Northampton Press

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

East Allen discusses zoning legal challenge

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Solicitor reminds supervisors not to discuss matter outside of meetings

At its meeting June 27, East Allen Township Board of Supervisors discussed pending legal action against the community by Rock-Lehigh Valley LLC.

The group is a subsidiary of Rockefeller Group.

The basis for the suit stems from the township’s decision to keep agricultural zoning in place for a land parcel owned by the airport on Willowbrook Road. Rockefeller wanted to see another warehouse on the property. The people of East Allen Township, through their elected representatives, decided to keep the existing zoning and not allow a warehouse on the property.

Rockefeller Group filed an appeal of the township’s zoning action but never had a court hearing. Rockefeller’s lawyers decided not to pursue the appeal.

Recently, Rock- Lehigh Valley filed a curative amendment related to zoning laws. State law requires that all municipalities have a provision to address all potential land uses in their zoning ordinance.

In this specific instance, East Allen Township has zoning provisions for warehouse development. Rock- Lehigh Valley says it is not proposing a warehouse, but rather a logistics distribution center. There are no provisions addressing logistics distribution centers.

At the supervisors meeting, Solicitor Joseph Piperato cautioned residents about legal issues associated with this case.

“If you email or send letters to one of the supervisors about the case, they will not answer,” he said. “They are not doing this to ignore your idea. Anything that a supervisor says can be used in this case and might be a reason for a court to grant a curative amendment,” he said.

There will be a public hearing where township residents will be able to present their comments, but comments are controlled on procedural rules. Piperato has agreed to refresh everyone on the rules before the public hearings. The procedural rules in this instance are different from those in the public hearings conducted for zoning action.

The supervisors are asking for support again to maintain the quality of life in the township the residents are asking for. Piperato reminded supervisors that any aspects of the curative amendment cannot be discussed outside of the meeting chambers.