May 24: Gas utility legislation tied up in Harrisburg | Drueding Brothers renovation | Chickens victorious

Legislation to renew Pennsylvania’s One Call System of gas utility regulations, which expires at the end of the year, is tied up in a political morass in Harrisburg, Andrew Maykuth reports. The Wolf administration’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force and US DOT are recommending that the Public Utility Commission take over enforcement duties from the Department of Labor and Industry. A bill in the legislature making that change, and others, is opposed by smaller gas producers because it eliminates their exemptions from notification requirements. 

GroJLart has a history of the massive Dreuding Brothers complex at 5th and Master on Hidden City as developer Michael Samschick rehabs the factory. It’s the kind of project that could shift the development horizon west from South Kensington into Ludlow. Samschick’s company, Core Realty, is the developer behind recent adaptive reuse projects like Penn Treaty Pennthouses and The Fillmore. 

Should Philadelphians be allowed to keep backyard chickens? A West Philly woman succeeded in getting Municipal Court to drop her chicken citations, reports Victor Fiorello, but the animals remain illegal in Philadelphia thanks to a 2004 law passed by 10th District Councilman Brian O’Neill of Northeast Philly. Fiorello says a backyard chicken craze has been sweeping the nation, pointing to a 2012 study in the Environmental Law Reporter journal showing they’re legal in the vast majority of major US cities. 

The Inquirer editorial board takes PennDOT to task for selling drivers license information to third-party vendors who couldn’t provide proof that information is protected against identity theft. “It’s bad enough that the state can sell personal information. At the very least, it has an obligation to licensed drivers to ensure basic security protocols are followed to prevent identity theft.”

Philadelphia University students presented ideas for a redesign of the East Falls SEPTA station to SEPTA officials, East Falls Development Corporation members, and architects and alumni earlier this month, writes John Corrigan. “The architecture majors, along with two occupational therapy majors, faced the challenge with strategic planning and innovative concepts, incorporating SEPTA’s regulations and the East Falls community’s desire for commercial activity.”

A Lehigh County judge ruled that the publicly-funded PP&L Center hockey arena in Allentown is exempt from paying real estate taxes, reports Matt Assad, and so are its connected parking lots, restaurants, and a condo building. If the court had decided otherwise, the tax-exempt status of stadiums across the state could have been endangered. Under the terms of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone the state established exclusively for Allentown in 2009, all state and local taxes other than real estate taxes go into a special authority for 30 years, and are loaned out to developers for projects inside a 30-acre area covering Allentown’s downtown and waterfront. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.