Palmer Township votes to join lawsuit over arena funding

PALMER TWP., Pa. - The Palmer Township Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to join the legislation by various Lehigh Valley townships and municipalities against the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ).

Supervisor Ann-Marie Panella was absent.

"We have no choice," said David Colver, president, about the board's vote to join the lawsuit. "…It is not our intent to stop the project" which he said was good for Allentown, but added this was not in the best interest of Palmer Township residents, who supervisors represent.

Supervisor K. Michael Mitchell took a different approach.

"It is ridiculous," he said when sharing his thoughts on the NIZ.

In other business, the supervisors held the second of three scheduled public hearings on the Route 33 Neighborhood Improvement District, the 689 acres of undeveloped land around the proposed Route 33 interchange at Tatamy Road.

Only one township resident asked a question during the public comment section.

Colver explained to the audience the purpose of the NID, which is to backstop $33 million in bonds for the Route 33 project.

Assuming development occurs, the township will reap additional tax revenue, and the NID may not be needed. If development is sparse or non-existent, however, the debt service would not revert to Palmer Township, Northampton County or the Easton Area School District.

A third and final public hearing will be held at the first board of supervisors meeting that transpires after the mandatory 45-day waiting period.

Supervisors also approved by 4-0 votes the purchase of up to $500 for a pet chip reader and Tasers for police officers for the amount of up to $25,000.

Both issues were requested by police Chief Larry Palmer.

The animal chip reader, which Palmer described as a integrated circuit placed under the skin of dogs and cats, would save the township "time and money" when pets and their owners get separated and become an issue for the police department.

"This way we don't have to feed the dogs until their owners come and pick them up," Palmer said as one example of costs incurred during that process.

The township will urge pet owners to consider purchasing a device for their animal to take advantage of the service in an upcoming township newsletter, Colver said, although it will not be required of any resident.

Calling Tasers "elemental and basic" police equipment, Palmer, along with three other township police officers, urged the commissioners to equip them with the devices for their own and the public's safety by recounting incidents in the field where they would be beneficial.

Often just by displaying the device on their belts, suspects who are in the process of being apprehended or subdued develop an immediate respect for law enforcement officials, defusing a potential confrontation with other weapons such as pepper spray, batons, physical altercations and firearms, according to Palmer.

"I didn't know our officers didn't have them already," said Supervisor Robert Lammi. "I'm kind of embarrassed we don't have them. They are one of the tools of the trade."

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Allentown, PA 18102




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