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Borough seeks opportunity zone designation

March 05, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Seven acres of unused Landis Tool Co. land may again become a valuable industrial or commercial building site following action this week by the Waynesboro Borough Council.

The land, between Sixth and Ninth streets, is in line to be designated as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, said Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger. Such designation means if the buyer builds an industrial or commercial facility that creates jobs, the buyer will have nearly all state and local taxes waived through 2010.

The project has caught the attention of L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., who said it could be "very good for Waynesboro."

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Hamberger said the idea behind Keystone Opportunity Zones is to take areas that are hard to develop - such as brownfields - and turn them into viable projects.

The term brownfield refers to land that is potentially contaminated, often old industrial sites. Hamberger said some of it is contaminated with enough industrial pollution to turn it into a brownfield.

Hamberger said the land at Landis Tool is undergoing cleanup.

It is in two adjoining sections, including a five-acre tract and one or two acres with a 35,700 square-foot single-story building.

The KOZ act was amended by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to run from January of this year through the end of 2010 or 2013, depending on the program.

Hamberger said the borough has to move fast if it wants the Landis property designated as an opportunity zone because the filing deadline is April.

He met Thursday with a representative of the South Central Assembly for Effective Governance, the nonprofit agency that handles KOZ applications.

Under the program, the Waynesboro Area School District and Franklin County also will have to waive their taxes, according to KOZ rules.

Hamberger said the land as it is now generates little in the way of tax revenue. Once developed, it will pay its fair share of taxes, he said.

Ross said 280 acres at the Cumberland Valley Business park on land once owned by Letterkenny Army Depot have been designated as opportunity zones.

He said his agency will work with Landis Tool to market the seven acres. The building could be converted to a manufacturing facility or machine shop, he said.

"Converting distressed property into job opportunities means that the property will eventually return to the tax roles with greater evaluations," Ross said.

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