This post has been, and will continued to be, updated as the proposed Residential Resale Ordinance is still fluid. All updates are dated at time of entry and listed from most recent to the original post (June 15, 2023).
Update as of July 31, 2023
In case you weren’t at the most recent council meeting (which is likely, as attendance significantly dropped off after the “big” meeting on June 20th), please be aware that the resale ordinance is still being discussed and is on the agenda again tomorrow, August 1, 7pm, at Borough Hall. The most recent iteration of the ordinance is below for your review.Resale Ordinance revised july 31 23
A significant amount of important information came to light at the last meeting, which can be viewed here (the resale discussion begins @ 35:21). I have summarized much of this information in a letter (below) to Borough Council and Mayor Sorg, which I am hoping they will read prior to taking action to advertise the ordinance for adoption. If you have thoughts that you would like to share with council, you can find their email addresses below. An email or call is always good, but attendance at the meeting is important, as well. Unfortunately, I cannot be there tomorrow, but I hope those of you who care about this are able to attend.
Email contact for Borough Council:
July 31, 2023
Dear Ambler Borough Council and Mayor Sorg,
Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the meeting on Tuesday, August 1, so I wanted to reach out to you in advance to share my thoughts, concerns, and requests with regard to the proposed residential resale ordinance.
My request is that you do not approve the ordinance to be advertised, as it is currently written. I ask that section 11-203 be removed from the ordinance for the following reasons:
So, if there is no corrective action plan needed by the Borough in its report to PADEP, the rate at at which laterals will be inspected at point of sale is incremental, the percent of overall usage by the Borough is minuscule, and the likely limited amount of infiltration into private laterals, it begs one to ask, why in the world would you approve this? Why would you put this onerous burden on tax payers at an already stressful time when it won’t make a dent in the issue at hand? It feels to me like the purpose of instituting this inspection allows the borough to tell PADEP that they are taking some kind of action, when in reality, it’s not going to make a marked difference at all.
As was discussed briefly at the July 18th meeting, PA Act 44 was passed in 2017, which allows municipalities to utilize public funds to repair private sewer laterals and water lines. Susquehanna Township has been doing this for a few years now with great success (I have attached a powerpoint documenting the latest version of their program). The ability to access the funds would require raising fees a bit, but it would enable the issues to be dealt with in a much better way. Point of sale inspection repairs will be more expensive because they won’t take advantage of economies of scale, and the borough could be paying fines if they are out of compliance with PADEP over time. In the meantime, the risk of damage to private homes and public waterways from storm water events will remain. If this were implemented, the issue could be addressed in years versus decades. I recently heard that because Ambler is not an Authority, it may not be possible to take advantage of this Act, and if that is true, I hope that you will research other options to address the I&I so that it is not a direct burden to property owners. Perhaps Senator Wayne Fontana, who sponsored the bill, would be a good resource?
I also request that you remove section 11-205 regarding sidewalks and curbing and instead follow the current sidewalk ordinance that exists within Ambler Borough Code (Borough Code, section 21-303). In following the existing ordinance, you would achieve the goal of safe sidewalks. If you change to a point of sale ordinance, there will be no congruity and it will not achieve the goal of safely prepared surfaces in our walkable town.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I welcome any reply or discussion, if you would care to reach out.
318 Rosemary Ave, 215-704-9888
Update as of July 13, 2023
On June 29, 2023, the following “information sheet” was posted on the Borough website, along with the revised draft ordinance in the “News” section. This document is the Borough’s response to the public’s request for more information/explanation of why they want to institute the inspections. Admittedly, I am away and haven’t had time to read through all of the links, searching for a needle in a haystack of DEP documents, but wanted to provide this to all who are following along here, ASAP.Borough Proposed Ordinance Info Sheet
Update as of July 10, 2023
As a result of the June 20th meeting, the Borough has revised the proposed Residential Resale Ordinance, which can be seen below. The revised ordinance (if approved) will impose the following requirements on all Ambler Borough property owners when selling your home (or investment property):
This revised ordinance will be on the agenda for discussion at the July 18th Council meeting. As of this writing, the agenda is not available, but it will be published on the Borough website, no later than 24 hours prior to the meeting. At the meeting, Council will likely vote to advertise the ordinance for a final vote at the following meeting (August 1st), or decide to continue the discussion and possibly further revise the ordinance. There is a possibility that Council could decide to not move forward with the ordinance at all, but that is highly unlikely. If you have not attended a Council meeting in the past and/or have not watched the recent meeting videos, please know that after Council discusses the ordinance amongst themselves, then YOU have a chance to make your voice heard. Many Borough residents chose to do so at the last meeting and it had quite an impact. If this issue is important to you, please attend the meeting on July 18th, 7pm, at Borough Hall. If you are not able to attend and would like to reach out to Council to voice your opinion, their contact info can be found below.
There has been quite a bit of discussion about this on social media, including comments from a few Council members, the very ones who will be voting on the ordinance. Whether I agree with their individual positions or not, it’s nice to know that they are listening to, and engaging with, their constituents. That said, I think most members of Council would prefer to stay out of the social media spotlight and engage in a less public conversation, so don’t be shy about reaching out to them individually.
Update as of June 22, 2023:
If you did not attend the June 20th meeting, the video recording is now available and can be viewed here. If you plan to watch, grab a drink and a snack, as it is close to three hours long. The portion of the video that specifically discusses the resale ordinance is from 6:22 – 2:32:00. There was an incredible turnout by concerned residents and apparently, Council members received a large volume of emails and calls leading up to the meeting. It is crystal clear that many Borough property owners do not want this ordinance to be passed. That said, it appears almost inevitable that some version of the ordinance will be approved by Council.
After much discussion at the meeting, Council decided to send the ordinance back to the Solicitor for revision. It a nutshell, it appears that the electrical certification (section 11-204) and the exterior maintenance inspection (section 11-207) will be removed from the ordinance; a seller affidavit regarding house numbers and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors will be added; the sewer lateral inspection (section 11-203), backflow preventer requirement and water main service identification (section 11-206), sidewalks and curbing inspections (section 11-205), will all still be required in the revised ordinance. Initially private alleys were included in the sidewalk section, but it appears as though that aspect will be removed. The revised ordinance will be available on the Borough website just prior to the next meeting on July 18th, and will be discussed that night. If Council is pleased with the revised ordinance, they will likely vote to advertise the ordinance and have a formal vote to adopt at the following meeting, Tuesday, August 1st.
Fortunately, many Borough property owners were able to become aware of this issue prior to the June 20th meeting, but there are still many who have no idea. Please continue to share this information with your neighbors and fellow property owners in Ambler Borough, as until the final vote, it is not a done deal. As always, please feel free to reach out to discuss, but most importantly, please reach out to your elected officials to share your position. I am again including contact info below for Council, and while I have the names separated by wards, I encourage you to include every member in every ward, and the Mayor (as she could be a tie breaking vote, it has happened before).
Email contact for Borough Council:
Mayor: [email protected]
June 15, 2023:
In case you haven’t heard, Ambler Borough Council is currently considering an Ordinance to institute residential resale inspection requirements. The proposed Ordinance was made available to the public on June 6, and discussed at the Council Committee meeting that evening. I’ve summarized the proposed requirements below, as well as, included the draft Ordinance. As all public Council meetings are recorded, you can view the discussion from the June 6th meeting here (the Ordinance specific discussion starts at @ 40:47 and ends @ 1:27:25).
In a nut shell, the Ordinance (if passed, as written), will require all Borough residents to complete the following inspections/requirements when selling their home:
Personally, I have several questions/comments about the Ordinance, which I recently shared with Borough Council. If you have an opinion on this matter, I encourage you to also reach out to Council (I’ve included their email addresses at the end of this post for easy reference) AND attend the next meeting on June 20, 7pm, at Borough Hall.
My goal is for as many Borough homeowners as possible to become aware of this before a vote takes place. It would be very unfortunate for an Ordinance this significant to be approved and for residents to learn about it after the fact. My understanding is that the discussion will continue at the next meeting on June 20, and if Council approves the Ordinance as written (or another version of it), then a vote would likely take place at the following meeting, which is July 18. That said, if this is important to you, do not wait until the July meeting to make your voice heard, please attend on June 20; even if you are not comfortable speaking, your presence will speak volumes.
As mentioned, I shared my questions and comments with Council, and I am including them below for you to review, as well. I will be at the meeting on June 20, and if this matters to you, I hope to see you there, too! I am far from an authority on the matter, but being a local Realtor, I am very familiar with how this process works and how it can impact parties to a sale. I welcome conversation, so please feel free to reach out, if you’re so inclined (215-704-9888, [email protected]).
Email contact for Borough Council:
Mayor: [email protected]
June 14, 2023
Dear Ambler Borough Council,
I am writing to request that you consider the following information prior to voting on the Ordinance creating residential resale occupancy permits in Ambler Borough.
Questions/comments regarding the proposed Ordinance:
11-203. Sewer Lateral Inspection-
11-205. Curb/Sidewalk/Alley Inspection-
11-026. Backflow Prevention Verification-
11-207. Exterior Property Maintenance Inspection-
Additional questions/points to consider:
Is there a cost for the Borough to perform these inspections? If so, what is it and does that include a potential re-inspection?
The cost of the proposed inspections will be a hefty, upfront, out of pocket, expense to the homeowner.
Many of the homeowners in the Borough are elderly and have been in their homes 40-50 years; they can barely afford to find another place to live in the current environment, let alone be responsible for the cost of required inspections and possible repairs prior to settlement.
What if the inspections result in required repairs and the repairs are not made? Could you possibly be creating unintended consequences and exposing the Borough to liability?
Lastly, I think it is wise to consider what our neighboring municipalities require. For your convenience, I have included a list below.
If Council moves forward with the ordinance, I urge you limit the scope of the inspections so they are not overly burdensome to homeowners who have been paying taxes to the Borough for many years.
I truly appreciate your time and careful consideration of this matter. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments, I welcome the opportunity to discuss further.
318 Rosemary Ave
Surrounding Municipalities Use & Occupancy/Property Transfer Requirements: