Coalition Urges Housing Reform That Would Preempt Township Land Use Authority 

A coalition of business leaders, builders, affordable housing providers, and more convened by 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is urging the state legislature to take action that would strip local land use authority to address the shortage of affordable and accessible housing. The majority of coalition’s proposals are permissible now with local approval but their changes would REQUIRE that all municipalities, or all municipalities over a certain population, permit certain uses by right. 

The coalition is calling on lawmakers to pass statewide zoning standards, including the following proposals: 

  • Require duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes (townhouses): HB 2045  to restore missing middle housing choices. 
  • Allow the construction and sale of houses on more modest plots of land to create more starter home options. 
  • Legalizing apartments and mixed-use buildings in commercial areas to facilitate access to housing and reduce commuting: HB 1976 to promote housing proximity to jobs. 
  • Legalization of accessory dwellings, commonly known as “granny flats,” and streamlining processes for homeowners to build and rent them out in their backyards to increase housing options and provide supplemental income for homeowners. 

While supportive of voluntary tools and options for planning for affordable and accessible housing, PSATS opposes any effort to preempt township’s authority to plan for and regulate land use. PSATS is working with other partners concerned about safe and reasonable development to oppose these efforts and encourages township officials to begin a dialogue now with their state representative and senator on how these changes would impact their communities. To view PSATS’ policy on growth and development, click here

Township officials should note that discussions on actions needed to expand middle and affordable housing are happening in Harrisburg now. It appears that the legislature and the Administration will consider some of these proposals in the coming months. In addition, these same proposals are being discussed at the national level, in Washington, D.C., as well as other states where local input/decision-making has been preempted in the name of housing choices. Some states have required high density housing clusters with single exits and no parking options. 

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