Developer floats idea of ​​diverting taxes to pay for road improvements in Hempfield housing project

A developer planning to build more than 260 homes in the former Valley Green Golf & Country Club is weighing whether Hempfield Township, Hempfield Area School District and Westmoreland County would approve the use of a tax diversion scheme to pay for road improvements.

“It’s not tax relief,” Michael P. Pehur of Duane Morris Government Strategies said during a presentation to suggest using tax increment funding, commonly known as TIF, to pay for Valley improvements. Green Road.

“It’s just a diversion to help fund the infrastructure, and that’s the infrastructure the township has asked for. This will not only benefit the site, but also the residents who pass through this area. »

Last year, township supervisors granted conditional approval to Valley Green Westmoreland LLC — a partnership between Colony Holding Cos. and Shuster Homes – to develop the first 63 lots of the former 18-hole golf course which closed in 2019. When fully developed, the plan will contain 261 lots.

Certain improvements, such as the installation of traffic calming measures and the establishment of site distances for lots located at the bend in the road, were a condition of approval.

“At the last minute, there was a contingency to improve the road, which broke up this whole discussion. … I hope this is the tool to improve this road with a roundabout and traffic control devices that we talked about,” said Don Tarosky Jr., who is owner-partner-developer at Valley Green Westmoreland.

If a TIF district is created, base taxes — or taxes as they exist today — will continue to go to the township and school district, Pehur said.

The balance between the previous tax assessment and the new assessment would be used to pay for infrastructure improvements. Misappropriated taxes are reimbursed within a maximum period of 20 years.

“That tax base is frozen, the proceeds of the TIF are used to build public infrastructure, which allows the project to move forward,” Pehur said. “As the project develops, the taxes increase over time. Part of this increase is used to fund debt service for the initial infrastructure.

Civil servants have 20 years to repay the TIF, although it could be done before that.

It was unclear how much money the developer might receive for the project if the TIF is approved.

Pehur will meet with the Hempfield School Board and the county to gauge their interest, he said. Although 116 acres of the former 260-acre golf course are in Unity and there are plans to develop it, this parcel is not included in the TIF proposal.

To create a district, the developer must obtain township, school board and county approval. Pehur said two sets of legislative approvals are needed, the first being a resolution of intent. The non-binding agreement authorizes officials to create a TIF plan.

This plan is then drafted with the members of a committee, which includes representatives of the three taxing bodies. This plan must be approved by the issuing authority.

Once the plan is approved, tax agencies will decide whether to participate. The final vote would take place at the county level, which would hold a public hearing to discuss the TIF.

After the hearing, the county must wait three weeks before voting.

“The fact that three tax authorities are going to have to agree on this, I would suggest you go to the school district, have this presentation with them, and then we will either set up a committee with their committee to have another discussion about it to see what the point is,” supervisor Tom Logan said.

If there is interest in creating a TIF district, developers could seek legislative action in October, Pehur said.

“I don’t want to get into this thing and it stalls,” Tarosky said. “I don’t think it’s going to do it, but it helps us get to a point, get the lot prices down, get things done. That’s what we want to do.

Megan Tomasic is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Megan by email at mtomasic@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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