Congress Renews TRIA Through 2020
Both the House and Senate have passed H.R. 26, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015. The bill has been sent to the White House for signature by President Obama into law. This follows strong advocacy efforts by NAR in support of reauthorization, including many visits to Congressional offices, letters to both the House and Senate, and participation as a steering committee member in the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT). H.R. 26 renews the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program for six years, keeping it alive through 2020. This program expired on Dec. 31, 2014, when the Senate failed to reauthorize it before adjourning for the year. While that was disappointing, leadership in both the House and Senate stated at the time that it would be a priority in the 114th Congress, and NAR is pleased that they carried through on that promise. Along with reauthorizing the program, H.R. 26 makes a few changes to further protect the federal government from risk – it raises the trigger amount for the program from $100 million to $200 million, and increases the mandatory recoupment amount from $27.5 billion to $37.5 billion, along with decreasing the government’s share in losses from 85% to 80%. Otherwise, it makes few changes to a program that has kept terrorism risk insurance affordable and available throughout the country since 2002, at virtually no cost to taxpayers.
Source: Realtor.org; 1/9/2015
Feds schedule PennEast Pipeline hearings
Federal regulators announced the first set of public meetings in the formal review process that will ultimately determine whether the proposed PennEast Pipeline will be built, where it would go and what environmental protections would be required. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold five public listening sessions in late January and early February – including a local “scoping” session on Feb. 10 at Northampton Community College – to collect testimony that will influence an environmental impact statement on the pipeline. That document will guide construction if the pipeline is approved and built. A second set of hearings will be conducted when a draft of the statement is released, probably later this year. Residents, land owners in the path of the pipeline and others are invited to comment on the $1 billion plan to build a natural gas transmission line from northeastern Pennsylvania, through Northampton County, to a distribution terminal outside Trenton. The first hearing on the PennEast proposal will be held Jan. 27 at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey. Others will be held in Jim Thorpe, Wilkes Barre and Newtown as well as Northampton County Community College in Bethlehem Township. Public comments can be submitted to FERC through the eComment feature on its website http://www.ferc.gov under the link to documents and filings referencing docket number PF15-1-000. Click here for the FERC notice with specific meeting information.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 1/14/2015
New Bensalem roadway opens
After nearly 10 years of waiting, a road connecting Galloway and Bridgewater roads has opened in Bensalem. Construction of the two-lane, 1,751-foot-long road between Hulmeville and Byberry roads wrapped up recently after work started last spring, officials said. The goal of the project is to relieve traffic from the busy 513 corridor (Hulmeville Road) and provide better and safer access to local businesses. The four-phase project included the installation of a 2-foot sidewalk on the side of the new road closest to Bensalem High School, 12-foot turn lanes as well as drainage improvements and fixes to a culvert that runs over a branch of the Neshaminy Creek. New traffic lights and pedestrian crosswalks add to the safety improvements of the $3.5 million project paid for through federal and state funds.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 1/13/2015
Yardley Borough experiences a banner year of economic development
Yardley Borough kept pace with the post-recession national economy in 2014 by adding 15 new businesses and seeing over $1.1 million in private reinvestment in commercial property construction and improvements within the historic downtown. Three new restaurants were added, along with an arts and entertainment destination and other primarily smaller office and professional companies including accounting, counseling, real estate and legal services. Three businesses chose to change space within the borough to facilitate their ongoing growth, proving that Yardley Borough is a desirable location to stay, invest and expand. Yardley Borough Council continues to streamline and simplify the permitting process and prove their motto that “if a business is right for Yardley, we’ll make Yardley right for that business,” according to Borough Councilman Jef Buehler. With two significant multi-million dollar business construction and rehabilitation projects slated for this year, 2015 promises to bring even more retail, residents and class-A office space to the borough.
Source: The Advance; 1/11/2015
Commissioners, Board of Judges dedicate new justice center
On Jan. 10 a new era of jurisprudence dawned in Bucks County with the dedication of the Bucks County Justice Center. Led by President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley, the event opened with a formal procession of judges to the bench, forming two rows along with the commissioners, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Pennsylvania Lt. Governor James F. Cawley (both former commissioners). “It’s an auspicious and historic day for Bucks County,” said Commissioner Rob Loughery, who is serving his fourth consecutive year as chair of the three-member board that includes Charles H. Martin and Diane Marseglia. Describing commissioners’ business as somewhat routine with regard to approving contracts and managing financial matters, the chairman noted the unique nature of the Justice Center dedication, adding, “We are part of history today. I know this facility will serve the residents of Bucks County and the judiciary well into the future.” The ceremony was followed by a series of ribbon cuttings in the two-story glass lobby of the 285,000-square-foot building, which features space for all of the County’s court-related department personnel to conduct business. It is the fourth courthouse built in Doylestown Borough, following facilities erected in 1812, 1878 and 1960-62. Court operations are expected to commence following a series of moving dates, the first of which will take place over the extended Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend.
Source: Bucks County; 1/11/2015
Pottstown council backs off annual inspection plan for rentals
Pottstown Borough Council recently backed off a plan to inspect every borough rental property once a year. Council President Stephen Toroney and Vice President Travis Gery publicly backed away from the inspection plan after the revelation that roughly half of the rental properties in the borough are unlicensed. Licensing and Inspections Director Keith Place outlined his plans for annual inspections of the 5,400 to 5,600 rentals in town, but estimated that 2,500 of them are not licensed. “Residents are crying about crime, and where these unlicensed rentals are is where a lot of the crime is,” said Torroney. “Finding these unlicensed rentals and getting them into compliance should come first.” Local attorney Jack Koury agreed with Toroney that focusing on the unlicensed properties will yield better quality-of-life results because most of the landlords who are licensed are “already following the rules” and need less oversight than those skirting the regulations. “We welcome inspections, but don’t abuse (landlords following the rules) by having annual inspections when you have 2,600 rental properties that are not even registered. Get the deadbeats, shut them down, and you’ll get more professional landlords,” Koury said. The change from rental inspections every five years to once a year was among several included in proposed updates to the rental ordinance.
Source: Pottstown Mercury; 1/12/2015
Norristown launches mobile app
The Municipality of Norristown recently announced an update to its website and the launch of a mobile app. The redesigned website, www.Norristown.org, allows residents to submit service requests, file Right-to-Know petitions, report power outages, potholes and other complaints. According to Norristown Administrator Crandall Jones, the moves are part of a larger goal for “improved transparency and access to municipal services.” The Norristown mobile app offers real-time alerts, secure payments to the borough, municipal job openings, a town calendar, and a restaurant guide. The app is available for free on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 1/13/2015
Applications available for Lower Merion’s 2015-16 Community Development Block Grants
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program allocation, provides funding for a variety of activities that create viable urban neighborhoods, decent housing, suitable living environments and economic opportunities – principally for low- and moderate-income residents of Lower Merion Township. These activities include: rehabilitation of owner-occupied homes; affordable housing activities; rehabilitation of community facilities; public service activities; curbing and sidewalk improvements; removal of architectural barriers; historic preservation; and planning studies. In order to be considered for funding, a project must accomplish one or more of the CDBG National Objectives and be eligible for funding as set forth in federal regulations. Local non-profit and governmental agencies may apply to Lower Merion Township for funding. Anyone interested in receiving an application should contact Kathryn Morris at the Community Development Division of the Lower Merion Building & Planning Department, at (610) 645-6271. The deadline for application submission is Friday, February 13, 2015 at 4 p.m.
Source: Lower Merion Township; 1/12/2015
Upper Salford budget holds taxes steady
A $1.5 million 2015 budget was approved by the Upper Salford Township Board of Supervisors at a special meeting held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 30, 2014. The property tax rate remains unchanged at 1.5 mills. At that rate, the owner of a home assessed at $250,000 pays $375 in property taxes. Each mill equals $1 of taxes per $1,000 of assessed property value. In another tax-related move, the board eliminated the street light tax – a tax that had been around since the 1920s and was billed to the homeowners in the street light district in the village of Salfordville. The money raised from the tax was used to pay the electric bills for the street lights.
Source: Times Herald; 12/31/2014
This information was obtained from Suburban Realtor's Alignment ...