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Waynesboro Borough Council to administer state facade grants only to commercial property

March 03, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Homeowners in Waynesboro have been excluded from a grant program that would allow them to improve facades on houses in the town center zone.

Houses first became eligible under an existing state grant program in December. Previously, the funding had only been distributed to commercial properties.

However, Waynesboro Borough Council has prohibited houses at the local level in a move it said will probably benefit homeowners in the long run.

"We looked into this in detail," said Councilman Craig Newcomer.

He said the council will instead encourage homeowners to seek financial assistance from the Franklin County (Pa.) Planning Commission and save themselves stringent guidelines in place with the facade program.

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The county funds specific projects for people who meet financial criteria, said Dan Wolfe, a community planner for the county.

He said the income for a family of four would have to be below $43,850.

For three or four years, the council has administered the state facade program to commercial properties through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

If a homeowner seeks to repair a facade through the state program, he must make improvements to not only the front of the building, but also the interior, said Newcomer.

He said that can become expensive as homeowners make repairs to the electrical wiring, remove lead-based paint and improve insulation.

The homeowner also might be required to pay the federal prevailing wage to any contracted workers.

The borough could have been stuck with funding some of the projects if they were ultimately refused by the state, according to Newcomer and Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger.

Buildings with apartments are still eligible for facade grant funding provided they have operating storefronts, said Hamberger.

The grant program will match a property owner's renovation expenses dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000. Waynesboro is able to allocate up to $40,000 a year, said Hamberger.

All projects must be approved by a committee based on merits of rehabilitation.

The town center zone extends from Second Street to North Street. It includes most of the area between Clayton Avenue and Fairview Avenue.

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