth Borough Council is seeking to fill a vacancy following the announced resignation of Councilwoman Marlene Richmond. Richmond has been on the council since January 2016, and her resignation will take effect on Jan. 31. Council will take action to fill the seat, the term for which expires on Dec. 31, 2019, at their meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Residents interested in being considered can send a letter of interest and qualification to appointments@narberthpa.gov prior to the end of business on Wednesday, Jan. 31.
Source: Main Line Times; 1/9/2017

Jenkintown taxes steady
Jenkintown Borough Council adopted a 2018 budget that maintains the current tax rate of 7.75 mills. Residents will see a slight increase in the annual solid waste collection and disposal fee, set at $212, but the borough’s $10 full-payment discount will still apply. Also, beginning in 2018, Jenkintown Borough Public Meetings will be held on Wednesday evenings. This change was authorized in an effort to foster continued public involvement in Borough Council meetings. Click here for more information.
Source: Times Chronicle; 12/14/2017

North Wales approves budget; new police contract
North Wales Borough Council closed out 2017 by approving the 2018 budget as well as a new police contract. The roughly $2 million budget maintains current staff and service levels, and holds the tax rate steady at 5.001 mills. The budget includes upgrades to some park facilities in the borough and completion of an update to the borough’s comprehensive plan. Council also approved a five-year contract with the police department that had no impact on the budget, which had already been passed, according to Council President Mike McDonald. The new contract includes 2 percent pay increases for officers in each of the first two years, then 2.5 percent increases in the latter two. Police-related expenses are the single largest budget category for the borough in 2018.
Source: North Penn Life; 12/27/2017

Philadelphia

Most Philadelphia neighborhoods still haven't recovered from the recession
Despite a recent building boom, Philadelphia’s housing market has not recovered from the Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s, especially outside Center City. While new high-rises are going up downtown and a handful of neighborhoods like Fishtown are gentrifying, the market in much of the city remains cool, a new study of mortgage data released this week by the Reinvestment Fund shows. “A lot of attention is paid to the very high-flying neighborhoods of Philadelphia. What these data point out is that these communities are just a small fraction of the greater part of Philadelphia, which has really not recovered from the recession,” says Ira Goldstein, president of the Reinvestment Fund, who wrote the report with Michael Norton, the organization’s chief policy analyst. Goldstein and Norton looked at data released to the federal government by financial institutions. They found that conventional mortgage lending remains strong in Center City communities, in a handful of surrounding neighborhoods, and in areas like Chestnut Hill and Roxborough. Throughout much of the rest of the city, however, in both lower-income and middle-income neighborhoods, people are having a hard time getting conventional mortgages. Researchers found that for immigrant neighborhoods and communities of color, the credit crunch is especially acute. View the full report here.
Source: Plan Philly; 1/5/2018


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