The Community Development Department is a team of skilled professionals striving to improve the quality of life in the City of Reading through the encouragement of community participation, the effective administration of programs, efficient allocation of resources, judicious enforcement of regulations and sound planning practices.
The department is responsible for functions that guide development and planning activities in the City of Reading, such as:
• Reviewing proposed development activity to determine compliance with City regulations for subdivisions, land development, historic preservation, and zoning;
• Enforcing Zoning and Historic Preservation Ordinances, as well as enforcement of state and local building codes through inspection and approval of new construction within the City;
• Enforcing Property Maintenance Codes and conducting inspections and issuing permits for rental housing, as well as conducting health inspections and issuing permits for food service businesses, conducting health and safety inspections when a property is sold and responding to citizen complaints regarding property maintenance and health issues;
• Administering the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
, Home Investment Partnership (HOME)
, and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)
programs. Activities funded by these programs within the City include a variety of infrastructure improvements, economic development initiatives, homelessness prevention services and housing and planning activities; and
•Developing and implementing the City of Reading’s Housing and Economic Development strategies and assembling the necessary resources, partners and support to allow the City to meet its goals for Housing and Economic Development as outlined by the respective strategies;
Contact: Community Development Department; Director
Room 3-12 Phone: 610-655-6211
The Community Development Department has four divisions:
• Administration oversees the financial and programming aspects of the Department. Specific tasks include managing and reconciling federal grant funds in both HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) and the City's General Ledger. They are also responsible for monitoring compliance with federal, state and local regulations. The Division has administered a variety of other federal, state and private grant programs including Stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which includes the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing program. Additional grants have been received through the National Endowment for the Arts, Economic Development Initiatives (EDI), Brownfield Economic Development Initiatives (BEDI), and Community Services Block Grants and Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) programs from the Commonwealth.
• Planning and Zoning is responsible for planning, historic preservation and zoning administration and enforcement in the City. The unit prepares and amends Reading’s Comprehensive Plan and land use and zoning ordinances while providing support to the City Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, and Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB). The division also prepares neighborhood and redevelopment plans, reports and maps; provides technical assistance to City departments on projects that have an impact on Reading’s historical structures (particularly demolitions); reviews zoning plans and permit applications; performs inspections; and issues enforcement notices for noncompliance with the City's zoning ordinance.
• Building/Trades Inspections provides permits for building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing trades; reviews building plans; provides occupancy and use permit inspections; and issues all trade licenses for contractors wanting to work in the City of Reading. The division also conducts pre-construction and design review meetings with citizens, builders, developers, and contractors to facilitate the development review and construction process. These "one-stop shop" meetings are managed by Building/Trades and conducted in close collaboration with Planning and Zoning, Public Works/Engineering, and the Fire Marshal's Office. Meetings are held weekly, by appointment, and are intended to simplify and streamline applications by bringing predictability to the regulatory system and enhancing communication between all stakeholders at the beginning of the application process.
• Property Maintenance Division provides property maintenance code enforcement inspections for properties in order to achieve compliance with City codes and ordinances. The division responds to housing and property maintenance complaints, provides health and safety inspections when a property is sold, inspects food establishments, restaurants and grocery stores, performs health inspections for illegal trash dumping, odors, and animal waste, and administers housing permits, health permits and mobile vendor permits.