Paul Weiss, President of Bethlehem Township's Board, whispered a loud "Yes" when the unanimous vote to join in the NIZ challenge came down. If settlement negotiations with Allentown were going well, I doubt he would have made the trip.
In addition to Weiss, Brad Osborne was in the house. He chairs Lehigh County's Board of Commissioners, and listened intently to the points being made.
Christina Morgan, President of South Whitehall's Board, explained that Commissioners still support Allentown's efforts at revitalization, but they have an obligation to "properly manage our own economic stability." South Whitehall remains hopeful that a settlement can be reached "that works for all the parties involved."
"It's been said that the NIZ is the most powerful economic development tool on the East coast. Whoever made that statement is probably right. This NIZ legislation has the ability to stimulate great amount of economic development for the City of Allentown, and I think we can all agree that a healthy City of Allentown is good for our region.
"However, tonight, South Whitehall Township Comm'rs voted to authorize that we intervene in the litigation against the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
"Please do not view this action as a declaration of war against the City, or a proliferation of this City versus Suburb nonsense. It is not.
"We view this action tonight as an opportunity for South Whitehall to reserve a spot at the table to bridge the dispute that needs to be settled while also preserving our ability to protect our own interest.
"It is not our intention ... to stop the arena project. Lines of communication are open. In the past 24-48 , I've talked to people on all sides of this dispute, at the highest levels. I believe there is common ground, and that common ground can provide a foundation for a resolution to this issue."