Middle Smithfield Township to Rezone Township Owned Property
On February 8th, Middle Smithfield Township Supervisors will convene a public hearing for a new ordinance to rezone 320 acres of vacant land owned by the township. The proposed ordinance is to change the zoning district and zoning map from “Planned Residential Development” to the C-2 Commercial District. The vacant land owned by the township is currently within the undeveloped portion of the Country Club of the Poconos development and includes 9 holes of the 18 hole golf course the township also owns (the other 9 holes are located across Tom X Road). The 18 hole golf course fulfills the required open space for the Planned Residential Development, and is intended to remain as 18 holes of open space. As for the rest of the acreage, re-zoning it to the C-2 Commercial District will make it eligible for the LERTA tax abatement program, upon approval of the three taxing authorities (township, county and school district). The township hopes the availability of commercial land adjacent to a golf course, all eligible for sewer financing and LERTA, will make a land/golf course package more attractive to a potential qualified buyer and/or more conducive to a revenue and job producing use consistent with the township’s mission and vision statements.
Supervisor Chairperson Annette Atkinson invited the public to the township’s “Preview of 2018” presentation held January 25th at 7pm. “Every January we look forward to presenting our plans and goals to the public for their input, and this project will be included in that presentation.”
Said Supervisor Vice Chairperson Mike Dwyer “It has always been the goal of the township to sell the golf course to a qualified buyer, and put that land back on the tax rolls – this should help.” Supervisor Mark Oney, who was previously Chairperson of the township’s Planning Commission for 25 years: “The Supervisors continue to explore a number of different revenue streams for the acreage the township owns, and we believe the re-zoning will make the acreage more attractive to a potential buyer, who will pay taxes on the property.” Currently, because the township owns the property, there is no property tax revenue.
Supervisor Chairperson Annette Atkinson added “We have made no secret about the steps we planned to take in order to sell the Golf Course and transition it into a tax-paying property, and have encouraged the involvement of the Homeowner Associations and its residents. A Golf Advisory Board formed in 2012, mostly of County Club of the Pocono residents, and we are grateful for their help these last 6 years. We hope this will attract a developer with a job-providing project compatible with a companion golf course.”