Northampton Press

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Rock-Lehigh Valley hearing delayed

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Group seeks amendment to allow logistics distribution center in E. Allen

At East Allen Township’s board of supervisors meeting July 25, Solicitor Joseph Piperato announced the township received a letter from Rock-Lehigh Valley LLC, a subsidiary of Rockefeller Group, extending its negotiations on a curative amendment.

The developer wants to put another structure on property owned by the airport on Willowbrook Road. The proposed structure was originally identified as a warehouse; East Allen Township decided to keep the existing zoning and not allow a warehouse on the property.

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, and is seeking changes to the zoning code to include logistic centers as a defined business purpose.

The change requires a public hearing. The hearing was originally scheduled for July 29. East Allen Township Manager Brent Green indicated he and township staff are searching for a venue. Township officials expect to hold the hearing in September, but no time, date or location has been set. Residents will be notified with email and media announcements once the date is set.

In related business, the conditional use hearing for Imperial Realty Property Group is scheduled for Aug. 22 at the regular supervisors meeting.

The property owned by Imperial Realty, on the southwest corner of Airport Road and Route 329 (Franks Corner) is zoned commercial. The company wants to remove the existing small industrial buildings on the site and replace the buildings with one large warehouse. Ancillary structures, the strip mall and some surrounding buildings will remain when the new warehouse is constructed.

At the meeting Aug. 22, supervisors can require conditions to the use of the property, but it is zoned for commercial applications and the proposed warehouse is allowed on the property.

In conjunction with the various developments around Franks Corner, a notice was posted indicating construction work would begin on changes to the intersection. These changes are part of the original application filed when the warehouse under construction by Vertek was accepted. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approved changes at the intersection.

As an added luxury in the same area, the township applied for a grant to renovate Jacksonville Park that would revamp the parking area and rearrange the playing fields. The grant would require matching funds, but Green assured supervisors that recreational fees from developers should cover the necessary matching funds.

Supervisors also agreed to review the River Central Comprehensive Plan Intergovernmental Agreement. The regional planning effort endorsed by the agreement would initially involve regional planning between Hanover Township (Lehigh County), Catasauqua and North Catasauqua boroughs and East Allen Township. The goal is to improve the quality of life for residents in the communities.

With all of the present and proposed activity affecting the township and the surrounding area, the zoning hearing board plays a key role. There is a vacancy on the board that the township is looking to fill quickly. Anyone interested in the position should prepare a resume for consideration. The need is urgent.

In its last action, supervisors listened to a request from Longevity Coatings, a long-term business in the township. The company wants to add a 5,000-square-foot addition to its existing 9,000-square-foot building. The new addition would not increase the amount of impervious coverage because the addition would take up paved space. Two of the supervisors’ concerns are that the existing amount of impervious coverage exceeds the amount allowed under the code and there is not a designated alternate site for septic systems.

Longevity Coatings is asking for supervisors to grant a waiver to allow the building addition without going through a full land development plan. Supervisors indicated they are inclined to grant the waiver if the company can test an available parcel to see if it is able to handle a septic system and if the company can decrease the amount of impervious covered space. The zoning code requires no more than 40 percent of the ground be impervious. The present coverage is 49 percent. Supervisors would like to see the impervious amount reduced to a percentage closer to the zoning code maximum.