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Partners sought for U.S. 11 land near Greencastle

October 31, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The owners of 200 commercial acres along U.S. 11 asked local school, borough and township officials at a joint meeting Thursday for a booster shot of tax incentives that would entice corporations to move in and, in time, could pad local budgets with as much as $4.5 million in annual tax revenue.

Bordered by Interstate 81 and the Norfolk Southern Railroad, the land is seen by many as an unrealized cash cow for Antrim Township and the Greencastle-Antrim School District. However, without infrastructure feeding the site, its owners say its value will never become reality.

Owners Atapco Properties Inc. of Baltimore and Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC of Glen Burnie, Md., asked the Greencastle-Antrim School District and Antrim Township to lure tenants to the site by joining them in a public-private partnership which uses tax breaks to fund the construction infrastructure.

Chesapeake Partner Jim Lighthizer said it will cost about $8 million to build infrastructure on the site.

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That $8 million, he said, is difficult to finance without support from the local municipalities either through a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) or a Tax Incentive Fund (TIF).

Under a TIF, the $8 million would be bonded through the township and paid off using tax money, Attorney Patrick Mondi said. LERTA, he said, would require the owners to put up the $8 million in exchange for 10 years of tax abatement.

Antrim Township Chairman Curtis Myers said the township has not seen commercial growth in years and its latest residential spurt is threatening to imbalance the tax base.

Myers said he would like to see the township head that problem off at the pass with some much needed industrial and commercial development along I-81.

School Board President Daniel Fisher said his board will consult Franklin County Area Development Corp. President Mike Ross on the tax incentive programs proposed by Atapco before moving forward.

Also at the meeting, Antrim Township offered to share its Emergency Management Coordinator, Paul Minnich, with the Borough of Greencastle.

Borough Council President Charlie Eckstine said the council will discuss sharing Minnich in the interim while it considers hiring its own Emergency Management Coordinator.

Antrim Township appointed Minnich as EMC on Oct. 7.

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