Minutes BOC 04-15-20
CONSIDERATION OF LAND PURCHASE (pg 7)
Mr. Fazekas noted that the Board authorized staff to make an offer to purchase 60.93 acres of farmland located at 1215 McCormick Road in late summer 2019. An offer was made in October 2019 to purchase the land at a cost of $1.1 million, contingent upon a 90-day due diligence period to conduct an environmental assessment that ended on February 20, 2020.
BL Companies was contracted in November 2019 to conduct the Phase I Environmental Assessment of the property. The report was completed on January 13, 2020, and concluded that there were no major environmental issues identified. On January 16, 2020, the owner was notified that the Township was ready to move ahead with closing on the property around April 30, 2020. The purchase will fill a shortfall of 227 acres of parkland identified in the Comprehensive Open Space and Recreation Plan adopted by the Board in 2015. The funds to pay for the property will come out of the 2020 starting General Fund balance, leaving a balance of $1.8 million. At the end of 2019, the Board transferred an additional $1 million ($2 million total) to Capital Reserve.
Mr. Fazekas prepared a Resolution to exempt the Township from paying the 1% real estate taxes on the land purchase. This is contingent up acceptance by the seller. Solicitor Feinour noted that it was determined that there are no rollback taxes accruing by this transaction, which frequently is the case with a property that’s been in Clean and Green or Ag Preservation and then comes out.
President Martin said the Special Warranty deed is a streamlined way to not have the liability of a transfer tax. He said the other alternative would be condemnation. Solicitor Feinour said that doesn’t have anything to do with a Special Warranty deed. He said it has been years and years since parties used General Warranty deeds. By accepting it, he said it saves the party the 1% state and 1% local realty transfer tax. Commissioner Cochran commented that it is the same process the school district used when purchasing the land on Gettysburg Pike.
Vice President Castranio questioned how long it will be until closing if this gets approved, and Mr. Fazekas said he will have to get back to him on the specifics. He said we are looking at doing a wire transfer for payment on April 30. He said when the Board moved forward with the purchase in January, after the environmental phase testing was done, the seller had tenants in the one building and it was agreed to give them 60 days to move out, which takes it to middle or late April. He said he asked realtor Bill Gladstone to keep it to April 30 and he expects to get more detail closer to the time. Solicitor Feinour said we are on schedule to close by April 30 and fortunately, with some adjustments to the policies of the Recorder of Deeds, he thinks we can get everything done and the documents acknowledged within that time frame.
Bill Gladstone was recognized as attending the meeting virtually. He commented that it was a very good meeting and this is the first time he had participated in a Zoom meeting. He said everything is on track for the 30 . He said there will be a walk-through in the morning and settlement later in the day.
Minutes of April 15, 2020 BOC Meeting
Commissioner Cochran made a MOTION to authorize the land purchase located at 1215 McCormick Road at a total cost of $1.1 million, plus closing costs, SECONDED by Commissioner Walter. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Cochran made a MOTION to adopt Resolution #1021, a Resolution of the Board of Commissioners of Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County, PA, accepting a special Warranty Deed in Lieu of Condemnation for the Property Located at 1215 McCormick Road, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. SECONDED by Commissioner Anderson. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Cochran made a MOTION to authorize the appropriate Township officials to execute the final sales documents related to the purchase, SECONDED by Commissioner Anderson. The motion carried unanimously.
President Martin said Mr. Fazekas, Solicitor Feinour, and Mr. Gladstone will move forward for closing on April 30. He questioned whether we have any particular press release we are putting out for the website. Mr. Fazekas said he spoke with Jack Sherzer of Message Prose about it and will talk with him again tomorrow to get a press release prepared.
Commissioner Cochran questioned how we move forward to establish use for the parcel, noting that he knows not all of it will be used for parks. Mr. Fazekas said we talked about doing a concept plan for the overall property. He said we will want to verify the boundaries once we take ownership and once we conclude the closing and do a walk-through of the property we can get a proposal from C. S. Davidson, or someone else if the Board wishes, to put together a plan. Commissioner Cochran questioned whether we have to survey the property first or whether we already have that in hand. Mr. Fazekas said a land development plan was previously submitted for this property and there was already a survey done, so we may be able to piggyback off of that survey. Vice President Castranio commented that there is enough information for C. S. Davidson to start.
Commissioner Cochran asked Mr. Reichard if he’ll give a proposal on what his initial thoughts might cost. He said he thinks it would be very beneficial to know the long term plan; i.e., recreation and maybe a composting site. He said we need to get a team together and discuss it so we have a direction on which way we want to go. He said he would like to keep it moving somehow and he doesn’t really want to wait a whole month if we only have one meeting a month. He suggested himself, Vice President Castranio, Mr. Fraser, Mr. Reichard, Park & Rec Board representatives, even Public Works could discuss it during the day some time. President Martin said they can get things started but he thinks it would be helpful to get other Board members’ ideas too. He questioned whether it would be ill-advised for all Board members to walk 15 feet apart and walk the property. He said he wants to walk it and maybe we could set up a tour concurrent with Mr. Reichard’s initial thoughts because maybe seeing the property might help initiate some ideas as we all think about it. Commissioner Anderson agreed and said she would like some kind of a tour. Commissioner Walter also agreed and Commissioner Cochran and Vice President Castranio said they were fine with that. President Martin said Commissioner Cochran and Vice President Castranio can start in the meantime. He questioned whether we have to advertise to do a walk-through, but Mr. Fazekas said as long as Board members aren’t making any formal decisions during the walk-through it doesn’t have to be advertised. He said any formal action would be taken at a public meeting along with
Minutes of April 15, 2020 BOC Meeting
discussions on what the Board wants Mr. Reichard to do. Solicitor Feinour said for just a viewing of the property and no discussion or deliberation or actions taken, it is ok not to advertise. Commissioner Cochran said he sees it as an exercise to throw ideas out and Mr. Reichard could make note of them, and then the liaisons, Mr. Reichard, Mr. Fraser, and Mr. Fazekas could discuss it, possibly via Zoom. A conceptual plan could then be brought back to the full Board in a public meeting for discussion. President Martin said he is in agreement to entertain a proposal from C. S. Davidson, and depending on what we want to develop, whether recreation use or Public Works use or something else, there may be other professionals we might want to bring in that have more experience in those specific uses. But he said he is very comfortable with what Commissioner Cochran is proposing. He said he would like to try to do the walk-through sometime in early May. Mr. Fazekas suggested May 1 at 1 p.m., the day after closing. He said we want to try to board things up as quickly as possible so we could meet that day if it works for all parties. That date and time was agreeable by all Commissioners.
Chief Adams said one of the things he doesn’t want to get overlooked is what will happen to the existing buildings and whether they will potentially be converted for Township use or be demolished. He said it provides opportunities for the Fire Department and Police Department to do some realistic training. Commissioner Cochran said he thinks that point was raised previously but said it’s a good reminder. Mr. Fazekas said staff discussed it yesterday about both departments doing training there, but said we do want to board the buildings up as quickly as possible.
President Martin commented that he and his wife were doing an errand and drove McCormick Road. He said there were fisherman there and he was amazed at how spread out they were. He noted that they weren’t following the model of Boiling Springs Lake, which was crowded on the first day of trout fishing season.