Economic development group eyes Bendix property

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Montrose Area School District was asked to consider a resolution or ordinance designating an area near the former Bendix plant in Bridgewater Township as a Pennsylvania Keystone Opportunity Zone, exempting the properties there from local taxes or granting deductions, abatements or credits from taxes for a ten year period.

Anthony J. Ventello, Executive Director of the Progress Authority, presented the proposal during the work session before the business meeting.

The proposal requested the resolution “to encourage investment in a defined geographical area of the school district, that is experiencing distress characterized by one or more of the following: high unenployment, low investment of new capital, blighted conditions, underutilized, obsolete or abandoned industrial, commercial and residential structures, and deteriorated tax base.”

Ventello told the board that the project KOZ will result in improving the economic physical and social conditions within that area by stimulating existing businesses’ employment, creating new employment, and deminishing blight.

He said that for the Economic Development Authority, “Doors have swung open considering several new sites, some of which are in the Montrose School District.”

He said that the former Bendix site has “its envirionmental legacy under control,” and that all of the buildings have been razed with the exception of one brick structure, which is still being remediated.

The site is being considered for adaptive reuse, he said.

The Honeywell Corporation was not yet ready to lease, sell or develop, but now may be becoming ready, he said.

Another site in Bridgewater Township, known as the “Diaz site,” is included in the plan. This property was purchased by Adam Diaz.

Ventello said that the project intends to create or retain at least 1,000 full time jobs in Pensylvania within three years of its designation by the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The agreement proposes that an end-user, qualified business will make a substantial capital investment in the proposed KOZ within three years from the designation by DCED.

The proposal asked for the following provisions: real property is 100 percent tax exempt in accordance with the provisions and limitations set forth in accordance with the Act, such exemption to begin Jan. 1, 2014 and to end Dec. 31, 2023, a ten year period.

The earned income and net profits taxes, business privilege and mercantile taxes are also to be waived for that ten year period.

Board president Chris Caterson said that the proposal would be better introduced to the county commissioners.

“The commissioners have to take the lead in this,” he said. “It is a much harder decision for school districts than it is for commissioners. The commissioners have funds such as Act 13 funds with specific uses. We cannot afford to waive taxes.”

Ventello told the board that a water line will be needed to provide water to the jail, the former Bendix property, and the Diaz site. The Pennsylvania American Water Company will be constructing that water line, he said.

Superintendent Michael Ognosky said that the proposal could be further discussed at the upcoming building and grounds committee meeting on July 29 at 7 p.m. A transportation committee meeting will also be held at 6:30 p.m.