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Tax-exempt business zone clears last local hurdle for approval

December 04, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A 283-acre tax-exempt zone for new industries at Letterkenny Army Depot was approved Thursday by the Franklin County Commissioners, leaving just one hurdle to clear before the zone becomes a reality.

The other taxing bodies that might receive revenues from the zone, the Chambersburg Area School District and Greene and Letterkenny townships, had already approved the plan.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development will approve or deny the authority's application early next year, according to L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation.

The Keystone Opportunity Zone would exempt new business from paying most local and state taxes for a 12-year period beginning Jan. 1, 1999.

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The parcels at the depot are mostly undeveloped. Businesses and industries locating there would be required to meet several local criteria, including an initial capital investment of $7.5 million and wages averaging more than three times the federal minimum wage.

The state law passed in October allows up to a dozen opportunity zones to be created around the state to encourage job growth and economic development.

Because the land is federal property, the district, county and townships do not receive any taxes from it. That will change in the future as the Department of the Army turns over 1,500 acres to the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority for its Cumberland Valley Business Park.

Local criteria also include provisions to prevent county businesses from moving to the zone just to avoid local taxes.

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