Suburban REALTORS® Alliance
News Brief Headlines
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- NAR to Administration: Do No Harm to Housing
- State budget proposal could slow school district construction
- PA Anti-Texting Law will go into effect in early March
- DVRPC to launch first Classic Town photo contest
- Nockamixon to challenge gas drilling law
- Upper Southampton working to keep neighborhoods dry
- County commissioners debate legal notices
- Bensalem denies charter school
- Alliance disagrees with W. Brandywine interpretation of IBC
- Coatesville officials bargain for parking lots
- Great Valley school officials discuss budget gap
- Coventry Mall not closing, but will challenge its assessment
- Glenolden tables sewer lateral ordinance
- Upland councilman takes oath
- Haverford rules against billboards
- Worcester Township sign regulations
- Cheltenham approves antidiscrimination ordinance
- Upper Dublin School District reduces proposed tax hike
- Lower Merion appoints 55 to Comprehensive Plan committees
- Lower Merion School District bond-sale results in lower proposed tax increase
NAR to Administration: Do No Harm to Housing
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is strongly opposed to elements of President Obama’s budget proposal that would limit itemized deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, for thousands of families. NAR firmly believes that the mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy. NAR President Moe Veissi noted the importance of protecting the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) and capital gains in a recent statement: “The MID must not be targeted for change. Any modifications to the deductibility of mortgage interest will harm housing and homeowners, and until housing markets have stabilized, there cannot be a robust economic recovery. Realtors® are actively engaged to ensure that America’s 75 million home owners will continue to receive this important benefit.” Veissi said that NAR also strongly opposes eliminating capital gains treatment for any carried interest of a real estate investment partnership. “The loss of capital gains treatment for income from a carried interest could disrupt the conventional business model and places an unfair tax burden on general partners,” he explained. “Ultimately, this would negatively impact commercial real estate investment.”
Source: National Association of REALTORS; 2/13/2012
State budget proposal could slow school district construction
Pennsylvania school districts planning construction projects may soon hit a financial snag if Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget is approved. The proposed budget calls for a freeze on accepting applications to PlanCon – the program that school districts follow to request reimbursement funds from the state for capital projects. School administrators are worried that a reduction or moratorium on reimbursement will require districts to make up the difference with local tax dollars, which are already limited by Act 1 guidelines.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 2/21/2012
PA Anti-Texting Law will go into effect in early March
A new law that will outlaw texting while driving in Pennsylvania will go into effect on March 8. The law prohibits as a primary offense any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) – such as a smart phone, wireless phone or portable computer- to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion. Text based communications are considered text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD. The texting ban does not include the use of a GPS device, a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle, or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus. Cellphone use is also permissible under the law. The new law will supersede any local ordinances regulating texting while driving that had previously been in place.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 11/3/2011
DVRPC to launch first Classic Town photo contest
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) announced the launch of its first ever “I Love Classic Towns” photo contest. The contest is part of DVRPC’s groundbreaking Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia program and is designed to engage the community in showcasing the region’s unique neighborhoods in both the city and suburbs. At present, there are 20 towns designated as Classic Towns by the DVRPC. They include: Ambler, Bristol Borough, Kennett Square, Lansdale, Lansdowne, New Hope, Phoenixville, Souderton/Telford, and West Chester. For more information, visit www.classictowns.org.
Source: Avon Grove Sun; 2/16/2012
Nockamixon to challenge gas drilling law
A new state law was recently passed that eliminates a municipality’s authority to determine where gas companies may drill within their boundary. The law also provides an impact fee for unconventional wells drilled within the Marcellus Shale region. Nockamixon Township does not lie within the Marcellus Shale rock formation; rather it sits atop the Lockatong and Stockton rock formations. Therefore, any well drilled within the township would be considered conventional and not entitled to collect an impact fee. The Nockamixon board of supervisors recently authorized a legal challenge to the new law to provide clarification for differing interpretations of the law. State Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-10), feels that the new state law does not preempt local zoning in Bucks County and that conventional wells are not included in the law. Nockamixon Township attorney Jordan Yeager and Sen. McIlhinney will request a clarification from senate attorneys. Recently, Turm Oil submitted a permit application to drill a natural gas well on the former Cabot Chemical property on Beaver Run Road in Nockamixon.
Source: PhillyBurbs.com; 2/23/2012
Upper Southampton working to keep neighborhoods dry
Upper Southampton has begun work on two new storm water management projects to provide future relief for flood prone neighborhoods. The first is Joan Drive, which has an existing storm system that is too small to handle extreme precipitation. The second is the Willow Street project near Willow Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, which is also prone to flooding during heavy precipitation. Upper Southampton supervisors will plan a meeting with homeowners in the flood prone areas to provide important input for storm water planning.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 2/23/2012
County commissioners debate legal notices
Bucks County commissioners recently selected The Intelligencer and Philadelphia Inquirer as the newspapers of record for public notices on election deadlines and polling places in 2012 and 2013. Commissioner Diane Marseglia disagreed with the decision, stating that the Bucks County Courier Times should be considered because it has higher local readership than the Inquirer. Commissioners Robert Loughery and Charley Martin stated the decision was due to the state law that requires the county to approve contracts with the two lowest bidders. The proposed cost of the legal ads will be $45,000 through Dec. 2013 for The Intelligencer, and approximately $12,500 for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 2/23/2012
Bensalem denies charter school
For the second time this year the Bensalem School Board has denied the application of a proposed charter school within the district. The school board denied the Isaac Newtown Academy Charter application because the school proposed offering educational programs that are similar to the district’s offerings and lacked specific information for sustainable support for the charter plan. Charter schools are funded with tax money from the school district. In a letter to the community, the Bensalem Township School District provides clarification of charter school funding, state legislative mandates and the charter school application process. Click here for the letter.
Source: PhillyBurbs.com; 2/23/2012
Alliance disagrees with West Brandywine interpretation of International Building Code
West Brandywine Township supervisors recently voted to end a “moratorium” on conducting point-of-sale use and occupancy inspections of residential real estate. After a long and heated debate over whether the township should move forward with an inspection program, the board voted 2-1 in favor of inspections. Supervisor Thomas McCaffrey voted against the measure. Supervisor William Webb, who began serving on the board in January and is the building codes officer in Valley, supports the inspections and asserted that the township could be liable for negligence if it does not require inspections. During the debate Township Manager Ronald Rambo claimed that the inspection program is required because the township has adopted the PA Uniform Construction Code (UCC), which includes the International Building Code (IBC). Both the Suburban REALTORS Alliance and PA Department of Labor and Industry – which regulates the UCC – disagree with Rambo’s interpretation of the IBC and its impact on the sale of existing homes. Alliance staff is currently in discussions with the township, but encourages REALTORS® to follow the new requirements until further notice. The township is currently compiling a list of potential inspection items.
Source: Daily Local; 2/21/2012
Coatesville officials bargain for parking lots
The Coatesville Redevelopment Authority authorized a lease agreement that allows the city to use some of its properties for fee-operated parking lots. According to the agreement, the authority will lease 300 E. Lincoln Highway, 7070 E. Lincoln Highway and 706 Diamond St. to the city for either permit or paid parking. The authority wants to retain ownership of the property in case of any future developments. Authority The authority still owes the city $7 million from a loan a few years ago, and the rental payment from the city could be used as debt relief.
Source: Daily Local; 2/22/2012
Great Valley school officials discuss budget gap
Great Valley School District has begun mapping out a strategy for closing the budget gap for the 2012-13 school year and beyond. The preliminary budget for the school district, which was approved Jan. 17, is $79.1 million — a 2.4 percent increase over the 2011-12 school year. Even with a $3.8 million supplement from reserve funds, a $1.47 million budget gap remains. According to Superintendent Alan Lonoconus, revenue shortfalls, due to charter or vocational technical schools and a decrease in real estate values, will result in tax increases and making up the difference with the reserve balance. The reserve fund is expected to be completely depleted by the 2016-17 school year if the current pattern of revenue shortfalls continues. Lonoconus also said that the district can expect to see about $2.5 million in reduction to the school budget every year for the next three years. The administration also plans to host community outreach meetings to discuss the budget, the first one taking place in East Whiteland on a to-be-determined date. The school board plans to approve a final budget by June 4.
Source: Daily Local; 2/19/2012
Coventry Mall not closing, but will challenge its assessment
Contrary to rumors, Coventry Mall will not close or be put up for sale anytime soon, but mall officials do plan to once again challenge the property’s current tax assessment. An appeal filed last summer that would have reduced the mall’s assessment from $54.9 million to $51 million was denied by the Chester County assessment board in September, according to North Coventry Township Manager Kevin Hennessey. The mall currently pays $1.5 million in property taxes to the Owen J. Roberts School District, $217,728 in property taxes to Chester County, and $87,860 in annual property taxes to North Coventry Township. All three taxing entities are sharing the cost of having a new appraisal of the property conducted for use in the court case.
Source: Daily Local; 2/23/2012
Glenolden tables sewer lateral ordinance
Glenolden Borough Council tabled an amendment that would establish sewer lateral inspections at the point-of-sale in response to concerns raised by the Suburban Realtors Alliance. The tabled amendment to the borough’s current sewer ordinance would have set regulations for all sanitary sewer lateral connections, established requirements and timing for authorized inspections, and described proper maintenance practices for laterals. Alliance staff has sent a letter outlining several concerns with the ordinance’s potential impact on the transfer of property. Borough officials have indicated that they will meet with the Alliance to discuss the amendment.
Upland councilman takes oath
Dan Smith received the oath of office from Upland Mayor Michael Ciach as the newest member of council, representing the second precinct. Smith replaces Georgiana Cassidy-Hicks, who resigned from council last month. A 12-year borough resident, Smith is beginning his seventh year as a member of the Upland Fire Co., where he currently serves as chief. He views his appointment as an extension of his concern for public safety and the community.
Source: Daily Times; 2/22/2012
Haverford rules against billboards
Haverford zoning officials voted to deny and dismiss Bartkowski Investment Group’s (BIG) validity challenge to township zoning ordinances regarding advertising signs, along with BIG’s proposal to install 672-square foot, double-faced billboards at 1157, 1330 and 2040 West Chester Pike in Havertown and 600 and 658 Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr. BIG alleged that Haverford’s sign ordinance improperly and unconstitutionally excludes non-accessory outdoor advertising signs and billboards. Non-accessory or off-premise signs advertise a product of service “elsewhere than upon the property on which the sign is located.” Township Solicitor Jim Byrne offered that ads on bus and trolley shelters, shopping carts, ball fields and the Skatium are examples of different types of off premise signs that are allowed within the township. Many residents in the audience applauded the decision, but a representative from BIG vowed to challenge the decision.
Source: Daily Times; 2/19/2012
Worcester Township sign regulations
REALTORS® doing business within Worcester Township are reminded that the Worcester Township Code of Ordinances prohibits the placement of off-site “Open House” or “For Sale” directional signs. Non-compliant signage will be removed by Worcester Township. Click here for the Worcester Township Municipal Information page that includes information regarding posting “For Sale” signs on a residential property in Worcester Township. Please contactWorcester Township with specific questions.
Cheltenham approves anti-discrimination ordinance
Cheltenham Township became the 27th Pennsylvania municipality to enact an anti-discrimination ordinance that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents. The ordinance prohibits discrimination against LGBT residents in matters of public or housing accommodation, commercial property or employment, and establishes a nine-member human relations commission to receive and resolve complaints. The township is accepting applications for the Human Relations Commission. Click here for more information about the application process and the ordinance.
Source: Glenside News; 2/17/2012
Upper Dublin School District reduces proposed tax hike
As anticipated, the Upper Dublin school board announced that its proposed maximum tax increase has decreased from 4.47 percent to 4.24 percent. The reduction is due to changes in calculations of Act 1 exemptions for special education and pension funding. A 4.24 percent increase would amount to a $5,526 tax bill for the average home assessed at $192,000 in the district. The school board will begin budget presentations in March, with special meetings planned in March and April dedicated to the budget. Visit the newly redesigned Upper Dublin School District website for more information.
Source: Ambler Gazette; 2/17/2012
Lower Merion appoints 55 to Comprehensive Plan committees
The Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners recently approved the appointment of 55 volunteers to serve on committees tasked with the completion of a new comprehensive plan. The last update to Lower Merion’s comprehensive plan was in 1979. The committees will each be chaired by a member of the township planning commission and include: Land Use, Housing, Circulation, Community Facilities and Infrastructure and Water and Energy Resource Conservation. A kick-off meeting for the next phase of the Comprehensive Plan update will occur on March 5 at 6 p.m. at the Township Building, 75 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore. All committee meetings will be open to the public.
Source: Main Line Times; 2/21/2012
Lower Merion School District bond-sale results in lower proposed tax increase
Officials in the Lower Merion School District expect to cut an anticipated school tax increase by nearly half due to an unexpected windfall from a bond sale last month. The bond refinance was initially expected to save $2.1 million, but has increased to $3.3 million. The savings from the sale will be used to cut the anticipated 3.92 percent tax increase listed in the preliminary budget. The cut is expected at an upcoming meeting, visit www.lmsd.org for more information.
Source: Main Line Times; 2/21/20112