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New law gives towns, boroughs access to key planning tool for first time

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Pennsylvania state government-capitol-PA legislature- pa general assembly

HARRISBURG, Pa.– Gov. Tom Wolf this week signed into law a measure that will place a key planning tool into the hands of smaller towns and boroughs for the first time.  Act 58 was sponsored by state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced.

It will eliminate an arbitrary size restriction that has permitted cities of all sizes to create redevelopment authorities while prohibiting towns and boroughs from doing so unless they have a population of 10,000 or more.

“Redevelopment authorities are true instruments of change, Longietti said." It’s through these essential planning bodies that true progress is made – ideas take shape, blight is cleared, lots and abandoned property are repurposed and real, concrete changes to a community’s landscape take root. For years, planners in towns and boroughs have tried establishing these boards, only to be told that their population doesn’t meet the size restriction. At the same time, small cities – some no larger than those towns and boroughs – have been permitted to do so. There was no justification for this arbitrary restriction."

Longietti said that there are at least 25 cities in Pennsylvania with a population of fewer than 10,000 – including one with just over 800 people – that are permitted to establish their own redevelopment authorities.

He said the motivation for the bill came from Greenville Town Council President Paul Hamill, who told Longietti that the council has an interest in considering a redevelopment authority to address blight but was unable to do so because the town did not meet the population threshold.

Longietti also credited Hamill in helping to shepherd the bill by garnering the support of the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs.

The law goes into effect in 60 days, on Sept. 12.

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