Northampton Press

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Rockefeller will appeal

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

E. Allen board denied petition for warehouses

Rockefeller Group has released a statement on its resolve to appeal the decision of the East Allen Township Board of Supervisors. Clark Machemer, the man in charge of the project, took a look at the options available.

“We have a responsibility to our client, Lehigh Valley (International) Airport, to make the best use of the land. We think our plan provided that,” he said in a phone conversation.

Amanda Ferraro, who is part of the public relations division for Rockefeller Group, released a detailed statement outlining Rockefeller Group’s thoughts on the decision and its future plans.

“We have filed an appeal of the decision by the East Allen Township Board of Supervisors to deny our petition, and we have maintained an ongoing dialogue with the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority with regard to an extension of our purchase agreement so that we may continue to evaluate all options. The LNAA is the region’s major commercial airport facility and selected us to develop its surplus real estate with projects consistent and compatible with the airport’s use and operations and LNAA’s master plan.

“We maintain our strong belief in our petition’s consistency with the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s county comprehensive plan and, more specifically, the East Allen Township comprehensive plan, as well as our confidence in the benefits of the proposed project to the LNAA, Lehigh Valley and East Allen Township.

“We have undertaken this initiative in good faith, evaluating the project’s benefits and impact to the airport authority and surrounding community in a holistic manner, following zoning guidance included in the county comprehensive plan and the East Allen Township comprehensive plan. Findings that our plans were consistent with these comprehensive plans were supported through recommendations from the East Allen Township Planning Commission and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

“We are a responsible and responsive developer, pursuing projects that are economically viable and supported by demand and that also enhance and provide benefits in the communities where we invest. Any development we undertake involves improvements at the discretion of the local planning body, which we are prepared to make. With this project in particular, we are planning to include, at a minimum, appropriate buffering — through landscaping and screening — as well as open-land preservation. With smart, collaborative planning, we believe we can proactively preserve the community’s agricultural heritage, while embracing a business of the future, which will provide benefits to the airport, the township and the region for many years to come.”

During the meeting leading to the board’s decision, there was some question if warehouses were considered as complying with the township’s comprehensive plan.

If the decision is appealed, there will be a definite answer on what some consider an open question: Can a local township block projected use of federal land?