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Old 07-18-2016, 11:10 AM
 
1 posts, read 766 times
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Over the last 10 to 12 years, there seems to have been a large amount of development occurring in the Chambersburg Area (Borough of Chambersburg, Greene Township, Guilford Township, Hamilton Township, and other townships served by the Chambersburg Area School District). However, the area is becoming more and more urbanized and the population when combined with all the townships and the borough is over 50,000 which is actually comparable to nearby Hagerstown in Washington County, Maryland. I feel as if Chambersburg would benefit a lot economically if the borough merged with all the surrounding townships including Greene, Guilford, and Hamilton to form the City of Chambersburg.

It would be a 3rd class city and be very similar in form to how St. Marys was made into a city. The Borough of St. Marys merged with Benzinger Township back in 1992 and I feel Chambersburg could potentially do the same thing. While the project would be massive, I feel it would greatly benefit Franklin County and the surrounding counties in south central Pennsylvania as well as Western Maryland. It would bring traffic to Gettysburg and make Chambersburg a travel destination to many American families nationwide. As far as I'm concerned, they stated in the borough plans that Chambersburg couldn't be a city because all the utilities are licensed for a borough. I really don't understand this really well, but this is all the information I could get concerning the problem.

With all the development happening at Norland and the new business park in Shippensburg, it would only make sense for the borough to absorb the surrounding townships and become a city. It would bring new businesses and greatly benefit the area around the mall since it wouldn't have the restrictions on alcohol anymore. If Chambersburg's sister city, Gotemba in Japan can be a city, why not Chambersburg itself? Gotemba has fantastic premium outlets and even had an amusement park there once. I would like to see Chambersburg get an amusement park or maybe an indoor waterpark resort like Great Wolf since Chambersburg is very close to Gettysburg. Chambersburg is prime for development because of it's close proximity to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. If Williamsburg in Virginia can be developed, shouldn't Chambersburg have similar development plans too? I think so. Comment on what you think about all this.
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Old 07-18-2016, 07:54 PM
 
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I'm not sure HOW the Commonwealth reevaluates borough/city charters, but Chambersburg seems like an ideal candidate. On the other hand, there are likely a lot of dying industrial towns that would be knocked down to Borough or Villages if a comprehensive charter evaluation was done.

As for merging townships, it's something that I have thought in the past, but I'm not sure that it would go over too well. Pennsylvania municipalities are generally small geographically, and combining Chambersburg with Hamilton, Guilford, and Greene would make it quite large.

Perhaps you can contact Borough Manager Jeff Stonehill (he even has a Twitter) to ask how the process would be done.
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Old 07-19-2016, 01:37 AM
 
Location: Media
41 posts, read 19,616 times
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The situation you’re describing isn’t very uncommon in Pennsylvania. There are many small boroughs and cities (small in that they cover a small geographic area) surrounded by multiple townships that contain many of that community’s newer homes, shopping centers, etc.

In what you’re describing about the borough and nearby townships merging to become a city, it seems like you’re envisioning a more top-down approach—as if the leaders of Chambersburg or a regional planning commission or maybe even the state government in Harrisburg might be looking at the growth patterns and decide that it would make sense for these areas to merge. So they’d just redraw the borders, rewrite the municipal charters, and make it happen. And in a way, that type of top-down planning sounds like a good idea.

But here’s the negative of that top-down approach: Let’s say that you live in Hamilton Township, where the property tax rate is 1.2553%. You have a $200,000 house and an annual property tax bill of $2,510.60. Without the approval of Hamilton Township residents, Chambersburg borough, whose property tax rate is 1.4863%, decides to “take over” your township. Now, your tax bill is $2,970.60—over $400 higher. And nobody even asked you whether you wanted to be merged!

That’s why “peaceful” municipal mergers are more of a bottom-up affair—the people in the townships or boroughs voluntarily decide that they want to be merged into a larger municipality. Higher taxes are often a major reason why many voters in a township don’t want to be merged into the city. Developers and businesspeople are often not in favor of mergers because they’d rather deal with the simpler regulations and permitting processes of a small township rather than the larger and more expensive bureaucracy of a city. Then too, most anyone who sits on a township board or works for the township would rather keep his or her job than possibly lose it after a merger.

I say “peaceful” municipal mergers because there have also been forced mergers, such as when the City of Philadelphia took over Germantown, Manayunk, and a bunch of other boroughs and townships that are now part of the city. This took a special act of the state legislature, and this kind of forced action is generally reserved for special circumstances, such as when a municipality is in major financial trouble or has difficulty governing itself. In the case of the Philadelphia mergers, there were actually riots (!) that the small municipalities simply couldn’t control.
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Old 07-19-2016, 08:55 AM
 
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State College is PA's largest population borough, and its limits are very difficult to distinguish anymore with the surrounding townships. That area would seem ripe for consolidation as (say) "Centre City" since social/racial distinctions among those municipalities (all already in the same schools) seem relatively small from outside. I heard the Ferguson Twp police got some rude comments last year being mistaken for a similarly named community in another state.

Carlisle would seem like a good candidate for enlargement if not consolidation. North Middleton Twp especially seems to lack an identity, although some far exurban/rural areas are still included within that municipality. South Middleton Twp's separate schools may be a barrier there.
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Old 07-19-2016, 05:53 PM
 
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I did read in the Public Opinion newspaper that Chambersburg is considered a micropolitan area now. We moved here in 1970 and I know Chambersburg has multiplied considerably. It is a wonderful area to raise a family or just live here. It's diversity has come a very long ways. Too we are so close to Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.
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Old 07-22-2016, 06:07 PM
 
3,691 posts, read 1,737,166 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George22x24 View Post
I did read in the Public Opinion newspaper that Chambersburg is considered a micropolitan area now. We moved here in 1970 and I know Chambersburg has multiplied considerably. It is a wonderful area to raise a family or just live here. It's diversity has come a very long ways. Too we are so close to Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.
That's one of the things that I love about Chambersburg; it's becoming much more DC-centric than Harrisburg-centric.
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Old 07-23-2016, 03:48 PM
 
Location: The Flagship City
2,275 posts, read 2,479,901 times
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This is really common in PA and there are also several townships like Millcreek Township (population 54,000+) in Erie county that have higher populations than major cities like Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre, or State College.
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Old 07-24-2016, 08:57 AM
Status: "Ex hoc fornax, hoc acerum (Out of this forge, this steel)" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Topton and Nescopeck, Penna.
9,131 posts, read 5,103,171 times
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The decision to incorporate as a borough, and expand to a city, rests with local residents. Pleasant Gap, a small crossroads community about eight miles north of State College on PA route 64, voted down an effort to incorporate as a borough about forty years ago during my undergrad years at Penn State.

The point being, many people, probably the majority, of those who live in rural ares see little advantage in further increasing the size and complexity of local government. It only leads to higher taxes, further meddling in matters which should remain outside the scope of politics, and it attracts and favors those with a "Big Brother" mentality.
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Old 07-24-2016, 06:02 PM
 
3,691 posts, read 1,737,166 times
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Would there be any tangible benefits of incorporating the townships into a "City of Chambersburg"? The Borough plus Greene, Guilford, and Hamilton would create a city of about 50,000 people, which isn't too shabby for PA.
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Old 07-25-2016, 09:58 AM
 
Location: The Flagship City
2,275 posts, read 2,479,901 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dequindre View Post
Would there be any tangible benefits of incorporating the townships into a "City of Chambersburg"? The Borough plus Greene, Guilford, and Hamilton would create a city of about 50,000 people, which isn't too shabby for PA.
PA does not incorporate new cities very often and someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure that no city has been incorporated in PA since the late 1990's. The main differences between boroughs, townships, and cities are the structure of the local government and the services they offer. In terms of the main benefits of becoming a city, I would have to say they would be increased authority to govern a local area and increased services for residents. For instance, if Chambersburg became a city, it could offer more street lights for residents, additional sidewalks, additional code enforcement, etc. In terms of increased authority to govern, Chambersburg could do something similar to Pittsburgh and decriminalize the possession of marijuana or suspend the open container law like the city of Erie. Not that everything has to be focused on recreational drugs, but these are examples of cities governing at the local level. In terms of negatives, they are pretty major and the main ones would be increased taxes as well as restructuring of local school districts. I think that it is a very hard sell to residents to become a city, especially when they the potential for increased taxes and restructuring of schools. Erie is a perfect example of this and I have heard people talk about a merger between the city of Erie and Millcreek township, but I don't see it happening because Millcreek residents enjoy lower taxes, smaller government, and I can't imagine they would want to have their schools merged with the city of Erie.
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