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North Huntingdon commissioners OK 5-year tax break for developer

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The North Huntingdon commissioners have agreed to give the developer of a commercial property a five-year tax break in the hopes of luring a company that could bring several hundred new jobs to the township.

Commissioners at their Feb. 19, meeting unanimously approved a measure that gives 100-percent forgiveness on property taxes for any new buildings constructed on a 15-acre parcel near the old driving range at Lincoln Hills Country Club.

The site, which is located west of the Turnpike ramps, is eligible for the tax break under the state's local economic revitalization tax act, or LERTA.

No residents spoke in favor or against granting the tax break at a public hearing on Feb. 13, or on the night the measure was approved.

The developer said securing the tax break is an important step in the process of revitalizing the site.

“We can always find users for a piece of property, but to get the kind of user that benefits the community by bringing in a significant number of jobs requires help,” said Donald Tarosky of Lincoln Hills Commercial properties. “We're in discussions with a Fortune 100 company that has flat out said they would go elsewhere if they didn't get the LERTA.”

Tarosky declined to reveal the name of the company interested in the site because of a confidentiality agreement, but said the firm has indicated it would initially create 300 to 400 jobs “with the capacity to grow to as many as 500 or 600 employees.”

The LERTA must be approved by the Norwin School District and the Westmoreland County commissioner to be finalized.

But even if that happens, there is no guarantee the company would wind up in North Huntingdon.

“They're looking at two other sites in Allegheny County,” Tarosky said. “But the LERTA definitely keeps us in the running.”

Commissioners said the potential for job creation outweighs the temporary loss of tax revenue.

“What this means is possibly bringing additional industry into the township,” Commissioner Tom Krause said. “So I think it's to our advantage for relinquish five years of taxes to have a company come in with ability to bring additional revenue and employment to this community, which we need.”

Manager John Shepherd said the township can rescind the tax break if the development does not proceed as planned.

“If for some reasons this project falls through and the commissioners aren't comfortable with what could come next, the ordinance could be repealed,” he said.

Tarosky said his company plans to sell the property to Clayco, a engineering and construction company based in Chicago, which would construct a roughly 70,000-square-foot office building on the site that would be leased.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626 or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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