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Lancaster IDA tables two requests for tax breaks pending more study

The board of the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency on Tuesday opted not to act on two requests for tax breaks after Chairman Dino J. Fudoli requested more time to weigh their value.

The projects that must wait to see if they will receive IDA assistance are a Depew pizzeria and a Bowmansville office and warehouse facility.

The decision to table the two requests comes as suburban IDAs are under scrutiny for the types of projects they approve for tax breaks and other financial aid.

Fudoli, who is Lancaster town supervisor, said Tuesday that he agrees with those who believe that IDAs should support projects with a regional economic impact.

"These should be used for high-paying, economically sustainable jobs," Fudoli said after Tuesday's IDA meeting.

Fudoli took over as IDA chairman at the start of the year, shortly after taking office as supervisor.

He said he objected to some of the projects that received IDA support last year under his predecessor, Robert H. Giza, including tax breaks granted for an expansion of the Olive Tree Restaurant in Lancaster.

Fudoli said he eats lunch at the restaurant but doesn't believe that IDAs should be supporting jobs at the minimum-wage level.

"They're out there handing out projects to these mom-and-pop-type places, and that's not what IDAs were intended to be used for," he said.

One of the tabled projects would provide a sales tax break for the 1,300-square-foot expansion of Penora's Pizza, 5055 Broadway, said Paul R. Leone, a consultant to the Lancaster IDA. The value of the project is $400,000, he said.

The pizzeria is in an enhancement zone, so the project is eligible for a sales tax break. But Fudoli said he wants to hold off on approving any abatement until the IDA board can reach a consensus on the value of restaurant and similar projects.

The other tabled request came from Bella Vista Group, owner of an office and warehouse facility at Transit Road and Genesee Street known as Lancaster Flex Park, which has eight tenants.

Bella Vista is asking for a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, or PILOT, to replace the two years remaining on the one now in place for the property at 6495 Transit Road, Leone said.

Company officials have told the IDA that one tenant, a Canadian company that now uses 6,500 square feet of space, is considering an expansion to use 30,000 square feet at the flex park, Leone said, a project that would be aided by the new PILOT.

The flex park project was tabled because a public hearing must be held before a PILOT can be approved, Leone said.

The Lancaster IDA board will hold a work session in the coming weeks to address the merits of projects that come before the board.