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September 2013 Archives

Pennsylvania using land banks to improve towns

A new state law in Pennsylvania, the Land Bank Act, is empowering municipalities to purchase real estate, including abandoned buildings and turn them around for development use. The law went into effect last year in October, and municipalities can use it to purchase abandoned eyesores that are a blight on their communities. The cities can work with developers to turn them around and use them for productive purposes.

Zoning battle over proposed gym and apartment complex

Residents in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia have been expressing concern over a developer's plans to rehab a now vacant industrial building at the corner of Memphis and Columbia into a residential complex. When complete, the project would have 57 separate apartments and a fitness gym. As with many battles before zoning boards, local residents' concerns can be summed up in one word: parking. They fear that 57 new apartments, plus a popular business like a fitness center, will attract a lot of traffic, and available parking in the area will be overwhelmed.

Fixtures important in many home purchases

People in Pennsylvania involved in real estate sales are understandably primarily concerned with the size and price of the home that they are buying or selling. When it comes to closing the transaction, however, it is important to make sure that it is clearly understood what items of property on the premises are regarded as fixtures that go with the building, and what can be removed by the seller while moving out.

Billboard zoning restrictions challenged

A developer in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is challenging the municipality's billboard zoning laws, responding to a recently announced move by a competitor to construct some billboards in a number of locations in town. At issue are digital billboards. Usually zoning boards control such issues and grant exceptions and variances from a city's written zoning rules. In the current controversy, hearings are being held by the city's zoning board, and the mayor is expected to testify at some point in September.

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