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A legal representative for Meco Demolition Company has asked Birdsboro Borough Council for an exoneration of real estate taxes owed to the borough for the Armorcast property by property owner Greg Flynn, an issue which could potentially stall the redevelopment of the property.
The back taxes from 2007-2011 owed to the borough total $9,608.93. Substantially more, approximately $85,000, is owed to the Daniel Boone School District, which Meco will also look to have exonerated.
“At this point (Meco) is kind of at a crossroads (with the Armorcast property), said Meco legal representative Steve Marshall at the Jan. 14 Borough Council meeting. “Meco is very interested in remaining a part of this project, interested in seeing it through, in terms of the redevelopment. However, we feel like the back taxes that are outstanding are really putting a barrier on what we can do.”
He argued that had Flynn, the property owner, properly filled out the property’s yearly Keystone Opportunity Zone applications, the tax money would have been exonerated anyway and the borough would not have seen it.
Marshall also tried to temper the fears of Borough Council saying Meco has taken the lead on the redevelopment of the Armorcast property after working on its demolition. Members of Borough Council are weary of dealing with property owner Greg Flynn, as the borough has had a strained relationship with Flynn in the past.
“Our history here is delinquent landlord, negligent landlord, dilapidated landlord and lack of follow through,” stated Borough Manager Aaron Durso.
Meco and Flynn have until Feb. 5 to resolve the property’s tax issues or it will lose its Keystone Opportunity Zone designation for 2013 and beyond, meaning tax breaks will no longer be available to provide incentive to develop the property. The property could also go up for a sheriff sale down the road if the outstanding taxes are not paid or exonerated.
Council president Neil McCauley and council member David Blank were outspoken opponents against any exoneration for the property,
“I think it does send a really bad precedent for the people that have been compliant,” said McCauley. “Every year they send the paperwork in and then they find out that you don’t even have to do this you can just get an exoneration five years later.”
“We really want to see that property developed for the community, yet forgiving that tax debt is really a hard pill to swallow,” said council member Angelene McKinney.
According to Marshall, a very preliminary conceptual plan had been drawn up by Meco for the eventual redevelopment of the property, which would be built in phases and could include apartments and a grocery store.
Following the discussion, council voted 4-3 at their Jan. 14 meeting to agree to match the percentage of the back taxes the Daniel Boone School District would exonerate, the school board has yet to take a vote on the matter.
The council passed the vote because they believe Meco will stick with and follow through on the project and this would present the best chance at getting the Armorcast property moving along towards redevelopment.