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December 2015 Archives

Neighbors balk at moving women's shelter to vacant church rectory

The acronym "NIMBY" is familiar to many people in the Philadelphia area who get involved in neighborhood zoning disputes. The acronym stands for "Not In My Back Yard," and it refers to people who oppose the location of a controversial land use in their neighborhood. The latest NIMBY dispute involves a women's shelter in Montgomery County that wants to move its offices and facilities to a vacant church rectory in East Norriton Township and must obtain a rezoning to do so.

Understanding the basics of buying a home

For most people in Philadelphia and its suburbs, buying a home will be the largest financial transaction of their lives. Even couples who are purchasing their second or third house may be unaware of changes in the complex state and federal laws that regulate land sales. The summary that follows does not pretend to provide complete and authoritative legal advice -it merely explains the basics that are common to most if not all residential real estate purchases.

An overview of the Philadelphia land bank

After years of delay and much talk, the Philadelphia Land Bank finally opened for business on Dec. 9, 2015 with the electronic conveyance by the city of 150 properties previously owned by the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp. The land bank was originally proposed in 2013 as a means of simplifying the process of transferring vacant tax forfeit property to developers for commercial real estate development.

Tax sale challenged by owner who failed to pay property taxes

Virtually all property owners in Philadelphia understand that a failure to pay real estate taxes may ultimately result in losing title to the property. At least one such owner, however, has commenced a novel real estate dispute with the city and is now challenging the validity of a tax sale that transferred title to his property to another person.

Razing older houses also raises questions

Philadelphia and its suburbs include many houses and other buildings that were built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many Philadelphians are proud of this heritage and want to preserve these historic buildings. Other residents of the city are less enamored of the past and see little or no harm in replacing older building with modern structures. An example of this conflict is causing problems for the zoning board of Narberth township.

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