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Schuylkill OKs tax designation for Highridge Business Park sites

Schuylkill County Commissioners Wednesday approved a taxing designation at the Highridge Business Park meant to promote economic development.

By unanimous vote, they voted to include two parcels, 135.7- and 151.7-acre sites, within the park in a LERTA district, which stands for Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act.

The act provides for a tax exemption for new construction and improvements on the property established in the district for 10 years. The North Schuylkill School District and the Butler Township Board of Supervisors adopted the resolution approving the district previously. The approved area is in Butler Township.

“LERTA does not abate existing taxes,” Frank Zukas, president of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corporation said.

The properties are adjacent to each other and are directly across from the Walmart Distribution Center, he said.

“We believe they can support a large-scale project,” he told the commissioners.

SEDCO owns the larger parcel while Ringtown Rentals owns the smaller one. He said SEDCO has an open option on the smaller property.

“Water exists on the site,” but sewer service has to be extended to accommodate needs.

He said NorthPoint Development will be the developer in conjunction with SEDCO.

“We don’t have anybody interested in the site,” he said.

The area is in an industrial zone, which would permit manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, Zukas said.

“This is the last remaining parcel that would be completely undeveloped,” he said.

Engineering and permit reviews are being conducted. Zukas said SEDCO will not know results until late summer.

Total acreage of the park is a little more than 2,000 acres. Lowe’s was the first and is the largest business at the park, which lies in Cass, Foster and Butler townships. Twelve businesses exist at Highridge. SEDCO also has a 117,000-square foot building on the same side as the Tyson Foods Inc.

“We have a developer interested and it’s under contract.” He declined to say more.

Commissioner George Halcovage Jr. praised the efforts by SEDCO to attract businesses to the county.

“This is significant in attracting new businesses to the area,” he said in speaking about LERTA.

Commissioner Gary Hess also commended SEDCO and their efforts.

“This is a great investment in the future,” he said, adding the program has yielded positive benefits to the county in terms of employment.