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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Open Space - Because the Rich Need Handouts, Too!


Wealth management specialist Michael Glovas, who advises rich people from his Morgan Stanley offices in Easton, has figured out a way to con the government into giving him a cool $319,970 and make his Williams Township estate (you can see his mansion above) all the more valuable. All he has to do is grant a "conservation easement"  and the gummint will fall all over themselves to write him a check. Since none of the land around him will be developed, that will make his remaining property all the more valuable.

Believe it or not, this obscene scheme to help a rich guy become richer is on the agenda at tonight's meeting of Northampton County Council. The Open Space Advisory Board voted unanimously to support this nonsense, mostly because it is packed it is packed with environmentalists, one of whom actually lives on a property that the County paid to preserve.

Glovas' property, located at 590 Browns Drive, is already the beneficiary of preferential tax treatment. One of his two tracts, consisting of 32 acres, is only assessed at $22,400. The other parcel, which includes 40 acres and the mansion, is only assessed at $200,500.

Instead of mere tax breaks, Glovas now wants the government to write him a check. My guess is that they will, too. Last year, in a 5-4 vote, they bailed out failed golf course developer Alexander Patullo in Lower Saucon Township. He ended up getting $1.775 million from various government sources for a golf course he allowed to go to hell.

That bail-out was opposed by Republicans Mat Benol, Glenn Geissinger, Hayden Phillips and Seth Vaughn. But Democrats and Peg Ferraro voted for it. Scott Parsons called it a "no-brainer," although to me, it was pretty lame-brained. Scott has often been the voice of reason on Council, but this is a perversion of open space. Nobody who supported that referendum expected to see it used as a welfare tool for the wealthy.

The reason environments are frothing at the mouth over the Glovas tracts is because they are in what they call the Hexenkopf Slope and Rock areas. But that's nonsense. Instead of being a steep slope, this is a lowland located exactly one mile from the Delaware River.

The whole point of open space is to protect land from being gobbled up by developers. No rich man with an estate and gigantic mansion is ever going to allow the dirty unwashed masses anywhere near him. That land will never be developed. This is nothing more than a scheme in which he can grab a few more bucks from the government so he can buy a few more country club memberships.

This really needs to be rejected.

There also needs to be a concerted effort to get people on the Open Space Advisory Board who will see through these welfare handouts to the wealthy.

Glovas won't even have to take a piss test for this dough.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Williams Twp voted to do away with its EIT tax to fund Open Space in November.

Let the taxpayers of Williams pay for this themselves, since they care so little about Open Space. Cheap bastards, if you ask me.

michael molovinsky said...

I have written against open space funding for years, exactly for the reason you state in this post. most of the landowners compensated by the program never intended to subdivide anyway. in bucks county, the biggest check, over $1 million, went to a gentleman "farmer" which only subsidized his country estate. open space is just more politically correct nonsense by urbanists.

Anonymous said...

dirt is dirt. you don't look at who owns it.

Anonymous said...

"No rich man with an estate and gigantic mansion is ever going to allow the dirty unwashed masses anywhere near him."

Wasn't there a recent news story about new affordable housing starts to be focused on sites such as this one?

Anonymous said...

Open space preservation is a good thing if it is handled properly. We in Bethlehem and Bethlehem Township see first hand what open space means to some. For example, donate land zoned as flood plains, with no commercial value whatsoever, to the County and take the federal tax write offs to further enhance your financial wealth. The Bethlehem police and the Bethlehem Township Police use this acreage as their own hunting and fishing paradise. It's called the Archibald Johnston estate. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Of course this guy could raze that old place and develop the shit out of that land. What makes you think he wouldn't?

By the way, I'm a Democrat opposed to ANY Open Space preservation unless it is for the benefit and use of all citizens.

Anonymous said...

"urbanists"??

Please molovinsky. Open Space is nonsense promoted by country yokels who want to bring back the Distelfink and return this area to a PA Dutch argro-economy. Which will never happen. Urban residents don't give a shit about smelly dairy farms, Apple butter, and farm shows.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:34, He would never demolish the mansion and desvelp the shit out of the rest of his land. That just makes no sense. Rich people don't like the unwashed mases being too close to them. But he can get the gummint to buy his development rights. This is actually outrageous.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:422, So far as I know, there is no hunting on the Archibald Johnston estate. Those lands are not owned by Bethlehem or Bethlehem Tp, but by the Nature Conservancy. Since there are plans to continue some farming operations there, I would think that any hunting that goes on would be strictly regulated.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Wasn't there a recent news story about new affordable housing starts to be focused on sites such as this one?"

No. I know of no news story that discusses taking mansions from the wealthy to develop affordable housing.

Anonymous said...

Probable has a tax-subsidized Tesla too.

Anonymous said...

Mike does not belong to any Country Clubs I have tried to get him to join with me....he is too busy donating his time and money back to Wilson HS.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't care how nice a guy he is, this is obscene and perverts open space.

Anonymous said...

I understand your point but you should not make him out be the Wolf of Wall Street looking for a handout. He is a successful business man that gives a lot back to his community so make the attack on the tax-breaks and payouts, not him and his house.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sorry, he is the one who applied. He is the one with the mansion that could fit half the City of Easton and yet is seeking a handout. This is a perversion of open space, and he is a willing participant. Also, people should know precisely what is happening and who is benefiting. Maybe he can give back by not seeking this handout.

Anonymous said...

8:34, He would never demolish the mansion and desvelp the shit out of the rest of his land. That just makes no sense. Rich people don't like the unwashed mases being too close to them. But he can get the gummint to buy his development rights. This is actually outrageous.

You are assuming this person wants to remain in that house permanently.

Whethervain said...

Having an interest in that Lower Saucon golf course, I had saved this section from the classifieds [read far left column] from about a year ago. Not knowing how local governments/taxes/obligations work, I was wondering how these amounts listed for Mr. Patullo got "satisfied" when he negotiated his deal. Do I read that he owed these various sums to the township? I sure hope we (taxpayers) didn't get left holding the bag. Do you know? And, Happy Birthday!

Bernie O'Hare said...

3:45, I am assuming that when he decides to sell, it will be to another member of the landed gentry who would be equally turned off by selling the remaining land to the vulgari. I think it highly unlikely that land will ever be developed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Whethervain, I was interested in what you thought about that golf course for reasons I won't say here. I get the idea of putting trails in there, but the township could have picked it up at a tax sale. I'll never understand these handouts that are just so unnecessary.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie what is the deal with the old Laubach House at Church and Bethman Rds in Bethlehem Twp.The property was sold from Dr.Laubach's estate and an array of animals exist there. Nice place,might be a gentleman farm, of sorts . Here is the issue -give somebody an inch they will attempt a foot, if they play games. Open space is fine ,but taxpayers should be able to then hunt on them ,fish and picnic,got the picture?

Rich Fegley said...

There are 25 acres of RLC (conservation) land next to my property in Allentown. There are plans to build homes on this land. The land owner has drawings and a realtor working to sell the land.

It is zoned RLC. Yet this land owner seems confident that they can get the zoning board, Mayor and City Council to allow them to do whatever they want.

This is the same land that Pawlowski allowed them to take half of the trees down.

I don't trust any of the "environmentalists" in the Lehigh Valley.

Money leads to corruption.

Anonymous said...

The deeper you dig into these purchases in Lower Saucon the worse it gets. Many of these developers in the township all with important names in the Lehigh Valley have applied for act 319 to save on their property taxes. This allows these developers to pay pennies on the dollar in property taxes. The act was intended to prevent land from being developed and to give farmers tax breaks. The owner if enrolled in the act promises not to develop any of his land and in return receives the tax break. The only penalty if they do decide to develop is they have to pay 7 years back taxes on the fair market value of the property. Now these properties are placed in three categories Agricultural Reserve, Forest Reserve, and Agricultural Use. All the properties that fall under Agricultural Reserve must be accessible to the public. How many of these properties exist in Northampton County and how do we access them? To give an couple example my small .84 acre lot in Lower Saucon is assessed at $16,800 while a prominent developers 37 acres under act 319 is assessed at $9,200. Now these developers get a tax break, do not have to pay the penalty when they sell an easement or outright to the township, and can still be enrolled in act 319. The golf course was a bad purchase forty homes at a hefty price tag would not increase the school taxes. The developer also proposed to keep a huge piece of the property as open space at no cost to the taxpayer. We just purchased another property next to the woodland hills property owned by former councilmen/developer Dennis Benner and Mr. Whitmore on Wednesday that we already had an easement on. The easement allowed one house to be built on the 76 acres we purchased. At least the one house would have brought some tax revenue in. The reason for purchasing one council member Tom Maxfield sighted because the earth could be disturbed from farming even with the easement. It is almost laughable this council member lives right next to this property and explained how riding bikes on the property would make a storm water issue. This is the same council member who had money funneled into his campaign from the IESI bethlehem landfill from a PAC who's chairman is David Spirk a developer proposing to put 100+ townhouses on the silver creek property. Open space has it's pros and cons the math has to add up the special interests and conflicts of interests have to go. Lower Saucon is up over there heads in debt and with the landfills lifespan in question it is getting ugly. Some council members current or running who are so called environmentalists are willing to throw nearly 1,000 of their residents under the bus to rezone land for the landfill yet will spend everyones money near their homes to protect their properties. They will eat their words because they are already starting to look like fools. Friend of the Lehigh, Saucon Creek Watershed Coalition, EAC members, Heritage Conservancy "conflict of interest " they know who they are. The Lower Saucon Township ship is sinking they can't even balance a budget with 2 million extra dollars a year from tipping fees. We have 4 million worth of debt from the municipal building and the purchase of polk valley park. We had to borrow more money to fix storm water issues. My four year old has more money saved in his piggy bank than this township. It's sad that a bunch of educated adults thought this fairy tale would never come to an end. The landfill will not be here whether it's ten years or 20 years down the road start acting like adults pay off the loans and trim the fat. If anyone in this township cared they would be appalled by the things that go on.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your informative comment is quite the eye-opener.

Anonymous said...

David Spirk has been a huge fan of allowing zoning to change to accommodate the landfill against the will of nearly 1,000 residents. Then lets change zoning where all these developers hold properties paying nearly zero in taxes to 1 house per 20 acres and see how many of them come crying to the township. This plan would save the township money through stricter zoning laws and not rely on the working taxpayers to fund developers retirement funds. After all whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Inside joke he calls the landfill the goose that lays the golden egg.