Of­fi­cials cob­ble to­gether $3.5M to pay judg­ment in em­i­nent do­main case in­volv­ing golf course land

The Advance of Bucks County - - YARDLEY-MORRISVILLE AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

LlWER MAKEFIELD - The town­ship will bor­row up to $3.5 mil­lion from town­ship funds to pay off a judg­ment in an em­i­nent do­main case in­volv­ing Lower 0DNe­fieOd’V 1999 DFTuLVLWLRn RI WKe 166-DFre DDOJewLFz FDrm Rn Wood­side Road, the cur­rent site RI WKe 0DNe­fieOd HLJKODndV GROI Course which opened in 2004.

$W WKe -une 19 meeWLnJ, WKe board of su­per­vi­sors voted 5-0 to bor­row the money from sev­eral town­ship sources: the gen­eral fund, the sewer fund, the sewer FDSLWDO reVerYe Iund Dnd WKe WrDI­fiF im­pact fund.

The ex­act amount of the judg­ment is not known, but is ex­pected to be be­tween $3.3 mil­lion and $3.5 mil­lion. The town­ship is wait­ing for the at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing WKe DDOJewLFz IDmLOy WR SreVenW D cal­cu­la­tion, which will in­clude the in­ter­est that has been ac­cru­ing at mRre WKDn $10,000 D mRnWK VLnFe the 2008 jury award.

“:e’re nRW Ln Dny wDy, VKDSe or form try­ing to move the shells around,” said Su­per­vi­sor Dan McLaugh­lin. “We need to get this obli­ga­tion be­hind us.

“:e need WR mRYe TuLFNOy EeFDuVe we’re DFFruLnJ LnWereVW,” Ke added.

Ac­cord­ing to town­ship so­li­ciWRr -eII GDrWRn, LRwer 0DNe­fieOd is al­lowed to make in­ter­fund loans if they are done through a for­mal res­o­lu­tion at a pub­lic meet­ing and the loans are paid back to those funds within the cal­en­dar year. The town­ship must also re­pay the bor­rowed money with in­ter­est at the cur­rent rate.

Cur­rently, the town­ship is preSDrLnJ WR re­finDnFe LWV ERndV wKLFK through a new is­sue planned for Au­gust. Town­ship man­ager Terry Fe­dor­chak ad­vised get­ting the money ready now, be­fore the bond is­sue, be­cause the town­ship is payLnJ EeWween $13,000 WR $14,000 ev­ery month in ac­crued in­ter­est on the court judg­ment.

$W WKe 0Dy 1 VuSerYLVRrV’ meeWLnJ, GRrdRn :DONer RI 3uEOLF FLnDnFLDO 0DnDJe­menW (3F0), WKe WRwnVKLS’V ORnJ-WLme ERnd DdYLVRr, reFRm­mended WKDW RI­fiFLDOV re­finDnFe $4.24 mLOOLRn Ln JROI course bonds which be­come due in 2022 through 202T.

Walker also had sug­gested that LRwer 0DNe­fieOd VKRuOd Ddd DERuW $5 mLOOLRn mRre WR WKe re­finDnFLnJ pack­age, so that town­ship can get the low­est vari­able in­ter­est rate pos­si­ble.

An­tic­i­pat­ing all along that it could ex­haust its court ap­peals, the town­ship has ac­counted for the dam­ages award and in­ter­est Ey WDNLnJ VWeSV WR re­finDnFe WKe golf course debt, so that res­i­dents would not be hit with any tax in­crease, ac­cord­ing to Fe­dor­chak.

“2nFe we SDy WKe DDOJewLFzV,” he ex­plained, “it will al­low us to pay our­selves from the bond money that will be forth­com­ing in the next few months.”

Dur­ing the May meet­ing, sev­erDO VuSerYLVRrV nRWed WKDW ERnd re­fi­nanc­ing would also give the townVKLS D finDnFLDO FuVKLRn Ln FDVe it lost its pend­ing state Supreme CRurW DSSeDO RI D ODwVuLW fiOed Ey WKe Rwn­erV RI WKe DDOJewLFz IDrm that the town­ship con­demned in 1998 WR Eu­LOd WKe JROI FRurVe.

That high court de­ci­sion even­tu­ally was handed down a few weeks ODWer Rn 0Dy 29.

In a unan­i­mous rul­ing, the jus- tices held that the town­ship owed the prop­erty own­ers at least an ad­di­tional $3.3 mil­lion, which also in­cludes the ac­crued in­ter­est.

:LWK WKe 3en­nVyOYDnLD SuSreme Court rul­ing, the to­tal pur­chase price now stands at more than $T.3 mil­lion in prin­ci­pal and in­ter­est WKDW LRwer 0DNe­fieOd wLOO Ee SDy­ing for the land. The town­ship had DOreDdy SDLd WKe DDOJewLFz IDmLOy $4 mil­lion as a re­sult of con­dem­na­tion pro­ceed­ings.

Af­ter a six-day trial in Novem­ber 2008, a Bucks County jury had de­ter­mined that the tract was wRrWK $5.85 mLOOLRn, nRW WKDW $3.99 mil­lion that the town­ship had paid WR DFTuLre WKe SrRSerWy. LRwer 0DNe­fieOd WKen DSSeDOed WKe Dw­Drd, FODLmLnJ WKe Mury’V YDOuD­tion on the land was too high.

More than four years of le­gal wran­gling en­sued, with two state ap­pel­late courts sid­ing with the plain­tiffs.

7Ke DDOJewLFz IDmLOy Rwned WKe 166-DFre WrDFW Rn :RRdVLde Road in the north­east cor­ner of the town­ship near the Scud­der Falls Bridge. The prop­erty was con­demned un­der em­i­nent do­main in or­der to build a pub­lic golf course.

Ac­cord­ing to the landown­ers, they had re­ceived sev­eral of­fers from de­vel­op­ers rang­ing from $5.1 mLOOLRn WR $8 mLOOLRn, Dnd KDd ar­gued that the town­ship had dras­ti­cally un­der­val­ued their prop­erty.

In set­ting the pur­chase price, the Bucks County Board of siew, which over­sees em­i­nent do­main pro­ceed­ings, took into ac­count as­sess­ments pro­vided by the WRwnVKLS Dnd WKe DDOJewLFzV Ln de­ter­min­ing that the prop­erty was wRrWK RnOy $3.99 mLOOLRn.

But be­cause the town­ship and the fam­ily were un­able to agree on a pur­chase price, the mat­ter pro­ceeded to a jury trial.

:LWK WKe 3en­nVyOYDnLD SuSreme CRurW’V ruOLnJ, WKe Mury Dw­Drd stands.

$W WKe -une 19 meeWLnJ, WKe Vu­per­vi­sors also agreed to ex­tend the agree­ment of sale of the Sat­terth­waite prop­erty for use as a horse hos­pi­tal un­til the end of the cal­en­dar year, as rec­om­mended by the town­ship so­lic­i­tor.

DrV. $my BenWz Dnd BrDd HROm­sten, a hus­band-and-wife vet­erLnDry WeDm, ERuJKW WKe 5.14-DFre par­cel for $255,000 in lcto­ber, and the sale had to be con­sum­mated by mid-June.

HRweYer, EeFDuVe RI WKe RnJRLnJ KeDrLnJV wLWK WKe WRwnVKLS’V ZRnLnJ HeDrLnJ BRDrd IRr VLx YDrLDnFe reTueVWV, WKe VDOe FRuOd not be con­cluded by the orig­i­nal dead­line.

The ex­ten­sion was granted in a 4-1 mRWLRn, wLWK SuSerYLVRr -eII Benedetto op­pos­ing it.

2n -une 18, WKe zRnLnJ ERDrd held its fourth hear­ing since Fe­bru­ary on whether to ap­prove the YDrLDnFe reTueVWV IRr WKe SDWWerth­waite prop­erty to be used as an eTuLne YeWerLnDry FOLnLF.

The par­cel, which lies along New­town-Yard­ley Road (Route 332) Dnd 0Lr­rRr LDNe 5RDd, FRnWDLnV WKe SDWWerWKwDLWe HRuVe, SDrW RI wKLFK dDWeV WR WKe 1730V, as well as a nearby his­toric barn, NnRwn DV D 3en­nVyOYDnLD EDnN barn be­cause it has a dirt in­cline OeDdLnJ WR WKe VeFRnd flRRr.

Most res­i­dents op­pose the SODnned uVe DV Dn eTuLne IDFLOLWy, wLWK WKe neLJKERrV’ FRnFernV Fen­ter­ing on sev­eral key is­sues such DV: LnFreDVed WrDI­fiF DORnJ 0Lr­rRr Lake Road, pos­si­ble wa­ter­way con­tam­i­na­tion be­cause of an­i­mal waste runoff, and noises and smells from horses which would be housed on the prop­erty. Light emis­sions and land­scape buffer­ing also are con­cerns.

Mean­while, a num­ber of res­i­dents, in­clud­ing Donna Doan, a long-time op­po­nent of the Sat­terth­waite sale, have asked the su­perYLVRrV WR WeOeYLVe WKe fiIWK zRnLnJ board hear­ing sched­uled for July 16 DW WKe WRwnVKLS Eu­LOdLnJ Rn Edge­wood Road.

Ac­cord­ing to Doan, the meet­ing is im­por­tant, be­cause it will mostly fo­cus on the pub­lic comment por­tion of the pro­ceed­ings.

HRweYer, SuSerYLVRr CKDLr­mDn 3eWe SWDLnWKRrSe dLVDJreed wLWK tele­vis­ing the hear­ing on ca­ble Ts, say­ing that the de­ci­sion is up to the ZRnLnJ HeDrLnJ BRDrd memEerV, not the su­per­vi­sors, who can only ap­prove the cost to tele­vise it.

“Not tele­vis­ing the hear­ing un­til now would not be fair to the ap­pliFDnW,” Ke VDLd, nRWLnJ WKDW WKe fiIWK, Dnd SRVVLEOy finDO KeDrLnJ, wRuOd con­tain mostly pub­lic comment against the pro­posed pro­ject.

Su­per­vi­sor Kristin Tyler, a lawyer, agreed.

“,W’V unIDLr WR VWDrW WeOeYLVLnJ LW at this point,” she said. “It should have been tele­vised from the be­gin­ning.”

In other news, the su­per­vi­sors heard from the new town­ship au­dLWRr wKR SreVenWed WKe 2012 DudLW RI LRwer 0DNe­fieOd’V finDnFeV.

$FFRrdLnJ WR C3$ 3eWer 3ODFe RI LRSez, 7eRdRVLR & LDrNLn, LLC, WKe WRwnVKLS’V finDnFeV were rRVy last year, and he noted that the real es­tate trans­fer taxes were higher WKDn Ln 2011, mRVWOy EeFDuVe RI the in­crease in home sales.

The su­per­vi­sors said that was good news, with town­ship man­ager Fe­dor­chak not­ing that the real es­tate trans­fer tax rev­enues for FDOendDr yeDr 2013 mLJKW Ee EeWWer than an­tic­i­pated.

“,’m FDuWLRuVOy RSWLmLVWLF WKDW we mLJKW EreDN $1 mLOOLRn IRr WKe firVW WLme Ln fiYe yeDrV,” FedRrFKDN

would be housed on the prop­erty. Light emis­sions and land­scape buffer­ing also are con­cerns.

Mean­while, a num­ber of res­i­dents, in­clud­ing Donna Doan, a long-time op­po­nent of the Sat­terth­waite sale, have asked the su­per­vLVRrV tR tHlHvLVH tKH fiItK zRnLnJ board hear­ing sched­uled for July 16 at the town­ship build­ing on Edge­wood Road.

Ac­cord­ing to Doan, the meet­ing is im­por­tant, be­cause it will mostly fo­cus on the pub­lic comment por­tion of the pro­ceed­ings.

How­ever, Su­per­vi­sor Chair­man Pete Stainthorpe dis­agreed with tele­vis­ing the hear­ing on ca­ble Ts, say­ing that the de­ci­sion is up to the won­ing Hear­ing Board mem­bers, not the su­per­vi­sors, who can only ap­prove the cost to tele­vise it.

“Not tele­vis­ing the hear­ing un­til now would not be fair to the ap­pliFDnt,” KH VDLd, nRtLnJ tKDt tKH fiItK, Dnd SRVVLEly finDl KHDrLnJ, ZRuld con­tain mostly pub­lic comment against the pro­posed pro­ject.

Su­per­vi­sor Kristin Tyler, a lawyer, agreed.

“It’s un­fair to start tele­vis­ing it at this point,” she said. “It should have been tele­vised from the be­gin­ning.”

In other news, the su­per­vi­sors heard from the new town­ship au­di­tor who pre­sented the 2012 au­dit RI LRZHr 0DNH­fiHld’V finDnFHV.

Ac­cord­ing to CPA Peter Place of LRSHz, THRdRVLR & LDrNLn, LLC, tKH tRZnVKLS’V finDnFHV ZHrH rRVy last year, and he noted that the real es­tate trans­fer taxes were higher than in 2011, mostly be­cause of the in­crease in home sales.

The su­per­vi­sors said that was good news, with town­ship man­ager Fe­dor­chak not­ing that the real es­tate trans­fer tax rev­enues for cal­en­dar year 2013 might be bet­ter than an­tic­i­pated.

“I’m cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that we might break $1 mil­lion for the firVt tLPH Ln fivH yHDrV,” FHdRrFKDN as­serted.

Mean­while, the town­ship’s newly-in­vig­o­rated His­tor­i­cal Com­mis­sion is seek­ing mem­bers tR fill tKrHH vDFDnFLHV. CDndLdDtHV are en­cour­aged to send their re­sumes to the town­ship for con­sid­er­a­tion.

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