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Uptick In People Buying Property, Moving To Potter Co.

August 31st, 2021
Potter County Tourism & Recreation Work Group members had a full agenda for their August meeting. Among highlights was a report on trends in the local real estate market. Members attending were Colleen Hanson, Josh Roth, Chris Nicholas, Candace Hillyard, Steve Green and Curt Weinhold. County Attendees: Will Hunt, Ellen Russell, Paul Heimel, Barry Hayman. Guests attending: Nicole Faraguna (DCNR Policy/Planning Director); Brian Thompson (Trail’s End Realty). Here’s a summary of this month’s meeting:

Real Estate Trends in Potter County– Brian Thompson from Trail’s End Realty presented a summary of trends he has observed in Potter County. These reflect a heightened interest in both tourism and real estate acquisition in Potter County since early 2020. He said people from many states and foreign countries are “discovering” the region, causing increased demand for seasonal residences and permanent homes. One major factor is the ability of those in the workforce to telecommute, retaining their employment after relocating. The influx of new residents is gradually expanding the diversity of Potter County’s population.

Maryland Air Force National Guard Low-Level Training Flights– DCNR’s Nicole Faraguna reported on continuing research into the proposal. DCNR and others are still calling for a comprehensive environmental impact statement to be prepared prior to any decisions being reached on allowing the flights. There have also been calls for the Maryland ANG to be more transparent in its planning process. Nicole suggested that those who are concerned about the impact of the flights consider options for educating the public on their potential impact. She has available multiple background and informational documents. For details, send email to nfaraguna@pa.gov.

State Parks Update–  There were no bids from prospective partners/concessionaires to develop and operate Denton Hill State Park as a four-season attraction. Another solicitation will be scheduled by DCNR. Members held a general discussion on the long-term dormancy of what was once a major tourist attraction and agreed that there is a need for strong, concerted local advocacy for revitalization of Denton Hill State Park and implementation of the state’s “Denton Hill Adventure Center” concept.

State Forest Update– District Forester Chris Nicholas reported that the number of state forest visitors is down this year when compared to 2020, when there was a surge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forest use is still higher than it was in the years prior to 2020. Chris also discussed the pilot ATV trail connector project. One issue that has arisen is the lack of enforcement on township and PennDOT roads.

Visit Potter-Tioga Overview/Update– Colleen Hanson said that more visitors are making day trips to the region this year. Campgrounds have enjoyed a solid year so far, but some traditional lodging facilities have not. VPT has launched its fall advertising campaign, emphasizing family fun in the outdoors and the fall foliage viewing opportunities. The number of requests for information about the region continues to rise, indicating strong interest in the two counties by prospective tourists. A new visitors guide will be published in early October. VPT has grants available to members to assist with certain marketing/advertising activities. Colleen can be reached at colleen@visitpottertioga.com for details.

Potter County Planning/GIS Department– Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt reported that there is growing concern about lack of compliance by lodging facilities – Airbnbs and residential short-term rentals – with the “room tax” ordinance. Work group members are interested in hearing from county treasurers on steps they are taking to ensure compliance. Will noted that camps that are converted to short-term rentals might no longer qualify for building code exemptions. He also shared that DCNR and Penn State University are partnering on a study of the ATV trail connector project underway in Potter County and a section of western Tioga County. Also, Will presented an update on the Potter County Commissioners’ broadband expansion initiative.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum– Josh Roth (administrator) said attendance has been excellent since the museum’s reopening. A full-time educator position will be filled. Plans are coming together for the popular annual Antique/Collectible Show Oct. 9-10. The year’s one and only run of the museum’s steam-powered sawmill will take place on Oct. 9.

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