Robert Souder of Emmaus was reappointed to the Lehigh County Conservation District.

Commissioners, Muller spar over Hamilton Crossings TIF

Commissioners scolded Muller about holding Tuesday night meeting at Muhlenberg College concerning the $140 million Hamilton Crossings shopping center project, which would include a Costco, Target and Whole Foods Stores on 63 acres in Lower Macungie Township.

Muller called the meeting in hopes to persuade county commissioners to approve a tax increment financing plan (TIF) to help pay for the shopping center.

The TIF was shot down last June by a 6-3 margin.

"It wasn't an appropriate meeting," Scheller said. "It was organized by the county executive, trying to gain support for something that was already voted down."

"It's an awkward situation," said commissioner Vic Mazziotti. "It was kind of a pep rally for the developers."

"If the developer has something new to show us, then is should be brought here," Schware said. "It's also not appropriate for the developer to have a Power Point presentation (about the proposed shopping center) on the county's web site."

Ott chided Muller for using county funds for a mailer promoting the meeting.

Muller said the Tuesday meeting was designed as informational and bore no cost to the county.

"It's entirely appropriate for a county executive to be in touch with citizens. I want to be as open with citizens as possible and don't think it was inappropriate," he said.

Muller hinted that a reduced cost TIF could be pitched to county commissioners in the near future.

"If there's great interest, I will be back in front of the board in March," Muller said. "I'm in favor of jobs and wages. I may never go to Costco, but (Hamilton Crossings) will being economic development and jobs."

None of the county commissioners attended Tuesday's meeting.