OK County Tax Assistance for Oxford Site | Local News

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The Berlin Junction project in the township of Oxford has taken another step forward.

Adams County Commissioners recently approved an ordinance that would make the Berlin Junction project in Oxford Township eligible for the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program.

JF Rohrbaugh Co. Inc., a wood pallet manufacturing company, and Bruce L. Jones Contractor Company, a wallboard manufacturer, plan to move to 299 Brickyard Road, officials said. The businesses will add 20 manufacturing jobs to the local economy, Adams Economic Alliance President Robin Fitzpatrick said last month.

“This 92-acre stretch of industrial estate land has a rich manufacturing history dating back to the late 1800s,” Adams County Commissioner Chairman Randy Phiel said. “Sadly it was completely abandoned about 25 years ago after the brickmakers sold the site. The property has not been properly maintained since and has lain in disrepair for decades. We are happy to support the efforts redevelopment projects that may begin following the promulgation of the LERTA.”

The goods meet the definition of “damaged” within the meaning of the LERTA law if they are characterized by one of the following conditions: “Dangerous, unhealthy and overcrowded buildings; vacant, overgrown and unsightly land; disproportionate number of overdue tax properties, excessive land cover, faulty building design or layout, street or lot layout; economically and socially undesirable land uses,” according to a county statement.

Commissioners approved Order No. 2 of 2022 providing tax exemption for certain improvements in degraded areas designated pursuant to Pennsylvania Statutes Nos. 42 of 1977 and 76 of 1977 at their May 4 meeting.

The order, noted as applying to the Berlin junction project, was announced in the Gettysburg Times on April 22 and was in compliance with approvals from the Township of Oxford and the Conewago Valley School District, according to the agenda documents.

Phiel noted that they have “high hopes” that this area will “become prolific in our county in the future.”

Several other manufacturing and distribution companies have also considered opening facilities at the site, which will be known as the Berlin Junction Manufacturing Center.

In 2018, Hannover-based ERY Properties purchased the former Alwine Brick Company site. Oxford Township supervisors are asking ERY to improve roads, repair a railroad junction in the field and identify and fill any mines believed to be there, Fitzpatrick said.

A LERTA defers increases in tax assessments that would be triggered by improvements to the property, Fitzpatrick said. The deferred amount decreases each year for 10 years, Fitzpatrick said.

“At the time ERY acquired the property, it was an eye-sore for the community, covered in dilapidated buildings, with piles of bricks, blocks and other debris,” Fitzpatrick said. “But the site has enormous potential to be restored to productive economic use and we are committed to working with ERY and other stakeholders to overcome the financial challenges associated with redevelopment.”

Berlin Junction has a rich manufacturing history dating back to the late 1800s when it was established by Alwine Brick Company. The Alwine family acquired the property in 1885, transferring its operations from a nearby factory in Paradise Township, York County.

The brickyard was strategically located at the junction of two railway lines, where it had access to a siding for the distribution of its manufactured goods, up to 40 million bricks per year, and quarried materials.

These operations continued until 1978, when the last member of the Alwine family retired and ownership of the business was transferred to the Glen-Gery Corporation, which continued to manufacture bricks, as well as concrete blocks, until it ceased operations in 1993. Ownership again changed hands. in 1999 and the site lay fallow for the next 25 years.

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