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Possible lawsuit could threaten White Tail golf course sale

February 29, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Hummelstown Pa.'s plans to buy a new 250-acre golf course near the Whitetail Ski Resort could be thwarted if the owners of Penn National Golf Course in Quincy Township, Pa., follow through with a threat to sue over the purchase.

Christopher Mattson, a Lancaster, Pa., attorney representing White Rock Inc., owners of Penn National, said Tuesday that his clients are claiming the sale to Hummelstown, a municipality, would create unfair competition between the two golf courses because Hummelstown can finance the purchase with tax-exempt bonds.

The two golf courses are less than an hour apart.

Mattson earlier sent letters to the Hummelstown General Authority threatening to sue unless the sale is stopped. He said Tuesday he promised to delay filing the suit pending a meeting between lawyers for both sides scheduled for 1 p.m. today.

He said the purchase by Hummelstown would be in violation of state laws governing municipal general authorities, which can float bonds to finance public and private projects.

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The same law stopped the Dauphin County General Authority from buying the entire Whitetail resort two years ago. At that time, Snow Time Inc., owners of Ski Liberty and Ski Round Top, sued Dauphin County on the same grounds - that buying the resort with tax-exempt bonds created unfair competition.

Dauphin County went ahead with the purchase of the golf course after the ski resort deal fell through.

Hummelstown bought the golf course for $7.5 million in January from the Dauphin County General Authority.

Michael O'Keefe, borough manager for Hummelstown, a town of 4,000 in Dauphin County near Hershey, Pa., had no comment Tuesday other than to say the matter was turned over to the authority's lawyers.

Last year, the Mercersburg General Purpose Authority announced plans to buy the golf course. Hummelstown stepped in when Mercersburg failed to assemble its funding package.

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