Allentown Planners Warm To Cottage Houses Proposed At Former Montex Plant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A developer proposing a community of cottage-style houses at the former Montex Textiles plant in Allentown hopes to start working on the homes by the summer.

The 52-home complex, first proposed last year, emphasizes shared community green spaces and pedestrian-friendly streets to encourage a “front-porch culture” among neighbors.

The Allentown Planning Commission reviewed the sketch plan for the Sixth and Cumberland streets project today, and although a final vote will be held in the future, the early feedback was generally favorable.

“I think it’s a refreshing approach,” commission Chairman Oldrich Foucek said of the project, which is called Trout Creek Cottages.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/03/allentown_planners_warm_to_cot.html

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New Reading Authority Racing To Meet Deadline For State CRIZ Application

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At its second meeting in as many days, the newly formed City of Reading Revitalization and Improvement Zone Authority continued racing a Nov. 30 deadline to apply for a state CRIZ designation.

“If we win, I hope the new zone will create jobs to help stimulate our economy and the community’s growth,” said Mike Toledo, director of the Daniel Torres Hispanic Center and authority treasurer.

The CRIZ program was created by recent state legislation to provide economic development and job creation within a city. Only two Pennsylvania third-class cities will receive that zone designation in 2013. Other candidates are Allentown, Bethlehem, Altoona, Wilkes-Barre, Chester, Erie, Lancaster and York.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519889

Ten Years Of Cabela’s: Tons Of Taxes, Tons Of Business

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a poor place for businesses, planners thought.

The slopes of farmland in northern Berks County would be difficult to build on.

Nearby roads were heavily traveled, but didn’t provide a good way in.

The infrastructure improvements necessary to fix those problems would be expensive, and zoning laws would complicate the process.

That was how the Berks County Planning Commission and a national site selection firm viewed 150 acres of fields near Route 61 in Tilden Township a little over a decade ago.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=513221

92-Home Development Proposed In Douglass (Mont.)

Location of Douglass Township in Montgomery County

Location of Douglass Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DOUGLASS (Mont.) — A developer has proposed clustering 92 single-family homes on 47 acres off Congo Road and leaving the remainder of the 70 acres of the property as open space or park land.

Located on a 117-acre pice of land known as the “Hallowell Tract,” the site is located at the intersection of Congo and Hallowell roads and is a former farm.

In fact, the site is surrounded by farmland that has been permanently protected, said township Supervisor Fred Thiel.

Montgomery County Planner Meredith Curran told the members of the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee Thursday that the project was first submitted in 2005 and so is guided by the previous zoning for that area of town, which allows for one house per acre.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130329/NEWS01/130329256/92-home-development-proposed-in-douglass-(mont-)#full_story

Johnstown Battles Blight

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cambria County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cambria County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JOHNSTOWN, PA — What was once The Rib Rack restaurant is now an eyesore and a hazard.

The building, located at 405 Strayer St. in Johnstown’s West End, is in a state of decay, with crumbling bricks, broken rain spout, boarded windows and weeds.

Soon, though, the building will be razed.

Its demolition is part of an ongoing effort by City Council and the Community and Economic Development Department to remove blight from the town.

Since the fall of last year, 66 structures have been razed.  The Rib Rack is next on the list.  Work has started in the past few days.

Read more:  http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x1951926811/City-battles-blight

Showing Our Age? Lancaster County Looking At Slowing Growth And Aging Population

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lancaster County is growing, but the growth is slowing.

That report in last week’s Sunday News undoubtedly gave advocates of agricultural preservation and open space cause to celebrate.  After a 30-year period (from 1980 to 2010) of 43.3 percent population growth, the percentage is projected to be 25.5 percent by 2040.

While that translates into another 132,555 residents — moving the population from 519,445 in 2010 to 652,000 in 2040 — what gives us pause is the demographics of the projected growth.

Lancaster County planners said the biggest bump in population is expected to come from people older than 65. In other words, the county, already on its way to becoming a retirement mecca, will be growing by graying.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/760892_Showing-our-age-.html#ixzz2A2c3OHxm

Scranton City Council Threatens University Of Scranton With Zoning Roadblocks

Editor’s note:  This is just irresponsible and shortsighted.  The University of Scranton brings jobs, money and prestige to Scranton; as well as a reason to go downtown.  Scranton City Council needs to get their act together instead of retaliating against a good corporate citizen.

Miffed over the University of Scranton’s recent lawsuit against the city over its new parking tax, city council on Thursday threatened to oppose any zoning variance that the college may need from the city for various improvements, such as dorms or parking lots.

Asked by council President Janet Evans to address this issue, council solicitor Boyd Hughes said he was dismayed that the university sued the city over the parking tax, because over the years the city has facilitated the university’s growth.  Rather, the college should be donating millions of dollars to the city, he said.

The university’s growth since the 1960s stemmed from what was known as the “University Plan” approved many years ago by the Scranton Redevelopment Authority, which involved the SRA condemning properties for university expansion, he said.  But the college has since spread beyond its “institutional district” into residential areas, Mr. Hughes claimed.

The university has received variances from the city zoning board for improvements such as a dorm and parking areas in residential areas that “should have never been granted” by the zoning board.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-city-council-threatens-university-of-scranton-with-zoning-roadblocks-1.1376796

Shuttered Schools Are Costly To Keep But Selling Them Can Be Unprofitable

When a school’s doors are closed for good, a building that cost millions to build can sit vacant and unused for years until it’s sold for a fraction of its worth.

The state of the economy, zoning laws and the institutional makeup of the structures all make schools a hard sell. And as long as the district owns the building, it has to pay for maintenance even if no warm bodies are moving through the hallways.

Doug Haring, a city real estate appraiser, said selling schools has become brutally expensive.

“Everything is a lot harder to do today, and that translates into more expense,” Haring said, referring to stricter zoning laws and municipal building code restrictions.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396633