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York City Council rejects Dentsply letter of intent, effectively calling off potential purchase

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York City's potential purchase of the former Dentsply campus is effectively off following the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

In a split vote, the City Council voted 3-2 to reject the edited letter of intent that would have allowed the city to obtain more information on the property.

Council members Betsy Buckingham and Felicia Dennis and vice president Edquina Washington voted to reject the letter; council president Sandie Walker and councilmember Lou Rivera voted in favor.

"I've talked to a lot of residents of the city and I haven't had one constituent either privately or that spoke to us that were in favor of it," Buckingham said of her vote against after the meeting. "Overwhelmingly it had to do with taking off the tax rolls and implicating tax dollars in the future."

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Washington said after the meeting she voted against moving ahead with the letter of intent because she doesn't believe the purchase is necessary for the city, while Dennis said she needed more information before voting for the LOI.

Walker said she voted in favor because it would have given the city more information on the property, while Rivera had no comment on his vote.

The City Council voted in May to approve a letter of intent. The motion before the council on Tuesday would have approved an edited letter of intent and allowed the city to begin obtaining and reviewing more information on the 17.29 acre property previously occupied by Dentsply Sirona.

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"The council by its resolution of May requested administration begin the process of negotiating and doing due diligence of the potential purchase of the Dentsply property," York City Mayor Michael Helfrich said after the meeting. "I hope they'll give it another opportunity because all we're really looking to do is get the information to find out if this is a good deal for the residents and businesses and the taxpayers of the city of York."

Blanda Nace, who serves as the city's chief opportunity officer, said it was the council's prerogative to vote the way that they did.

In addition to the vote against the Dentsply letter of intent, the council also voted 4-1 to pull a motion to create a line item in the 2022 budget regarding Dentsply for $5 million from the proceeds of the wastewater treatment plant sale to Penn American Water. Walker voted against the pulling of that item, saying after the meeting she had wanted resolution on funding.

The council also voted unanimously to direct a potential ordinance change regarding the police department back to the committee meeting level.

This is a developing story.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.