Judge hears testimony on CVS devt.

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

Wyoming County Press Examiner

A Wyoming County judge heard arguments Monday morning about whether a developer standing in the way of a proposed sale of Gay’s True Value to CVS Drugs In Tunkhannock should be required to post bond while an appeal process works its way through the courts elsewhere.

Judge Russell Shurtleff first heard from attorney Tom Daniels representing the Zaremba Group which is negotiating a sale of Gay’s True Value property to CVS Drugs.

Daniels noted that he had received a letter that morning that the Commonwealth Court had denied an appeal by Timothy Michaels – attorney for Anthony Colombo – to stay Shurtleff’s July 16 order to have the bond hearing.

Colombo was not at the hearing, but joining Daniels was attorney Ed Neyhart, representing the  Tunkhannock’s Zoning Hearing Board which had addressed the CVS matter fully and voted to give it the green light on Feb. 23.

Daniels reiterated what he called unrefuted testimony in May before Shurtleff by Zaremba’s Sean McDermott and CVS’ Amber Marie Franklin.

Daniels said McDermott had laid out costs incurred as of that date- $223,000 in fees and expenses already spent; and Franklin had indicated a potential loss of $1 million if the project did not move forward as planned with a critical closing date on the sale of Sept. 1 with construction to begin shortly thereafter.

Daniels said the construction project was planning for a no later than March 31 opening as CVS present lease, held by Colombo and others, expired that same day.

“It is significant to have the new store up and running by that date,” Daniels said.

He further noted – again from the May testimony – Franklin had said that if the March 31 date couldn’t be met, she anticipated additional costs of $250,000 that would be incurred just because CVS would have to find a temporary location to do just its pharmacy business.

“I also remind that the entire project is $5 million,” Daniels told the judge.

“I want to put these numbers out there for you to think about, and I ask the court to impose a bond in an appropriate amount on behalf of Zaremba Group and CVS Pharmacy,” he added

Michaels objected to Daniels’ testimony, because he said there was no transcript available from the May hearing.

He also noted, “My client appeals on the issue of standing alone and the merits of this case are not appealable to Commonwealth Court.”

Michaels further noted that Zaremba had requested a bond previously and given that the court did not rule in the matter as a procedural matter at least, that petition already had been denied.

Neyhart said Michaels had raised many of the issues he’s now  seeking redress elsewhere and Colombo had every opportunity to offer evidence during the Tunkhannock Zoning Hearing Board and chose not to do so.

Michaels countered that whether his client presented evidence or not has no relationship in this matter before the court.

Judge Shurtleff acknowledged for the record that he had received the Commonwealth’s July 23 order granting the trial court to proceed with that date’s bond hearing.

Because of that, Shurtleff declared at least one of Michael’s emergency requests of the previous week “moot.”

The judge said he would take the matter under advisement and gave no date by which he expected to reach a decision.

Gay’s had been at the old woolen mill location off Bridge Street in Tunkhannock since 1926, and the building’s removal would mark a significant change to the town’s landscape.