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Hamilton Blvd. sidewalk expansion discussed

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 17 2013 09:37:53 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 17 2013 09:42:57 PM CDT
SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

A project involving a modest renovation of a McDonald’s restaurant was on the South Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners’ agenda during Wednesday night’s meeting.

The fast-food restaurant located at 3860 Hamilton Boulevard was before the township’s planning commission in February to present a plan that sought to increase the size of the facility’s service area while keeping the seating capacity the same.  The fast food restaurant’s drive-thru is proposed to be increased to a tandem arrangement with two menu boards and parking and accessibility is to be improved as well.

The issue brought up by attorney Erich Schock on behalf of McDonald’s USA Wednesday night was not the renovation itself, but on new information that had come to light since that February meeting from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on the installation of sidewalks along that area of Hamilton Boulevard.

“We don’t have the ability to just put it in on only the McDonald’s lot,” according to Schock. “…It has turned into a project that would involve not just the extension of a sidewalk across the front (of the McDonald’s lot).”

Rather PennDOT officials have indicated the sidewalk be fully extended to the corner, improvements with a ramp and possibly the other three corners of the area, according to Schock.

“Obviously this is well beyond the scope of what McDonald’s can do,” Schock told commissioners. “….Our thought is that it has to be done as part of a bigger project on Hamilton where McDonalds is a part of it, but isn’t the catalyst, based upon this small renovation.”

The area where sidewalks could be located is estimated to be about five to six feet of grade transition, according to Ralph Russek, assistant township engineer.

The McDonald’s restaurant and the next door Hess service station parcels were separated prior to their development and currently have existing cross easements.

“What we would like to have is a resolution that still continues the deferral on the curbing of sidewalk,” Schock said.

In light of the new information, commissioners decided to have McDonald’s go back to the next planning commission meeting, which is Thursday night.

In other business, commissioners voted 3-0 to include granting additional waivers to the Tilghman Square Shopping Center improvement project that includes the construction of office space and retail center. The project was approved March 20th meeting.

And Police Chief Thomas Toth noted that the sixth national “Take Back Day” of unused and outdated prescription drugs would be held from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27th at 17 locations throughout Lehigh County.