MAYOR PAPENFUSE LAUDS CITY COUNCIL’S ADOPTION OF HISTORIC LEGISLATION TO SPUR SMART GROWTH IN HARRISBURG
July 10, 2014
HARRISBURG – Mayor Eric Papenfuse on Wednesday lauded the City Council’s passage of a new zoning ordinance and other historic legislation that he says will spur smart economic growth in Harrisburg.
“The City Council’s passage of a new zoning ordinance, as well as adoption of our proposal for a Land Bank are of monumental importance to the city’s future,” Mayor Papenfuse said. “We worked collaboratively with council members on key legislation that will profoundly impact our efforts to develop a housing strategy and stimulate economic development.”
City Council members on Tuesday night passed several important resolutions that the Administration proposed, including a new zoning code, innovative use of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and creation of a Land Bank to allow the city to acquire blighted properties.
The new zoning code is the result of months of collaboration between city council members and the Administration to update the city ordinance that dated back to the 1950s. The city went from having 29 different zones to having 9 zones.
“The new zoning code will allow us to move forward to stimulate smart growth in our city,” Papenfuse said. “The old zoning code was unwieldy, unworkable and a hindrance to our plans for economic development.”
Homeowners as well as businesses will benefit from the simplified zoning code, Papenfuse said, as it will allow “a more flexible use of property.”
A key aspect of the new zoning ordinance will allow homeowners to more easily start home-based businesses, he said. “Now, the City Council and the Administration have a solid basis to begin work on the new Comprehensive Plan to promote economic growth for the years ahead,” Papenfuse said.
The adoption of the Land Bank is another important ordinance that the City Council adopted, Papenfuse said. The ordinance allows the city the right of first-refusal at the judicial sales level and permits the city to acquire clusters of properties for redevelopment.
“This is a major tool in our efforts to tackle the problem of abandoned and blighted properties in our city,” Papenfuse said. “We can now proceed to refine our strategy to improve the housing stock in our city.
Specifically, the Land Bank will allow the city to acquire vacant or abandoned properties, improve them and return them to the tax rolls. A Land Bank Board will be created and will maintain close contact with the Dauphin County Tax Claims office to receive information about property sales in the city.
For the first time, the city also will use federal CDBG funds to support city services such as police and fire, the Mayor said. In addition to providing the traditional grants to non-profits in the city, the Council approved use of the funds to acquire a new patrol car for the Harrisburg Police Department, to repair roofs at Harrisburg Fire Stations, to hire new Code Enforcement officers and to invest in city parks and playgrounds.
The City Council approved spending $300,000 of the CDBG funds to support the city’s Housing Rehabilitation Program and another $150,000 to support the Housing Demolition Program. Both programs are part of the Administration’s plans to financially support needy homeowners and improve the city’s housing stock, Papenfuse said.
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