One stop shopping. That is the goal of the bill that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law on January 13, 2014, creating the Philadelphia Land Bank. The Land Bank, which is to be fully operational by the end of this year, is intended to streamline and consolidate the process by which the City acquires and sells vacant and tax delinquent properties. The Land Bank will also act as the single repository for the approximately 9,500 vacant and surplus properties currently owned by the City through three separate entities: the City, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.
Starting August 31, 2013, municipalities will have to provide advance notice electronically or by mail of certain proceedings to landowners who have requested such notice in writing. Under amendments to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on July 2, 2013, municipalities must provide landowners with the requested electronic notice or mailed notice of public hearings regarding the enactment of zoning ordinances and amendments.
Well that didn’t take long. Last August, following a four year process, the City of Philadelphia’s comprehensive new zoning code became law. Because of the law’s broad scope and sweeping changes, it was agreed that the Code would be revisited one year after its enactment to determine its effectiveness and to consider making any necessary changes. Yet, on January 24, 2013, a mere 5 months later ,the Philadelphia City Council, overriding a veto by Mayor Michael Nutter, passed Bill No. 120889 by a vote of 13-3 and amended the new Code, significantly complicating pre-hearing interaction between neighbors and developers which the Code was intended to streamline. While Council has enacted some minor “clean-up” amendments to the Code since August, this amendment could have substantial consequences.
The redevelopment of vacant and blighted parcels has been a cumbersome, frustrating and, in many cases unsuccessful, process for municipalities and developers alike. Pennsylvania’s new land bank legislation could change all that. Philadelphia, with its own land bank legislation is poised to take advantage of the state legislation.
The Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department will once again exhibit at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) National Conference & Deal Making Idea Exchange, this year located at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ on September 11 & 12. The Conference provides an opportunity for real estate professionals to network and focus on getting deals done.
All in favor of residential property tax relief, raise your hand! And, if you own an eligible home in the City of Philadelphia, apply now. The City is offering its residential homeowners the opportunity to apply for a Homestead Exemption. The Homestead Exemption would reduce the assessed value of an eligible home by $15,000 or more, and consequently lower the real estate taxes owed by the homeowner because the homeowner would pay real estate tax only on the reduced assessment.
On May 1, 2012, a law took effect that will allow New Jersey farmers and wineries to skip wholesalers and sell directly to retailers and consumers. The new law grants similar rights to out-of-state wineries and finally cleared the way for the Garden State to begin issuing new winery licenses to growers. While local business and political leaders are hoping the relaxed regulations will encourage further investment in the state’s wine industry, producers, retailers, and wine lovers alike are cheering the increased access to locally-grown wines ahead of the summer tourism season.
Pennsylvania’s Alcohol Sale Privatization Debate: What Does It Mean for Retail Beer and Wine Sellers?
Pennsylvania’s state-run stores could be on the verge of losing their decades-old monopoly on wine and liquor sales. On December 13, 2011, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Liquor Control Committee voted 15-10 to approve an amended version of Pennsylvania House Bill 11, (“Pa. H.B. 11”), which would allow the state’s 1,200 beer retailers to sell wine to the public, in competition with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (“PLCB”) 620 state-run stores. Notably, large supermarket chains within the state stand to gain an enormous benefit from the proposed law, which would allow for the first time in-store wine sales, as well as limited in-store tasting events. The proposed legislation now sits before the full House, awaiting floor debate, additional amendments, and a possible vote. The process could begin as early as this month.
An 1881 deed and an 1882 Supreme Court decision formed the background for a very modern controversy recently addressed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The decision, Butler v. Estate of Powers, casts a shadow over ownership rights in natural gas contained in the Marcellus Shale formation, and has left many companies in the “fracking” industry uncertain about what they own.
The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) annual PA/NJ/DE Idea Exchange is coming up soon. Although the show usually is held in mid-September, this year it has been pushed back to October 12-13. As in the past, the show will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will provide an opportunity for real estate professionals to network and focus on getting deals done.