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Developer to seek tax credits for housing project

October 10, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council voted Monday evening to support a developer's application for low-income housing tax credits from the state to be used toward the construction of a 40-unit housing development on the borough's west side.

PIRHL, LLC, a developer from Warrensville Heights, Ohio, plans to apply for the credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to pay for the $9 million, low-income development on Buchanan Street near the Southgate Shopping Center.

The borough's support came in the form of a motion of intent made by councilwoman Elaine Swartz to provide the developer with $30,000 of Community Development Block Grant money (federal grant money distributed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development) each year for two years.

The council's decision merely showed that it intends to financially support the development, according to Phil Wolgemuth, borough planning director. Wolgemuth said there is no guarantee that the council will have the CDBG money, which is awarded in February.

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David Uram, principal representative of PIRHL, said he is "happy the council is supporting the effort" even though the decision was not what he requested.

Uram asked for the council's support by way of a waiver of the water, sewer, and tap fees, replacing those fees with a soft loan to be repaid over time with interest, and a waiver of the recreation fee.

The council opposed the requests by Uram, with president William McLaughlin saying the council would "not talk about waiving the recreation fee" and borough Solicitor Thomas Finucane saying the utility waiver for a soft loan was a "gift" the council could not give based on precedent.

Several members of the council, however, did support the idea of the development, claiming that it was in line with both the Elm Street Project and the goals of the CDBG.

PIRHL applied previously for state tax credit in April of 2006 and was "unsuccessful," according to Uram. He added that borough support will increase the application's chance to receive the credits when it is due on Oct. 20.

The proposed development would include 40 low-income town houses managed by proposed manager, the Franklin County Housing Authority, and owned by the Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) of Erie, Pa. Plans also call for a private community center. Uram emphasized that the units would be available for individual ownership in year 15 of the plan.

Monday was the first time the issue came before borough council.

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