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Will Radio Host Alter Pro-KOZ?

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 Will radio talk show host Bob Foltz who will seek selection as a Fayette County commissioner in the November 6th General Election as a write-in candidate, take a different position on Keystone Opportunity Zones than he has in the past?

In the recent past few years, from 2002 to 2007, dozens upon dozens of calls had been made to Foltz's Let's Talk program concerning Keystone Opportunity Zones.

In fact, I had been a guest on Foltz's program at least twice to talk specifically about Keystone Opportunity Zones. Once with co-guests Mike Ellis, former editor of the Herald-Standard, and Paul Sunyak, current editorial board editor of the Herald-Standard.

Foltz was presented with material supporting my opposition to KOZs during these guest appearances on his radio program.

So Foltz is not unaware of the objections to KOZs for at least a five year period.

Foltz was presented with documentation about the unfairness of KOZs, the unconstitutionality of KOZs according to the PA uniformity clause as well as numerous calls to his program when the matter of expansion of KOZs arose in 2002 and 2004.

When the current county commissioner administration was approached by Fay Penn Economic Development Council to alter zoning to allow for more residential houses to be built in an existing KOZ, two of the three commissioners opposed the request.

During calls to Bob Foltz at WMBS 590, Foltz revealed he supported the zoning and didn't have a problem with Keystone Opportunity Zones.

Foltz kept repeating - it's already a KOZ, it's already a KOZ, for heaven's sake, it's already a KOZ.

Foltz simply never got the point.

KOZ's are unfair and unconstitutional.

The commissioners have it in their power to make an attempt to revoke the status of KOZs in the county. To date, among those who don't support KOZS for housing developments, current board chairwoman Angela Zimmerlink, and commissioner Vincent Vicites, neither have made that effort.

KOZ in Fayette remain while annually other houses and businesses not located in a tax free KOZ face potential loss of such for failure to pay local property taxes.

The local property taxes also are what are utilized by the three taxing bodies school district boards, county commission board, and municipalities, to pay off any bonds floated.

Fayette County commissioners in 2000 passed a bond issue to the tune of some 22 million. Just before that KOZ was adopted (1999) by school district boards, municipalities, and former county commissioners which included Vincent Vicites.

The KOZs were to run for a 10-year period.

Since that time, state legislation expanded KOZs and required authorization from the same boards. Again, on the county level, Commissioner Vincent Vicites authorized the expansion to take effect locally. The expansion altered the zones from a ten year period to a twelve year period. And more grants from state taxpayers were handed out over a longer period of time as a result.

When the KOZ was adopted back in 1999, the program was not promoted by Fay Penn to include housing (though the original legislation allowed for housing in KOZ.)

The former board of commissioners by a majority vote which did not include Vincent Vicites, in 2002/03 passed a zoning request to locate a golf-course and housing development for property that had been selected by Fay Penn for KOZ status three years earlier.

To his credit, Vicites did not support at that time KOZ for housing developments.

The issue arose again for the same property Springhill Township during 2005 with the current board of commissioners. Joseph Hardy supported the expanded zoning for the existing KOZ while Angela Zimmerlink and Vincent Vicites opposed the zoning expansion.

Bob Foltz was well aware of the entire issue after all of the calls to his radio program by myself and a couple of others who had opposed the KOZ designations from the beginning.

Foltz continued to support the KOZs, even for housing developments during the 2005-06 time period.

Also, a major event regarding KOZs arose with the current board of commissioners in 2004. The Fayette County Business (formerly Industrial/Business) Park had also been selected for KOZ states, some at least 100 acres back in 1999.

Fayette County Redevelopment Authority began promoting the Park as a business park shortly afterwards, and by 2004 were attracting interest from outside corporations. However, the South Union Township supervisors opposed KOZ designations for businesses. They rightly highlighted the KOZ status for the Park had been promoted for industrial development, not business development.

As a result of their opposition, the Redevelopment Authority agreed to have the KOZ status removed to allow for the entirety of the undeveloped acreage to be rezoned, with the authorization of the township supervisors.

The county commissioners, with the other two taxing bodies, then revoked the KOZ status, and that status was decertified.

So again, Foltz has observed history unfolding and has heard all about the objections to KOZs for many years.

Still, when Foltz had an opportunity while a radio talk show host to alter his position on KOZs, he DID NOT do so.

Now, as Bob Foltz seeks public office, he may appear to be wavering on his support for housing developments in KOZs, and/or KOZs all around.

As you would anyone else who alters a position, hold Bob Foltz as accountable - if he does so during any interviews or public candidate forums - for changing his position on KOZs.

We might not find out unless we are permitted to ask him a question if indeed he mounts a more public campaign for the office than he has to date.

It's unlikely he'll be interviewed by the Herald-Standard at this late date, but he may be. Even so, it's unlikely he'll face any question about his position currently on KOZ and his support of housing developments in KOZs.

It's up to you to hold them all accountable. Not just the ones you don't like.

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