Fraklin County Area Development Corp. chief is pushing renewal of tax breaks in Antrim Township

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Franklin County, Pa.’s top economic development official said it is “absolutely critical” that the Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.) School Board extend a program of tax breaks for the local area to compete for further industrial growth.

NorthPoint Development currently is building its second 1-million-square-foot warehouse in the Antrim Commons Business Park at Interstate 81 and U.S. 11.

The potential for more from the Missouri-based developer might hinge on whether the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, program is renewed, said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

“NorthPoint’s position is that Antrim Township (Pa.) has met or exceeded their expectations. However, if the LERTA is not going to be extended, that will affect their decision making, and they will start to look at other locations in Pennsylvania that will become their focus,” Ross said this week.

The application period for a LERTA instituted in 2012 expires later this year. So far in public discussions, the school board has shown little enthusiasm in continuing the tax-incentive program.

Ross met with local officials in early December to discuss the potential impact of LERTA on future development.

“There is significant interest from NorthPoint and Atapco (owner of much of the park) in future development in Antrim Township, but much of that is going to be driven by the willingness to extend the LERTA that’s currently in place and is set to expire this year,” Ross said. “Especially NorthPoint, which has invested heavily at this point, wants to understand what the future holds because it will impact how they’re going to proceed beyond 2019.”

Under LERTA, real-estate taxes are abated on a sliding 10-year scale until the full levied amount is assessed at the end of the decade.

All five properties currently in the program are on the west side of I-81 at exit 3. Officials have said that during the 10-year span of the LERTA, $2,161,892 in property taxes would be abated and $1,768,821 collected.

The raw ground before the development was generating $20,000 per year. Current tax bills on the properties for 2018-19 total $450,000.

Ross believes NorthPoint is looking to expand its developments into industrial-zoned properties to the south beyond Antrim Commons.

“It will take time, but eventually, it will all be developed,” he said. “LERTA will accelerate that timeline. In having the conversation with the school district, I understand the perception of LERTA and folks pushing back a little bit.

“At the same time, I think it’s incumbent on them to do whatever they can to accelerate development because they are one of the few districts in Pennsylvania that is growing. They have a need for additional revenues, and they need to have those revenues to be generated sooner rather than later.”

NorthPoint Vice President Brent Miles is scheduled to make a presentation to the school board at its Jan. 17 work session.

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