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 November 27, 2017

 

General News

Realtors®: Proposed tax reform will hurt homeowners, lower home values
Sixty Realtors® from across the country representing the National Association of Realtors® met with key U.S. representatives to urge members to oppose the proposed federal tax reform bills. Realtor® Andy Donohue and Suburban Realtors® Alliance President/CEO Jamie Ridge met with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to discuss the bill and how eliminating the state and local tax deductions will be harmful to Pennsylvania homeowners. Greg Herb, past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®, and Ridge met with Rep. Ryan Costello. Herb said Realtors® are at the forefront of advocating for homeowners and carried the message about how this tax reform will adversely affect middle-class property owners. The bills will hurt homebuyers and homeowners, eroding incentives to buy and lowering home values an average of 10 percent. An interactive map created by NAR shows how home values are expected to drop in individual congressional districts, ranging from $12,000 to $26,000 in Pennsylvania. Millions of middle-class Americans would see a tax hike if the current tax proposals move forward. A tax-reform plan with a nearly doubled standard deduction, a loss of personal exemptions and the elimination of deductions, such as the state and local deduction, would deliver an average tax increase of $815 on middle-class homeowners. The loss of deducting student loan interest and moving costs will also deter consumers from buying a home. Despite the Realtors® efforts, the house passed its bill. “There’s a long way to go,” Jamie Gregory, NAR’s deputy chief lobbyist, said to the New York Times. “There’s still the Senate, there’s still a conference committee, there’s still a chance to make this better.” To protect homeowners, Realtors® should take action and send a message to Congress by visiting www.realtoractioncenter.com/taxreform.
Source: PAR JustListed; 11/17/2017

Alliance office closed for Thanksgiving
The Suburban Realtors® Alliance office is closed on Thursday, Nov. 23, and Friday, Nov. 24, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Members requiring information about municipal real estate regulations or Alliance policy statements should consult the website.

Bucks County

Sellersville discusses licenses and inspections for residential rentals
Sellersville Borough Council recently discussed enacting an ordinance that would require inspection and licensing of residential rental units in the borough. A draft ordinance was presented to council by Jared Kimmel, a resident representing the Sellersville Revitalization Committee. The draft ordinance would require residential rental unit owners to:

  • apply for a Residential Rental License
  • provide a property manager if the owner lives outside of a 20-mile radius
  • provide the borough with a list of tenants
  • follow ordinance language to ensure each rental unit is occupied by a family
  • ensure payment of real estate taxes, sewer rates, water rates and trash collection fees
  • follow a policy of eviction after three documented incidents of disruptive conduct by tenants
  • participate in a “systemic program” of rental unit inspections

A time frame for a draft ordinance and consideration by council has not been established. “Council will discuss this in work session and with the borough solicitor,” said Borough Manager David Rivet. “We also anticipate input from interested parties.”
Source: Bucks County Herald; 11/16/2017

Bucks County releases preliminary 2018 operating budget
Bucks County officials released the preliminary 2018 operating budget that includes a $17.9 million deficit. The preliminary budget projects the county’s tax rate to remain at 23.2 mills. If no cuts or tax increases are made to the preliminary plan, Bucks County would need to use $17.9 million from its fund balance savings in order to balance the budget. A public budget meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room of the Bucks County Administration Building, 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, during which any interested member of the public will be able to ask questions and offer input about the budget. To view the 2018 preliminary operating budget, visit www.buckscounty.org and click on the budget link on the homepage. The budget is slated for final consideration and adoption on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. during the Commissioners’ Meeting in the Bucks County Administration Building.
Source: BucksCounty.org & The Intelligencer; 11/16/2017

Warrington ordinance requires residents to remove dead trees
Warrington Township supervisors approved an ordinance that requires residents to remove dead or diseased trees, as well as trees interfering with sidewalks and obstructing motorists’ vision at intersections. The township will inform residents if a tree needs to be removed. Township Manager Barry Luber said that if a resident declines to comply a fine could be levied on the property owner. Multiple letters and notices will be sent prior to enacting a mandatory 10-day compliance time frame.
Source: The Intelligencer; 11/16/2017

Town hall meeting scheduled in New Britain
New Britain Borough officials and staff will hold a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 29, in Fellowship Hall, Lenape Valley Presbyterian Church, 321 West Butler Ave., from 7:30 to 9 p.m. The meeting will focus on the evolution of the borough since the 2013 Town Hall and exciting projects coming to the borough, including the University Village. There will be an opportunity for residents and business owners in the borough to share their thoughts and ideas.
Source: The Intelligencer; 11/17/2017

Chester County 

Downingtown Council OKs next step for new train station project
Downingtown Borough Council approved a developer’s conditional use application for the former Sonoco Property. Hankin Group’s approved conditional use application for the development of Brandywine Station includes a mixed-use transit oriented development at the site of what officials hope will be the new Downingtown Amtrak/SEPTA Train Station. Hankin Group, an Exton-based real estate development, construction and management company, spent more than two years assembling the 21 different parcels that comprise the property for the project. The approval of the conditional use follows Hankin’s official announcement of its plans back in August. Hankin Group has acquired 68 total acres located at the intersection of Boot Road and Route 322 (Brandywine Avenue) with plans to build 442 residential units atop 14,200 square feet of retail space. The proposed uses will be contained in six buildings, and the retail space will be located on the ground floor of the buildings at the new intersection of Brandywine Avenue and the development’s proposed entrance driveways, according to the conditional use application. The proposed plan meets the existing Traditional Neighborhood Development District zoning, which is designed to fit with Downingtown’s aesthetic. “I am so pleased our community has the opportunity to work with the Hankin Group on this project,” Councilwoman Patricia McGlone said. “Having viewed the architectural renderings and listened to Vice President of Engineering Neal Fisher’s plan for the old mill property, I anticipate a tremendous residential and retail center that everyone in our community will use and enjoy.”
Source: Daily Local; 11/19/2017

North Coventry considers tax relief for firefighters
North Coventry Township supervisors will consider adopting an ordinance for “Firefighters Tax Relief.” The ordinance provides for definitions, establishment of a service credit program, providing for tax relief from the township’s Earned Income Tax and real estate taxes, and general rules and regulations concerning these matters. A hearing will be held on Monday, Nov. 27, at 845 S. Hanover Street, Pottstown. If approved, the ordinance would take effect five days after its adoption.
Source: The Pottstown Mercury; 11/18/2017

Perrone voted WC borough manager
West Chester Borough Council selected acting borough Manager Michael Perrone to stay in the position permanently. Perrone has served the borough since 1986. As manager of the housing department, Perrone established a nationwide reputation concerning the borough’s building codes. Perrone hopes to soon find someone to take over his former position of building officer, and he hopes to conduct a search for an assistant manager within a year or two.
Source: Daily Local; 11/17/2017

Delaware County

Upper Darby School Board opposes property tax, graduation resolutions
The Upper Darby School Board continued a unified fight against state testing requirements and property tax issues. The board unanimously approved a resolution asking its state lawmakers to block the Keystone Exams graduation requirement for graduating classes after 2020, and another resolution opposing legislation to eliminate school property taxes. On the former, there is a moratorium that does not make passing of the Keystone exams a graduation requirement through 2019. On the latter, state Senate Bill 76 would eliminate school property taxes by increasing the sales tax to 7 percent — while expanding items that would be subject to the tax — and increasing the personal income tax almost two percentage points, to 4.95. The state would control all funding for districts under that bill. “The property taxes locally stay collected in the community in which they are levied and enable a locally determined and consistent delivery of the district’s education programming that would be undermined and disrupted if funds were to flow through the state, leaving Upper Darby School District susceptible to delays in funding,” read a portion of the board’s property tax resolution.
Source: Daily Times; 11/16/2017

Ridley approves rezoning park to allow development
Ridley Township Commissioners approved an ordinance rezoning a portion of Mann Park from Municipal Use to C-2 Zoning, paving the way for a new commercial development on MacDade Boulevard at Kedron Avenue (Route 420). The property is owned by the township and the portion rezoned is a little more than a half acre. Solicitor Peter Rohana said the rezoning provides a contiguous link to properties on MacDade that includes the long-closed Array Appliance Store and the Cash for Gold store. He noted the C-2 reclassification is more in line with the zoning of the property fronting on MacDade Boulevard. No plans for any type of commercial redevelopment were discussed at the meeting. The township is the owner of the rezoned parcel even though the zoning was changed from municipal use.
Source: Daily Times; 10/20/2017

Chester authority to take second look at fees
The executive director of the Stormwater Authority of Chester (SAC) is walking back a planned increase in fees for residents of the city of Chester. Rev. Dr. Horace Strand Sr. said he will introduce plans to scale down the stormwater fee and potentially change it from monthly to quarterly. Residents and business owners had complained about the plan to impose fees of $15.60 for most residents, and significantly more for businesses, to fund efforts to clean the waterways in Chester. The fees on a 10,000-square-foot business property with larger structures and a parking lot could equal $1,644 a year. The Delaware River, Ridley Creek and Chester Creek are all considered “impaired,” according the federal Clean Water Act. The state Department of Environmental Protection has ramped up implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, requiring municipalities around the state to meet new stormwater requirements. Chester, a financially distressed city, lacks the funds to carry out those improvements. The SAC, a private-public entity, will receive state and federal grant money, and also collect fees from residents, to fund stormwater infrastructure efforts. A $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PennVEST, jumpstarted the authority this year. Plans to improve the area around City Hall, Memorial Park and numerous inlets around the city will be among the efforts led by the authority, as well as creating opportunities for jobs, on-site training and programs to help ex-offenders get back to work. The SAC will discuss the fees at its next meeting on Friday, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 1 Fourth St. The meeting is open to the public.
Source: Daily Times; 11/21/2017

Montgomery County

County budget holds the line on taxes
The proposed 2018 Montgomery County budget will maintain the current real estate tax rate of 3.459 mills for the general fund and 0.39 mills for Montgomery County Community College. The commissioners were presented with the proposed 2018 budget and five-year capital improvement program at a recent meeting. Both documents are available on the county’s website, www.montcopa.org. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 and the budget is scheduled to be finalized at the meeting on Thursday, Dec. 14.
Source: Times Herald; 11/19/2017

Conshohocken approves Fayette Street Wawa
Conshohocken Borough Council recently voted 4-3 to grant preliminary/final approval to developer Provco Pineville Fayette L.P. for plans to build a Wawa on Fayette Street. Residents packed borough hall to express opposition to the Wawa, citing traffic concerns, the anticipated loss of business to other area stores and the deterioration of the borough’s “small town feel.” Those speaking in favor of the Wawa said it would create jobs and feared denial of the zoning amendment would lead to protracted litigation. The vote ends a nearly six-year battle to redevelop the lot that was the home of the former E.F. Moore car dealership at 1109 Fayette St.
Source: Times Herald; 11/17/2017

West Pottsgrove commissioner vacancy
West Pottsgrove Township Commissioner Dominic Gentile recently submitted his resignation, effective Nov. 30. Gentile is moving out of the township. Any resident interested in serving the two years remaining in Gentile’s term is encouraged to submit their name in writing, preferably accompanied by a letter outlining their qualifications and why they would make a good township commissioner, to the township building, 980 Grosstown Road, Stowe, PA, 19464.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 11/17/2017

Philadelphia

City compiles preliminary list of Rebuild projects
The city has prepared a preliminary list of parks, recreation centers and libraries that would undergo major renovations as part of Mayor Kenney’s $500 million Rebuild project. The list, obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News, is a collection of about 60 sites from a larger list of 150 that could eventually be upgraded. The administration selected the sites with input from City Council, giving priority to areas dealing with high poverty, drug offenses and health challenges. A secondary goal is to stabilize or lift “neighborhoods in transition.” The list has not been released to the public because the administration does not want to “get a neighborhood excited that investment is coming and then have to tell them that throughout the process, things have changed,” said David Gould, Rebuild’s deputy director of community engagement and communications. The administration has said it will not borrow the first of three $100 million bonds as long as the tax on sweetened beverages, the funding source for Rebuild, is tied up in court. Some smaller scale projects may be started soon with about $19 million in capital funds designated for Rebuild through June 2019. Click here for more about Rebuild.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 11/1/2017

School Reform Commission votes to dissolve itself
The School Reform Commission (SRC) recently voted to return the administration of Philadelphia’s public schools to a local Board of Education. The change is a result of a period of stability for the school district that put it in technical compliance with state law as no longer “distressed” and a decision by Mayor Jim Kenney to take on responsibility for the schools. Under the expected timeline, the SRC will cease to exist on June 30, 2018, and a new nine-member Board of Education will be installed on July 1. Mayor Jim Kenney will be tasked with appointing school board members. However, City Council is seeking a charter change so that the new board of mayoral appointees will require approval from council. Prior to the state takeover, there was no confirmation of mayoral appointees required by City Council.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 11/16/2017


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