Filing asks judge to block Jewelcor president from intervening in TIF case

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Holtzman -

WILKES-BARRE — While a previous filing suggested a “potential resolution opportunity” in the ongoing dispute over Wilkes-Barre City’s suit against the county and other bodies, new filings this week could mean a resolution is not close at hand.

The suit, which has a story that grows more complex with each additional filing, was initially filed in April against Luzerne County, its redevelopment authority, the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and Wilkes-Barre Township.

The parties named as defendants entered into a Tax Incremental Financing plan, or TIF, to fund improvements to Highland Park Boulevard and Mundy and Coal streets. Lawyers for the city claim they later became part of the TIF, arguing that the project isn’t complete until Coal Street is extended to meet with Pennsylvania Avenue.

In late April, Seymour Holtzman, president of Jewelcor Inc., along with his wife Evelyn, filed to intervene in the suit, arguing his company ceded land to the city to be used in the project which was ultimately not completed.

This week, though, attorneys for the county and the school district filed to bar the Holtzmans from being allowed to intervene in the suit.

In the filing, signed by attorneys from Pittston law firm Joyce, Carmody & Moran, the bodies said in part that the Holtzmans were never officially included in any of the agreements related to the TIF, instead only making agreements directly with the city itself.

“The Holtzmans, at best, are incidental beneficiaries that do not have standing to enforce the terms of any alleged contract between the city and any of the named defendants,” the attorneys wrote.

In addition, the attorneys claim the Holtzmans are already adequately represented.

“Here, the City’s sought relief would satisfy the concerns of the Holtzmans, and ultimately render their proposed relief moot; therefore, their interests are already represented,” the filing says.

In late April, the city’s attorney, William Vinsko, filed a motion to continue a hearing that was originally scheduled for early May.

Vinsko’s filing said a continuance was necessary as “all parties” — including the Holtzmans and the county and school district — had agreed to it, citing a potential way to resolve the disagreement.

Now, that hearing will be held on June 13 before Luzerne County Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. Part of the hearing will be to determine if the Holtzmans should be allowed to intervene.

Until the hearing, Burke has ordered that the redevelopment authority hold the nearly $3 million in leftover funds from the TIF instead of distributing it between the county, township and school district.


By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan