NEWS BRIEFS

Stay up to date on current News & Issues.

General News
$11B budget package passes state legislature

Bucks County
Bucks County releases preliminary budget

Chester County
Valley Township to consider vacant property registration ordinance

Delaware County
Delco 2021 budget calls for no tax hike, significant job cuts

Montgomery County
Schwenksville eyes 22% tax increase

Philadelphia County
City council passes bill to curb real estate scammers

 

News Briefs Archive September 14, 2020

 

General News

NAR opposes CDC eviction order until Congress provides further rental assistance
The National Association of Realtors®  (NAR) has announced that it opposes a recent nationwide eviction moratorium ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because Congress has failed to provide further federal funding to protect renters and property owners. NAR issued a statement last week saying the order would "bring chaos to our nation’s critical rental housing sector and put countless property owners out of business.” In addition, NAR joined with industry partners to urge Congress to pass immediate rental assistance. Click here (PDF) to read the letter NAR sent to Congress through a broad coalition of stakeholders. Source: Nar.realtor; 9/4/2020 

COVID Best Practice: Take the virus seriously
After months of public health measures, some people may become less rigorous in their virus prevention efforts. But it is important to continue to take COVID-19 seriously and follow public health guidelines. As of Sept. 10, there were 2,484 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, and tens of thousands of confirmed positive cases. The long-term health effects for those who recover from the virus are still not known. Visit the Suburban Realtors® Alliance coronavirus page for more best practices and links to other resources.

Bucks County

Bensalem ballot referendum on funding EMS
Bensalem Township residents will see a referendum question on the general election ballot asking whether they should pay an extra one mill in real estate taxes to support Bensalem Emergency Medical Services. Council President Edward Kisselback said the tax would add about $21 per year for the average assessed property and provide the emergency services squad with an additional $650,000 in dedicated funding per year. The question will need to be approved by the Bucks County Board of Elections before it is added to the ballot.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 8/27/2020 

$15 million available in second round of Bucks Back to Work Grants
The second round of funding from the Bucks Back to Work Small Business Grant program will launch Monday, Sept. 14, with about $15 million available for small businesses. The grants are funded through the county’s share of $109 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money. Business owners that did not get approved for the first round of grants are encouraged to apply again. Click here for more information from Bucks County.
Source: LevittownNow.com; 9/5/2020 

Bucks County posts resources for avoiding eviction
Bucks County has posted information regarding the temporary halt on certain evictions that was ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Bucks County renters in trouble can contact the Housing Link to learn about eligibility requirements and resources available for their situation. Click here (PDF) for more information from the county, including the CDC declaration form.

Solebury begins 2021 budget process
Solebury Township officials are faced with creating a 2021 budget during uncertain times. Assistant Township Manager Michelle Blood reported that township earned income tax receipts are down 6% over last year, prompting Solebury officials to defer some paving work scheduled for this year, saving about $350,000. Township real estate tax receipts are “right on target.” Budget requests from the parks and recreation department and the public works department are in line with previous years. The police department will present its budget needs at the board’s Tuesday, Oct. 6, meeting. Visit the Solebury Township website for meeting format information and instructions for public participation or comment.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 9/3/2020

Chester County 

County to distribute $2.3M in community revitalization funding
Five Chester County communities are set to receive more than $2.3 million in grants from the county’s Community Revitalization Program fund. Since 2002, more than $70 million has been distributed for urban center improvements and upgrades, which include the county’s 15 boroughs and the City of Coatesville. These investments in infrastructure allow the municipalities to accommodate future growth and realize significant increases in their taxable assessment. This year’s selected projects include:

  • Borough of Atglen — Ridge Avenue water main replacement, phase 2: $506,880 for the replacement of the water main along Ridge Avenue between High Street and Israel Mill Road.
  • Borough of Honey Brook — North Chestnut Street curb, sidewalk and road rehabilitation: $139,975 for ADA compliant sidewalks, curbs, stormwater improvements and street paving repair.
  • Borough of Oxford — Downtown Oxford access and pedestrian safety improvements: $650,000 to remedy structural roadway problems and pedestrian safety issues along roadways and sidewalks adjacent to the new parking and public transportation center, as well as other amenities.
  • Borough of Spring City — ADA compliant public parking improvements: $550,000 for the revitalization of a vacant lot to construct an ADA-compliant, terraced parking lot free to the general public.
  • City of Coatesville — Train station parking garage: $500,000 toward construction of a 450-space parking garage that will serve regional rail riders for Amtrak and SEPTA users. (SEPTA service is expected to return to the city by 2022).

Source: Daily Local; 9/5/2020 

New Garden Township to have open house for St. Anthony in the Hills property
New Garden Township is in the process of developing a master plan for the 137-acre St. Anthony in the Hills property on Limestone Road. The township will hold an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Park (6724 Limestone Road, Avondale). The rain date is Monday, Sept. 28. The purpose of the open house is for the community to share ideas with the design team for the master plan, which will provide a blueprint for future use improvements and conservation initiatives at the site. A video introducing the project is posted at the township website.
Source: New Garden Township; 9/8/2020 

Study looks at reducing Route 422 congestion
The best way to alleviate traffic congestion on Route 422 is a combination of commuter rail and a system of “trackless trams” to act as a feeder system to the rail stations, a recently released study concluded. The study was made by two Australian professors, Peter Newman of Curtin University and Charles Hargroves of the University of Adelaide, and funded by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation. Its conclusions were presented during a virtual town hall hosted by state Rep. Joe Ciresi (D-146). Development would spring up around trackless tram lines, creating opportunities for public-private partnerships, the study said. Newman and Hargroves examined all manner of options, including highspeed water taxis on the Schuylkill River, shuttle buses, expanding Route 422 by one lane, HOV lanes on the highway, a monorail — and even flying cars. “Trackless trams,” said Hargroves, “have all the advantages of light rail, except you don’t need a rail.” Read more and view a video of the presentation on the Digital Notebook blog.
Source: Daily Local; 9/8/2020 

East Goshen Township gets permanent drug collection box
A permanent drug collection box has been placed in the lobby of the East Goshen Township building to encourage members of the community to remove expired or unwanted medication — either prescription or over-the-counter — from their homes and help reduce access to addictive drugs for accidental or intentional misuse by individuals, particularly children. Medication disposal boxes also offer an environmentally safe, accessible and convenient alternative to disposing of medication in the trash or sewer systems. Any resident can drop off unwanted medication during normal business hours, which are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drug collection boxes cannot accept any sharps (syringes, auto pen injectors or needles) or illegal drugs. Residents are encouraged to place loose pills in some form of a container prior to placing them into the collection box. Once a month, the drugs are packaged and safely destroyed via an incinerator. The East Goshen Township Building is located at 1580 Paoli Pike, West Chester.
Source: Daily Local; 9/4/2020

Delaware County

CARES Act mortgage, rental aid available
Funding is available through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help county residents with mortgage, rent and utility payments. The county has $369,000 set aside for rental assistance and $1.16 million for mortgage and utility assistance, and funding is available through grants on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants. To be eligible for assistance, households must be able to document that they are going through a coronavirus-related housing crisis and meet other criteria. Renters may be eligible to receive up to six months of rental arrears or move-in costs. Rental assistance payments will be made directly to landlords on behalf of the household. Homeowner assistance may cover up to three months of mortgage and utility assistance totaling $6,000, of which up to $1,000 may be for utility payments. Payments through this program will be made directly to the mortgagee or utility vendor. Three local nonprofit organizations — Community Action Agency of Delaware County, Media Fellowship House and Chester Community Improvement Project — will administer the funds. Read more about the programs and how to apply on the county website.
Source: Daily Local; 9/3/2020 

Stormwater runoff creates havoc in Middletown neighborhood
A group of Middletown residents say development at the former Granite Run Mall, along with Riddle Hospital construction and work on SEPTA’s Elwyn-Middletown rail line, are among the projects that have inundated their Glen Riddle community with flood waters. They are circulating a petition calling on the township to help. “It’s so violent. We’re to the point now where it’s not something that we can mitigate ourselves,” said JoAnn Allen, who has pushed the township to step in to assist. Residents have built retaining walls, but the water has washed away sections of wall and nearly topped others. Multiple property owners have had fencing wash away and large trees left in their yards. Middletown Council Chairman Mark Kirchgasser said the township is working to assist residents but believes its hands are tied by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection regulations. Anything that touches a body of water or wetlands is DEP-regulated, which limits Middletown’s ability to take action, he said. Officials believe when SEPTA rebuilt the rail line from Middletown Station, it replaced 80-year-old culverts that were partially collapsed and restricted the flow of the creek with new culverts that allow the full flow of water to pass through. Before the new culverts were installed, the rail line was acting as a retention basin for stormwater. Glen Riddle residents have talked with officials at the Williamson College of the Trades about using a portion of their property as a retention basin.
Source: Daily Times; 9/6/2020 

Delco council earmarks $20M for DCIU
Delaware County Council unanimously approved a $20 million allocation for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit (DCIU). Though questions about accountability arose, the county’s executive director, Howard Lazarus, said the DCIU has the relationships and processes in place to expedite the distribution of funds to the school districts. The funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and DCIU will use it to provide internet connections and related equipment to qualifying low-income families, as well as providing sanitizing equipment and PPE to the county’s 15 school districts. The council was awarded $98 million in CARES funding that must be spent by Dec. 31, or the remainder will return to the federal government. The county has used the money to contract the Chester County Health Department, in lieu of having its own county health department, to handle all of the COVID-19 services, as well as for two rounds of funding for small businesses most threatened by the shutdowns and mitigation guideline restrictions.
Source: Daily Times; 9/4/2020 

Ballot controversy in Concord
Some residents in Concord Township are crying foul after the township reportedly disallowed the use of ballot drop-off boxes at polling places this year. Township resident and activist Ken Hemphill said, "Having a drop-off box for mail-in ballots is an easy way for municipalities to ensure every vote gets counted." Chadds Ford Live made attempts to learn when, where and by whom was the decision made. Neither an email to the township manager nor a phone message left for Council President Dominic Pileggi were answered prior to press time. As for Chadds Ford Township residents, those wanting to vote in person will go to a new polling location — the former beer distributor building in Painters Crossing shopping center, across the parking lot from Nudy’s.
Source: Chadds Ford Live; 9/8/2020

Montgomery County

County experienced 15-year new housing high in 2019
According to an annual analysis from the Montgomery County Planning Commission, more housing was built in the county in 2019 than at any time in the past 15 years. About 2,900 new housing units were constructed in 2019 — adding about $356 million to the county’s tax base. Multi-family units were the largest number of units constructed for the second year in a row. Nearly half of all new units were constructed in five municipalities: Upper Moreland (522); Upper Merion (310); East Norriton (261); Lower Merion (244); and Lansdale (221). Growth in new units is heaviest in the eastern end of the county, where there are “numerous centers of employment, entertainment and retail within these areas that have attracted new residents seeking diverse housing options,” according to the report. Age-restricted housing is driving growth in the western portion of the county, but millennials are also focusing on the area for affordability. Click here (PDF)  for the full report and here (PDF)  for an overview.
Source: MontgomeryNews.com; 9/8/2020 

Lower Merion announces rent and mortgage assistance program
Lower Merion Township has federal funding available to provide rent or mortgage assistance to residents who are experiencing a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The township will accept applications until the funding is exhausted, and may provide qualified applicants up to six months of rent or mortgage assistance. Click here for more information.
Source: Lower Merion Township; 9/4/2020 

Study looks at reducing Route 422 congestion
The best way to alleviate traffic congestion on Route 422 is a combination of commuter rail and a system of “trackless trams” to act as a feeder system to the rail stations, a recently released study concluded. The study was made by two Australian professors, Peter Newman of Curtin University and Charles Hargroves of the University of Adelaide, and funded by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation. Its conclusions were presented during a virtual town hall hosted by state Rep. Joe Ciresi (D-146). Development would spring up around trackless tram lines, creating opportunities for public-private partnerships, the study said. Newman and Hargroves examined all manner of options, including highspeed water taxis on the Schuylkill River, shuttle buses, expanding Route 422 by one lane, HOV lanes on the highway, a monorail — and even flying cars. “Trackless trams,” said Hargroves, “have all the advantages of light rail, except you don’t need a rail.” Read more and view a video of the presentation on the Digital Notebook blog.
Source: Daily Local; 9/8/2020 

Whitpain to consider creation of a human relations ordinance
Whitpain Township supervisors will hold a public hearing to consider for adoption a proposed ordinance that will create a Human Relations Commission. The proposed ordinance will be considered, and public comment will be taken, during the supervisors regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. Instructions for participating in the remote meeting can be found on the township website.
Source: Times Herald; 9/4/2020 

Sen. Haywood to lead advocacy training
State Sen. Art Haywood (D-4) will host a virtual citizen advocacy training program, titled “How to Persuade Politicians.” Haywood will share tips, strategies and best practices on how to effectively exercise citizen power on legislation and more. The virtual trainings will be held on Mondays, Sept.14, Oct. 12 and Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. Click here (PDF)  for more information. Registration is required.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia to temporarily block landlords from enforcing evictions
Philadelphia court officials will announce a temporary stay on lockouts related to eviction orders. The move comes as landlord-tenant proceedings begin to ramp up at city courts after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic and a statewide moratorium on evictions that ended on Aug. 31, despite calls to the Pennsylvania legislature to extend it from Gov. Tom Wolf. But while some restrictions remain in place, the reopening of courtrooms means at least some eviction orders could — in theory — move forward. The local eviction restriction will add a layer of protection for tenants who are not protected by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health order blocking certain evictions. The CDC order is intended to prevent an anticipated avalanche of evictions due to economic stresses caused by the pandemic and related shutdowns. Homelessness and displacement increase the risk of virus spread and are linked to poor health outcomes. Local landlord group HAPCO said it was informed the courts would not enforce lockout orders for an additional two weeks. “This will have many unintended consequences for both landlords and tenants,” Paul Cohen, an attorney for HAPCO said. “Stopping evictions may help tenants in the short term, but you aren’t helping them in the long term.” Mayor Jim Kenney recently said, as he announced a separate eviction diversion program, that the city’s goal is “to keep residents in their homes.”
Source: Plan Philly; 9/8/2020 

New Jersey mayors complain about noise traveling across the river
Several New Jersey mayors wrote a four-page letter to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney about the sound coming across the river from “boom cars” — vehicles with audio systems that produce excessive sound pressure levels — in Philadelphia. New Jersey residents say music shakes and vibrates their homes between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. Kenney responded in a letter saying, “I have reached out to our police department, and we are working to increase patrols and limit the noise.”
Source: Fox29; 9/8/2020 

Sen. Haywood to lead advocacy training
State Sen. Art Haywood (D-4) will host a virtual citizen advocacy training program, titled “How to Persuade Politicians.” Haywood will share tips, strategies and best practices on how to effectively exercise citizen power on legislation and more. The virtual trainings will be held on Mondays, Sept.14, Oct. 12 and Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. Click here (PDF)  for more information. Registration is required.

 
Email grassroots@suburbanrealtorsalliance.com to receive our weekly News Briefs. It's as simple as submitting your contact information so we can create a user profile.

Designed and delivered by Accrisoft