|Steve Salvesen, 28 years of service to Hanover Tp|
After the robust dialogue before Bethlehem Township Commissioners' unanimous Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) vote on May 21, the May 22 meeting of Hanover Township Supervisors was almost anticlimactic. Sure, the meeting room was still packed, but half of the crowd was there for other matters. Two police officers were on hand to quell any possible disturbances, but everyone was polite.
Four trade union members sat patiently as Supervisors went through a few zoning matters. Sitting directly behind them were Paul Weiss and Tom Nolan, Bethlehem Township Commissioners. Often divided on Township issues, Weiss and Nolan have been united in their opposition to the NIZ.
|Paul Weiss (L) and Tom Nolan (red) visit Hanover|
Hanover Township will continue to negotiate with actual parties to the NIZ litigation. That leaves Allentown out, as it is not technically a party.
Hanover, like Bethlehem Township, believes the NIZ enabling law must be amended to:
(a) Make it constitutional; andPreviously, Allentown has offered to make sure that money is returned through a "development fund" that would assess annual impact fees on NIZ developers. But Townships have balked at that proposal. A NIZ developer could challenge this impact fee as an end run around existing NIZ law. Surrounding municipalities would then be stuck with an unenforceable agreement.
(b) Remove all references to EIT and ensure they are not replaced with other sources of revenue generated by or from political subdivision sources outside of Allentown; and
(c) Reduce the size of the NIZ so it does not unfairly compete with non-NIZ venues.
The four Supervisors present expressed their agreement with this position statement. "It certainly is the consensus of this Board that the legislation is unconstitutional, and that the only way to fix it is to amend it," stated Supervisor Steve Salvesen, a 29-year member of the Board. Those sentiments were echoed by Supervisors Mark Tanczos, Jack Nagle and Walbert.
Chairman John Diacogiannis, unable to attend the May 22 meeting, nevertheless sent a statement. "I believe that no options exist to settle this issue except for amending the existing legislation to eliminate its impact on EIT or other local revenue sources outside of Allentown."
Filling in for Diacogiannis, Walbert stated they "gave it a fair shot to see if there was some common ground to resolve this outside of litigation., and the conclusion is, there is not. Hopefully, this matter is handled in an expeditious manner in the courts and everyone can get on with what they need to do."
Will Allentown respond with a countersuit, seeking damages for the delay this lawsuit causes? The City has already filed a $150 million claim against developer Abe Atiyeh, in response to his own legal challenge to the NIZ. But according to most legal experts, Allentown has to win first.
After Hanover Supervisors revealed their stance, they were commended by resident George Werkheiser.
"I think it's a crime what they tried to pull under the table," Werkheiser said.
No Allentown representatives attended Hanover's meeting.