by David Croyle
Armstrong County Housing Division Director Adrienne Commodore led a public hearing last night in Manor Township to discuss possible funding from federal Community Block Development Grants.
Although $99,278 was allocated for CDBG funds in 2009 to Manor Township, the county is still waiting for the executed contract to come. Funding is designated for township-wide rehabilitation.
Projects included in Manor Township’s three-year plan:
- Extension of sanitary sewer lines to serve the Stitt Hollow area of the township.
- Repair township streets and roads as necessary.
- Storm sewer system and street/road improvements to a portion of the Village of Rosston.
- Continue housing rehabilitation programs township-wide to upgrade the housing stock of the township.
- Continue with water and sanitary sewer system expansion projects in designated areas.
- Bring the township polling places into compliance with ADA requirements.
- Extension of water lines from the Township Shed to Piper Drive along Fort Run Road to loop the existing water system.
- Provide new uniform street signs township-wide.
- Improvements of the drainage problem and resurfacing of Short Street.
- Paving of the Manor Township Fire Hall parking lot.
- Resurfacing of Cherry Way in McGrann.
- Extension of water line to service the Smeltzer Flats area and Nunamaker Road.
- Improvements to the Crooked Creek Horse Park at Manor Recreation area.
- Extension of sanitary sewer lines to the Rosston area.
- Extension of sanitary sewer lines along Route 66 South, Guthrie Road, Golf Course Road, Lenape Heights Golf Course and Country Club, James Drive, Huston Road, and the area of Route 66 South between Speedy’s and Shoemaker Motor Sports.
- Development of a Township Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance.
Commodore cautioned supervisors that there were conditions to receiving grant money.
“You need to look at three things for each project,” she said. “It has to be a benefit to low/moderate income families (this is established through households surveys); It must aid in prevention of slums or blight properties; or it must meet community development needs of particular emergency. You must choose one of the three to make sure we meet the criteria tied to that classification.”
In order to qualify for low/moderate income, at least 51% of the residents must be in that category.
“It sounds like there are a lot of things we can use it for, but 51% of the households have to be low income,” Supervisor Howard Jack commented.
“The CDBG application every year must address the needs of Manor Township in the application,” Commodore said. “When Manor looks for federal and state funding and the projects are not listed, they will ask ‘Where was the project noted as a priority?’ If they are listed, we can refer back to the plans and listings we have compiled and it helps secure funding for you.”
Jack said said that although sanitary sewer is on the list for Rosston and Route 66 South, the Department of Environmental Protection will not let any more sewage be hooked on to the existing line.
“While that may be, it is still identified as a need,” Commodore said. She hopes that DEP may later come up with a different decision as circumstances change in the future.
Jack reminded her of water that was backing up in basements along Pleasant View Drive. “They were to install valves to take care of that,” he said. “They have been looking to see where surface water is getting into the storm. They have located two or three areas but I am not sure if they have corrected it to satisfy DEP.”
Manor Township resident David Croyle commented concerning blighted properties in his neighborhood. “I live in Typewriter Hill (Indiana Avenue). We got one house that caught fire just sitting there and other abandoned structures. If you tear them down, you will have buildable lots. They have been vacant for more than five years. The fire was two years ago.”
Commodore asked if the houses were vacant. “The Township has a policy to avoid activities that will result in residential displacement or removal of dwelling units through demolition,” she told Croyle. “Should such activities be undertaken, it is the responsibility of the Township to provide relocation assistance to displaced occupants and to replace housing units that are removed through demolition.”
Jack said he wanted to review procedures. “We should write letters to property owners. We can declare them unsafe, and that they need to fix them up or we can tear them down. We talked of having the old school house torn down, but lawyer advised us that we would never get our money out of it. If we take it upon ourselves, then we can put a lean on the property, but you wouldn’t get enough money to pay for the demolition. If we could use CBDG money, that is a different story.”
Commodore said that in order to use CBDG funds, there must be proper ordinances in place and there must be proof through correspondence to property owners that you have property notified them.
Manor Township has received almost $3 million in CDBG grants over the past twenty-six years.
In 1984-1985, the township received $202,049 to install Water distribution line along Guthrie Road. In 1986 and 1987, another $164,417 was received to install a water storage tank and pump station to serve Guthrie Road.
In 1988-1990, funding in the amount of $247,848 was used to install water distribution in Stitt Hollow.
Over $1 million was received from 1991 through 1999 for projects including installation of sanitary sewer to service Typewriter Hill, handicap-accessibility improvements to the Manor Township Fire Hall, tap-in fees for the LMI owner-occupied households serviced by the Church Road Water Line Extension project, and numerous housing rehabilitation projects.
In 2001-2002, $1236,721 was received for payment of tap connection fees and sanitary sewer laterals for low/moderate income households served by the Route 422 East Sanitary Sewer Line Extension project. It also covered the Fire Protection project for the Valley View Apartment complex.
Beginning in 2003 until 2009, Manor Township has received a total of $741,256 for housing rehabilitation projects.
“There has been a concern for the township that they are getting stuck in the rut of doing housing rehabilitation every year with these grants,” Commodore said.