The letter from the Giant president makes some of the same points made by Atty. Jonathan Hugg, Cedar Realty’s lawyer, who has spoken against the TIF before the East Penn School board, county commissioners and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
Like Hugg, Herring questioned whether Hamilton Crossings meets requirements of the state’s Tax Increment Financing Act, which limits TIFs to blighted areas in need of redevelopment.
The 63-acre Hamilton Crossings site is a former open-pit iron ore mine. It contains thousands of tons of spongy waste material, called mine wash, in deep deposits that must be removed from the ground and dried.
Even then, the shopping center’s buildings cannot be constructed over those deposits. TIF money cannot be used for that mine wash remediation. It will only be used to make road, storm sewer and electric utility improvements.
Herring said the significant tax subsidies a TIF would give to Hamilton Crossings are not necessary “and are simply being requested to pad the developer’s bottom line.”
Also during the township meeting:
* Fosselman announced the Church Lane bridge, which has been closed for more than a year until repairs could be made, will reopen by noon Monday. The one-lane bridge crosses Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.
* The township will hire six crossing guards to work at Willow Lane Elementary School. They will work only two hours a day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – when school is in session, at an hourly salary of $13.65.
Lower Macungie is splitting the cost of hiring the guards with the East Penn School District. “We’ll be paying for three guards,” said commissioner Roger C. Reis. The township will begin advertising to fill the positions next week and accept applications until July 12. Fosselman will interview applicants and background checks will be done on them.
* Based on bids, commissioners voted to pay Charles A. Higgins & Sons of Media $29,561 to install solar-powered flashing school zone signals along Willow Lane and Mill Creek Road at Willow Lane Elementary before school starts Aug. 22.
Commissioners also voted to pay F.A. Rohrbach of Allentown $104,786 for crosswalk and ADA ramp improvements around the school. All those improvements are being made in anticipation of more children walking to Willow Lane in the 2013-14 school year.
Township Engineer William Erdman said all the township’s off-site improvements should be completed before school starts. He praised the competency, reputation and qualifications of both contractors and said both are anxious to get started. He said that work should begin in three weeks.
* Erdman told commissioners East Penn School District intends to submit a revised plan for on-site safety improvements at Willow Lane. He said the district’s engineer has promised to get that plan to him in the next day or two.
Erdman hopes it will arrive in time to be reviewed by the commissioners’ planning committee at 4 p.m. next Thursday. If that happens, East Penn’s plan for Willow Lane could be before all five commissioners for approval by June 20. He expressed doubt that East Penn’s improvements will be completed before school starts.
At the meeting, commissioners also recognized and honored new Eagle Scout Robert Ross