Comprehensive Plan Draft Criticized, Defended
Harrisburg’s draft comprehensive plan faced a cool reception from business leaders and city administrators last month, as the city Planning Commission hosted its first hearing on the document following a months-long dispute between the city and the plan’s author.
During a hearing in City Council chambers, members of the business community said the plan stepped on the toes of property owners and private developers. They feared that the proposals for land use would restrict investment in the city.
Private citizens and representatives from neighborhood associations were more supportive. Those who spoke out commended the plan’s goals to connect parks and neighborhoods and to redesign roadways for pedestrians and cyclists.
The plan, developed by the Harrisburg-based Office of Planning and Architecture, aims to guide development and urban planning in the city for the next 20 years. The project was delayed more than a year after OPA’s principal, Bret Peters, feuded with the city about compensation, deadlines and proposals in the plan.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse wants the Planning Commission to discard the consultant’s draft entirely and adopt a new draft written by the city’s Planning Bureau. He said their in-house plan includes many of the best ideas from Peters’ draft, but is less specific and ideological.
“[Peters’] plan is a recipe for disaster,” Papenfuse said. “It’s unworkable and unsalvageable.”
Other business professionals offered more specific criticisms.
Attorney Charles Courtney spoke on behalf of his client, Adam Meinstein, who owns the former U.S. Postal Service building at 813 Market St. The draft comprehensive plan recommends dividing that property between commercial, residential and business uses. Courtney said that the specificity of the plan limited his client’s discretion for how to develop the property.
“We need to have a broader view,” Courtney said. “If and when that property is developed, all the stakeholders will want to work together and not have it hamstrung by language in the comprehensive plan.”
Kevin Kulp, president of the Harrisburg Senators, said that the plan would be catastrophic for businesses on City Island. It calls for the elimination of all surface parking on City Island and for parking to be relocated to a garage on the island and overflow lots in downtown Harrisburg.
“We don’t have enough parking as it is, and we need every bit of it,” Kulp said.
Geoffrey Knight, director of the city’s Planning Bureau, said that the plan Harrisburg adopts needs to guide development, not direct it. If an owner did not want to develop a property according to a mandate in the comprehensive plan, Knight said, the owner would have to seek a waiver from the Planning Commission, which is the first body to consider land use proposals.
Some residents came out in support. Joyce Gamble, leader of Camp Curtin Community Neighbors United, said her organization supported the plan and hoped to work with the city to shepherd it to approval. Zach Monnier, a North Street resident, said he appreciated proposals that would make renters stakeholders in their neighborhoods.
Peters later rejected the charge that he did not prioritize private business interests in his draft. Raising the aggregate real estate values in Harrisburg is central to the plan, he said, and will benefit property owners as well as residents. He also said that Harrisburg needed the kind of specific planning that made many attendees at the meeting balk.
“Laissez faire real estate and planning have been practiced in this city for 50 years, and it hasn’t worked,” Peters said.
Planning Commission members will consider the input from the meeting when they convene on Feb. 5.
Mayor’s Aide Loses Job
A senior mayoral aide who was found liable in civil court for threatening an Allison Hill resident is no longer employed with the city.
Communications Director Joyce Davis confirmed last month that Karl Singleton, former senior advisor to Mayor Eric Papenfuse, has not been employed with the city since Papenfuse learned about the court ruling. Davis could not say whether Singleton had resigned or been fired.
In December, Singleton appeared before Magisterial District Justice David O’Leary for a hearing on a civil suit filed last July by Allison Hill resident Timothy Rowbottom. Rowbottom said in court that Singleton threatened his life during a heated argument on May 9, a week before the primary municipal elections, following a debate between mayoral primary candidates at the Hilton Harrisburg.
“I’m from Hall Manor, you should be scared of me,” Singleton allegedly told Rowbottom, referring to Harrisburg’s largest public housing complex, according to the court ruling. “I know where you live; I can have you taken out.”
Rowbottom, who campaigned for Papenfuse challenger Jennie Jenkins during the mayoral primary, allegedly made racist remarks to Singleton prior to the argument. He admitted to calling Singleton “a sorry excuse for a black man” and that he (Rowbottom) “is blacker than [Singleton] ever will be,” stated the court ruling.
O’Leary found Singleton liable for making malicious threats. The judge also said that Singleton’s political position compounded his liability.
Since Rowbottom admitted in court that he was unapologetic for his racially inflammatory remarks and claimed he was unafraid of Singleton, O’Leary only awarded the plaintiff nominal damages.
Davis said she was unaware of any plans to replace Singleton, whose position was incidentally reduced to part-time in January. Papenfuse said during budget hearings in December that the recent addition of a full-time business advisor to his cabinet reduced the need for a full-time aide.
City Officials Sworn In
Harrisburg officials invoked a spirit of optimism and cooperation last month, as the city swore in its returning mayor and most of City Council.
In city hall, newly inaugurated District Justice Hanif Johnson administered the oath of office to Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Treasurer Dan Miller and council members Wanda Williams, Shamaine Daniels, Ben Allatt, Dave Madsen and Ausha Green.
At the ceremony, Papenfuse cited the progress Harrisburg has made during his first term following the financial crisis that nearly bankrupted the city and sent it into state receivership.
“Today, Harrisburg is not a symbol of failure,” he said. “In Pennsylvania and throughout the nation, Harrisburg is a glowing symbol of renaissance and renewal.”
He credited his fellow elected officials, city workers and residents for “the optimism and hope that is so palpable on our streets today.”
“Yes, we have achieved a lot working together these past four years, but much work lies ahead,” he said.
Following the ceremony, City Council held a brief reorganization meeting, unanimously re-electing Williams as council president. Allatt took over as vice president by a 4-3 vote over Councilman Westburn Majors. Daniels, who served previously as vice president, was not re-nominated.
Williams said that, for 2018, her principal goal is ensuring the construction of the police substation on Allison Hill. The city plans to raise a 1,600-square-foot modular building on S. 15th Street, with a planned opening in the late summer. Completion of the city’s comprehensive plan is another priority, she said.
Brewpub RFP Issued
Have you always dreamt of running your own brewpub? If so, you may want to give Harristown a call.
Harristown Enterprises last month issued a request for proposals (RFP) as it seeks a qualified entrepreneur to open a brewpub or full-service restaurant in a large space on Market Street long occupied by the Gingerbread Man.
CEO Brad Jones said Harristown went this route after several potential deals fell through for the space.
“We really want to get the word out,” Jones said. “We think there are a lot of people out there who will find this to be a really attractive deal.”
The 6,000-square-foot space, part of Strawberry Square in downtown Harrisburg, has been empty since the Gingerbread Man closed down in 2014.
The RFP lists several criteria:
- Brewery or distillery with a full-service restaurant or a brewpub or restaurant with a liquor license
- A lease of at least seven years
- Operations seven days a week
Harristown plans to charge $10.50 per square foot of rentable space for the first year and is offering to help defray the cost of the build-out. If interested, Harristown requires a business plan, resumes and financial information by Feb. 5.
“We feel the downtown is underserved for breweries,” Jones said. “That’s the one thing we’re missing.”
U.S. Marshal Killed
A deputy U.S. marshal was killed and a York City police officer wounded last month after gunfire erupted in an Allison Hill residence, where members of a federal fugitive task force went to serve a warrant to a Harrisburg woman.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher David Hill, 45, of York County, an 11-year veteran of the Marshals Service, was killed in the gun battle.
Kevin Sturgis of Philadelphia, who opened fire at the officers, later succumbed to gunshot wounds, said law enforcement officials. The subject of the warrant, Shayla Lynette Towles Pierce, was taken into custody at the scene, charged with making terroristic threats with a weapon, officials said.
According to U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, officers in the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrived at the residence in the 1800-block of Mulberry Street just after 6 a.m. to serve Pierce an arrest warrant. After they announced their presence and entered, they apprehended her on the second floor of the dwelling.
After placing Pierce in handcuffs, Freed said, gunfire erupted from the second floor of the residence. Hill and York City police officer Kyle Pitts were both struck. Hill died of his wounds at UPMC Pinnacle Hospital, Freed said. Pitts underwent surgery and is expected to fully recover.
Sturgis fled to the first floor of the building and exited through the front door while firing his weapon, officials said. Officers returned fire and killed him.
School Board Vacancy
The Harrisburg school district is accepting applications for a vacancy on the school board.
Board member Matthew Krupp resigned his seat last month after assuming the elected office of Dauphin County prothonotary.
Applicants have until mid-February to submit their applications. The successful candidate will serve out the remainder of Krupp’s four-year term.
For more information, visit the school district’s website.
Major Gift for SAM
The Susquehanna Art Museum last month announced a $2 million donation from local art collectors, Marty and Tom Philips.
As a result of the donation, the museum building, located in Midtown Harrisburg, has been renamed the Susquehanna Art Museum at the Marty and Tom Philips Family Art Center. The gift is contingent on SAM raising at least $1 million in matching funds over the next two years.
In addition, SAM last month announced naming gifts from the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Foundation, which will lend its name to the Education Center Gallery, and Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, which will have its name above the museum’s entry portico.
2K Networking announced a change of ownership last month, as Josh Hinkle, former director of business development, acquired the Harrisburg-based technology company. He took over from former CEO Glenn Pepo, who will stay on as a consultant.
Barley Snyder, which has locations throughout central and eastern Pennsylvania, last month opened its newest office in downtown Harrisburg. The office is staffed with 10 attorneys formerly of Rhoads & Sinon and is located in that firm’s former space at the M&T Bank building.
RSR Realtors last month named Jamie Berrier as president of the Lemoyne-based real estate company. She succeeds Greg Rothman, who will remain as a partner and board chairman, the company said. Moreover, RSR named Jim Koury as CEO, Garrett Rothman as vice president and broker of record and Bill Rothman as treasurer.
Smith Land & Improvement Corp., headquartered in Camp Hill, announced last month that Richard E. Jordan III, formerly chief operating officer, is now president and CEO. He replaced his father, Richard E. Jordan II, who will retain the role of chairman of the board.
The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC) announced last month the availability of more than 120 scholarship funds available to Pennsylvania students administered by its organization. For more information about scholarship opportunities or to apply, visit www.tfec.org.
Vista, a provider of autism services in eight counties in central PA, last month appointed Kirsten Yurich as chief executive officer. In this role, Yurich, previously the organization’s chief clinical officer, will oversee all operations of the Vista School, the Vista Foundation and Vista Adult Services.
Balm St., 57: K. & R. Thames to C. & S. Epps, $50,000
Boas St., 318: M. Webb to C. Hughes, $144,000
Boas St., 1815: Harrisburg Rentals LLC to S. Henry, $64,000
Chestnut St., 2014 & 2015 Zarker St.: R. & B. Cielinski to T. Smallwood, $33,500
Croyden Rd., 2962: J. & R. Harle to M. Cabrera, $48,000
Cumberland St., 121: L. Williams to J. & K. Bowser, $59,000
Derry St., 1525: J. Rissler to M. & A. Mekhaiel, $40,000
Derry St., 2641: L. Knoll to E. Chandler, $79,900
Dunkle St., 631: B. Drake to A. Eubanks, $64,900
Emerald St., 521: N. Clelan to C. Gibbs, $84,900
Green St., 1509: R. Stare to A. & K. Tyson, $95,500
Green St., 1936: D. Marquette to G. Tsambas, $210,000
Green St., 2106: J. Evans to Segue Systems LLC, $39,010
Greenwood St., 2506: N. Hanna & J. Parisi to T. Davis & J. Martinez, $99,000
Hanna St., 106: S. Fahey to D. Frank, $174,000
Herr St., 1933: Bajwa & Rana LLC to N. & M. Gill, $250,000
Julia St., 1945: J. & S. Pagliaro to Kanta Estates LP, $230,000
Kelker St., 622: PA Deals LLC to End Properties LLC, $54,000
Lenox St., 1935: J. & K. Alvarez to B. McKinley, $72,500
Lewis St., 308: A. Dittman to C. Engvall & A. Bryant, $112,000
Lewis St., 322: J. Chelgren to K. Franklin, $60,000
Logan St., 2417: W. Blackway to Y. Aquayo & I. Class, $41,000
Market St., 810, 812 & 900 and 12, 21 & 23 N. 9th St., and 24 & 26 N. 10th St.: 812 Market Street LLC & Twenty Lake Holdings to 812 Market Inc. & L&B Realty Advisers LLP, $1,600,000
Market St., 1301: J. & S. Kim to 80 Second Street LLC, $180,000
Nagle St., 121: D. Gadel to P. Donohoe & J. Augustine, $182,000
North St., 1721: D. Hawkins to R. Scott, $40,000
N. 2nd St., 1813: E. Pettis & C. Barker to J. Bailey, $81,500
N. 2nd St., 2141: D. Kumpf to T. & J. Perla, $117,500
N. 2nd St., 2838: S. & B. Blank to Diamond Real Estate Solutions Inc., $90,000
N. 2nd St., 3224: K. Petrich to B. Najia Property LLC, $39,000
N. 3rd St., 512: Genex Properties to RLJG Inc., $80,000
N. 3rd St., 1209: N. Riess to R. Abel, $129,000
N. 3rd St., 1616: W. Taylor & C. Pimentel to T. Breitsprecher, $100,000
N. 6th St., 2470 & 2472: F. & E. Karnouskos & Sixth Street Holdings LLC to Rivas Property Investments LLC, $80,000
N. 17th St., 94: S&S Property Management to N. Booth, $34,000
N. Front St., 1525, unit 402: R. & R. Fried to S. Anthony, $205,000
Penn St., 1930: J. McSurdy & J. Lentini to T. Holderman, $157,400
Penn St., 2139: Central Penn Properties to PA Capital Area Investments LLC, $30,000
Pennwood Rd., 3210: J. Clark to A. & G. Powell, $117,500
Reily St., 313: Judy Fisher 2004 Trust to E. Krokonko, $77,000
Rose St., 925: D. Niles to R. Ritchie, $80,000
Rumson Dr., 281: G. Burdsal to J. Runyan, $72,000
Seneca St., 226: R. Ralls to I. Billington, $127,000
S. 2nd St., 316: Diamond Real Estate Solutions LLC to A. Radford & N. Towne, $110,000
S. 13th St., 14: H. & L. Grajales to B. Crews, $67,000
S. 14th St., 1414: A. & G. Evans to City of Harrisburg, $55,000
S. 14th St., 1416: G. Evans to City of Harrisburg, $51,500
S. 14th St., 1429: J. Newhouse to City of Harrisburg, $45,000
S. 25th St., 638: PA Deals LLC to Mid-Atlantic IRA James Eshelman IRA, $60,000
S. 26th St., 734: Secretary of Housing & Urban Development and Information Systems Networks Corp. to J. Gilpatrick, $41,000
S. 29th St., 526: Kusic Capital Group LLC to R. Morris & A. Courtney, $150,000
S. Front St., 629: Harrisburg PA Properties LLC to J. Snyder, $50,000
S. Front St., 709: D. Smith to L. Foster, $182,900
State St., 1730: Mussani & Co. LP to Next Generation TC FBO Akhter Parvez IRA, $60,750
State St., 1911: JP Homes Inc. to G. & E. Varghese, $34,000
Susquehanna St., 1637: Harrisburg Rentals LLC to S. Henry, $83,900
Susquehanna St., 1716: L. Caro to S. Goodman, $98,500
Valley Rd., 2317: M. Thomas to G. & K. Kooiker, $144,000
Walnut St., 401: M. Tamanini to B. Kowalczyk, $100,000