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Liquor board requests divide township supervisors

June 14, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Two requests from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board regarding its new store have initially divided the Washington Township Supervisors on how to handle them.

The state board has asked that its planned Wayne Heights Mall store be exempt from submitting a land development plan and that it be able to pay impact fees in installments, rather than a lump sum up front.

In September 2006, the state liquor store on Pa. 16 closed; the liquor board recently announced its intention to lease 4,000 square feet in the nearby mall.

"They're not changing the structure. The four walls stay the same," Township Manager Mike Christopher said. The parking and storm water management plans are not affected, he said.

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However, a leasehold legally would require the submission of a land development plan in the township.

"I just don't see how it fits in their situation," Supervisor Paul Benchoff said.

Solicitor John Lisko advised that the supervisors could waive the plan due to the "uniqueness of this particular circumstance," Christopher said.

Also at issue are the impact fees assessed on properties within designated zones in the township. Under a formula, developers are subject to being charged $2,714 for each vehicle their business "creates" during peak travel times.

"They would owe us $27,000 in an impact fee," Christopher said.

The liquor board, with $1.5 billion in annual sales revenue, thought it would receive credit for relocating within a certain time frame, yet it lost the right when another tenant moved into its old location, Christopher said.

He and Lisko recommended the supervisors accept an agreement that the liquor board pay $1,000 per month for 27 months.

"The state store folks weren't too anxious to pay this in the first place, and I don't want to end up in court with them," Christopher said, mentioning the parable that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Supervisor Christopher Firme said he is in agreement with the recommendation, but others said they need more information or spoke out against it.

"They think they're better than everyone else related to impact fees," Supervisor C. Stewart McCleaf said. "We're talking about a state agency."

He expressed concern about setting a precedent.

"I don't want to have the state kicking a little township around on something this stupid," McCleaf said.

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