Northampton Press

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

East Allen Township board will start to look at new facility

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Township Manager Brent Green offered an unexpected option to the East Allen Township Board of Supervisors at its May 23 meeting.

Green expressed interest in building a new administrative facility to replace the aging facility on Route 329. The increasing number of maintenance repairs — the latest one a roof leak — at the township’s office is causing a closer examination of the expected life of the building.

“I’m not expecting that we would do anything right away. We would need to look at a plan and start setting funds aside to make a dent in the cost,” he said.

Supervisors appeared to be indifferent to the proposal but gave Green the go-ahead to pursue a preliminary look.

Part of the impetus for the new facility is another discussion on the Weaversville Secure Treatment Facility property the township controls. Funds are available to remove the farmhouse and the buried oil tank. Chairman Roger Unangst noted the farmhouse has been looked at, but engineers determined it could not be saved.

Removing the farmhouse and excavating portions of the hill surrounding the farmhouse would significantly improve sightlines at the busy intersection. The road is not controlled by a traffic signal and is an oft-used entrance to active recreational fields at Bicentennial Park.

In related news, the township has grant funds for improvements at Jacksonville Park. Coupling the grant funds with recreation funds has the township planning a major rework of the park. The first step, recommended by Unangst and seconded by Green, is to relocate the parking lot.

“We have lacrosse teams over at Jacksonville, and the sport is growing in popularity. This past week, they had a big event, and cars were parked everywhere. People were crossing the street at various times. Cars coming off (Route) 329 and onto Jacksonville are moving fast,” Unangst said.

The initial plan is to move the parking lot away from the road, install a pedestrian barrier and expand parking further into the park. Making changes necessitates moving around all the sports fields.

“The first step needs to be reworking the parking lot to make the area safe. Then, we can set up the playing fields,” Supervisor Mark Schwartz said.

Supervisors authorized an expenditure of $500,000 for improvements at Jacksonville. The complete transformation is expected to take several years.

The board appointed Michael Collins, with Codemasters, as building code official.

The board encouraged its solicitor and engineer to attend two zoning hearing board hearings. Both applicants asked supervisors to approve their projects, and the two projects were rejected.

PDW Properties wants to replace an existing golf driving range on Airport Road with an office and apartment complex. The PDW plan is more in keeping with the future of the intersection than the existing use. The proposal would require a zoning change.

Airport Road Partners wants to put a convenience store selling gasoline on property it owns farther south on Airport Road. Zoning for the parcel expressly forbids gasoline stations. Airport Road Partners contends a convenience store is not a gas station and is asking for a variance.

Supervisors are opposed to both requests.

At East Allen Township Board of Supervisors’ next meeting, a public hearing is scheduled on a proposal for changes to the property at the southwest corner of Franks Corner. The owner proposes removing 16 small warehouses and replacing them with one larger warehouse.

“We can set conditions on the property and the development, but we are not changing zoning. The owner is permitted to add the warehouse because that is allowed under the zoning district,” Unangst said.