LVPC was prepared to recommend against Hamilton Crossings in April, but decided to first get more information from the developers. LVPC’s comprehensive planning committee had recommended to the full LVPC board that the plan not be approved.
LVPC’s recommendation on the proposed development is primarily being done for Lower Macungie officials.
Lower Macungie commissioners were scheduled to vote on the TIF plan on June 6, but Dougherty said the county commissioners’ deferral until June 12 will delay that Lower Macungie vote because the township is required by law to vote last.
Schware said he’s probably in a minority, but maintained that 50 percent financial participation is way too high for Lehigh County and the county’s share “should probably be zero.”
“No county issue is being addressed here,” said Schware. “There’s no county road, there’s no county bridge, there’s no county drainage problem and there’s no county utility lines. So why should county taxpayers have to pay part of this bill?”
“Our financial participation in the TIF should be proportional to the true county issue that’s being addressed. I don’t think there is a county issue that’s being addressed. Just because the problem is in the county doesn’t mean county taxpayers have to pay for it.”
Dougherty recommended Joseph Gurinko, LVPC’s chief transportation planner, be asked to attend the June 12 commissioners meeting to explain LVPC’s recommendation before commissioners vote on the TIF plan.
Local construction jobs?
Lower Macungie resident Kevin Lewis, a carpenter for 13 years, asked how commissioners can guarantee local labor will be used to build Hamilton Crossings “if we’re giving up local tax dollars?”
Lewis wanted such a guarantee in the TIF agreement, but Dougherty explained that agreement was developed by the Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority and commissioners can only vote for or against it, not change it.
Lewis pushed for commissioners to make a recommendation to the LCIDA, but Dougherty indicated it may be too late to do that.
Commissioner Scott Ott recommended talking to the shopping center’s developers to determine their willingness to voluntarily hire local labor, “rather than as an external burden that we apply.” Dougherty moved that commissioners empower Lisa Scheller, their chairwoman, to send a letter to the developers encouraging local labor be used. That motion was passed unanimously.
Scheller stressed the commissioners’ action cannot require the developers to hire local labor “but it is showing our support that local labor be used.”
Developers have promised their project will create 495 construction jobs when work begins before the end of summer and 920 permanent jobs when Hamilton Crossings is completed in the autumn of 2014.