History of Hermitage
The City of Hermitage, located in Mercer County, was first settled in 1796, and the Township of Hickory was incorporated in 1833 from portions of the Shenango and Pymatuning townships. Following the incorporation of the cities of Sharon and Farrell and the Boroughs of Sharpsville and Wheatland, the remainder of the Township was incorporated into a First Class Township.
The Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, Act 62 of 1972, provided all local governments in Pennsylvania a unique opportunity of true “home rule.” On August 9th, 1972, Ordinance 13-72 was enacted by the Board of Commissioners, providing for a referendum on electing a Governmental Study Commission of nine members. On November 17th, 1972, the electors voted in favor of a commission and selected nine members with the task of studying present Township government and the alternative of an Optional Plan of Government or a Home Rule Charter.
On March 13th, 1974, the final report of the Government Study Commission recommended a Home Rule Charter, which was approved on May 21st, 1974 by a vote of 1,375 to 546. The Charter was to become effective on January 1st, 1976.
A resolution of April 9th, 1975 stated the Board of Commissioners’ intent to start an informal campaign to consider the possibility of a name change for the Township. A survey was conducted to determine possible names. In July, 1975, the Commissioners petitioned to the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County pursuant to the Act of June 14th, 1957, P.L. 330. The petition contained almost double the signature requirement of ten percent of the registered electors of the Township. The questions to be placed on the ballot were whether the name of the Township should be changed, and if so, which name: “Hermitage,” “Mount Hickory,” “Hickory Hills.”
On November 4th, 1975, the voters approved, by 2,986 to 695, a change in name, and selected “Hermitage.” The Honorable Judge John Q. Stranahan, President Judge of Mercer County Court of Common Pleas, issued an order on December 11th, 1975, decreeing that the name of the Township of Hickory shall be and was hereby changed to Hermitage, Pennsylvania, effective January 2nd, 1976.
Codification of Township Ordinances
During 1975, the Commissioners also authorized the codification of Township ordinances beginning with Ord. 1-49, August 4th, 1949. From that date through December 11th, 1975, 416 ordinances and one resolution of legislative nature had been enacted. In the preparation of the codification, these 416 ordinances and the subdivision resolution 1954 were taken into consideration. Each was carefully analyzed and compared with State Law, court decisions and later enactments on the same subject, and was further considered as to modern needs and conditions in the Township. They were also studied in light of the soon to be effective Home Rule Charter.
On July 14th, 1983, the Hermitage Board of Commissioners ordained and enacted into law the placement of a referendum on the question of an amendment of the Home Rule Charter of the Municipality of Hermitage to be submitted to the Municipality of the general election on November 8th, 1983. The question presented to the electors of the Municipality was as follows: “Shall the Home Rule Township of Hermitage become the Home Rule City of Hermitage?”
The official certified election results on the question submitted were 1,971 in favor and 1,846 opposed; and with the passage of said referendum, the Hermitage Board of Commissioners decided to put into effect the change of classification of the Township of Hermitage to the City of Hermitage. Ordinance No. 18-83 ordained and enacted December 22nd, 1983, reclassified the Home Rule Township of Hermitage to the Home Rule City of Hermitage.
On January 1, 1984, Hermitage became a Third Class City. After two years of study, research and finally a referendum, Hermitage became Pennsylvania’s newest City.