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Golf course owners may not sue rivals

March 31, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Wayneboro

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The owners of Penn National Golf Course say they will drop plans to sue the Hummelstown, Pa., General Authority over the authority's purchase of a 250-acre golf course under construction near the Whitetail Ski Resort in Montgomery Township, Pa.

Lawyers for White Rock Inc., which owns the Penn National Golf Course in Guilford Township, Pa., threatened to file suit charging unfair competition, since the Hummelstown General Authority, a government agency, could issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the project.

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

Pennsylvania law allows municipal authorities to issue bonds to finance public and private projects. The Dauphin County General Authority, one of the state's most active, has issued more than $2 billion in bonds since 1984, Greg Ricci, its executive director, has said.

The golf course is the first venture for Hummelstown, a town of 4,000 in Dauphin County. It is scheduled to open sometime next year, Michael O'Keefe, borough manager for Hummelstown, said Friday.

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Dennis Zimmerman, general manager at Penn National, said this week that White Rock has decided to drop plans for now to sue Hummelstown, providing Hummelstown drops any plans it may have to build a 90-room lodge and convention center at the golf course.

"We will reserve the right to go ahead with the suit if they continue with their plans to build a hotel and conference center," Zimmerman said. "We don't want to interfere with their bond offering or damage a project that is this far along."

He said the idea behind Pennsylvania's Municipal Authority Act is to allow municipalities to float bonds for local projects, not to compete with private industry.

"The Dauphin County General Authority financed a hotel at the Pittsburgh Airport," he said.

Montgomery Township is dry, meaning it does not allow the sale of liquor. The lodge at the Whitetail Ski Resort next door to the golf course can't sell liquor, but a lodge at the golf course could, since Hummelstown is a municipality, Zimmerman said.

O'Keefe said plans to build anything but the golf course are on hold.

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