Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hanover Tp To Sue Over Allentown EIT Tax Grab

Artist's rendering of arena entrance
Although Allentown's Planning Commission unanimously approved new plans for a hockey arena during a hastily called meeting on March 13, there was no need to rush. That's because Hanover Township Supervisors later that day authorized its Solicitor to challenge the use of their own tax dollars to finance the project.

At high noon, when most people are at work, planners approved revised plans for redevelopment of a 5.1-acre square block along Hamilton Street with a hockey arena, 7-story hotel containing 180 rooms, 7-story office building and two parking garages. Two planners - Attorney Oldrich Foucek III and Mark J Buchwalt - were forced to step aside because of their own involvement in the project. The four remaining members - Richard Button, Keith E Hoeing, Christian J Brown and Martin Velazquez III  - quickly gave their stamp of approval to what Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has called a transformational project.

This green light comes with virtually no inquiry, over vociferous objections from Abe Atiyeh engineer David Harte. It comes despite litigation that Atiyeh has already been filed against plans approved in January. It comes despite the lack of a traffic plan. "Those details haven't been honed out yet," claims a City engineer.

"Parking is very important, and there were no definite answers given on parking today," noted Harte. The hockey arena alone has a 8,500-person capacity, but the two garages planned for the facility only have capacity for 725 cars total.

After two planners step aside, Button runs the meeting.
Harte also pointed out that Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA), which introduced the plans, does not own the property. "I want to know who is the applicant, and where is the Deed for that property?" he asked. He added that City Streets are included in this development plan, and no attempt has been made to declare them vacated.

Representing ACIDA, Attorney Tim Siegfried scoffed at Harte's objections, accusing him of attempting to interject "ambiguity" and "vagueness."

Planner Christian Brown called the project "fantastic." He noted that hockey fans could park in satellite lots and visit shops along their walk to the arena. Planners also noted there are no parking requirements for downtown development.

Unknown to planners, Hanover Township's Board of Supervisors met on March 13, too. They met in the early evening, when most people are home from work. Sitting in the audience was noted zoning and planning lawyer James Preston, who works in Solicitor Jim Broughal's firm.

Following an executive session, Supervisors authorized Solicitor Jim Broughal to challenge the use of Hanover Township's earned income tax to finance any part of this project.

"Do we fight this?" Supervisor Steve Salvesen asked in February.

The answer is yes. Unanimously, Supervisors authorized Broghal & DeVito to sue over the "misappropriation of Hanover Township’s EIT by the City of Allentown."

Township Manager Jay Finnigan declined any further comment.

(Updated 11:15 AM, to include details of Hanover's motion last night.)

59 comments:

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

They think they are going to lose money? That is a joke! What makes it even funnier is that they are going to lose more money in lawyer fees than what they think they are going to lose in missing EIT. Hanover Township officials are idiots, they are costing themselves more than what can ever be imagined in lost EIT is stupidity. But I guess that is the normal protocol from extreme right board members in Northampton County. They are fools for thinking that they have any chance in this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me ask you, how did you get copies of plans when David Harte had to file a RTK request, wait 30 days and spend $650 to get the old ones? You are on somebody's payroll, and give yourself away with your comment on Geeting's blog.

Anonymous said...

I'll say this. You do break the stories.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

This sounds like a solution, looking for a problem.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Bernie, you are a fool once again. The plans are public knowledge. Here is the public link that I got the plans from. It was on Lehigh Valley Live. Put your I work for the city shit away. I am just a better researcher than you.

Here is the link jackass.

http://media.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown_impact/other/Allentown%20Planning%20Commission%20Renderings%20of%20hockey%20arena%20project%20with%20hotel%20and%20office%20building.pptx

Anonymous said...

Would everyone embrace this project and stop with the jockeying for attention.

This is better than all the Corporate Welfare pushed by the Governors Office and Washington.

Anonymous said...

much ado about nothing

Anonymous said...

Way to go Hanover. I want to move there and have a rare opportunity to be represented by people with a backbone.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Hanover will win and be awarded court costs, as well.

Anonymous said...

Marty Velazquez will uphold the proud tradition in Allentown of the bobbing head rubber stamp. What a great pick for the Planning Commission, which is now made up exclusively of Pawlowski campaign supporters and close personal friends. All they have to do is show up, pat each other on the back and vote yes to everything.

Anonymous said...

Dick Button is the perfect toady as well. What a joke they are, but the laugh is on the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

This place is Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

The problem here is the diversion of funds that are rightfully the taxpayers of Hanover Township to pay for their services. If the funds are diverted to Allentown as the legislation allows illegally, then the board in Hanover will be forced to raise either taxes or fees to cover the loss in revenue. Who loses, potentially every municipality in Pennsylvania who allows this scheme to go unchallenged. This could be the start of redistribution of taxes (wealth) to fix the ills of the cities. STOP IT NOW!

zoid said...

There are going to be a lot more jumping on this bandwagon with Hanover, Broughal's firm must have found something. Someone told me a little while ago that it was in the paper that East Penn School District is opposed to this and may choose to fight it.

Anonymous said...

Again, Hanover has made a mountain out of a potential molehill. The numbers aren't yet available for them to make an informed decision on the EIT issue. This is hissy fit thinking.

Yes, they are pissed(ok, maybe a reasonable view) as they say, but they don't have any idea as to the cost of litigation versus the lost(?delayed) EIT versus the probabilty of winning. Lots of big guns will be on the opposition side. No legal history exists of a NIZ challange to base the expectation decision.

HT has about $1.7 million of EIT. If they have 25 residents working in the 130 acres of the NIZ they are dealing with about a tenth of a percent of their EIT.This is not a tax increase issue in all probability.

Local legislators never seem to think like business people. You make financial decisions on facts and reasonable expected outcomes, not emotions.

zoid said...

Fact is Browne stated that the project does not need our EIT the project will support itself. If that is the case then why did they take it along with the state taxes. Browne is full of shit. We will never see that money!!

Anonymous said...

Everyone is forgetting this is downtown Allentown, a total pit. I figure people will try it once and then see it's not worth risking their lives to take their families and children to this area. Even the area the Phillies, Flyers, and Eagles play in is far enough from the filth to feel somewhat safe. Allentown is a hole...... I stay away unless I have no other choice.
"Planner Christian Brown called the project "fantastic." He noted that hockey fans could park in satellite lots and visit shops along their walk to the arena. He is nuts, do you see families walking around Trenton / Camden ?? The cops will be very busy with new crime once this goes in. Enjoy your new hockey arena.

zoid said...

What is the saying build it and they will come, I don't think so

Anonymous said...

5 years from now these guys will be ashamed to admit they were part of such a foolish suit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, Those are incomplete. I was at the meeting, and say the plans. In a comment to Geeting, you specifically stated you would email him the plans. You told hm to look in his inbox. Why would you need to do that if all he needed was a link to LehighValleyLive? Why wouldn't you have just posted the link in a comment, as you did here? You're lying, FDAA. You are connected the this project. You made a mistake and have been caught. Now who is paying you? Do you work for the City or the developer? How does it feel to be a propagandist?

Doc Rock said...

9:35

Shame left Allentown years ago when it had the chance.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who votes for any state representative or senator that had a part of this should be ashamed of him or herself. This is the beginning of liberal Pennsylvania tax redistribution. If anyone tells you differently, be concerned. This has been talked about for years at the LVEDC, LVPC, City, County DCEDS and all the agencies in the so called lehigh valley that spell their names with acronyms. Remember this is only a start!!

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Good for Hanover Township! I'm hopeful Lower Saucon makes the same decision.

I've accepted that Pawlowski can do whatever he decides for his citizens. He virtually has free reign. There is enough secrecy, naivety, and complacency in that city to allow for almost anything.

Those of us who no longer live there must encourage our own officials to reject becoming part of funding mechanisms for Allentown's follies. It sets bad precedent.

As for FDAA's claim that objecting municipalities will spend more on legal fees in litigating than their lost revenues represent, the SAME can be said for the Allentown proponents.

Sometimes you just need to pay for "preventive medicine."

Perhaps Hanover, Lower Saucon, and others will receive some sort of waiver in exchange for going away.
Over time, this, in itself, is worth any present expense.

ironpigpen said...

FUTURE DOWNTOWN ARENA ATTENDEE says, "here is the link jackass"

----------

Sorry Jackass,

Still ain't buyin' no stinkin' ice hockey tickets to Chairman Pawlowski's magnificent $ 160.0 million dollar Palace of Sport.

But be sure to tell all your friends to vote for my hockey blog in The Morning Call contest!

http://www.goironpigs.com

:)

Alan Earnshaw said...

Zoid,

At our meeting Monday evening, the East Penn School Board adopted a resolution condemning the NIZ and instructing our board president to convey our displeasure to our legislators. We did not discuss taking any measures to fight it.

We're anxious to learn what the actual impact on the district will be. I suspect the potential loss or delay of tax revenue will not justify the cost of litigation.

Anonymous said...

When are members of City Council going to start asserting themselves and stop letting Pawlowski make all the decisions? They need to start vetting these appointments to boards and commissions so they can remain independant and make good decisions. As for Chris Brown's comments about families strolling about browsing at shops, he's starting to sound a lot like Lee Butz. I hope Chris stays in the City and doesn't move to Parkland like Butz.

ripped off atown taxpayers. said...

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee is the Mayor's knob Polisher

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that the City of Allentown is bulldozing this project through irrespective of any laws that any other person in the City of Allentown must follow. Take the "R" and "D" out of this...the extent of the collusion and illegality of the actions by everyone involved here, the money changing hands, the NIZ boundaries and who profited from the windfall of purchasing dilapidated buildings and quadrupling their investments with the inside information, the eminent domain matter where Allentown or the Developer DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHTS to develop the land, the NIZ Board selection, the relationship between the lobbyists and the politicians, etc. It is shocking. And the excuse that this is done in the name of progress is ridiculous. Follow the money people. Who is profiting from this, and who are they profiting from? Answer those two questions, and if you can't something is wrong.

Finally, how is this not a no-bid project? I have no fundamental idea how if the City code requires that any item over $10k be bid, that an $160 million dollar (probably closer to $250 million) project can be diverted into the hands of specific developers. If this is private property, the owners can do what they want, but the City is the owner of the property and everything must be public, and bid upon, etc.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

You should put up an artists rendering of some pawn shops and massage parlors...those will REALLY bring in the jobs and development...KILL the Arena!!!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I cannot help but wonder if there is any truth to such that statement, that Future Downtown Arena Attendee is Mayor Pawlowski's equipment manager ...

Anonymous said...

At times I have felt bad for Abe and all of the objections to his projects in Bethlehem. Karma's a bitch.

I still don't understand the legal theory to challenge it. The EIT is created by state law and it was modified by state law.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'll be interested to see the suit when filed. These guys do not file suits they think they will lose.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:03 AM, I'd rather not get into that. yesterday, FDAA posted this comment on another, pro-arena blog, at 5:16 PM:

"Yes the bottom floor on Hamilton street will be retail. It will include an Sports bar/restaurant that will be integrated into the arena with an area that overlooks the stage/ice. There also will be additional retail space that can be accessed by a hamilton st entrance. With one of them being a cafe. I am sending you an email with the new plans. Check your inbox."

If she was referring to the drawings posted at Lehigh Valley Live, why wouldn't she have just posted the link, as she did here?

It's pretty clear to me that she has the actual plans, and was sending a copy of them to someone she knew would react favorably.

She is carrying water for someone.

Anonymous said...

You carried Angles water and were his chief propagandist. You can answer that question yourself. How does it feel?

Anonymous said...

The project is supposed to be transformational. People will come into Allentown to see hockey, they be encouraged to see what else the city offers. Right?
The way this super-block is panning out, it looks like the plan is for a one-stop, all inclusive visit, where there is no reason to ever leave this soon to be massive facility. Parking, hotel, restauranys, shops, events, practically under one roof. Is this in any way encouraging the "exploration" of all that Allentown has to offer? I think not. It's almost as though the people behind the project are designing a facility intended to support itself, with little or no interaction with the surrounding reality. Maybe that's because they realize that the transformation is really a pipe dream.


VOR

Bernie O'Hare said...

Um, I have never written a word I did not honestly believe, nor have I ever been paid a nickel. I might be wrong from time ti time, but I have enough resect for my readers to be honest wit them and tell the truth. That includes identifying myself. You and FDAA, on the other hand, are anonymous cowards who hide things from my readers. You are not even honest enough to say who you are.

ironpigpen said...

"CHAIRMAN PAWLOWSKI's POTEMKIN VILLAGE FEATURING MINOR LEAGUE HEAVYWEIGHTS THROWING HAYMAKERS ON HAMILTON STREET"

there is a blog piece waiting to happen ...

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

The vast majority who comment here are anonymous, but you only call the ones who disagree with you cowards. Nice double standard.

Make sure to turn into this feed. The last building is coming down today!

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/arena/

Anonymous said...

Alan Earnshaw from EPSD sounds a lot more sensible than the HT group. Never start a suit if you don't know what it is worth!

Agree, their attys may think they are on a solid path, but they get paid either way? Ask if they'll do it on a contingency basis?

Does every one remember the bulk of the project isn't financed by EIT?

Anonymous said...

FDAA,
Since Allentown is pulling million of dollars out of the State and local tax base for the next 30 years, will the City not pursue any State grants for projects located within the NIZ?

I would really have a problem with the double dipping considering the NIZ is consistent with never ending stream on non-compete grants to the City at the expense of all taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Anonymous 12:25, you miss a significant point. That being, a precedent has been set for surrounding municipalities to share in the burden of financing projects specific to Allentown.

Be it Allentown, Hazleton, or Alburtis, the burden placed on any entity's citizens by its OWN leadership should be exclusively on them. NOT surrounding communities. This is particularly true for non-essential visions like this one.

A door has been opened for financial commitment of other efforts, like that recently proposed for Whitehall. Where does it end?

It is NOT a stretch to foresee a time when a new regional tax scheme is utilized to help pay to keep the Allentown School District afloat.

Allentown, and every other municipality, must live within its OWN means. If the vision for the Allentown project can't be achieved without involving funds currently designated for other communities, the Allentown project needs to be scaled back to something that city can handle.

If Salisbury, East Penn, and others can't understand that joining in the suit is lessened for each with every new entity joining in now, they will surely pay more later, when the die is cast with this attempt.

The time to have this thing re-written is NOW. At the very least, language must be added to allow for specific interest payment back to the municipalities, plus penalties for Allentown's non-compliance.

All taxpayers, regardless where they live, deserve at least the same protections afforded to all other lending institutions.

Anonymous said...

Hanover's lawsuit might not amount to much but it's a consequence of screwing your neighbor and naively thinking there wouldn't be consequences.

I had no problem looking at the plans, traffic study and the parking plan. I don't see what the big deal is. The County Planning Commission has them and they readily give them to you to look at if you ask for them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The vast majority who comment here are anonymous, but you only call the ones who disagree with you cowards. Nice double standard."

Actually, I welcome different views. It is only people like you, who hide between anonymity to engage in personal attacks, whom I call cowards.

In addition, you are also advancing someone's agenda.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" had no problem looking at the plans, traffic study and the parking plan. I don't see what the big deal is. The County Planning Commission has them and they readily give them to you to look at if you ask for them."

There is no County Planning Comm'n. There is a LVPC. I will find out what they have and whether RTK requests must be filed. That is a good point.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD Teacher has it 100% right in his/her 1:12 post. I was about to post many of the exact same points myself.

I'll just add a question to any supporters of this project. I read in the MC the other day that Buckno & Lisicky was relocating from Linden St. to the arena office complex. Can you explain to me who will benefit from this move other than the company (which is taking advantage of a taxpayer subsidized rent rate) and Pawlowski's cronies who are running this project. Surrounding communities are losing their tax money to subsidize the project, Allentown is losing tax money from the Linden St. location (since taxes will now be diverted to the Arena) and gaining another abandoned building that will never be rented out because it's unsubsizided (at least until Pawlowksi & Co. get another NIZ!). Who wins here?

The same is true for all businesses moving in from surrounding communities, with the only exception being that the surrounding communities get the joy of having their tax money used to incentivize employers to leave them.

The only way subsidizing office buildings in the NIZ actually is useful is if it draws employers from outside the area, and I've yet to see that happen.

Anonymous said...

Even if the NIZ is 100% successful in all it's supporters hope for(something I don't think is at all likely), the absolute best they can possibly hope for is something like a very small scale Atlantic City. Casino gambling was touted as the way to save the city and draw tourists that would benefit everyone. Instead, they wound up with a strip of casinos along the boardwalk that tourists went to, and absolute sqaulor a block inland that was as bad as I've ever seen. Almost all revenues went to the casino owners who built their own hotels and restaurants, and there was little, if any, benefit to the city as a whole.

As I hear all the proposals for offices, restaurants, and other mixed use facilities being added to the arena, I'm picturing a fortified bunker around the zone, and no one ever leaving except to zoom through the city on their way to/from the zone. At best, we'll wind up with a couple nice blocks, heavily subsidized by taxpayers, where any benefits will go to the developers and priveleged few, and all tax proceeds will go back to support the zone. If this is "revitalization", count me out.

Doc Rock said...

Bernie,

Parking will be no problem when Geeting and his thousands of hipster dude friends flock to apartments in Center City, and sell out the arena 8 days a week.

Picture the economic power of a thousand people who spend their days blogging in their pajamas.

Transformation of Allentown? Yes!

ironpigpen said...

Quality entertainment.

Future Downtown Arena Attendee lecturing about "anonymous cowards".

Guess it really does take one to know one, does it not then Future Downtown Arena Attendee?

You are the gift that keeps giving, no matter what your name is / who you really are.

ROLF OELER

ironpigpen said...

Oh, and FDAA ...

... your Propaganda still sucks.

Boris Mikhailov said...

Your blog sucks

Monkey Momma said...

"Planner Christian Brown called the project "fantastic." He noted that hockey fans could park in satellite lots and visit shops along their walk to the arena. Planners also noted there are no parking requirements for downtown development."

Are these guys INSANE?

Seriously.

Anonymous said...

"State Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, who represents Hanover and many of the communities protesting the law, agreed with Browne.
"This is ridiculous," Boscola said. "Do you know how much money they get from this regional approach they have with gaming? When it works on their behalf, they are all for regionalization.""

Now!! Why would anyone vote in Boscola. How dare she!! Who does she represent? The last I remember its a lot of suburbanites and she endorses stealing their tax money! Hopefully someone will run against her and bring up that she supports sending your money to Allentown!!

Anonymous said...

"...He noted that hockey fans could park in satellite lots and DODGE BULLETS along their walk to the arena."

There. FIFY.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

If you take lawn furniture from a neighbor`s porch it doesen`t matter whether it originally came from Wamarts or was a hand me down. It still didn`t belong to you and it is stealing. This is what Allentown and Brown did..there is no justification for such thievery. It was wrong and it is still wrong.

ironpigpen said...

I'm sorry you feel that way, Boris.

Here is the good news --- unlike the minor league heavyweights soon to be throwing haymakers at Chairman Pawlowski's magnificent $ 160.0 million dollar Palace of Sport on Hamilton Street ...

... the blog that sucks does not charge any sort of admission fee.

In other words, unlike the Pennsylvania taxpayers and the spectacular Palace of Sport, the blog that sucks does not cost you anything!

Here in America, we call that a consolation prize, Boris ... Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
This issue is a prime example of why Penna. has fallen behind many other States.
There is no Regional approach to issues, everyone wants their small piece of power, Mayor's, Councilman, Commissioner, Supervisor etc. Further to many Boroughs, townships.

Anonymous said...

These township Officials are so full of themselves. This is a sure loser.

Even Simmons and Emerick voted for this Bill, and they control the majority.

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