Attendees: Steering Committee: Don Keener – LWT Manager, John Klinedinst – LWT Engineer, Mark Platts – Platts Simon Consulting, Representative Stan Saylor, Jo Anna Shovlin, Nadine Hubner - Senator Michael Waugh’s Office and the following:
Josh First – The Conservation Fund Pennsylvania Office Cindy Dunlap - Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), Richard Banz – York County Heritage Trust, Jackie Kramer – Executive Director – Farm & Natural Lands Trust, and Felicia Dell – Director York County Planning Commission (YCPC).
Introductions: Don Keener, chairperson of the Lower Windsor Township (LWT) steering committee opened with introductions. He then turned the meeting over to John Klinedinst for comments.
John Klinedinst opened the meeting on the authorization of the LWT Board of Supervisors. He presented a detailed outline from the meeting he and Dave Keiter (Solicitor LWT) had with Larry Young, attorney with CGA in York who specialized in bankruptcies, to review the project and discuss options for proceeding.
Mr. Young stated that since it is a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the case was probably discharged in 1994 because there was a plan in effect for paying the debt. The automatic stay on acquisition can be lifted by the Bankruptcy judge, but can also be avoided by condemnation. The Trustee (Leon Haller) is an agent for the creditors. Implementation of zoning and an Official Map should not, in Mr. Young’s opinion, be affected by the stay and should not be a “taking” according to Mr. Keiter. While the current judge position in Harrisburg is vacant, the visiting judge from Wilkes-Barre, PA hears filings.
LWT cannot negotiate directly with creditors; the debtor (Kohr Family) can only voluntarily sell or be compelled to sell by condemnation or the Trustee. LWT could buy up creditor claims (band, etc.) but still may not get the votes necessary to force a sale. LWT could also negotiate with the debtor (Kohr Family) but any sale is subject to the Trustee. A breakdown of the creditor standing is as follows: a) Administrative which includes engineering, b) Secured creditors, c) Priority creditors and d) General/unsecured creditors.
Acquisition by LWT under condemnation must be for a clear purpose (clear need for taking), and the office must be fair market.
Once a condemnation is filed (Notice of Taking), the Bankruptcy court can decide the following:
1. That it contains “core” issues directly related to the Bankruptcy; in this case the Court takes jurisdiction from the State Court (York County) and hears/decides the case. The ultimate cost would probably be higher in this court.
2. Uses its discretion to decide it contains other significant issues and takes jurisdiction from the State Court and hears/decides the case.
3. Abstains from the condemnation, lifts the stay, allows state court to process.
Mr. Klinedinst stated, “there is a clear path” and his suggestion is to accomplish the following three steps.
1. Have the property appraised for fair market value
2. Put together a “package of financing” (“the offer”) with all of the interested Groups, including Trusts and the state
3. Visit the Trustee, Leon Haller, and make an offer. If reasonable, he must Present it to the creditors.
If the Trustee refuses, LWT could consider condemnation. Mr. Klinedinst did stress the fact that he felt the Trustee (Leon Haller) has no incentive to sell this property. He is receiving a fee for his services from the court and over the years it is a considerable amount.
Representative Saylor stated that he put $14 million dollars in the State Capital Improvement budget but it will need the Governor’s approval. If Mike Fisher wins we can move forward with the project and use this money.
Mr. Klinedinst stated that LWT set aside money from Modern Landfill (tipping fees) and the Township could take the lead on this project if necessary. Then we need to develop a partnership with agencies (e.g., Farm and Natural Lands Trust, York County/Lancaster County Heritage Trust, Conservatory, DCNR) and also seek private support (e.g., Louis Appell, John Zimmerman) and others from the community.
Ms. Dunlap mentioned that her agency could not get involved in zoning, easement, sales and title issues but she would be more than happy to utilize her office in regards to completing a grant application with LWT being the applicant. She could not guarantee that LWT would get funding but she would help in application process.
Mr. Platts stated there are attorneys in Washington D.C. (federal level) that work on these complicated issues with a great level of experience. He asked Mr. First if he could supply him with names and telephone numbers for future reference. Mr. First stated “absolutely”.
Mr. First also stated that when the financial offer by LWT is to be presented to the Trustee, he suggested that he or Jackie Kramer present the offer. It would be better to have this group “act on behalf of LWT”. All in attendance were in agreement. Jackie Kramer has the expertise from past performance to do a good job. By getting their agencies to act as the negotiators, the Trustee would see that this offer is not only being presented by LWT but by York County.
Mr. Klinedinst stated he would like to have access to the expenditures for the last ten years. He reiterated the fact that he felt the Trustee (Leon Haller) has no incentive to sell this property. Representative Saylor stated he knew a few of the banks that are listed as creditors and he will make them aware of a possible offer on the property. By doing so, the creditors could start thinking that they are finally going to get their money. Maybe not the full amount, but something that they could get closure.
It was agreed that Mr. Klinedinst and Attorney Keiter would meet with the Trustee (Leon Haller) and ask what is a “reasonable offer”. Then they would discuss with the Supervisors of LWT to make them aware of the outcome and get their direction.
Next meeting – Friday, November 1, 2002 @ 8:00 a.m. – Representative Saylor’s Office
Meeting closed at 10:10 a.m.
submitted by Jo Anna Shovlin
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