House passes Longietti bill to assist municipal planning

Would eliminate size restriction for creating redevelopment authorities

HARRISBURG, Jan. 15 – Pennsylvania boroughs and municipalities of all sizes are one step closer to having an important planning tool after the House today passed a bill that would allow them to establish redevelopment authorities, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer.

Under current state law, cities of all sizes may establish redevelopment authorities, but boroughs and other municipalities must have a population of 10,000 or more to do so. Longietti’s H.B. 1860 would remove this size restriction.

“Redevelopment authorities are true catalysts of change,” Longietti said. “Because they are vested with the power to acquire blighted properties, repurpose them for beneficial use, and plan for widescale revitalization efforts, they are the starting point for major projects that bring meaningful change to communities – from attacking blight and stimulating investments to bringing affordable housing and attracting businesses.

“Unfortunately, the current law imposes an arbitrary restriction that has prevented many boroughs and municipalities from establishing redevelopment authorities. It’s an irrational rule that has stunted growth and stifled investment for these communities. My bill would level the playing field and put them on equal ground with cities, so they have the tools they need to flourish.”

Longietti noted that there are at least 25 cities in Pennsylvania with a population of fewer than 10,000 – including one with just over 800 people – that are permitted to establish their own redevelopment authorities.

Longietti said he first became aware of the problem when Greenville Borough Council President Paul Hamill told him that the council wanted to establish a redevelopment authority to address blight but that the borough did not meet the population threshold.

The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.