Allentown
82° F
Clear
Clear

Allen Township residents continue to question effects of proposed FedEx hub

By Tom De Martini, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 28 2014 09:50:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 04:25:20 AM CDT
Allen Twp. planners
ALLEN TWP. Pa. -

Engineers working on a proposed FedEx distribution center presented waiver requests for proposed subdivision and final land development plans Monday night to the Allen Township Planning Commission.

FedEx is currently in talks with Allen Township and Northampton County officials to potentially build a massive packaging and distribution center featuring between one million and two million square-feet of warehouse space on 253 acres of land currently owned by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

The airport has entered into a master development plan with The Rockefeller Group of New York, who addressed planners Monday night.

Meanwhile, residents continued to question how the large-scale manufacturing project will affect their quality of life.

The proposed distribution center is planned for construction on land that is zoned industrial.

The land in question is in the vicinity of Wayne Grube Park, Catasauqua High School, the Lehigh Valley Airport's control tower and a retirement community on W. Bullshead Road.

The final decision of the waivers requested by project engineers rests with the Allen Township Board of Supervisors.

The waiver requests ranged from deferral of sidewalk requirements along Willowbrook Road, to barbed wire fencing around the perimeter of the plant to the number of access driveways into the facility.

Residents badgered planners and engineers with questions on the proposed waivers from Hanover Engineering Associates and repeated queries that have been asked for months concerning fumes, noise and truck traffic.

"I did an in-depth review of the traffic study," said planning board member, W. Eugene Clater. "I couldn't find any engineering basis from those decisions. I understand what they did. It's more of an art than science. Concerns I expressed at the last meeting about the traffic study have been taken off the table."

Engineers told residents that FedEx will comply with state laws regarding truck idling and will address concerns about excessive lighting that might bother nearby residents by using LED lighting and specific fixtures that meet township ordinances.

Engineers also said improvements will be made on Route 329, including a bridge replacement and adding turning lanes at the intersections of Route 329 and Havertown Road and Route 329 and Savage Road.

"These are improvements that town ordinances do require," said solicitor B. Lincoln Treadwell.

Treadwell told a resident that there is no town ordinance in place that require developers to reveal the savings realized by any successful waivers.

Engineers also said developers will make township residents aware of any planned closures of Willowbrook Road at least two weeks in advance.

Planners said local residents will be informed on the township's web site, signage and through local media outlets.

Planners did not take action on the engineer's Monday night presentation.

"We're just taking everything into consideration," said planning commission chairman William Holmes.

Planners will eventually make their recommendations to the township's Board of Supervisors, who have the ultimate vote in the matter.

Land sale still pending

Charles Everett, executive director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, was in attendance at Monday night's meeting and said there is currently no deal in place between the authority and the Rockefeller Group/Fed Ex to sell the land in question.

In February, the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority urged the Allen Township Planning Commission and the Allen Township Board of Supervisors to approve the proposed plans.

The asking price for the land is $9.6 million. The money would help pay down the airport's massive debt.

The authority is selling several parcels of adjacent land to help pay a $26 million court judgment.

The Allen Township Board of Supervisors' next meeting is slated for Thursday, May 8, at 7 p.m.