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October 25, 2010

Hershey Trust Land Buys Raise Questions

The Hershey Trust, which was created by the founder of the candy company, spent more than nine times the listed market value for a small roadside attraction near the institution, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The newspaper had previously reported that such land deals had prompted the attorney general of Pennsylvania to investigate.

The trust, which operates a school for poor children, bought Pumpkin World USA, which sells country crafts, gourds and vegetables north of the town of Hershey, for $8.6-million in 2006. Tax records listed a fair-market value of $920,000 for the 27-acre property.

Trust officials said the purchase should not raise concerns and is part of a plan to buy  “buffer land” for an expansion of the Milton S. Hershey School. The trust also paid $12-million to buy a financially struggling golf course near the campus as part of the buffer strategy, intended to protect students’ safety in a fast-growing commercial corridor, the Inquirer previously reported.