“There is no corporate welfare to Costco, a multi-billion dollar company, Target (or) Whole Foods,” said Conrad. “They’re paying their full tax obligation throughout this entire process.”
But Beitler said the developers themselves are getting “corporate welfare.”
Said Harrison: “No corporation that is part of this project – whether it’s the developer or the tenants – is going to pay any less in property tax with a TIF than it would without a TIF. The property tax obligations are exactly the same.”
Resident Ira Lehrich said he believes some of the five commissioners have aspirations to run for high political office.
Warned Lehrich: “If you’re not running for higher office, you can vote for the Costco subsidy – it’s not important for you. However, if you have aspirations of running for higher office, you’re making a major mistake in voting for the Costco subsidy. Your yes vote will kill you in a primary.”
What happens on June 5
Atty. Richard Somach, the township’s solicitor, explained to commissioners what Hamilton Crossings agenda items they will be voting on at their June 5 meeting – and in what order.
Somach said their first vote will be on a proposed ordinance in which the township will agree to opt into the Hamilton Crossings TIF and allocate 50 percent of the incremental real estate tax revenues from the shopping center’s properties toward the cost of public infrastructure improvements.
The solicitor said if that ordinance gets a positive vote, the commissioners will act on another ordinance establishing the Hamilton Crossings TIF district and adopting the TIF plan.
He said if that ordinance also gets a positive result, commissioners will consider three resolutions approving the project’s land development plans.
Finally, they will vote on another ordinance that slightly realigns Krocks Road between Hamilton Boulevard and Route 222.
“If the initial TIF motions do not pass, in all probability you’re just going to table the rest of these things -- they’ll be moot,” said Somach.
Asked Beitler: “What makes the subsequent ordinances moot if we don’t approve the TIF?”
Replied Somach: “The developer has asked that if the first one doesn’t pass, then he’s not necessarily going to proceed .He’ll have to see what happens on that night.”
New traffic signal controls
Harrison reviewed the history of the project for commissioners at their meeting.
He said road improvements planned for the project will include new traffic signal controls east of the shopping center site, at the already congested intersection of Hamilton Boulevard and Brookside Road as well as the intersection of Hamilton Boulevard and Minesite Road.
He said the “adaptive traffic signal controls” that will be installed at those intersections are cutting edge technology that use real time video and computers to continually adjust the “cycle lengths” of traffic lights “in a way that optimizes traffic flows.”
Harrison said this will be the first time that technology will be used in the Lehigh Valley, but added the controls have proven themselves in many other parts of the state -- including on the road network around the King of Prussia Mall in Montgomery County.
.He said study after study across the state has shown the new traffic signal controls improve traffic flow by a “phenomenal” 33 to 50 percent.
In addition to those two intersections, Harrison said the new controls will be installed at five others closer to the shopping center:
• Route 222 and Krocks Road.
• Krocks Road and Hamilton Boulevard.
• Krocks Road and the main entrance roads into Hamilton Crossings,
which will be built on both sides of Krocks.
• A new entrance road planned off Hamilton Boulevard opposite the
Ethan Allen furniture store.