Mercer County Regional Planning Commission, Hermitage, Pennsylvania


Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund


Tuesday – November 24, 2003
Mercer County Regional Planning Commission Offices

Present Board Members: R. Glenn Adams, Sister Clare Marie Beichner, DeWitt Boosel, Dr. Joyce Cuff, Ron Errett, Thomas Fiscus, and Bob Siegfried

Others Present: Joseph Phillips (representing Southwest Gardens Economic Development Corporation), Emmett Miles (Barnes/Miles Global Community Development), Angelo Stamoolis (Community Counseling Center), Fran Billen (Community Counseling Center), Denny Puko (Executive Director, Mercer County Regional Planning Commission), Chris Conti (Senior Planner, MCRPC)

Absent Board Members: Debra Arner, Donald Koontz, Jim Miale, Pamela Prince, Randy Riddle, Dave Ryan

Motion to approve June 24, 2003 minutes:

Moved: Sister Clare Seconded: Mr. Siegfried

Vote: Motion passed unanimously

Mr. Fiscus noted that according to the Mercer County Recorder, Ronda McClelland, the Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund (MC 137) had accumulated $327,172.17 through the end of September 2003. He also noted that board members Sister Clare, Mr. Boosel, Dr. Cuff, Mr. Miale, Ms. Arner and Mr. Riddle were re-appointed to the board for two year terms by the Mercer County Commissioners.

Motion to recommend to the Mercer County Commissioners that Community Counseling Center’s (CCC) request for $32,500 in MC 137 funds be approved to defray the cost of CCC’s recent purchase of a home to house three mental health customers in the City of Hermitage.

Discussion: The board noted that CCC had received a support letter for their project from the City of Hermitage, meeting the threshold requirement for MC 137 funding. Mr. Stamoolis and Ms. Billen, in response to numerous questions from the board, mentioned that their project cost approximately $130,000, housed clientele that stayed approximately six months to a year and was funded mainly through state Community Hospital Integration Projects Program (CHIPP) funds. Mr. Stamoolis mentioned that CCC had completed the purchase the home, but if they were not reimbursed with the requested MC 137 funds, CCC would have to use funding from their service program budget to pay for the project.

The board scored CCC’s proposal, which averaged 31 (out of 40) points. Mr. Errett stated that the board did not want fund projects on a reimbursement basis as a rule, but it was understood that CCC was delayed in receiving their support letter from the City of Hermitage when the board initially considered CCC’s proposal in June.

Moved: Mr. Errett Seconded: Dr. Cuff

Vote: Mr. Boosel abstained from the vote; the rest of the board passed the motion unanimously.

Motion to recommend to the Mercer County Commissioners that Southwest Garden Economic Development Corporation’s (SWG) request for $150,000 in MC 137 funds be approved to build five energy efficient two to three bedroom unit homes for purchase by low to moderate income individuals in the City of Farrell. These funds are to be dispersed contingent upon approval of SWG’s project from Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency.

Discussion: The board noted that SWG had completed a recent audit of its organization, meeting the threshold requirement for MC 137 funding. The total project cost is $365,000. This project also is using a number of other funding sources, including loans from the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency (PHFA) and private lending institutions. Mr. Miles, representing Barnes/Miles Global Community Development, the developer for the project, stated that he would commence building a model, demonstration home in mid-December. The board was presented a copy of a letter from the PHFA to Mr. Miles after PHFA’s review of the project in the fall. The board noted that PHFA had requested a valid independent market study of the area and a concentration of the new housing. Mr. Miles stated that his organization was taking steps to address these issues in time for re-submittal of their project to PHFA by December 4. Mr. Errett noted the stringent project review requirements of the PHFA and stipulated their approval before any MC 137 funds be released for the project. It was noted by the board that failure to procure PHFA funding in December will entail SWG re-submitting the project to the board for any future consideration.

Moved: Mr. Errett Second: Sister Clare

Vote: Mr. Adams-yes, Mr. Boosel-yes, Sister Clare-yes, Dr. Cuff-yes, Mr. Fiscus-yes, Mr. Errett-yes, Mr. Siegfried-no

Motion Carried.

Motion recommending that SWG’s $21,400 project, due to concerns over the adequacy of the project budget to accomplish the application’s proposed scope of work of rehabilitating two homes in the City of Farrell, not be considered by the county commissioners for 2003-2004 Brownfields for Housing Initiative funding.

Discussion: Mercer County received $97,361 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for its 2003-2004 Brownfields for Housing Initiative. The board considered a project proposal from SWG. The board noted inconsistencies in the budget for the same project between proposals submitted by SWG this year and last. Mr. Siegfried, a building contractor, noted that the funds requested by SWG would be inadequate to pay for the proposed scope of work. Mr. Conti noted that he had visited the homes to be rehabilitated with the City of Farrell code enforcement officer, Mr. Mark Yerskey and that Mr. Yerskey questioned whether the proposed project budget would adequately rehabilitate the homes.

Motion: Mr. Siegfried Second: Mr. Errett

Vote: Motion passed unanimously.

Motion to recommend to the Mercer County Commissioners they fund housing rehabilitation in West Middlesex Borough, Wheatland Borough, Fredonia Borough/Fairview Township and Jackson Center Borough/Jackson Township in the amount of $97,361 from the 2003-2004 Mercer County Brownfields for Housing Initiative.

Discussion: In lieu of other proposals, the board entertained a suggestion from Mr. Puko, Executive Director, Mercer County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC) that the brownfields funding be targeted toward housing rehabilitation in municipalities (West Middlesex, Wheatland, Jackson Center Borough/Jackson Township and Fredonia Borough/Fairview Township) that have established programs and guidelines, but currently do not have funding available to undertake further rehabilitation.

The board was notified by MCRPC that the Mercer County Commissioners designated funds from their 2002 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to rehabilitate approximately one home in each of the aforementioned municipalities or municipality grouping. Mercer County currently has a contract with a professional housing rehabilitation specialist (Affordable Services, Inc.), procured through a competitive request for proposal (rfp) process, to deliver this rehabilitation. Affordable Services, Inc. has agreed to amend their current contract with the county to include the rehabilitation of extra homes with Brownfields funds if the commissioners designated their use for this purpose.

Mr. Siegfried, Mr. Errett and Sister Clare all noted the worthiness of these programs and that this project would address the need for housing rehabilitation in the rural areas of Mercer County.

Motion: Mr. Boosel Second: Mr. Errett

Vote: Mr. Siegfried abstained from the vote; the rest of the board passed the motion unanimously.

The board, after discussion with MCRPC, reached a consensus that proposals for MC 137 funding may be submitted anytime during the year to the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC). The board will review the proposals and recommend projects to the Mercer County Commissioners for approval. The board will meet on an as needed basis to consider proposals received by applicants. This recommendation is pending the county commissioner’s approval.

Motion to adjourn.

Moved: Mr. Fiscus Second: Mr. Siegfried

Motion passed unanimously.

Certified as true and correct,

Dr. Joyce M. Cuff



Mercer County Regional Planning Commission
2491 Highland Road, Hermitage, PA 16148


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