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Allen Twp. residents berate supervisors about planned FedEx hub

By Tom De Martini, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 28 2014 10:08:33 PM CST
Allen Twp. board of supervisors' meeting
ALLEN TWP. Pa. -

Residents who feverishly oppose a proposed FedEx delivery hub in the township gave Allen Township Supervisors a piece of their collective minds Tuesday night.

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.

Residents, many of whom spoke out at an Allen Township Planning Commission meeting last week, turned their angst on the Board of Supervisors Tuesday night, even though the FedEx project was not on the agenda.

Board of Supervisors Chairman, Paul Balliet, told the public that they'd all attended last week's Planning Commission meeting, where developers representing FedEx presented a preliminary land development plan for the first 818,000 square feet phase of the project.

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

"We heard all your commentary and concerns," Balliet said. "Be aware that the Board of Supervisors have not received the plans. We will consider them when they reach the board."

That wasn't enough to satiate residents who reiterated their pleas concerning quality of life issues concerning 5,000 truck trips per day, tens of thousands of vehicles on township roads and possible lower property values throughout Allen Township.

"I'm appealing to the members of the board to look at the heart of the matter," said John Mattaboni of County Road. "I cannot imagine a worse application for this land. This is going to affect the whole Lehigh Valley. It will cause gridlock on Route 22 and into (Catasauqua)."

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.

Resident, Robert Napa, of Bullshead Road implied that fewer jobs than the expected 800 will be created and that FedEx will receive significant tax breaks for building an Allen Township hub.

"Follow the money," Napa said. "We're digging deep and we're going to learn about the tax breaks. There's got to be a financial reason or cost benefit for Fed Ex to build off Route 22 and not (Interstate 78). We're going to work as hard we can to find out and ask you to say no. And if you don't, we're going to work tirelessly to replace you on the board."

Resident Rick Goch, who stood outside the board room prior to the meeting asking for legal donations, asked supervisors "to leave no stone unturned and make it hard for (FedEx). Dig and dig and dig." he said.

Other residents asked supervisors to investigate why the current Lehigh Valley Airport control tower will need to be relocated for the FedEx hub.

Mattaboni asked Allen Township Solicitor B. Lincoln Treadwell to provide him with a copy of the zoning ordinance that allows building heights in industrial zoned areas up to 60 feet from its previous 35 feet.

"It's funny how a week before FedEx comes in with this proposal that the zoning ordinance gets changes. I want to know why. I want to know who did it," Mattaboni said.

Treadwell said the zoning laws apply to all industrial zoned land in the township.

Mattaboni then asked supervisors why a non-binding referendum couldn't be placed on November's ballot, to take the pulse of the community. Treadwell informed him that it is against Pennsylvania law.

Even after the meeting adjourned, residents surrounded supervisors and the township engineer, peppering them with their objections.

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission's Comprehensive Planning Committee is scheduled to review the FedEx hub plans Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. during its regular monthly meeting.

The next scheduled Allen Township Planning Commission meeting is Monday, Feb. 17 at 7:00 p.m.