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County commissioner says he'll revisit decision on L. Macungie TIF

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:46:55 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 07:31:11 AM CDT
Proposed Hamilton Crossings shopping center

Proposed Hamilton Crossings shopping center

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

A Lehigh County commissioner who helped torpedo a controversial Tax Increment Financing plan in Lower Macungie Township may be having second thoughts.

Brad Osborne announced Wednesday night he was going to take "a second look" at the TIF that would help fund the proposed $140 million Hamilton Crossings shopping mall covering 63 acres on both sides of Krocks Road, between Hamilton Boulevard and Route 222.

Osborne was part of the 6-3 majority when the county commissioners turned thumbs down in late June on the TIF proposal for the mall, which would have brought in tenants such as Costco, Whole Foods and Target.

Osborne told WFMZ.com that he will discuss the TIF at a meeting Friday morning with Becky Bradley, who took over as executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission on Aug. 1.

The planning commission is on record as opposing the TIF, which would help pay for public road, storm water and utility improvements. But Osborne said he wants to investigate what, if anything, can be done "to make [it] possible."

He added that he would be looking for "enough evidence of change [so] I could support" the TIF, and perhaps have the county commissioners reconsider it.

At Wednesday night's meeting, Osborne said he "had been asked to take a second look" at the TIF, "and I agreed to do so without prejudice." Afterward, he told WFMZ.com that the request came from the Lower Macungie board of commissioners, which supports the TIF, as does the East Penn School District.

However, the TIF cannot move forward -- and neither apparently can Hamilton Crossings -- without the county commissioners' support.

Osborne did not give a reason for his vote when the commissioners rejected the TIF on June 26. But on Wednesday night, he told WFMZ.com that he had "concerns about landowner enrichment" and wondered if Lower Macungie "had enough skin in the game."