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Borough Council Hears Housing Concerns, Zoning Proposals

by on October 07, 2014 6:00 AM

Affordable housing took center stage at State College Borough Council’s Monday night meeting.

Council held two public hearings on two programs related to money that State College receives from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Because State College receives these HUD funds, they are required to periodically update their analysis of challenges facing residents who are looking for fair housing.

This relates to the United States Federal Housing Act of 1968, which is administered with the help of HUD. The act prevents discrimination in housing based on disability, race, sex and other factors.

Though Borough Manager Tom Fountaine informed council the borough’s 2015–2019 fair housing analysis found very few fair housing violations, there is still a distinct lack of affordable housing in the borough.

“Since members of protected classes are often low or moderate-income, the affordability issue becomes a fair housing issue,” Fountaine told council.

The need for affordable housing is also addressed in the 2015–2019 Annual Action Plan, which identifies the borough’s overall housing needs for the next several years. Having completed a draft of the plan, council heard comment from members of the public. 

Susan Venegoni, president of the Highlands Civic Association, thanked council for making affordable housing a priority in State College.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” she said. “I hope as other decisions are made we can include more housing diversity and affordable housing in the borough.”

Council will likely take action on both plans at its November 3 meeting. They must pass the plans by November 15. 

Council also heard a number of zoning proposals that were passed onto the planning commission, which will meet next on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The State College Area School District proposed a text amendment to allow the high school project to reach up to 70 feet in height, as opposed to the 55 feet that is currently allowable at that site. SCASD Director of Physical Plant Ed Poprik said this proposal is partially due to the sloping topography of the site.

Loridian, LLC – the owner of University Car Wash on Bellaire Avenue – also proposed rezoning the next-door lot to allow for alternative use, such as parking or storm water management. David Paterno, a representative of Loridian, said they can't use the lot for those purposes without it being zoned the same as the car wash.

The borough also unanimously decided to sponsor a renewed application for the Local Shelter Support Initiative, which will continue to fund the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Housing Transitions and Burrowes Street Youth Haven to provide social services to homeless youth and adults.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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