|"We had to bite our tongue," notes Supervisors' Chair Diacogiannis|
Sixteen townships and boroughs, along with a school district, eventually joined this litigation.
State legislators listened, and on June 30, amended the NIZ law to remove language that authorized an EIT tax grab. They also expanded the definition of a Neighborhood Improvement Zone so that it could conceivably apply to other municipalities.
Following an executive session before their July 24 meeting, Supervisors unanimously voted to authorize Solicitor Jim Broughal to terminate the challenge when he determines it is in the best interest of the Township and its residents.
After filing this suit, both Hanover and Bethlehem Townships were peppered with twenty-eight Right-to-Know requests filed by Allentown DCED Director Sara Hailstone. In addition, Morning Call columnist Bill White called township officials "smug" and "hypocrites."
"We had to bite our tongue and just take it," remarked Supervisors' Chair John Diacogiannis. But after the vote, he spoke out. Instead of lashing out, he wished Allentown well on the "difficult challenge" of revitalization. He explained that the litigation was never aimed at the Allentown arena or even the NIZ, but at "ill-conceived legislation that took away a revenue stream for local municipalities and school districts. This loss of revenue over a 30 year period would have had significant impact on many of these entities."
On July 16, Bethlehem Township authorized Solicitor Jim Broughal, who also represents Hanover, to withdraw the NIZ lawsuit at his discretion. Since that time, Palmer, Lower Nazareth, Upper Nazareth and Lower Saucon Townships have all voted to pull out
Chairman John Diacogiannis' complete statement:
I am pleased that we have been able to withdraw this lawsuit. This has been a very difficult time for all of us. As we have been saying over these many months, the issue was not about the Allentown arena, it was not about the Neighborhood Improvement Zone. It was certainly not about the City of Allentown and their respected efforts at revitalization. We continue to wish them well on these most difficult challenges For us, it was clearly about ill-conceived legislation that took away a revenue stream for local municipalities and school districts. This loss of revenue over a 30 year period would have had significant impact on many of these entities.
I am grateful to the legislature for understanding our pleas, recognizing the problem and for taking corrective action in the appropriate place - in the legislation. I would like to extend particular thanks to the Commissioners of Bethlehem Township for helping us initiate this important effort and to the other townships, boroughs, school district as PSATS for joining in the effort. Most importantly, I would like to thank our good citizens, who gave us overwhelming and unwavering support.