NEWS BRIEFS

Stay up to date on current News & Issues.

General News
Private roads bill signed into law by governor

Bucks County
Preliminary Solebury budget holds the line on taxes

Chester County
West Chester Borough to create an advisory Community Campus Committee

Delaware County
Delco’s bond rating raised to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s

Montgomery County
Collegeville’s Providence Town Center is on the market

Philadelphia County
‘Tangled titles’ correlate to violence in some Philadelphia neighborhoods

 

News Briefs

 

General News

Private roads bill signed into law by governor
Legislation amending the Pennsylvania Private Road Act was approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor into law on Oct. 7 as Act 75 of 2021. Originally introduced as House Bill 523 by Rep. Gary Day (R-187), Act 75 amends the Private Road Act to provide for maintenance agreements in the absence of a written agreement. It was a priority bill for the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® (PAR) this session. PAR strongly advocated for the legislation because of difficulties buyers have experienced securing federally backed financing options when maintenance agreements are not in place for properties on private roadways. Without an agreement in place, these lenders will not provide financing to close the transaction. Act 75 remedies this issue by providing a minimum statutory maintenance agreement in state law. And, property owners still have the right to create their own written agreements with their neighbors. The law takes effect in 60 days. Read more on the PAR website.
Source: PAR JustListed; 10/7/2021

Voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 18
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 election is Monday, Oct. 18. Residents can register online, via mail or at a county voter registration office. Current registration status can be checked on the state voter services website. It is important that the Realtor voice is heard in government at every level, from local to national.
Source: PAR JustListed; 10/12/2021

Learn about flood risk and resilience with Penn’s Wharton Risk Center
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Risk Center has produced a two-episode podcast series on flood risk and resilience. It focuses on the mid-Atlantic region and Philadelphia in particular — an area that attracted national attention after the devastating flooding from Hurricane Ida in September. Experts at Penn, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Philadelphia Water Department discuss how communities can adapt to increasing flood risk as climate change continues to escalate. The podcast series is part of a larger project at the Wharton Risk Center to produce educational materials for municipalities about flood risk and flood insurance. Learn more here.
Source: America Adapts; 9/13/2021

State regulators suspend proposed Aqua rate hike
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted to investigate the water and wastewater increases requested by Aqua Pennsylvania. The company sought to increase its annual operating revenues for water services by 16.9% and wastewater services by 31.2%, according to the PUC. The rate hikes would mean an increase of about $12 per month for the average water customer and $18 for the average wastewater bill. In its vote last week, the PUC said the rate increase requests would be suspended for up to seven months and would be assigned to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for evidentiary hearings and the issuance of recommended decisions or settlements.
Source: Warminster Patch; 10/12/2021

Bucks County

Preliminary Solebury budget holds the line on taxes
Solebury Township’s assistant manager, Michelle Blood, reported to the board of supervisors that so far it looks like there will be no local tax increase in the 2022 budget. Blood said unexpected 2021 surplus revenue will be transferred to next year’s budget to cover the $300,000 worth of damage caused by Hurricane Ida. The board has until November to advertise a preliminary budget. The budget has to be adopted by the end of the year. Visit the Solebury Township website for up-to-date budget and meeting information.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 10/7/2021

No tax increase anticipated in Yardley
The preliminary 2022 budget for Yardley Borough holds the borough property tax rate steady. Borough Manager Paula Johnson reported that there is still work to do on the preliminary budget, “but we think it’s a good start.” If a budget is passed with no change to the 30-mill tax rate, a resident with a property assessed at the borough average of $27,644 would continue to pay $829 a year in municipal property taxes. Residents who own real estate in the borough also pay property taxes to Pennsbury School District and Bucks County. Yardley does not have an earned income tax. Yardley is also eligible for roughly $236,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, according to Council Vice President Caroline Thompson. That money might free up general fund monies for other borough projects that have been on hold due to the pandemic. In other news, the borough has released its fall newsletter.
Source: Bucks County Herald; 10/7/2021

Warwick to adopt zoning amendments
Warwick Township supervisors have scheduled a hearing to receive public comment and to consider adoption of an ordinance amending the township zoning ordinance. The proposed updates include: a change to regulations for energy-producing uses, such as geothermal systems, wind energy systems, small-scale solar systems and outdoor furnaces, to reflect changes in technology and to improve the effects on nearby properties; to provide correct title of multiple zoning districts; to clarify language in the existing ordinance; and to provide regulations for consumer fireworks. Full text copies of the ordinance are available for inspection at the township offices. The public hearing will be held on Monday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at the township administrative offices, 1733 Township Greene, Jamison.
Source: The Intelligencer; 10/1/2021

Lower Makefield seeks volunteers to plant trees at Patterson Farm
The Lower Makefield Environmental Advisory Council is looking for volunteers to help plant more than 300 trees and shrubs this fall on the township-owned Patterson Farm. The planting is scheduled to take place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23. The community planting will help shore up a creek bed that runs through the 160-acre farm at Mirror Lake Road and Route 332. Click here for more information and to sign up. Looking ahead to November, the township manager is scheduled to present a recommended 2022 budget to the supervisors on Wednesday, Nov. 3. The meeting is open to the public.
Source: The Reporter; 10/12/2021

Chester County 

West Chester Borough to create an advisory Community Campus Committee
West Chester Borough Council is considering an ordinance to establish a Community Campus Committee. The advisory group’s purpose would be to promote communication and collaboration between community leaders, residents, university officials and students on issues that affect health, safety and quality of life. The full ordinance may be reviewed here. The ordinance will be considered for adoption at a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at the borough building, 401 E. Gay St.
Source: Daily Local; 10/10/2021

Chesco Planning Commission doc includes heat map of development, other information
Chester County Planning Commission’s meeting materials for Oct. 13 include information that may be interesting to Realtors and other community stakeholders. On page 16, there is a map of Act 247 reviews of proposed development. Beginning on page 161, the commission provides a community planning report, showing which municipalities are working on comprehensive plans, transportation plans, open space preservation plans and similar projects.
Source: Chester County; 10/2021

Chesco commissioners push Climate Action Plan
The Chester County commissioners have adopted a new Climate Action Plan with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 80% by 2050. The plan, developed by the county planning commission with input from a series of public meetings, public comments and partner reviews, represents a significant update of the county’s 2010 Greenhouse Gas Report, which provided several energy-saving initiatives. “We have to address global climate change at every level of government and collaboration if we are going to create a healthier planet and maintain our quality of life,” Commissioners Chairwoman Marian Moskowitz said. “The action we take today sets an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goal, but one we believe is imperative and attainable.” Learn more about the Climate Action Plan on the planning commission website.
Source: Daily Local; 10/10/2021

Downingtown building sells for $3.5 million
The Roberts Building — a nearly 38,000-square-foot structure at 100 E. Lancaster Ave. in Downingtown — has been sold after 169 days. The building was constructed in 1967 and renovated in 2000, and currently houses three tenants. The building was originally listed at $3.75 million and sold for $3.55 million. “With the pandemic unfolding over the past 17 months, the office sector was one of the first asset classes to immediately suffer,” said Jackson Day, an investment specialist at real estate firm Marcus & Millichap. “However, given the property’s highly sought-after location and close proximity to amenities, we were able to secure a local investor that has experience in the Chester County market at an extremely aggressive capitalization rate for our seller.” The identities of the buyer and seller were not disclosed.
Source: Daily Local; 10/8/2021

Penn Township adopts on-lot sewage disposal standards
Penn Township Ordinance 2021-02 established standards in the management of on-lot sewage disposal facilities. The adoption of the ordinance was a mandate of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Act of 1937, as well as the Pennsylvania Sewage Act of 1966, better known as Act 537. Penn’s presence in two high-quality, protected watersheds made the adoption of the ordinance important. The ordinance gives the township the legal ability to spell out the property maintenance and operations requirements for on-lot septic systems and gives the township options if a system is in failure but not being addressed by the property owner. The ordinance mandates inspection and pump out of on-lot systems at three-year intervals. The township is currently creating a database in order to facilitate a reminder system.
Source: Penn Township News; Fall 2021

Jennersville Hospital closure alarms Oxford Borough officials
The announcement of the planned closure of Tower Health’s Jennersville Hospital and emergency room has alarmed Oxford Borough Council, whose members fear for residents during medical emergencies. Ware Village, numerous adult communities and multiple school districts are served by the hospital and its emergency room. Councilmember Dick Winchester and others voiced disbelief that the hospital and its emergency room would close so abruptly, without a plan to take care of the community, after being at the location since 1959. The hospital’s closure at the end of the year has left many residents in Chester County wondering where they will go for emergency care. The closest hospitals with trauma centers are at Christiana Hospital in Delaware and Lancaster General Hospital. Gary Vinnacombe, deputy chief of emergency medical services at Union Fire Company No. 1, said, “We are in the process of publishing an impact report which will objectively analyze data from three years, to see what it will look like to go to other hospitals. Our goal is to figure out a projected model so we can understand our response, and establish a path forward.” Vinnacombe added, “The volume won’t go up, but the demand for service will, because it will take longer. Calls that would typically take 45 minutes could now take 2 1/2 hours,” he explained.
Source: Chester County Press; 10/11/2021

Delaware County

Delco’s bond rating raised to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s
S&P Global Ratings has raised Delaware County's credit rating to AA+, the second-highest available. S&P credited the rating increase of the county's existing general obligation to their "view that the county’s financial position will remain healthy given the strong and stable tax base and conservative budgeting practices.” A higher bond rating lowers the amount of interest on long-term investments. In its announcement, S&P specifically cited the county's strong economy, management, budgetary performance and institutional framework, and “very strong” budgetary flexibility, liquidity, and debt and contingent liability profile. Reduced borrowing costs will make it easier to invest in securing and improving open space, creating new state-of-the-art buildings, and improving government operations by updating technology, among other uses.
Source: Delaware County; 10/12/2021

Brandywine Conservancy gets $440K for removal of breached dam
The Brandywine Conservancy has received more than $440,000 in funding to remove the breached Hoffman’s Mill Dam in Chadds Ford and to improve water quality in the Brandywine-Christina Watershed. The grants were secured from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) via the Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Restoration Fund (DRRF). The conservancy received nearly $290,000 for projects to improve water quality, and about $151,000 for the removal of Hoffman’s Mill Dam on Brandywine Creek. The removal of the dam will improve both the aquatic habitat and water-based recreation along the planned Brandywine Creek Water Trail.
Source: Daily Times; 10/12/2021

Delaware County sheriff warns of new phone scam
Delaware County Sheriff Jerry L. Sanders Jr. is warning residents of another wave of scam phone calls appearing to come from his office under “spoofed” phone numbers. “The scammers typically represent themselves as employees or sheriff’s deputies,” according to a press release. “The scammers tell the person who answers the phone that there is a warrant for their arrest, or they are subject to arrest for failing to appear for jury duty, or similar ruses.” The caller inevitably requests payment, often via a prepaid gift card, in order to avoid arrest. They may also ask for personal information including a Social Security or bank account number. Sanders is urging anyone receiving such calls to hang up immediately and contact his office at 610-891-4296.
Source: Daily Times; 10/9/2021

Concord preserves 50 more acres
Concord Township has secured another 50 acres of land for preservation. The township entered into an agreement with the Willcox family to buy a conservation easement on the family’s property in the Ivy Mills Historic District. Councilmember John Crossan — who sits on the Delaware County Green Space Task Force — said the property could have been developed into a 12- to 14-unit cluster subdivision, but the township is buying the development rights for the appraised value of $715,000. The Willcox family — Mark and Anne Willcox — will retain the right to build one additional home on the 50 acres. There is also a provision for potential trail access. The agreement will be drawn up within 90 days for final approval. Coming on the heels of Concord preserving the 43-acre Chetty Farm on Featherbed Lane, the easement brings the total open space owned or eased by the township to over 425 acres. Of that, 125 acres were preserved in just the past three years.
Source: Chadds Ford Live; 10/11/2021

Montgomery County

Collegeville’s Providence Town Center is on the market
Providence Town Center in Collegeville is up for sale. The 760,000-square-foot “Main Street concept” shopping center is among several retail properties listed for sale by owner Brandolini Companies. According to Philadelphia Business Journal, the center boasts a lease rate of 92%, including a Wegmans Food Market with a lease that runs through 2029 with options beyond, a Movie Tavern, Best Buy and LA Fitness. The property could sell for $160 million or more. Brandolini closed a $114.5 million sale in July that included the Limerick Crossing shopping center, as well as the Dreshertown Plaza, Hamilton Square in New Jersey, Spring Towne Shopping Center in Bucks County, and Marketplace at Westtown and Lionville Shopping Center in Chester County.
Source: Sanatoga Post; 10/11/2021

Montco to issue new mail-in ballots after printing error
Montgomery County Election Officials were recently notified that approximately 16,000 general election mail-in ballots were printed incorrectly by the ballot vendor and mailed to residents. The ballots are easily identified as they were only printed on one side. Voters who receive a one-sided ballot in the mail should destroy the ballot and envelopes. Montgomery County Voter Services will cancel the incorrectly issued ballot materials and re-issue new, two-sided ballots to these residents automatically. The affected residents will be notified either by email, phone or mail. Sample ballots are available to view on the Montgomery County Voter Services website. Residents with questions can submit a request online or call 610-278-3280. Montgomery County sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this will cause voters.
Source: Montgomery County; 10/2/2021

PennDOT closes Pottstown Photo Center, plans to relocate
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced the Pottstown photo license center at 377 E. High St. is permanently closed. PennDOT spokesman Craig Yetter said the closure was due to a real estate issue and PennDOT is currently searching for a new location in the Pottstown area. Click here for more.
Source: Sanatoga Post; 10/9/2021

Horsham Township posts fall newsletter
The Horsham Township Fall 2021 newsletter is now available. Learn more about township programming, events and news by reading the latest edition.
Source: Horsham Township; 9/2021

Schwenksville Borough still working remotely after Ida damage
Schwenksville Borough Hall and Community Center, along with the municipal authority’s water/sewer office, received significant damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Borough Hall is closed until renovations can be completed to repair the damage. Staff are currently working remotely, and all transactions are being handled on-line. Click here for more information on how to contact the borough during renovations.
Source: Schwenksville Borough; 10/2021

Philadelphia

‘Tangled titles’ correlate to violence in some Philadelphia neighborhoods
According to Philadelphia Register of Wills Tracey L. Gordon, there’s a correlation between “tangled home titles” and violence throughout the city. A tangled title is a situation in which a home’s occupant is not the person named on the home’s title or deed. Gordon said addressing tangled titles should be part of a multi-faceted approach to reducing crime in some of Philly’s hardest hit communities — including West and Southwest Philadelphia. Read more about tangled titles in Philadelphia in a report from Pew Charitable Trusts.
Source: Chester Spirit; 10/6/2021 and Pew Charitable Trusts; 8/7/2021

Philadelphia to consider four ballot questions
Philadelphia voters will be asked to answer four questions that will appear on the ballot in November. The questions ask voters if they support: the recreational use of cannabis; the establishment of a permanent Department of Fleet Services; the amendment of the city’s hiring practices; and an earmark in the general fund to go to the city’s Housing Trust Fund.
Source: Philadelphia Votes; 2021 and Philadelphia Inquirer; 10/12/2021

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