A shared Vision for East Allegheny July 1, 2007



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Housing Findings of Fact





  1. Single-family homes in Wall Borough experience proportionally high vacancy rates in terms of those homes vacant and not actively marketed for sale or rent. Therefore, the risk of blight within the community is an outstanding concern. Blight demonstrated in the area of Grant Street provides an opportunity for redevelopment, which may provide greater housing choices such as one level affordable housing for seniors.

  2. Vacant single-family housing in East McKeesport Borough is concentrated near the Route 30 corridor and near commercial areas.

  3. Vacant single-family housing within North Versailles Township is most prevalent in the eastern portion of the Township near the Eastland Mall.

  4. The tenure of single-family homes within North Versailles as rentals has increased by three percent from 1990 to 2000.

  5. The demand for apartment building rentals in the planning area has decreased dramatically, namely within North Versailles and has shifted toward the rental of single-family homes.

  6. East McKeesport Borough has experienced the conversion of single-family homes to duplex rental structures.

  7. North Versailles has experienced demand for additional townhouse development, single-family development, and single-family infill development.

  8. Homeownership within the planning area is achievable for current residents 25 years and younger, namely within the Boroughs. The prevalence of younger households in multi-family units within North Versailles makes homeownership less achievable for this population in terms of average monthly costs.

  9. Greater disparity between owner and renter household incomes exists in East McKeesport and North Versailles. Income levels of younger households are relatively higher and the income levels of residents as a whole within Wall are less disparate.

  10. While the average housing value within East McKeesport and North Versailles has risen since 1990, (when adjusted for inflation), the same value has fallen slightly in Wall Borough.

  11. The average days on market for single family housing within East McKeesport Borough is slightly higher than the rest of the planning area.

Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps



The following goals, objectives, and action step reference the “findings of fact” number that are most closely addressed by or form the basis of a particular objective or action step.
Goal 1: Minimize the amount and risk of residential housing blight within the planning area through the reuse and revitalization of existing structures and vacant lots and preserving the stability of predominantly single-family neighborhoods.


  • Objective 1: Adopt local land use ordinances that encourage the reuse and revitalization of existing structures and vacant lots and preserve the stability of existing single-family neighborhoods.




    • Action Step 1: Adopt zoning ordinance that includes the following elements: (I, II, IV, V, VI, VII, IX)

      • Planned Residential Development provisions that include small thresholds for number of units such that multiple lots could be redeveloped at a scale consistent with the neighborhood in which they are located. Such provisions may allow the development of townhouses or duplexes in single-family residential neighborhoods while safeguarding their character and requiring the installation of amenities such as sidewalks and landscaping.

      • Encourages the economically feasible redevelopment of currently underutilized traditional apartment dwellings as townhouse, commercial, or mixed use developments by allowing such developments as conditional uses.

      • While continuing to provide for affordable housing within the community as a whole and as an option through Planned Residential Development, eliminate duplexes and other multi-family structures as permitted uses within districts covering predominately single-family neighborhoods. Such revisions discourage the conversion of existing single-family homes as rental units.




    • Action Step 2: Adopt a subdivision ordinance that contains land development standards for residential land developments, namely multi-family developments. Such standards may include sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, vehicular ingress and egress, and parking. These standards should clearly address additions and improvements to existing developments as well as new developments to the extent permissible by the Municipalities Planning Code. (V,VI,VII)




  • Objective 2: Provide for tax incentives that encourage the improvement of currently deteriorated residential properties and properties within blighted areas. (I,II,III,V)

    • Action Step 1: Each community within the planning area should designate blighted or “deteriorating” residential areas by resolution in a manner consistent with Pennsylvania's Urban Redevelopment Law (Public Law 991) and State law noted in Action Step 2. Standards such as high vacancy rates, high rental tenure, and age of structures may be considered as outlined in this section.




    • Action Step 2: The planning area local governments should consider the act of July 9, 1971 (P.L.206, No.34), entitled "An act authorizing local taxing authorities to provide for tax exemption for certain improvements to deteriorated dwellings; providing for an exemption schedule and other limitations," as it was extended to authorize certain exemptions for improvements to deteriorating areas by the construction of new dwelling units in 1977 and last amended in 1986. The Act offers additional guidelines in the determination of “deteriorating” or “blighted” areas as follows: “unsafe, unsanitary and overcrowded buildings; vacant, overgrown and unsightly lots of ground; a disproportionate number of tax delinquent properties; excessive land coverage, defective design or arrangement of buildings, street or lot layouts; economically and socially undesirable land uses.” The communities should implement a resolution or ordinance with a mutually agreed upon tax exemption schedule, based upon options outlined in the aforementioned Act, for the assessed value of improvements to residences in blighted areas, and the assessed value of new residential units constructed therein. Such areas should include apartment buildings, if necessary.




    • Action Step 3: Discuss exemptions instituted under Step 2 with the East Allegheny School District. Provide data cited in this chapter and subsequent information relating to the deteriorated areas. Seek the school district’s participation in the tax exemptions.




  • Objective 3: Eliminate deteriorated housing stock deemed unsafe, irreparable, or unlikely to be sold or demolished by the owner. (I,II,V)




    • Action Step 1: Direct an engineer to assess those residential properties, within the planning area, most in need of demolition and rank said properties.




    • Action Step 2: Apply for Allegheny County CDBG funding for demolition activity and demolish such structures.



  • Objective 4: Maintain or improve enforcement of property maintenance provisions. (I, III, IV, V, VI)




    • Action Step 1: Each municipality within the planning area should adopt the most recent version of the International Property Maintenance Code.




    • Action Step 2: The three communities should jointly apply for funding through the Shared Municipal Services Program offered by DCED for a shared code enforcement initiative based on a cooperative agreement addressing the following:

      • Evaluate and rank property maintenance and building code violations with an emphasis on violations that directly impact more than one municipality.

      • Prosecute and seek remedy for such violations.

      • Establish a protocol for regular inspections upon change of occupancy.

      • Establish methods outlining the financial sustenance of such a program through the necessary adjustment of occupancy fees and the collection of fines from violators.




    • Action Step 3: Adopt and enforce ordinances requiring the registration of renters, corresponding licenses for landlords, and occupancy permit requirements upon change of occupancy.


Goal 2: Sustain and enhance the livability of existing and future residential developments in such a manner as to provide an adequate range of housing choices, public amenities including sidewalks, lighting, and recreation, and appropriate pedestrian and vehicular integration with business districts and collector and arterial roadways.


  • Objective 1: Seek funding to conduct a community wide survey, either a statistically valid random sample or a community wide mailing survey, to determine level of interest in a Neighborhood Improvement District as established by the State Neighborhood Improvement District Act of 2000. The Act allows local governments to establish and assess properties within a defined NID for purposes of funding a NID Management Association through special assessments on property owners within the district. The association may in turn fund and manage the development of neighborhood improvements defined in the Act as:

“Improvements needed in specific geographic areas or to individual properties within those areas, including, but not limited to, sidewalks, retaining walls, street paving, parks, recreational equipment and facilities, open space, street lighting, parking lots, trees and shrubbery, sewers, water lines, rest areas and the acquisition and rehabilitation or demolition of deteriorated buildings or structures.”

40% of property ownership within the area may formally overturn the implementation of a NID. Therefore, a sense of interest level is essential. (V, VII, X, XI)




    • Action Step 1: Seek funding for the survey cited. Possible sources may include Duquesne Light’s Community Outreach Program and the Heinz Foundation.




    • Action Step 2: Conduct necessary surveys and determine level of interest.




    • Action Step 3: Seek a Planning Grant through the State’s Elm Street Program to fund the implementation process.




    • Action Step 4: Identify “neighborhood improvement” needs within possible NID’s and take necessary steps toward designation of such districts.




  • Objective 2: Provide an adequate range of housing choices. (IX, V, VI, VII)




    • Action Step 1: Provide for “mixed use” developments and include the opportunity for a variety of housing types with Planned Residential Developments in new zoning ordinance. Utilizing conditional use standards, provide for housing geared toward an aging population. (VII, IX)




  • Objective 3: Market the characteristics of the communities to potential residents and developers.




    • Action Step 1: Utilize a joint Request for Proposal process to select a real estate or real estate marketing firm to market the programs and amenities offered by the communities.




    • Action Step 2: Work with the selected firm and provide relevant information.




    • Action Step 3: Disseminate information to local business association.



Long Term Housing Goals: The aforementioned programs and policies, in conjunction with economic development initiatives, may provide the basis for funding and designation sought through Pennsylvania’s Elm Street Program. This and other housing and neighborhood improvement programs may further solidify and sustain the related action steps noted above.

Table 30, Planned Timeline of Implementation and Funding Sources





Goal

Objective

Action Step

Timeline

Funding Source

Estimated Costs

Responsible Party

1

1

1

2007

LUPTAP, LGA, Local

$ 20,000.00
JPC







2

2007

LUPTAP, LGA, Local

$ 12,000.00

JPC




2

1

2007

Local



JPC, ME, LGB







2

2007







JPC, ME







3

2007 and ongoing







JPC, ME




3

1

2007

Local



ME







2

2007 and ongoing

CDBG




ME




4

1

2007







LGB







2

2007-2008

Shared Municipal Services, Local

$ 15,000.00

LGB with NVT as lead.







3

2007







LGB

2

1

1

2007

Duquesne Light, Heinz Foundation

$10,000-$15,000
JPC, LA







2

2007







JPC, LA







3

2007

Elm Street Program/Local

$25,000

NVT, Admin







4

2008-2010







JPC, LGB, ME




2

1

2007

LUPTAP, LGA, Local

Same as 1,1,1

JPC




3

1

2007







JPC, LGB







2

2007-2010






LA







3

2007-2010







LA

Long Term







2010-2015









LGB= Local Governing Body

JPC = Joint Municipal Planning Commission

LA = Local Administration (Municipal Secretary and appointed staff)

ME = Municipal Engineer

NVT = North Versailles Township (Administration and Board of Commissioners)


The preceding objectives, through the implementation of the action steps recommended, should be re-evaluated at the very least, after a period of five years after plan adoption. More immediate objectives and action steps may be evaluated sooner at the discretion of the communities. The following provide some examples of monitoring or evaluation that in turn may modify the action steps recommended to implement the preceding objectives.


  • Use tabular tax record data provided by the County to determine average purchase price of residential properties by use code (single family, duplex, townhouse) and compare to past years.




  • Tabulate and compare the value of residential improvements noted on building permits (structural remodeling, additions, etc.) to existing aggregate values in past years.




  • Using building permit data, consider new homes built, the type of dwelling, its intended tenure, and units built or converted to multi-family dwellings.




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