Carbon County is providing a Lehighton-based company with tax relief on a Palmerton plant that it hopes to convert into a 100-plus-acre high tech office park.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to relieve Northface Development LLC from county taxes on buildings located on the Palmerton Zinc West property from the years 2003 to 2009. The total amount relieved is $18,994.36.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said that this action is not KOZ because the relief that has been granted is only on the buildings, not on the land. The company will continue to pay taxes on the land.
Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said Northface asked the three taxing entities – Carbon County, Palmerton, and the Palmerton Area School District –for nearly $250,000 in tax relief to help them be able to begin the project. The school district was owed $185,000; and the borough, $28,000 from the previous owners.
He added that the reason for the request is because Northface Development received an order from the bankruptcy court from the Southern District of New York, that authorizes the company to take possession of 120 acres to remediate and develop into 27 separate parcels that could then be used to create thousands of high tech jobs.
O'Gurek said the first step the company needs to complete is to encapsulate the contaminated areas of the land. They plan to use materials of torn down buildings from the campus of Columbia University to start the encapsulation process.
"They're going to conduct the remediation in conjunction with the EPA and DEP under their regulatory standards," he said, "But I am still a little concerned about bringing waste and refuse from out of the area into Carbon County."
He added that the board is in favor of the overall project, but he just has a few concerns in regards to the materials that are being used in the remediation.