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 October 9, 2017

 

General News

Every vote counts — register by Oct. 10
The deadline to register to vote in the November election is Tuesday, Oct. 10. Many Realtors® are active in local, state and federal politics because they understand how elected officials impact their businesses and homeownership. Eighty-two percent of Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® members are registered voters. 2Vote is a new feature that allows anyone who texts “PA” to “2Vote” (28683) to access their voter registration status or an application to register. They can also locate their polling place and find links to county offices and the Department of State. Realtors® can also register to vote online on the commonwealth’s site, VotesPA. The site, available in English or Spanish, also allows currently registered voters to make updates to their voter record, such as a change of name, address or party affiliation. Realtor® votes on November 7 ensure that the Realtor® voice is heard and helps to elect candidates who protect private property rights and homeownership.
Source: PARJustListed; 9/29/2017

NAR supports credit reporting bill
In the wake of the Equifax data breach, NAR sent a letter to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), thanking her for introducing H.R. 3755, the “Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 2017.” The legislation enhances protections for consumers from fraud and identity theft related to the breach, and addresses major flaws with the existing consumer credit reporting system. It would also increase the accountability of credit reporting agencies, furnishers and companies that develop credit scoring models. NAR believes H.R. 3755 will bring much-needed accountability to the credit reporting industry.
Source: nar.realtor; 9/29/2017

Bucks County

Public sewer, water extension proposed in West Rockhill
The Perkasie Regional Authority (PRA) has proposed a new plan for extending public sewer and water lines to properties on the western side of Bethlehem Pike in West Rockhill. The new plan would eliminate the need for a pumping station by hooking into the East Rockhill sewer system, said Pete Andersen, a PRA engineer. The plan would decrease the overall construction costs but increase tapping fees to the end consumer because there would be fewer units connecting into the system. Construction costs for the previous proposal were estimated at $3.1 million to $3.2 million, compared to $1.4 million to $1.5 million for the current proposal, Andersen said. The water and sewer tapping fees in the new plan would be about $60,000. West Rockhill supervisors agreed that failing septic systems in the area are a problem, but feel the tapping fee is too high for homeowners in the area. PRA is proposing that the supervisors review the plan and “entertain a mandatory connection ordinance for both public water and sewer for this project,” said Andersen. Supervisor Don Duvall asked that a written proposal, including the rates and long-term plan, be submitted.
Source: Perkasie News Herald; 9/29/2017

Walkability debated in Dublin
At the Sept. 25 council meeting, Phil Meyers, a resident of Dublin Borough brought up the lack of sidewalks from Middle Road to the newly renovated Supplee Park. Council member Matt Mayes said the issue of sidewalks on Middle Road has been discussed for years and they are waiting to apply for a grant so the sidewalks can be installed. According to borough Engineer Thomas Zarko, the estimated cost for a sidewalk on Middle Road is anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000 because of the grade. “Someone’s got to bite the bullet,” said Meyers. “You guys want to make this a walking town; you need to put sidewalks on Middle Road.” Zarko said he will re-examine the project.
Source: Perkasie News Herald; 9/26/2017

Nockamixon proposed budget holds the line on taxes
The proposed 2018 budget for Nockamixon Township keeps the Earned Income Tax (EIT) at 1 percent and real estate at 6 mills. The budget calls for revenue of $1.22 million and expenses of $1.07 million. According to Keith DeLuca, township manager and treasurer, budgeting for 2018 continued the practice that started about 10 years ago, where revenue is estimated as “a worst-case scenario.” Expenses avoid any extravagance to allow cash to be readily available for unexpected needs, thereby minimizing the need to take out loans. To support the conservative approach, DeLuca cited four recent and planned bridge replacements, noting they will be completed at nominal cost and without the township incurring any debt. The budget will be finalized at the supervisors meeting on Thursday, Oct. 19. Visit the township website for meeting and agenda information.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 9/29/2017

Northampton to acquire property for proposed police station
Northampton Township supervisors voted unanimously to proceed with the acquisition of the Northampton Bucks County Municipal Authority (NBCMA) property at 111 Township Road for construction of a new police station. The township will pay the NBCMA $650,000 for the building and property based on an August 2015 appraisal. Northampton is proposing to fund the purchase with the sale of the Elm Avenue cell tower, which is expected to generate about $750,000 for the township. Upon acquisition, the township will renovate the existing building, construct a 15,485-square-foot addition and install an additional driveway, parking lot and carport for its police department.
Source: BucksLocalNews.com; 10/2/2017

Chester County 

Sale of 5 area hospitals to Reading Health System is complete
The sale of five area hospitals to the Reading Health System has been completed. Following the transaction, which was announced in May and finalized last week, the health system has been renamed Tower Health. Hospitals included in the deal are the 232-bed Pottstown Memorial Medical Center in Pottstown, the 151-bed Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville, the 169-bed Brandywine Hospital in Caln Township, the 148-bed Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, and the 63-bed Jennersville Regional Hospital in Penn Township in southern Chester County. Officials at both Pottstown and Phoenixville school districts said the respective hospitals in each borough are their largest property taxpayer, and the shift in status for each property to partially or fully tax-exempt could have significant impact on budgets in those communities. Under the new organization, two hospitals will be renamed: Pottstown Memorial Medical Center will be renamed Pottstown Hospital, and Jennersville Regional Hospital will be renamed Jennersville Hospital.
Source: Daily Local; 10/1/2017

Historic Kennett Square hires new economic development director
Historic Kennett Square has hired Nathaniel “Nate” Echeverria as the joint economic development director to support the development efforts of the Borough of Kennett Square and Kennett Township. The selection committee, comprised of leaders across various disciplines within Kennett, unanimously chose Echeverria as the top candidate after a rigorous interview process. “As the economic development director, Echeverria will focus on the implementation of the recently completed Kennett Regional Economic Development Study, as well as assisting in the planning and coordination of community development projects that will enhance the quality of life for all members of the Kennett community,” said Tom Sausen, vice president of Historic Kennett Square and chair of the Economic Development Task Force.
Source: Kennett Paper; 9/28/2017

County planners seek input about Chester Valley Trail West project
The Chester County Planning Commission is seeking input about a plan to extend the Chester Valley Trail west of Downingtown. To participate in a public survey about the Chester Valley Trail West Project, click here. There also will be a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Coatesville Area Senior High School, 1445 E. Lincoln Highway. The goal of the project is to connect the Chester Valley Trail with the future 29-mile multi-use Enola Low Grade Trail located just outside of Atglen in Lancaster County. The Chester Valley Trail West project includes eight Chester County municipalities: Caln, Downingtown, Coatesville, Valley, Parkesburg, Sadsbury, West Sadsbury and Atglen. For more information about the project, click here.
Source: Chester County Planning Commission; 10/3/2017

West Chester becomes 2nd PA municipality to commit to clean energy
The Borough of West Chester, following Phoenixville's example, became the second municipality in Pennsylvania to commit to 100 percent clean energy. West Chester became the 45th municipality in the United States to pass the measure. “West Chester Borough has a long record of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for the impacts of climate change, and now we are ready to do much more,” West Chester Mayor Jordan C. Norley said in a statement. “The actions we will take to conserve energy and transition to renewable energy will also bring a multitude of benefits to our residents, economy and environment.” The resolution passed in West Chester calls for the borough to gain all their municipal energy from renewable sources like solar, wind and small-scale hydro power by 2035.
Source: West Chester Patch; 9/22/2017

Delaware County

Springfield continues to debate new high school plans
The latest plans for the school district’s new $130 million high school were revealed at a recent Springfield Township Zoning Hearing Board meeting. The zoning board held the second session on the school district’s application for the high school master plan. While the district has concluded its case, and public comment was taken, the board decided to continue the meeting until Thursday, Oct. 26. Chairman Craig Gardner indicated the board will then be ready to render a decision on all zoning relief requests. The deferral of a decision after closure of a hearing is standard for the board, and more so in a project of this importance and size, Gardner said. The district presented two revisions to the plan that zoners had not seen. One other factor was that the board wanted to see the final agreement between the school district and St. Francis Parish regarding a variety of accommodations to traffic circulations and dimensional boundaries between the properties.
Source: Daily Times; 10/2/2017

Ridley Park Borough hears complaints about solicitors
Hoping to allay any fears of borough residents about door-to-door solicitors, Councilwoman Michele Endriss-Dalessio explained that solicitors are thoroughly vetted before they are given a permit to go out into neighborhoods. Endriss-Dalessio said applicants must register with the borough, provide a photo ID at the police station, wear the borough-issued ID while they are soliciting and work within the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Council President Bob Berger advised residents to call police if someone comes to their door soliciting and they are not wearing the borough-issued permit. Residents who do not wish to be approached may post a “no soliciting” sign in their front window.
Source: Daily Times; 9/30/2017

Media meeting with county on redevelopment plan postponed
A special meeting scheduled for Oct. 5 for the County of Delaware to present a conceptual plan for offices and a garage facility in Media Borough was postponed. The borough was notified that the county is not ready to make a presentation to the public. The project, which was seen by the borough’s Community Development Committee and council at a work session, will redevelop existing county facilities on the property bounded by Orange, Front, Citron and Amber streets. The goal, county representatives have said, is to consolidate offices for better efficiency and to create additional parking availability. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7, but the borough advised interested parties to watch for updates on that presentation. Adjacent residents are being apprised of developments by mail.
Source: Daily Times; 9/30/2017

Radnor commissioners lean toward approval of plans for Willows mansion
Most members of the Radnor Board of Commissioners indicated being in favor of a trimmed-down, “hybrid” plan to renovate the Willows mansion. Earlier this month, Christina Perrone, one of the residents who founded the new nonprofit Willows Park Preserve, which is dedicated to restoring the 107-year old mansion and running it, announced that an anonymous donor had given $1 million toward the renovation project. By scaling back some of the proposal, such as not adding more parking spaces to the lot or enlarging the road, the township is now looking at a $2.8 or $2.9 million project, down from the previous estimate of $3.7 million. Township Business Manager William White outlined ideas for funding the project through the Willows fund, money from an $8 million 2013 tax settlement, and leftover amounts from a software project. Also, there is $190,000 from the sale of two acres to the Friends of Troop 284, which the BOC approved later Monday evening, White noted. They are also expecting savings in required payments to the township retirement plan of $155,000 per year, along with additional fundraising from the public. Perrone said that her group needed to have an operating agreement with the township for its nonprofit incorporation status as soon as possible.
Source: Suburban Main Line Life; 9/26/2017

Eddystone approves new tax assessments for two commercial properties
Eddystone Borough Council approved new assessments at its September meeting for 2016, 2017 and 2018 for the WalMart store in the Eddystone Crossing Shopping Center that will also see a reduction in the fair market value of the giant retailer. Ridley School District Solicitor John F.X. Reilly, who handled the tax assessment matter for the school district, recommended the borough approve the settlement that the school board approved at its August meeting. The settlement is as follows: 2016 assessment, $7,220,700 (a reduction of $699,300); 2017 assessment, $6,443,125 (a reduction of $777,575); 2018 assessment, $6,056,538 (a reduction of $386,588). Fair market values were set at $10,650,000 for 2016, and $9,912,500 for 2017 and 2018. In another tax assessment matter, Reilly notified council that he negotiated a settlement for an office building at 4th Street and Eddystone Avenue owned by Capital Marine Corp. and occupied in part by the Delaware County Offices of Services for the Aging and Community Transit. The old assessment for 2017 was $3,324,030, the new assessment will be $1,625,000. For 2018, the former assessment was $1,625,000, and the new assessment is $1,527,500. The fair market value of the property was set at $2.5 million.
Source: Delco News Network; 10/3/2017

Montgomery County

Montgomery Township issues 60-day notice to developer
Montgomery Township supervisors approved a 60-day notice-to-cure, directing developer David Cutler to finish public improvements including road and sidewalk repairs in several developments around Enclave Boulevard, or the township will pull their letter of credit to complete the work themselves. Residents in several of the Cutler communities asked the township to help ensure the developer finishes public improvements in the communities. A package of three resolutions was approved by the board after discussion in executive session: one directing the township’s solicitor “to pursue all legal and equitable remedies” for failing to complete the public improvements in the Montgomery Walk and Montgomery Pointe developments; a second authorizing a 60-day cure notice for failure to finish improvements in the Montgomery Knoll development; and a third, similar notice for the Montgomery Preserve development. Cutler said the company plans to finish the work as soon as possible.
Source: The Reporter; 9/29/2017

Jenkintown posts residential U&O guidelines
Jenkintown has posted Residential Use & Occupancy Certification information on the borough website. The borough passed a residential use and occupancy certification ordinance in May 2017 to “maintain public safety as well as lessen the impact on the environment by reviewing the integrity of the private sewer lateral.” Click here for more information, including copies of the ordinance and Residential Use & Occupancy application.
Source: Jenkintown Borough; 9/26/2017

Sale of 5 area hospitals to Reading Health System is complete
The sale of five area hospitals to the Reading Health System has been completed. Following the transaction, which was announced in May and finalized last week, the health system has been renamed Tower Health. Hospitals included in the deal are the 232-bed Pottstown Memorial Medical Center in Pottstown, the 151-bed Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville, the 169-bed Brandywine Hospital in Caln Township, the 148-bed Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, and the 63-bed Jennersville Regional Hospital in Penn Township in southern Chester County. Officials at both Pottstown and Phoenixville school districts said the respective hospitals in each borough are their largest property taxpayer, and the shift in status for each property to partially or fully tax-exempt could have significant impact on budgets in those communities. Under the new organization, two hospitals will be renamed: Pottstown Memorial Medical Center will be renamed Pottstown Hospital, and Jennersville Regional Hospital will be renamed Jennersville Hospital.
Source: Daily Local; 10/1/2017

Whitemarsh approves subdivision with historic properties
Whitemarsh Township supervisors voted to approve a conditional final plan for a 21-lot, conservation-design subdivision on Spring Mill Road. The development is in the historic district at 3047 Spring Mill and has three historic homes and a barn on the site. The developer, Sal Paone, began discussions with the township’s historical architectural review board before it was required in the development process and has continued to listen to feedback from neighbors about the development, according to township officials.
Source: Times Herald; 10/2/2017

Philadelphia

West Philly District plan process continues
The citywide district planning process began in 2013 and is part of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s effort to give citizens a voice in how city resources are allocated and how local zoning maps are rewritten. The West District, which covers much of West Philadelphia beyond University City, is one of the final corners of the city to undergo the process. The Planning Commission staff unveiled their focus areas, which included the district’s commercial corridors, Cobbs Creek Parkway, and especially Market Street and its attendant heavy rail line. Residents were given the opportunity to indicate their priority issues at a recent meeting. Residents can still participate and communicate their priorities online until Friday, Oct. 27.
Source: Plan Philly; 9/27/2017

Street safety plan released
A task force comprised of leaders of community advocacy groups and city and state officials released Philadelphia’s three-year road map to improve street safety. Mayor Jim Kenney unveiled the Vision Zero Three-Year Action Plan, which details steps the city can take over the next three years to make streets safer, with the long-term goal of eliminating traffic-related deaths entirely by 2030. Some of the proposed changes include giving the city’s chief traffic engineer authority to make changes to road markings, signage and land configurations to improve safety. They also propose expediting the procurement process for safety improvement projects, and potentially increasing the criminal penalties for killing people on foot or bike within the right of way. Click here for the plan.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 9/28/2017


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