Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pottstown Takes Expensive Step for Redevelopment

Pottstown Plating is located at the intersection of Industrial Highway

and South Washington St.
Rebuilding and redeveloping an old industrial town involves tough choices.

When an industrial company goes under, it means it has no money to pay employees, or for anything else -- particularly an expensive environmental clean-up.

So it's little surprise that when Pottstown Plating finally went belly up more than 10 years ago, it not only wasn't paying its taxes, or its water and sewer bills, there's no way it was paying to clean up the mess decades of plating operations had left behind at the South Washington Street facility.

As the unpaid taxes and fees build up, the potential for someone to come along and take on not only the liability for the environmental clean-up, but also the financial liability of the ever-escalating fees and taxes, dwindles.

Usually, to unlock this Gordian Knot, something has to give. Monday night, borough council indicated its willingness to not so much give, as forgive.

Even though Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller would not reveal the identity of the developer who is interested, brought through PAID Executive Editor Peggy Lee-Clark, council willingly voted unanimously to forgive more than $225,000 worth of unpaid taxes and water/sewer bills.

That's because they know that it may be the only way that property starts generating tax revenue again, and without that forgiveness, the numbers of uncollected taxes, funds and fines will keep growing with little hope of ever collecting it -- little more than numbers on a page.

The money is already written off, and so is not revenue expected for this year's budget. The mystery developers will still need to convince the school board to forgive another $308,000 that the property owes the school district to move forward.

Keller said that will be on Thursday's school board meeting agenda.

Before the forgiveness becomes final, the developers must present -- and council must approve -- a business plan for the property

Keller, noting that the developer has plans to invest $2 million into the property to get it back onto the tax rolls, said "quite frankly we're lucky to have a developer take on these risks and expenses,"

Apparently, council agreed. 

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