Allen supervisors OK warehouse project
At Allen Township’s Board of Supervisors meeting Aug. 13, developer David Jaindl and his team received final approval for a six-warehouse configuration along a new stretch of Seemsville Road. Supervisor Dale Hassler cast the only negative vote.
“I think it is immoral that this development is going in,” he said.
Although none of the supervisors appeared pleased with the outcome, the proposed development was, in fact, allowed on the property. The township’s job was to make the project as pleasant as possible and to use the land as efficiently as possible.
Township officials agreed they had a willing partner with Jaindl.
The final approved plan is different from the original. Jaindl dedicated more land for conservation. The requirement was five acres and recreational fees; the end result was 44 acres.
• reduction in warehouse sizes
• public water system extended to serve more residents
• Kopper Penny intersection improved
• stormwater controlled
• access to warehouses restricted to improve traffic flow
Most of the changes were based on input from residents and from the township’s supervisors and planning commission.
After the approval, there was much discussion about the project and what the township’s next steps are moving forward.
Opponents of the project say they believe the Northampton Area School District was the main culprit in allowing this project to happen. Commercial access to the Jaindl property required relocating Seemsville Road, and the school board gave up land to allow the road to be located.
Resident Sue Lindenmoyer, a frequent critic of the project, expressed her concern about truck traffic. The basic traffic totals used are not assured until the warehouses are leased up. Traffic Engineer AnnMarie Vigilante reiterated the numbers — 1,560 truck trips per day (780 trucks) and 2,535 car trips per day (1,268 cars). Those numbers are based on computer models using accepted engineering data and historical information.
The project requires a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation study as the project is leased to verify actuals. The numbers do not include traffic counts from other projects in the area that will impact Route 329 and major roadways as well.
Jaindl’s team believes it has worked with the township to develop an effective project. Now the task is what happens outside the project’s footprint. As Supervisor Gary Behler pointed out, the Municipal Planning Code restricts municipalities from requiring developers to provide for improvements beyond the project site.
Some problems are addressed based on identified problems. Residents were concerned about runoff from the impervious surfaces and the impact on private wells and septic systems. Truck residue is contained in separate waste systems that are pumped out regularly. Gas, oil and even water from truck washing is considered hazardous waste and is handled separately.
Recommendations on improved air quality range from increasing tree plantings to technical improvements reducing diesel emissions.
Eugene Clater, who has led the planning process in the township for decades, understands the frustration. He commented on the recent Lehigh Valley International Airport Area Freight Study, a study he was an integral part of. The comprehensive freight study, available online, took three years to complete.
Clater addressed some of the highlights. Restrictions on local roads can be made without conducting a costly traffic study. Intermunicipal cooperation is needed to control land use and work around MPC requirements. Traffic studies as presently constituted are intersection based. The traffic between intersections needs to be addressed.
The study has a total of 12 recommendations that need to be incorporated into the planning process to improve quality of life for residents. In short, it is a start.
But could it be too late? As Behler stated at the end of the meeting, there is no more land in the township available for industrial/warehouse development.