NEWS BRIEFS

Stay up to date on current News & Issues.

General News
Municipal primary election is on Tuesday, May 21

Bucks County
Haycock opposes state code-enforcement proposal

Chester County
Route 352 and King Road meeting set for June 5

Delaware County
Middletown to have open space referendum

Montgomery County
Pottstown school board considers music cuts to balance budget

Philadelphia County
City officials announce down payment assistance program for first-time home buyers
 

 

News Briefs

 

General News

Municipal primary election is on Tuesday, May 21
Pennsylvania’s municipal primary election will take place on Tuesday, May 21. For more information on absentee ballots, or finding your precinct and polling place, visit the state’s Votes PA website. To see what your ballot will look like, select your county below:

School districts awarded funding to bolster security
School districts across Pennsylvania have been awarded a state grant to enhance and implement school safety and security initiatives. The grants came from the School Safety and Security Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which is responsible for establishing the standards schools must meet when performing school safety and security assessments. Some of the biggest grants awarded to suburban Philadelphia school districts include: Bristol Township, $144,000; West Chester Area, $400,050; Upper Darby, $2.2 million; and Norristown Area, $1.5 million. See the full list on the PCCD website (PDF).

Bucks County

Haycock opposes state code-enforcement proposal
Haycock Township supervisors passed a resolution opposing state legislation that would require the township to retain more than one third-party code enforcement agency. House Bill 349 is apparently driven by the needs of builders and developers to stay on schedule when a sole enforcement agency is not readily available. The resolution states that the bill would “place cost, availability and popularity over experience, performance, and skill,” while “effectively removing our authority to administer and enforce the UCC [Uniform Construction Code].” The UCC allows the township to use either a municipal employee or a third-party agency for administration and enforcement. For the past 10 years, Haycock’s code enforcement needs have been served by an arrangement with neighboring Richland Township. Supervisor Chair Kathy Babb said, “We weren’t having enough work to justify having even one agency.”
Source: Bucks County Herald; 5/9/2019

Council Rock working on new comprehensive plan
A 60-member “strategic planning steering team” comprised of Council Rock School District students, teachers, administrators, parents and other residents recently met to start work on a comprehensive plan that will cover the period from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2023. Superintendent Robert Fraser urged team members to think of the strategic planning process as an opportunity to dream and envision new possibilities. Three areas will be examined: student wellness, redefining student success, and school safety and security. A draft version of the comprehensive plan will be available on the district’s website, www.crsd.org, before it goes through the approval process and is submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 5/14/2019

Perkasie announces street and sidewalk restoration
Perkasie Borough Council recently voted to spend up to $371,000 to restore three roads at a recent business meeting. The roads approved for restoration this year are Seventh, Eighth and Buttonwood streets. Concrete and sidewalk curbing replacement will be completed at the same time, and that cost will be shared between property owners and the borough. Perkasie will pay about $58,000 toward the cost for concrete, and the remaining expense will be divided among the property owners impacted by the road construction, said the borough’s finance director, Joe Berardi. Residents in the affected areas will be notified in the coming weeks and have the choice to use the borough contractor or hire one of their own. The borough will also make financing terms available to residents to pay for the sidewalks and curbing. Borough Manager Andrea Coaxum said a “massive amount” of concrete work was needed on Seventh Street and the finished costs could come in less than expected.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 5/9/2019

Palisades seeks charter funding change
Parents in the Palisades School District have been attending school board meetings to speak against staff reductions they say have had a negative effect on their children. Most of the staff reductions have been made through attrition. While the district continues to cut in-house salary and benefit costs for the 2019-2020 preliminary budget, Palisades is still burdened with state-mandated charter school costs. Business Manager Drew Bishop noted a 7.7 percent increase in Palisades’ tuition support for charter schools compared to last year and a 170 percent increase since 2012-2013. During the same seven-year period, the school board has been able to limit district tax increases to a maximum of 7.1 percent. A group of 250 public school officials from across the state — including Palisades Superintendent Bridget O’Connell and School Board President Bob Musantry and member Robert Fumo — took a trip to Harrisburg to ask legislators to support Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 526, which begin to address the charter school problem.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 5/9/2019

Chester County 

Route 352 and King Road meeting set for June 5
East Whiteland and East Goshen townships will hold an informational meeting at Immaculata University on Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m. to discuss alternatives for reducing the congestion at the intersection of Route 352 and King Road. McMahon Associates will make a presentation on the alternatives followed by a question-and-answer period. The exact location of the meeting at Immaculata University will be announced closer to June 5. Click here to review a McMahon Associates report on the alternatives.
Source: East Whiteland Township; 5/9/2019

Unionville school directors adopt preliminary budget with tax hike
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board adopted a 2019-2020 proposed operating budget of $90.2 million that calls for a tax increase. Chester County property owners can expect a tax increase of 2.28 percent, and Delaware County property owners can expect a tax increase of 2.23 percent, for a weighted average increase of 2.27 percent. The millage rate will climb to 29.16 in Chester County and to 25.71 in Delaware County. A mill represents $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value. According to Superintendent John Sanville, the proposed budget invests in student wellness, continues the district’s financing in the 10-year capital plan, and invests in technology, including safety and security. The final budget is expected to be adopted on Monday, June 17.
Source: Southern Chester County Weeklies; 5/14/2019

Modernization project to start at Church Farm School
Church Farm School is poised to embark on a $15 million campus modernization project that will include a new arts center, renovations to the school’s main academic building, a new entrance and enhanced security. About 180 students attend the 101-year-old independent college preparatory boarding and day school for boys in grades 9 to 12. Construction is expected to conclude in August 2020. Last year, the school was named the “Most Beautiful Private High School in Pennsylvania” by Architectural Digest.
Source: Daily Local; 5/9/2019

Valley Township schedules comprehensive plan workshop
The Valley Township Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee will hold a comprehensive plan public workshop and open house on Wednesday, May 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rainbow Elementary School, 1113 W. Lincoln Highway, Coatesville. The public is encouraged to attend and share thoughts about the future of land use, parks, roads and open space in the township.
Source: Daily Local; 5/14/2019

Delaware County

Middletown to have open space referendum
Primary election voters in Middletown Township will see this open-space referendum question on the ballot: “Shall Middletown Township, Delaware County, PA incur electoral debt in the sum of Eight Million Dollars ($8,000,000.00) for the purpose of financing the purchase of +/- 80.992 acres of land, more or less, located at the Northwest Corner of Forge Road and Valley Road, for active and passive recreational purposes and to preserve open space for the citizens of Middletown Township, and for paying related costs, including but not limited to bond closing costs, legal expenses, appraisals, surveys and settlement costs?”
Source: Daily Times; 5/10/2019

Marple pool reopens as Splash Club
Faltering membership and increasing costs forced the closure of Marple Newtown Swim Club in 2017, but the facility is being reopened as Splash Club LLC. The secluded, 13-acre club property, located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, was purchased by Marple Township in an effort to preserve the open space and the pool. Two local businessmen have leased and renovated the club, including a lounge with TV and music that guests can enjoy from the deck or in the air-conditioned indoor area. For kids, there are expanded outdoor activities, including a playground, ping-pong and wiffleball, an air-conditioned game room, and videogame consoles. A 2,000-square-foot pavilion looks out on the pools from a restaurant, and the managers are currently negotiating with potential partners to run the food operations. There will also be 29 cabanas around the property, as well as a sun deck that looks down on the club from a hillside. For more information, visit www.splash-club.com.
Source: Daily Times; 5/10/2019

Nether Providence planners frown on townhouse proposal
A proposal for a 32-unit duplex development in the South Media section of Nether Providence Township received a chilly reception from municipal planners. Township commissioners had asked the planning commission to review the application from Progressive New Homes for a currently wooded five-acre property on Wallingford Avenue, to determine if it qualified for a zoning change. During a May 6 meeting, the planning commission voted 5-1 to oppose such a change, citing concerns about housing density, stormwater management, parking and other issues. The planning commission is an advisory body, and it will be up to the board of commissioners to decide whether to accept the recommendation, reject it or ask for consideration of a revised plan.
Source: Daily Times; 5/10/2019

Chester Stormwater Authority and Corvias showcase their first project in the city
The rain garden in Veterans Memorial Park is one way to reduce flooding in Chester City during severe storm events. The garden is also one Chester Stormwater Authority’s first projects in an effort to simultaneously remediate stormwater runoff and create economic development by turning “gray” areas green. The Chester Stormwater Authority was formed in 2016 with a $1 million grant from PENNVEST, bringing together the Chester Water Authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a private partner, Corvias, who inherits the risk of hiring contracts to do the infrastructure projects. “This project is a small part of the larger picture for Chester around the stormwater improvements that we want to do over the next five to 30 years,” Peter Littleton, Corvias senior operations manager, said. “It’s very important to have in mind that this is part of a longer-term program.” At the authority’s launch, officials highlighted its plan to spend $50 million over the next 30 years to maintain more than 350 acres, focusing on stormwater management, while beautifying the city and encouraging economic development. Throughout the city, authority crews are doing inlet cleanup, repair and replacement. The second phase will eventually involve replacement of pipes, although Littleton said they must first do an assessment of the system to see how to upgrade and improve them.
Source: Daily Times; 5/12/2019

Unionville school directors adopt preliminary budget with tax hike
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board adopted a 2019-2020 proposed operating budget of $90.2 million that calls for a tax increase. Chester County property owners can expect a tax increase of 2.28 percent, and Delaware County property owners can expect a tax increase of 2.23 percent, for a weighted average increase of 2.27 percent. The millage rate will climb to 29.16 in Chester County and to 25.71 in Delaware County. A mill represents $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value. According to Superintendent John Sanville, the proposed budget invests in student wellness, continues the district’s financing in the 10-year capital plan, and invests in technology, including safety and security. The final budget is expected to be adopted on Monday, June 17.
Source: Southern Chester County Weeklies; 5/14/2019

Montgomery County

Pottstown School Board considers music cuts to balance budget
Residents, students and teachers recently attended a meeting of the Pottstown School Board Curriculum and Co-Curricular Activities Committee to speak against rumors of possible reductions in the school district’s music program. District administrators are struggling to close a projected $244,000 budget gap, and cuts to nonmandatory programs, such as athletics, kindergarten, art, library, foreign languages, extra-curricular activities and music, are often the only option for school districts looking to balance a budget. Pottstown Schools Music Association President Kevin Owens said he understands the position the board is in, but he warned that cutting back on music lessons in the lower grades could damage the “feeder programs,” leading to problems similar to those causing Pottstown’s athletic teams to struggle. Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez, along with school board members Bonita Barnhill, Kurt Heidel, John Armato and President Amy Francis, urged community members to urge state legislators to address policies that are creating financial stress for the district. The district is forced to pay more than $3 million a year to charter schools — with $2.4 million of that going to cyber charter schools that perform at lower levels than all Montgomery County public schools, Rodriguez said. More significant, he said, is the failure of the state to fully fund the Fair Funding Formula that was adopted in 2016. “Pottstown would be getting $13 million more each year, and we would not be talking about cutting music or libraries,” said Rodriguez. He urged residents, students, teachers and taxpayers to join him and other advocates in Harrisburg on Wednesday, June 12, at the State Capitol Main Rotunda for a “100% Fair Funding Day of Action.”
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 5/13/2019

Pennsburg to consider 40-unit townhome development
Pennsburg Borough Council reviewed a proposal to construct a 40-unit townhome development at the old Kline property, 704 Montgomery Ave., which is zoned as RC (residential and commercial). The developers presented the plan to seek feedback from council before moving ahead. Solicitor Chuck Garner suggested council table the matter and review the plan more thoroughly before providing feedback. The proposal must be presented to the planning commission before it can be voted on by borough council.
Source: Town and Country News; 5/14/2019

Lower Pottsgrove to consider driveway ordinance
The Lower Pottsgrove Township Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed driveway ordinance at a meeting on Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at the Lower Pottsgrove Municipal Building, 2199 Buchert Road. The proposed ordinance prohibits the construction of driveways and/or repairs to driveways onto a township road without a permit, and sets forth regulations for driveway construction. Click here for the proposed ordinance.
Source: Lower Pottsgrove Township; 5/15/2019

Norristown to adopt 2015 International Fire Code
Norristown Municipal Council will consider an ordinance adopting the 2015 Edition of the International Fire Code on Wednesday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Norristown Municipal Hall, 235 E. Airy St. The proposed adoption of the 2015 International Fire Code will provide for the safety and security of Norristown’s residents. The proposed ordinance can be viewed at Municipal Hall during normal business hours.
Source: Times Herald; 5/9/2019

Philadelphia

City to offer down payment assistance for first-time home buyers
Philadelphia officials announced the Philly First Home program that will give first-time home buyers and other eligible city residents up to $10,000 when they purchase a home in the city. The program is expected to launch in June and aims to make homeownership more affordable. Residents who have lived in the city for three years, are first-time homebuyers or have not owned a home for at least three years, have a household income at or below 120 percent of the area median income, and complete housing counseling at an agency funded by the Division of Housing and Community Development, will be eligible to receive up to $10,000, or 6 percent of the purchase price of a home, whichever is less. The money will be provided in the form of a loan that will be forgiven if the resident stays in the home for 15 years. Interested homeowners can contact DHCD-funded counseling agencies starting Monday, June 10, for more information.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 5/9/2019

Philly launches two programs to help minority businesses
Philadelphia — a majority-minority city — has struggled with increasing the proportion of minority-owned firms that do business with the city. African-American leaders in the city have pushed for greater minority participation for years. Now, Mayor Kenney’s administration says two new initiatives will ensure that the mayor’s signature Rebuild program can make a meaningful contribution to this longtime goal. The first, Rebuild Ready, will provide administrative and technical support to small minority- and women-owned businesses to ensure they can get work on Rebuild projects, which will include the renovation of parks, libraries and recreation centers across the city. The second, Emerging Vendors, will allow small businesses in the process of certification as a minority- or women-owned business to be counted toward Rebuild’s diversity goals. Those goals include reaching 30% to 35% minority-owned business participation and 25% to 30% for professional services contracts. For women-owned businesses, the goal is 15% to 20% for both categories. Rebuild representatives say they have met or exceeded these goals so far. “It's taken us a long time to come here, but we’ve been around a long time, the mayor has heard these issues, and I think Rebuild is a very great example of what can come,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Philadelphia and many other American cities have struggled to meet their minority participation goals, in part because many minority- and women-owned businesses tend to be smaller and have a harder time meeting other benchmarks set by the city.
Source: Plan Philly; 5/14/2019


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