HARRISBURG – The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved three bills from the House of Representatives, according to Committee Chairman David G. Argall (R-29).

House Bill 1122, which mirrors Argall's Senate Bill 859, would provide a 10-year window for developers to complete the construction of planned communities. The Uniform Planned Communities Act currently mandates that all construction be completed within seven years.

Argall said that many developers have expressed concerns regarding their ability to complete planned communities due to new lending restrictions enacted by many financial institutions in response to the recent recession. If communities are not completed, the responsibility for maintaining the undeveloped properties falls on other homeowners within the homeowner's association.

"In many cases, new homeowners do not have the financial resources to maintain the roads, sewer lines, water lines and other infrastructure, and the municipalities are left to pick up the slack," Argall said. "It makes more sense to allow developers to finish the job they started instead of burdening local taxpayers with the costs of maintaining undeveloped or underdeveloped properties."

The committee approved House Bill 1319, sponsored by Representative Mike Tobash (R-125), which would restrict the use of employment contracts by housing authorities.

According to Tobash, the bill ensures lawful hiring practices.

"This bill clears up an older law, and mainly prevents housing authorities from skirting the civil service system when hiring new employees," Tobash said. "Our state has a civil service system of hiring in place for a reason. There are plenty of hard-working, qualified folks waiting for jobs, and it's important that they are being considered by our housing authorities."

The committee also approved House Bill 1363, legislation that would encourage private investment in efforts to remediate blighted properties by improving state laws regulating conservatorships.

The proposals now move to the full Senate for consideration.