‘Developing ideas’

Redevelopment Task Force underway; next meeting May 31

Photo submitted to Times Observer From left are are Dan Glotz, Terry Williams, Reverend Matthew Scott, Jim Decker, Andrea Stapleford, Julie French, Bob Raible, and Jeff Eggleston.

Warren County’s Redevelopment Task Force has met twice publicly, once in April and once in May, during sessions at the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry on Market Street in Warren. The group was authorized by the Board of County Commissioners to review various processes and programs related to property management and develop recommendations which would be gathered in a report for the commissioners. The fundamental goal is to generate actionable projects which will make a positive impact on land management and property redevelopment in Warren County.

The first meeting in April was organizational in nature, selecting a chairperson for the committee and generating subcommittees to carry out the work of the group. The Task Force selected Commissioner Jeff Eggleston to chair the group, with County Planning and Zoning Director Dan Glotz to function as vice-chairperson, and County Chief Clerk Pam Matve as secretary.

The subcommittees created — revolving around the five focus areas of the Task Force — are Blighted Property subcommittee, Tax Claim Subcommittee, Commercial Property Subcommittee, Public Housing Subcommittee, and Permitting/Code Enforcement/Zoning Subcommittee. A chairperson was selected for each subcommittee and they’ve been meeting independently to do S.W.O.T. analysis to generate plans for the report.

The Blighted Property Subcommittee is being chaired by Paul Pascuzzi, President of Clarendon Borough Council, and has met and begun focusing on issues such as conservatorship for properties in the blight process, reviewing the county blight process, and finding ways to more efficiently deal with blighted properties.

The County Tax Claim Director Phil Gilbert is chairperson of the Tax Claim Subcommittee. They’ve met several times and focused on educating government officials and the public on how the tax claim process works, finding ways to block individuals who abuse the tax claim process, how the Tax Claim Bureau would function in conjunction with a land bank, and how to better use Tax Claim to address redevelopment strategies in the County.

Director Gilbert felt this was a worthwhile undertaking, saying, “It’s great to see everyone come together from different entities to try and help fight the blight issues we have occurring in Warren County.”

Gilbert added, “I’m excited to see what ideas the different groups have talked about and work to implement them in the county.”

Jim Decker, President of the WCCBI, is chairing the Commercial Property Subcommittee, which has met and identified several areas of focus including tax incentives for redevelopment and educating business on the opportunities already available, having more readily available information on current properties to promote redevelopment, utilizing a land bank to have more tools to redevelop properties, securing more help from the State to redevelop commercial properties.

The Public Housing Subcommittee is being chaired by Reverend Matthew Scott, President of the Economic Opportunity Council Board. The group is focusing on educating the public on the programs already available (including low interest loans for housing redevelopment), a comprehensive “needs assessment” to get a solid idea of the gaps in services related to housing, finding more resources for transitional housing to help people stay out of jail, and more options to address situations of temporary homelessness.

The Permitting/Code Enforcement/Zoning Subcommittee is being lead by Terry Williams, Director of Codes and Permits for the City of Warren, and intends to address a wide range of issues including the abuse of camp affidavits, educating municipalities on zoning and the uniform construction code and its benefits, creating a database of centralized information for use by the municipalities and the County, finding ways to more uniformly administer the Uniform Construction Code, and provide public relations materials that showcase the work being done on behalf of the citizenry.

Commissioner Eggleston was pleased with the progress, saying, “I’ve been impressed with how quickly everyone’s scheduled meetings and moved right into developing ideas. There’s a lot of brainstorming going on and research and I think we’ll walk away from this process rather quickly with a number of solid, actionable projects that will make an impact and improve our community.”

The next meeting of the Redevelopment Task Force will be Thursday, May 31, from noon to 2 p.m. at WCCBI on Market Street. The public is welcome to attend. If you have any questions or comments about this news article, call (814) 728-3403 or jeff.eggleston@warren-county.net.