Lehigh Valley

Lower Macungie files objections to TIF lawsuit

Owners of nearby shopping centers oppose township support for Hamilton Crossings

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Lower Macungie Township has filed preliminary objections to a lawsuit that challenges the legality of the township approving a tax increment financing plan for the Hamilton Crossings shopping center.

The objections were filed Wednesday afternoon in Lehigh County Court by Atty. Richard Somach, the township's solicitor.

Cedar Realty Trust filed the suit against the township earlier this month in county court. The goal of that suit is to nullify ordinances passed by Lower Macungie commissioners on June 5 that authorized the township's participation in a TIF for the shopping center.

The township solicitor previously said Lower Macungie had to file a formal response to the suit by July 30.

The $139-million Hamilton Crossings will include a Costco, Target and Whole Foods as its anchor stores.

It will be built on 63 acres along Krocks Road between Hamilton Boulevard and Route 222 in the township.

The developers have said construction of the shopping center could begin before the end of this year and it will be completed by the summer of 2016.

After the suit was filed, Somach told township commissioners that the Hamilton Crossings developers intend to proceed "full speed ahead."

He added: "For those interested, your Costco is still coming."

"All interested parties believe that the action filed by Cedar Realty is without merit," declared Somach.

Cedar Realty owns the adjoining Trexler Plaza and Trexler Mall shopping centers, which are farther west along Hamilton Boulevard, on the Lower Macungie/Upper Macungie boundary.

For more than a year before Lower Macungie approved the TIF plan by a 3-2 vote in June, Jonathan Hugg, Cedar Realty's lawyer, had been threatening legal action at public meetings where Hamilton Crossings was discussed.

Cedar Realty maintains that, by approving the TIF, the township is giving Hamilton Crossings an unfair competitive advantage. The company maintains the TIF subsidizes Hamilton Crossing while hurting its own shopping centers.

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