Friday, September 29, 2006

County commissioners nay rezoning, yet maintain unequal tax exemptions

Two of three Fayette County, PA commissioners voted against a contentious rezoning request by land developers, yet maintain the tax exemptions known as Keystone Opportunity Zones on the property. The KOZ designations were applied to thousands of acres in the county back in 1999, and subsequently in expansion zones, known as KOEZ. A previous board of commissioners which included current sitting-commissioner Vincent Vicites, authorized the KOZ for so-called blighted properties in late 1998. When a rezoning request was made for the Springhill Township acreage, opposition arose because the land was already designated KOZ and would include plans for housing development. Many contended forgiving local property taxes (and other taxes) for residential property particularly would be unfair to other local taxpayers. At that time, two commissioners voted for the rezoning with Commissioner Vicites voting nay.

Faced with a new group of developers with an interest in expanding the original proposal for housing development, two current commissioners made the decision to deny the rezoning request.

When will the two commissioners revisit the KOZ designation for the property and remove the KOZ from the residential portions if they believe as others do it is unfair treatment?

Why don't commissioners look into original plans to develop this property?

2001 Annual Report Executive Summary

...Finally, Springhill Township contracted for a land use study of the KOZ-designated property located in their township. All of this economic development activity...

Related material

Zero Taxes (for some)

Residential rezoning application rejected

By Chris ForemanTRIBUNE-REVIEWFriday, September 29, 2006

Fayette County commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to deny Crystal Springs Investors' application to rezone 229 acres within a Keystone Opportunity Zone to expand a residential development plan.

Commissioners Vince Vicites and Angela Zimmerlink opposed the application, which requested the rezoning of four Springhill Township parcels from agricultural-rural to medium-density residential. Commissioner Joe Hardy, the founder of the 84 Lumber building supply company, voted to approve the rezoning.

Crystal Springs, of Monroeville, has been negotiating with Fay-Penn Economic Development Council to purchase the properties. The existing zoning allows for single-family housing and duplexes, but Crystal Springs' representatives were hoping to include multifamily housing in their project.

A KOZ is a 10-year designation in which a property buyer receives forgiveness on state and local taxes for an economic development project.

In this case, those purchasing the homes also would receive an abatement on state and local income taxes until the KOZ expires on Dec. 31, 2013.

Vicites reiterated yesterday that he is against using a KOZ for residential development. Zimmerlink has said she believes it would create unfair competition between developers and residential homeowners. ...

Fayette commissioners adopt zoning ordinance
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard

Vicites and Zimmerlink voted to deny a rezoning application by Crystal Springs Investors to rezone 229 acres from agricultural to residential in Springhill Township. Hardy voted against the denial. In voting against the rezoning, Vicites said he has been consistently against residential development in a Keystone Opportunity Zone.Crystal Springs wanted the zoning change to allow for construction of multi-family homes at the site, where single-family homes are already allowed because the former board of commissioners changed the zoning from industrial to agricultural. Vicites voted against the prior zoning change as well, while former Commissioners Sean M. Cavanagh and Ron Nehls voted for it. Crystal Springs plans to construct 300 single-family homes that will cost upwards of $300,000 in a gated community. The property owners will not have to pay property or wage and income taxes until the expiration of the KOZ in 2013.

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