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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Pay to Pay Proposal That One Developer Dislikes

KRE Att'y Ed Murphy
A developer planning to bring a 837-unit "retail village" to Bethlehem Township is getting a break on recreation fees at their 103.9-acre site, but it will be less than they expected. The Kushner Real Estate Group, also known as KRE, will be required to pay $$967,283 in recreation fees for the Madison Farms development. That "traditional neighborhood" is a planned mix of apartments, homes and retail shops, located on the north side of Freemansburg Avenue, near the Route 33 Interchange. Settlement on the land deal occurred last week.

Attorney Ed Murphy, representing KRE, told Commissioners that they have already agreed to over $2 million in amenities at and around the site, including a pool, clubhouse and bike lanes within the site. But KRE was still willing to make a cash contribution of $668,839.

That was good enough for Township staff and the Planning Commission, but the Recreation Board balked. Barry Roth, who chairs that body, told Commissioners that KRE should get no credit for bike lanes inside the development. "Everything that we give away, we don't get back," he cautioned.

A dubious Tom Nolan told Attorney Murphy that, in his 30 years on the board, "This is the first time that something like this has come up after the fact." Murphy retorted that this is also the first time the Township has considered a project with "this many moving parts," calling it a "unique circumstance."

Paul Wiss argued that the public would benefit from the improvements proposed by KRE, but Commissioners Marty Zawarski and Mike Hudak were skeptical that other Township residents would use or benefit from the bike paths inside the development. "I don't see it as a destination for other Township residents," observed Hudak.

Only Paul Weiss dissented from a resolution calling for the nearly million dollars in recreation fees. He preferred the smaller contribution recommended by Township Planners and staff


Anonymous said...

$300K is a drop in the bucket for this firm!

It's about the size of their budget for the Christmas party.

Anonymous said...

What does the law say? That is the question. If the fee is based on and supported by law, then the decision was a good one. If it was subjective then it was a bad one and could lead to litigation for a judge to decide. I would bet that the Planning Commission made the recommendation based on law only. If it were subjective prepare for a lawsuit. $300 grand is a lot of bucks. Sort of worth filing of a suit and then settling somewhere in the middle.

Anonymous said...

The amount is still way less than was required under the ordinance. They are still getting a break, just not as big as they would have liked.