Northampton Press

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Allen hears final presentation on warehouse plan

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Township supervisors expected to vote on proposal at Feb. 26 meeting

The highlight of the Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting Feb. 14 was a presentation by JW Development for six warehouses along Seemsville Road. The snow emergency-delayed meeting was the final tweaking in a proposal that has stretched across 26 months and incorporated many of the changes requested by residents of the Seemsville Road area.

This is not to say there are not residents opposed to the development. Sue Lindenmoyer reiterated her past comments that truck traffic will back up in Northampton and clog the length of Route 329. Bob Bysher voiced his data over deteriorating air quality.

Jerry Neff is concerned he and his neighbors will have trouble entering Route 329. Neff contends traffic will back up and he will not be able to have a clear sight line to turn right.

For the developer, traffic concerns include reworking the Kopper Penny intersection with turning lanes. There will be truck turning lanes onto the new Seemsville Road and the warehouse site. In addition, traffic signals along Route 329 will be coordinated to facilitate traffic movement.

Entrance to the warehouse development by personal cars will be off Howertown Road. Trucks will be banned from using the Howertown Road exit.

Traffic studies prepared by AnnMarie Vigilante, JW Development’s traffic engineer, indicate that traffic will be improved with the new configuration. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation agrees with the assessment. The studies are based on computer modeling. Vigilante’s modeling programs are shown to be representative of actual traffic conditions in prior projects.

At the request of residents concerned about trucks idling while waiting to unload, JW Development proposes a truck waiting facility to be used by all tenants that will include power stations, so trucks will not need to run their engines for extended periods of time.

The developer is setting aside 40 acres of land dedicated to Allen Township for conservation use. Supervisors indicated some concern that passive recreation trails could not be used in the area, but the allocation is greater than the five acres originally required by the township.

Supervisor Dale Hassler asked that the developer be required to pay recreational fees. Allocating 40 acres to the township was an agreement by the developer and the township to offset the recreational fees.

The developer will revamp the cul-de-sac at the end of the existing Seemsville Road so that stormwater is directed to a water detention swale. The change was requested by East Allen Township.

The development proposes moving the Seemsville Road intersection with Route 329 east of its present location by 650 feet. The existing Seemsville Road would not have direct access to Route 329. Allen Township residents along Seemsville Road will access Route 329 via a connector road to the new Seemsville Road.

East Allen Township will take responsibility for the new Seemsville Road, and Allen Township will take responsibility for old Seemsville Road, the connector road and all detention basins. Portions of these facilities are in East Allen Township, and the two municipalities are preparing an intermunicipal agreement on handling responsibilities.

The developer agreed to provide a municipal water line to service certain residents along Mud Lane, north of the project site. The length of the water line was adjusted to actual measurements.

The open issue is a turning lane at southbound Howertown Road and Route 329. The lane is not required by Penn- DOT, but it is something the township feels is necessary. Building the turning lane would require buying right-of-way land from the Shell station on the corner. The owner is reluctant to sell land at this time. The township agreed to keep the turning lane on the books while the developer negotiates in good faith to secure the right of way.

Once the warehouse development is complete and occupied, there will be a traffic study to see how the actual traffic compares to the projections.

Neff contends local PennDOT officials said the location of the new Seemsville Road was not done by PennDOT. Neff wants to see the intersection moved farther east to allow more sight line distance for access to his neighbors. Neff’s information has not been confirmed by PennDOT, but Vigilante is in communication with the department.

Hassler questioned the economic value of locating warehouses far from access to major highways. Supervisor Bruce Frack indicated he is opposed to the warehouse development.

The warehouse development is an accepted use for the property. The owner changed the use to commercial decades ago.

Supervisors are expected to act on the proposal at the next meeting, Feb. 26. The meeting will be held at the fire station, 3530 Howertown Road.