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Franklin commissioners removes tax-free zone restrictions

April 05, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to remove local criteria that place restrictions on businesses that can locate in a tax-free zone in the Cumberland Valley Business Park.

The commissioners join the Chambersburg Area School District in removing the conditions on wages and size that were designed to bring high-paying jobs into the 283-zone on former Army land.

The Keystone Opportunity Zone offers state and local tax breaks to businesses locating in the zone through 2010.

Four years into the program, a new business has yet to locate in the zone, said John Van Horn, executive director of the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, which is charged with redeveloping the land.

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Van Horn said the conditions are too restrictive, and the state is threatening to decertify the zone because it claims the criteria is not in keeping with the purpose of the zone.

Last summer, Van Horn began asking the four taxing bodies that approved the conditions in 1998 to remove them. The school board responded last week, and Van Horn said Letterkenny and Greene townships may vote on it next week.

"I think some of those principles, all of them, still have merit. But I don't think it should be a line in the sand," Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

Van Horn assured the commissioners the LIDA board would still look out for the best interests of the county.

He said businesses locating from within the county to the Keystone Opportunity Zone would have to have evidence they could not expand at their current location and businesses would have to pay 1.75 times the federal minimum wages.

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