Keystone Real Estate Group, the developers of a student housing project in State College, filed an appeal last Tuesday against College Township Council relating to a development plan and fees paid for open space by Keystone Realty.
Keystone Realty, through their attorney Jeffrey Ernico, filed an appeal arguing that the calculation council came up with for the fee-in-lieu of the land per housing unit is “ambiguous and vague” and fails to meet state standards as well as impose the least restrictive of land development fees on Keystone Realty, according to court documents.
Also in the appeal was Keystone Realty’s request to have the court grant them 2.9 acres of open space and land denied to them by council, according to court documents.
Keystone Realty owns a piece of property in College Township near Penn Hills on Trout Road, which they filed a development plan for on November 18, according to court documents. Council approved the development plan on March 15 but with certain conditions.
One of these conditions was that Keystone Realty provides a fee for their land dedication prescribed by council, according to court documents. The fee amount would be determined on the “basis of 5.8 acres times the amount per acre determined by appraisal process,” according to court documents.
The property had not been appraised at the time of the approval and the letter given to Keystone relating to the approval did not provide figures necessary for the fee calculation, according to court documents. Because of the absence of figures, council and Keystone Realty both hired separate appraisers to determine the value of the property, according to court documents.
Keystone offered $491,377 for the fee on May 2, based on court documents. Weeks after this, College Township Manager Adam Brumbaugh stated that the appropriate value of the acreage would be $1,148,424, according to court documents. Keystone Realty requested a 30-day extension to reach an agreement on the conflicting values and council made a new deadline for Keystone on July 20.
Keystone eventually made a new offer of $520,925.29, but also issued a memorandum outlining deficiencies in the calculation for determining the fee, according to court documents. Keystone stated that the “land area attributable to a unit” was not defined clearly enough and may result in confusion later, according to court documents.
The memorandum also stated that the fee council wanted was ten times higher than the cost of purchasing other pieces of land in the township, including the piece of the across the street from the property in question, according to court documents.
Council eventually rejected Keystone’s offer and said it would “entertain no further negotiations,” according to court documents.
Keystone at the council’s July 19 meeting they would pay the fee but requested by council but would do so under protest, according to court documents.
College Township council member Forrest Remick said that Keystone Realty is free to go ahead with the development project even after the appeal. Remick also said that, even though Keystone Realty paid the full amount, they have the right to appeal if they wish.
Remick said that the council will answer the appeal and gather as a council to issue a decision on how to go ahead further at a later date.