Planning Commission Meetings

Official Planning Commission meeting minutes are posted on the Greenwich Township website, after they are approved the following month. http://www.greenwichtownshippa.org/plan_minutes.html

I do occasionally post my own commentary while in attendance at these meetings.

PC Meeting August 21, 2017

Oh Boy …

For the first time since March 2017 that I have been attending these Planning Commission meetings, we had a full compliment of PC members sitting at the table.  This (in itself) was dire, as it meant that something important was going on.  We were all aware that the developer had submitted revised plans and they were going to be reviewed by K.C.E. and the review presented tonight.

And in the audience were all three Board Members.

The agenda had the hearing of the visitors at the end of the meeting, instead of near the beginning as usual.  We were okay with that because we needed to hear what the developer had to say.  They had a full presentation complete with diagrams and large white board photos.

Photo Courtesy of Bryan Meyer, developer engineer. It shows the major change, which is the driveway moved south on the property.  This change was enacted because PennDOT and Greenwich Twp denied the developer the ability to change the intersection of Long Lane.

YAY! (however, we need to review LOS on this driveway change)

They stated that they resubmitted their HOP last week.  (I will follow up on that)

For their HOP, PennDOT requested that they perform another traffic study.  Guess when they did that?

June 27th, 2017.  They stated that they found the heaviest traffic day in Krumsville to be a Tuesday so they did an 11 hour “right turn study”.  By a human, not an electronic counter, after school has let out so bus traffic, school parent traffic and school employee traffic counted in this study. Let’s take a wild guess on how accurate this count is going to be.

I raised my hand and said we had petitioned the BoS to request a 45 day TIS by PennDOT at this intersection.  Dan Becker shut me down stating that the BoS was not going to do that and our petition was denied. Thank you, Dan . duly noted.

According to the developer’s attorney, Kate ?, PennDOT reviewed their study and stated that a signal upgrade is not warranted based on the current traffic patterns and the proposed additional traffic (based on a revised study they performed – see page 4 of the engineering review)

Marc stood up and disputed their new numbers, quoting the 8th edition of ITE, which Chris Noll of K.C.E did have. Marc asked this question, “Do you have a tenant for this warehouse?”

THE ROOM WENT QUIET.  So quiet, that you could hear a pin drop.  For a period of several seconds, no-one spoke.  Marc then broke the silence and asked again how they can publish a quoted number of trips when they do not know who the tenant will be as the ITE 10th edition clearly states that trip numbers will vary greatly based on the warehouse tenant.  He then asked the question a second time and the solicitor for the developer shook her head in the negative and then said, “Not at this time.”

Okay then, we will continue to be disputing their “trip” numbers

I brought up that there were several local residents have been involved in accidents in this intersection, one of those residents is permanently disabled.  Dan Becker asked the PC members to gather information for the past 12 month on “reported incidents” in this intersection for review. Dan then added that after reviewing the reported incidents, the Planning Commission would want (direct quote) “to speak with PennDOT one more time in regards to the dangers of this intersection, assuming that there were injuries in the reported incidents.” (ACTION ITEM #1)

Marlin asked about the Rhoades Rd junction and Kate (the developer’s solicitor) stated that PennDOT found it compliant. (What does that mean?)

Fred asked about road stress testing that he had submitted in May 2017 and Dan stated that neither PennDOT nor the township would be performing a road stress study.

They continued their review of the changes they made to the plans and the PADEP Hydro Study had been completed and submitted.  (Septic/sewage) I asked if their would be a  30 Day Public Comment period for the Module and will the Supervisors be taking testimony?  They referred me to our township SEO. (okay, I will follow up on that, too)

Marlin asked about the water problems during the construction of I-78 interchange and quoted that being a food business, they were under strict USDA testing.  Dan stated that they would investigate the water issue.

I did not catch his name, but a resident asked about a baseline on the stream flowing off the property and how would it be affected.  The response was that it is a Class D stream and not under study at this time.

At this time, Chris Noll, representative of K.C.E. stated (and I quote directly) “At this time there are no outstanding issues and the technical review is complaint, we now wait on the third party permits.”

HOLY MOLEY: Really?  K.C.E. is ready to sign off on and give a preliminary recommendation? The audience began mumbling among themselves and it got a little loud.

Kate (speaking loudly to be heard over the mumblings) said they had requested two waivers.  One for the recreational study and one for the utilities study.  Dan responded that he wanted to review those two SALDO items before making comment. (ACTION ITEM #2)

Now it is time for public comment.  Oh boy, I have six items to review. As I started to speak, clearly stating my name and that I was speaking on behalf of the 72 residents that had filed with the township that I had the okay to speak on their behalf, Kate interrupted that was not allowed. Dan shut her down stating that I was allowed to speak on the resident’s behalf and it helped keep the meeting organized. (THANK YOU DAN!)

PETITION FOR ADDITIONAL TRAFFIC STUDIES (already stated this was denied)

COMPLAINT REGARDING EXCESSIVE GRADING (Kate states that we may misunderstand the ordinance and the SALDO requirements) we will have that reviewed by an outside engineer before the next PC meeting

COMPLAINT ABOUT INCREASED TRAFFIC (already covered earlier)

DISPUTE OF McMAHON STATED TRIPS (already covered and we are STILL disputing)

PETITION FOR ADDITIONAL WATER/SEWAGE STUDIES (was referred to the SEO)

COMPLAINT ABOUT PROPERTY DAMAGES

Dan asked the Planning Commission members if they had reviewed these items.  They all stated “No.” He asked Chris Noll if Keystone Consulting Engineers had reviewed these against the current ordinances.  He replied, “No” (and rolled his eyes – I am really tired of Chris’s constant disrespect at these meetings.  He has the worst professional mannerisms.)

Kate interrupted and stated (direct quote) “We have the right to build a warehouse based on your ordinances.”

Dan concurred and stated that due to the magnitude of the plans, that each complaint needed to be reviewed thoroughly. He continued that there were several items that needed a better review and understanding of so he directed the Planning Commission members to review our resident’s complaints.  He asked Jane (the township secretary) if she had copies of all that information to forward to the PC members in an email.  Shse said she would look.  I interjected that anything she didn’t have, I would be happy to forward to her. (ACTION ITEM #3)

Dan concluded the meeting with this statement.  “At this time we should not make a recommendation to the BoS about these plans until all these items have been thoroughly reviewed.” (note here, Chris Noll was making all kinds of negative faces and eye rolls. It was very distracting from Dan’s comments and I received many emails and FB messages regarding his body language.)

Fred asked to borrow a copy of the plans.  Michael Stevens willingly offered his copy to Fred for review.

Marc took HR photos of each page of the plan so we could have it reviewed by our own engineer.

Joyce Dietrich brought up at this time that she was still waiting on a response from the land owner regarding the noxious weed, mare’s tail (horse weed).  It is a very invasive weed and invades crops, destroying their growth cycle.  Our local farmers take steps to keep the mare’s tail weed out of their crops and since this property is now fallow, the weeds are out of control.  They begin to seed in the fall and those seeds will spread to the surrounding fields.

Greenwich Township does not have a weed ordinance, so we cannot enforce them to mow the field or spray the field. Dan asked the property owner, in good faith as a good neighbor, to do something to control the weeds. The property owner stated, “We will take this under advisement.”

Now that we’re aware that K.C.E. is ready to make a recommendation, we need to approach the BoS at the September meeting to reiterate our concerns.  They do have the discretionary authority to deny these plans, regardless of any issues, given to them by The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  We will urge them to use that authority to preserve the rights of their community residents not to have this warehouse.

And we will have a review done on the new plans before the next PC meeting.

 

PC meeting May 15, 2017 QUESTIONS FOR THE MEETING!

(Note to Greenwich Township Residents – you can click these links, print the forms and drop them at my home on the corner of Old 22 and Rt 737. Please sign the “speak for me” paper there, too! – In the pink lidded tupperware box)

Second request: RIGHT TO KNOW:  Sketch Plan providing 50′ SB left-turn and 50′ taper on Rt 737 SKETCH_PLAN_020817_RTKRequestForm-1

Second request: RIGHT TO  KNOW: We would like copies of the 44 sheets dated September 30, 2016 for the Proposed Warehouse and Distribution Center (this is a second request) 44_sheet_submission093016_RTKRequestForm-1

RIGHT TO KNOW: We would like copies of the above 44 sheets as revised to 49 sheets on January 27, 2017. 45_sheet_submission012717_RTKRequestForm-1

Did the township “officially” stop the change to Rhoades Road being planned as a one way?

Is the township still pursuing the “NO CHANGE” to Long Lane intersection?

  1. Is this change being proposed because the property failed the LOS (Line Of Sight) requirements as-is?
  2. Is the township still pursuing a move of the drive entrance south on the property and if so, how does McMahon propose to meet the LOS requirements?

In regards to the HOP application, has the township done any follow-ups to the action items as laid out in the PennDOT meeting regarding intersection TIS and Over the Bridge Study as promised by Dennis Toomey?

Township residents are challenging the McMahon proposed traffic increase of 320 trips as stated at the April 12th, 2017 PennDOT meeting. We have reviewed the ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers – Washington, DC) Vehicle Trip Generation Analysis and submit this petition. Trips_petition1_36pgs

Is Chris Noll a P.E. (Professional Engineer)

  1. If the answer is no, we will file a petition to have a P.E. review the SALDO and other plans for the Crossroads X project.  We, the residents of Greenwich Township, have the right to request this.
  2. If the answer is yes, ask the question “Why are the engineering reviews not signed P.E.”

Engineering Review questions:

  1. RIGHT TO KNOW – We would like copies of the Submission Cover letter outlining all submission items (from the Application for Review of Preliminary Subdivision.Land Development plan) SUBMISSION_COVER_LETTER_RTKRequestForm-1
  2. SALDO 515 – On the plan itself, we do not see any accommodation for an emergency exit.  Is this still in review by the township?
  3. SALDO 517.2 – WELL CONCERNS – two wells were tested in the preliminary study.  We are asking that more wells be tested.  Our wells are shallow and during the major portion of contstruction of the I-78 interchange, most wells were undrinkable due to sediment and cloudy conditions.
  4. SALDO 517.2 – ELECTRIC CONCERNS – Krumsville has a long history of losing power during storms. With high volumes of traffic, the light at the intersection being out for prolonged periods of time is a concern.  How will our current trans station handle the additional electrical draw for the warehouse?
  5. SALDO 402.1 and SALDO 516.1.c – Is the township pursuing a PennDOT TIS (Traffic Impact Study) of the intersection of Old 22 and Route 737 for purposes of McMahon obtaining a HOP (Highway Occupancy Permit) The residents are not accepting the TIS performed by McMahon on March 16, 2016.  We have a petition challenging their TIS. TIS_HOP_petition2_form
  6. SALDO 517.3 – Recreation impact study.  Why did the developer request a waiver? Although not an official biking route, Old 22 and Rt 737 are well used by bicyclists and summer motorcycling.

Additional information was given to the township in regards to local roadways and their ability to handle increased traffic, specifically that of heavy tractor trailers.  We understand that the roads are the property of THE STATE, and we are resubmitting this information because it is vital to the community that these roads be properly maintained to prevent damages to automobiles and other local traffic traveling on Old 22 and Route 737.

 

PENNDOT MEETING APRIL 12, 2017 1:00 pm until 3:30 pm

… Meeting with Dennis Toomey, Brian ? (PennDOT) and Jim Voser (PSIP, property owner) and John Wichner, Brian Deviosi (McMahon, property developer) … and Harry, Victor, Chris, Alice and Daniel Becker, Solicitor.

In attendance was Christine Verdier from Senator Argyle’s office. At the end of the meeting, she briefly spoke to us about what they can and cannot do on our behalf.  Pretty much (in a nutshell) she told us the State is not going to get involved in this project, this is why the state has local governments, for them to handle these types of situations.  She said as a “stand alone” township, we must have the different zoning areas and if our township leaders chose this particular site to be industrial, it is up to the community to petition the Greenwich Township Board of Supervisors for reconsideration based on our current ordinances.

PS:  The new ordinances dated 2014 still have not been put up on the website as of today.  This was discussed at the April 3 BoS meeting and is an open “action item” as promised to us by our Board Solicitor, Daniel Becker.

Also in attendance were approximately 37 members of our community.  YAY FOR THAT! Although I did notice that many of the residents left the meeting feeling defeated, I am hoping that ALL the residents stay focused and stay passionate because as a group we can do this!!!

FOR THE RECORD!  I recorded this meeting, all 2.5 hours of it. It is a huge file, not easily put onto this blog, however, it is a big help in getting the facts straight and in pursuing the “action items” listed at the end of this blog.

PennDOT’s interest in this project is as follows:  They are reviewing the HOP (Highway Occupancy Permit) application from McMahon.  They assess On-Site layouts and Off-Site layouts.

ON-SITE: This application is for creating a “driveway” from the property onto a state owned road (Route 737).  They did a good presentation of what they are proposing to do with their exit/entrance and changing the routing of Long Lane (also a state owned road).  The Greenwich Township BoS and Planning Commission stated they have countered that proposed plan with McMahon and PennDOT as they do not want to change the routing of Long Lane.  Greenwich Township would like the entrance to be on the south side of the 550′ of road frontage for two reasons.

  1. Changing Long Lane will make it more accessible to trucks to exit the warehouse and travel on Long Lane.  We all know that the intersection of Long Lane and Old 22 has no line of sight up Old 22 west bound as the hill from the church blocks the road as traffic comes up and over the hill.  It is also deadly as several people have died at that intersection (not to mention the numerous injury accidents at that intersection.)
  2. PennDOT has a formula they work for line of sight exiting a driveway.  Currently, with the farmers field to the north of the proposed exit and the possiblity that the farmer could have a tall crop planted, there would not be a clear 400′ feet line of sight for truckers exiting the warehouse property, or for drivers south bound on Route 737 to see those truckers exiting as the driver clears the turn.

Mr. Toomey states they will review the line of sight issue first, then make a final decision on whether they will ask for the driveway to be moved.  As for the new intersection (re-routing of Route 737), PennDOT is all for the change as they prefer intersections to be clearly defined 90 degree angles. McMahon already has easement permits from the Thompson family to change the Long Lane intersection.  Our goal is to prove that allowing this change will put tractor trailers onto Long Lane heading south, feeding them towards our deadly intersection.

Mr. Toomey also stated that although the proposed rerouting will put tractor trailers onto Long Lane, through a residential community towards a dangerous intersection, there is no law forbidding tractor trailer traffic through a residential area when it is on a state road (which are considered public, and therefore usable by all traffic. PennDOT can place signs across from the warehouse driveway stating NO TRUCKS onto Long Lane.  However, PennDOT cannot be responsible for policing those signs.  Our goal is to petition Greenwich Township to provide the residents safety by hiring a local police force to enforce traffic laws.

OFF-SITE: PennDOT reviews the road conditions and intersections outlying the parcel to be developed.  Off-site layouts can, and do, include the surrounding areas can handle the proposed traffic patterns up to a half a mile away from the on-site parcel. The requested, from McMahon, a traffic study.  McMahon did a one day traffic Impact Study on Wednesday, March 16, 2016.  PennDOT stated that based on that study, and the proposed increase in traffic of 160 tractor trailers per day, no changes to Krumsville roads were necessary. We protested this study stating a one day study of the traffic patterns in Krumsville we not all encompassing of daily traffic patterns during summer months, during a detour off I-78, during a snow day, and we requested that PennDOT do a comprehensive Impact Study per their Policies and Procedures as related to Highway Occupancy Permits.  Mr. Toomey stated they were satisfied with the study done by McMahon.  It is our goal to petition Greenwich Township to have PennDOT do another study prior to giving final approval for the HOP.  A PennDOT study is a 30 to 45 day, continuous study, which involves counters and in some cases, even cameras.

One of the biggest concerns for ALL residents is the increased traffic through the tiny intersection of Krumsville.  Mr. Toomey admitted that this intersection is a current problem and they do not have any plans at this time to make changes.  He said because this intersection is already a traffic hazard, PennDOT cannot ask the developer to be responsible for upgrades to the intersection.  He also said that because the four corners of this intersection are closely captured by homes and businesses, there really isn’t anything that could be done to it at this time.  We requested a Impact Study for a Signal and he agreed to have that done! (Action Item #1)

He said that there will be a Post Development study done by PennDOT and if there is a perceived safety issue at that time with the increase traffic, then PennDOT will get involved in changing the intersection or other roads being affected by the increased traffic.  It is our goal to petition Greenwich Township to have PennDOT review this in more detail prior to the development because a Post Study could warrant changes which will require eminent domain over properties to make the necessary changes.  We need to prove PRIOR TO development that this will happen so that we do not lose our historic homes and business on the corners of Old 22 and Route 737, or lose our property frontage along Long Lane to accomodate tractor trailer traffic.

Admittedly, adding the proposed 160 inbound and 160 outbound tractor trailers a day (these are the numbers as presented from McMahon to PennDOT and Greenwich Township) is daunting.  Based on phone calls and research to four local warehouses in New Smithville, Orefield and Fogelsville, and based on this National ITE Trip calculation publication (High Cube Warehousing) we believe that number will be around 556 trips (278 inbound, 278 outbound) which is almost double if the warehouse is running at full capacity for 44 bays. This is assuming the warehouse is actually a High Cube Automated warehouse.  If the warehouse is a simple distribution center, the numbers will be 754 trips (377 inbound, 377 outbound). This is a question for the Planning Commission meeting, will the developer be building the automation into the warehouse, or just building the shell with the capability of having automation installed by the leaser/purchaser of the warehouse.  The answer to that question will dramatically change the perspective of how much traffic will be generated and should be of concern to Greenwich Township and to PennDOT.

Lower Macungie learned the hard way what damages, health problems and increased costs to the township arose after allowing warehousing into their district and they have said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (see Morning Call Article) Our Board of Supervisors needs to study the safety issues, health issues, and property damage issues that will arise once this heavy a volume of traffic is added to our small rural community, on roads that are in now way prepared to handle the weight of the trucks nor the size of the trucks.  Our ordinances guarantee us that we will be properly protected and we need to petition Greenwich Township to uphold those ordinances.

Now let’s take a look at the intersection of Old 22 and Route 737.  A narrow square intersection between four historic buildings that make up the “center of town” for Krumsville with a four way stop and a blinking red light.  Traffic, on a normal day, queues up at this intersection, sometimes as many as eight vehicles deep in all four directions.  We brought this to the attention of PennDOT who stated that the intersection has always been an issue and there is no current resolution to this issue.

Per the PennDOT Policies and Procedures Transportation Impact Study, Level of Service Requirements, queuing traffic at an intersection cannot block parking areas, driveways, highway exits or back up onto highway overpasses.  At this time, normal traffic is backing up past the west bound on ramp and onto the bridge overpass.  When brought to PennDOT’s attention, Mr. Toomey responded that he was unaware that the traffic was queuing to that extent and he said he would look into getting a traffic impact study of the traffic on Route 737 north into the intersection.  (Action Item #2)

Bringing up some more issues with the intersection, regarding turning trucks, Mr. Toomey stated he had no idea why trucks would even be on Old 22 turning onto Route 737 south.  We offered to show him photos, taken over the persiod of an hour, showing not less than 31 trucks on Old 22, turning onto Route 737 or on Route 737 turning onto Old 22.  These photos are taken during normal traffic periods, and not during an I-78 detour.  Mr. Toomey declined to view the photos, stating that he believed me that there were tractor trailers on Old 22.  He did not percieve this to be an issue (see below photos of the one truck that I could reach out and touch, on the opposite corner, when he turned!) Again, we need to direct our Greenwich Township Board of Supervisor to enlist the aid of PennDOT to do a detailed traffic study of this intersection BEFORE approving the HOP to McMahon.

I was effectively cut off from asking the rest of my questions at this point by Solicitor Daniel Becker and they moved onto questions from the rest of the residents present.  Unfortunately, many of those questions were either already asked at the Board of Supervisors meeting April 3, or they were not related to PennDOT issues, or they were argumentative comments and suggestions which alienated the PennDOT representatives.

One interesting item did come up that is not related to PennDOT areas of expertise, but were answered by Jim Voser.  The question was “What about the swamp and marsh areas of the property?  Were they willing to provide natural habitat to the wildlife living in there. He stated they already had their DEP Permit to cross the swamp. In reading the March 16, 2017 notes from Chris Noll, Engineering Representative of Greenwich Township, it states that the DEP permits are still pending.  SO! We need to request a copy of that permit.

Just as a side note.  There are wild breeding pairs of Bob White quail on that property.  I know because they come onto my property and eat from my bird feeders.  While Bob White are not in the protected class of fowl in Pennsylvania, they are a disappearing bird and Pennsylvania is dedicated to protecting their numbers and their breeding ranges.  Read about it here. We need to reach out to DEP about the wild Bob White Quail living on this parcel of industrial land.

I did manage to gather more information (as listed above) to the rest of the questions I had to ask and although two of my questions were not answered at this meeting, directly, indirectly they were answered by either Mr. Toomy or Mr. Wichner.  I will save those two questions for the next BoS meeting on May 1, 2017.

~

Action item #1 – Dennis Toomey stated he would put in for a traffic light study to be done for the intersection of Old 22 and Rt 737.

Action item #2 – Dennis Toomey stated he would put in for a traffic impact study regarding the queuing of traffic at the intersection of Old 22 and Route 73 which blocks the westbound interstate exit and creates a line of traffic up onto the bridge over I-78.

Action item #3 – We want a copy of the DEP Permit acquired by McMahon to cross the swamp land on the parcel of property.  John W. stated that a DEP study was done and the permit was approved.

Action item #4 –

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(prior to meeting ) We are building a list of questions and concerns to be addressed at this PENN DOT meeting, which will be at the Township Building on April 12th at 1:00 pm.  I will be there to represent those residents that cannot attend the meeting.  PLEASE, list your questions and concerns on this page of the Blog.

We have compiled additional complaints to be filed with Greenwich Township. This one is regarding Township Ordinance 802.0 Prohibited Nuisances. complaint4_form

My presentation of questions as follows:

The road structure in our small village of Krumsville is not able to handle any significant increase in traffic, specifically tractor trailer traffic.  At this time the blinking red light allows for vehicles to stop at the intersection proper.  If traffic is stopped several cars deep and a tractor trailer of any length over 30 feet needs to turn, the entire line of traffic either needs to pull out in front of the tractor trailer, or the entire line needs to back up to allow the tractor trailer to make the turn.  The wheel of the trailer are well into the oncoming traffic lane as the tractor trailer completes the turn.

Greenwich Township expressed concern for the safety of its residents with the increased traffic, both in cars for employees working in a 44 to 109 bay warehouse and in the amount of tractor trailer traffic.

Let’s address the intersection of Old 22 and Route 737 in this series of questions.

PennDOT states “A signal is not close to being warranted at the intersection, and there are no other reasonable fixes due to the structures on all corners of the intersection.”

Our questions:

  1. Does PennDOT and Greenwich Township agree that a 44 to 109 bay warehouse build on the proposed site will generate traffic well in excess of what this intersection in its current form can handle?
  2. Does PennDOT and Greenwich Township agree that the amount of tractor trailers passing through this intersection will pose a serious safety concern to the local citizens and to their property?
  3. Does PennDOT and Greenwich Township agree that any additional tractor trailer traffic through this intersection poses a serious safety concern to the local traffic?

Here’s some photos taken on April 4, 2017.  Normal traffic during the mid-afternoon, prior to school letting out and prior to the afternoon and evening coming home traffic starts.

The tractor trailer turning left at the light entered into the parking area in front of the Krumsville Inn and his trailer tires missed me (standing on the corner) by a mere foot.  The cars coming north on Route 737 had to back up to allow him to make the turn.  He made gestures out his window with his arm to direct those cars to back up, because he knew he could not make the turn safely.

Now, let’s address the intersection as tractor trailers come off the newly designed westbound ramp of I-78 onto Route 737 north.  The ramp opens onto Route 737 a mere 120 feet from the intersection.  Take note of the telephone pole listing to the side.  Last week, on March 30, 2017, a tractor trailer came off the ramp too sharply and clipped the pole.

Let’s look at that 120 feet from the ramp, with one tractor trailer and one car, there is only enough room for one more car to exit off the ramp onto Route 737.  Imagine two, three or four tractor trailers merging off I-78 onto Route 737 north going to a warehouse.  The traffic will be backed out onto the ramp and any traffic coming north on Route 737 from the east bound exit or from Kutztown will be stopped on the bridge waiting their turn to go through the intersection.

And if another tractor trailer is wanting to turn from Old 22 onto Route 737 south to get onto I-78, he will have to wait until traffic is able to back up (see above scenario) which will now cause another backup on Old 22.

Let’s take a look at this tractor trailer making the left hand turn onto Old 22.  His trailer tires cross through the east bound traffic on Old 22.  In this case, one car was there waiting to cross the intersection and that car backed up to allow the tractor trailer to make the turn.

Due to the congestion that already happens at this intersection, during a weekday mid-afternoon, before the high volume begins, we have more questions:

  1. Is it even possible to allow tractor trailers, on a regular basis, to pass through this intersection to the proposed warehouse?
  2. What safety measures will PennDOT use to ensure that the tractor trailer traffic generated by the warehouse will not injure pedestrians or cars in this intersection?
  3. What type of enforcement will Greenwich Township put into place to ensure that the tractor trailer traffic adheres to safety measures put into place by PennDOT?

Let’s look at the other side of this intersection.  The south bound Route 737 has a small local road, Rhoades Road, which merges onto Route 737 just before the Route 737 and Old 22 intersection.  Currently, in normal traffic, especially during peak travel times in the morning and in the late afternoon, a resident at this stop sign to merge onto south Route 737 could be waiting as long as five minutes until traffic clears.

Greenwich Township expressed concern that congestion during peak hours create unsafe conditions at the intersection, and specifically for vehicles coming out of Rhoades Road.

PennDOT Responded: With or without the warehouse development, SR737/Old 22 is an existing concern within the Township.  There are no realistic physical improvements to the intersection due to the structures on all corners of the intersection.

The developer McMahon Responded: Site generated traffic is not projected to have significant impact on peak hour volumes at the intersection since the warehouse will likely be a 2 or 3 work shift operation with relatively consistent traffic to/from the site throughout the day.

Really???  REALLY???  Let’s look at some local warehouse distribution centers.

Orefield, 18 bays, 5 bay Que.  Open 6:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Saturday.  Handles an average of 802 trailers during that week.

Fogelsville, 32 bays, no Que.  Open by appointment only, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday.  Handles an average of 1014 trailers during that week.

Fogelsville, 40 bays with a 10 bay Que.  Open 6:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday though Friday and 6:00 am to Noon on Saturday.  Handles an average of 1300 trailers during that week.

Macungie, 66 bays with a 30 bay Que.  Open 6:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Friday. closed to trailers on Saturday and Sunday.  Handles an average of 1800 trailers during peak season.  And average of 1200 trailers off peak season.

Our questions regarding the Rhoades Rd intersection onto Route 737.

  1. Does PennDOT agree that currently there is a traffic pattern problem for local residents to safely merge onto Route 737 off Rhoades Rd? And then can we agree that any additional traffic generated by the warehouse for employee cars and tractor trailer traffic will create a safety hazard for those same local residents?
  2. If PennDOT cannot make any changes to the intersection, will Greenwich Township agree that the additional traffic generated by a warehouse will cause safety issues for the local residents and for travelers heading north through the intersection towards Kempton?
  3. PennDOT states a post-development study traffic study is typically required for these types of projects where the tenant in unknown during permitting.  We ask that a pre-development study be performed on the traffic already happening at this intersection.  What is the required steps to make this request official?
  4. SALDO 402.1 PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit is required
  5. SALDO 515 Emergency access shall be provided in the event the entrance is obstructed for any reason.
  6. SALDO 516.1 Traffic impact study shall be provided in addition to PennDOT study

 

PC MEETING

March 20, 2017:

Went to our Greenwich Twp meeting tonight.  Why?  Because this was brought to my attention through Facebook.

WAREHOUSE PROPOSAL MEETING.  BE THERE.

What????  Where in the heck do they think they can put a warehouse, off of the Krumsville PA exit 40 of I-78?  And they plan to run tractor trailer traffic through Krumsville how?

I have to go to this meeting and find out what it’s about.  When I show up at our tiny township building, fifteen minutes before the meeting is due to start, there are so many cars there already that they are parking along Old 22, in the field behind the building, in mud, and anywhere they can.  Inside it is standing room only. I got a rough head count, 120 individuals here to find out what’s going on.

I work my way through the crowd and jostle many of my neighbors to reach a wall where I can stand, jammed in like sardines in a can, so I see, hear and be heard.

Oh yes, I signed my name on the sheet of paper so I could be heard.

Yeah … more on that later.

Standing room only.  The walls are lined with people, all the folding chairs are full, people are jammed in the back entrance way and even standing outside the doors, holding the doors open (which wasn’t a bad thing as the temperature in this room was already warm and was about to get hotter)

What is all the hubbub?  The local citizens of Krumsville, PA were recently made aware that a 500,000 square foot warehouse was proposed to be built on a parcel of land in their little historical village of Krumsville.

Problem is … this was actually made public on November 30, 2014.  Oh, yes.  It was.  However, us Krummy’s didn’t pay attention. And the township didn’t feel it was interesting enough to inform their constituents that this developer was proposing a warehouse on this parcel of land.  For two years the developer has been working with the township, crossing T’s and dotting I’s to get the proper permissions to construct a warehouse.

In fact, in April 2016, Victor Berger was quoted at the Board of Supervisors meeting (in a Reading Eagle Article) that the rumors about a warehouse being built were just that, rumors.

Uh huh

During these past two years, while the developer spent his time doing his due diligence and presenting to Greenwich Township everything that was required to secure permission to build a warehouse on the property, is when we should have been attending meetings and making our protests, concerns and wishes heard.  While we were kept in the dark about this project, this past Thursday, two days after 21 inches of snow dumped on Krumsville, PA, the developer had all the permission necessary to move forward so they closed the sale on the property … and brought their initial construction plans to township planning commission meeting tonight.

Now that we found out about this situation – through the trusty grapevine – this past week,  we all show up at the meeting to find out what is going on and why and who thinks this is a good idea?

Oh dear.  A room full of angry residents.  And it is really getting warm in here.  Temperature, as well as tempers.

So, I am here to tell you that we asked questions – and got no answers.  I mean, the township attorney is good.  He is a pro at redirecting.  In fact, he should be the one standing on the little corner, under the blinging red light, redirecting traffic when I-78 gets FUBAR and they detour onto Old 22 and truckers are running over cars, mailboxes, each other, and telephone poles trying to maneuver through the intersection of Old 22 and Rt 737.  Yes, he should be out here “redirecting” and then he might understand how we are confused that this intersection will be able to handle daily tractor trailer traffic, on a massive level, for a 40 bay warehouse.

A woman starts the question portion of the meeting with an angry statement about her mailbox being damaged during the recent 21 inch snowstorm. “Oh my gosh, Lady.  Did they clear the roads so you could get to a hospital or to work or to a grocery store? Go spend $50 and repair your mail box.”

I laugh to myself as the attorney calmly explains that this is not the meeting to discuss mailbox damage.

Let’s talk about the questions asked, by several people, in several different ways, on several occasions, that were not answered.

As the questions began, a man in the crowd starts videoing.  The attorney says “No Legal Recording” is allowed at this meeting.  The man responds, “That’s okay, I am illegally recording.”

We all laugh but it’s not really funny.  Because we are in a public building, at a public meeting, and I’m pretty sure that we can take photos and record whatever we choose to.  I will check into that. (UPDATE: March 23, 2017 – yes, we can record or video any public meeting, the information for that law is listed here)

In the meantime, I turn on my phone and record so I can remember what was said to write up this blog.  I suppose this BLOG is illegal, too.

  • QUESTION 1:  Why were we not informed of this meeting by the township.
  • RESPONSE 1: All Planning Commission and Supervisor meetings scheduled are posted at the beginning of the year, open to the public.
  • QUESTION 2: Yes, but why were we,  your tax paying residents, not informed that there was a meeting about a proposed warehouse being built in our community,
  • RESPONSE 2: All meetings are open to the public and anyone can attend.  We have been discussing this proposed construction for several months.
  • QUESTION 3: Yes, but we found out about this meeting today, where this developer is presenting development plans, through the grapevine (posted signs put up on Thursday, Facebook shares, fliers in mailboxes over the weekend)  We were not informed about this proposed project and we want to know why.
  • RESPONSE 3: The Planning Commission does not make any decisions, we are simply here to review the plans for legal and illegal conceptions and have the developer make the necessary changes to make the construction legal.
  • STATEMENT 3: You are not answering our question!  Why is this project just now being brought to our attention through non-township sources.
  • RESPONSE 3a: All residents are allowed to attend all Supervisor and Planning Commission meetings, this project has been on the agenda for several months.
  • QUESTION 4: Where is the agenda posted for the residents to review?
  • RESPONSE 4: The agenda is posted on the website.
  • (ME, hand raised – STATEMENT 4):  Excuse me! No, the agendas are not posted on your website.  And neither are the meeting minutes from the Planning Commission, ever,  and the Supervisors meetings stopped posting minutes in December 2015. (don’t believe me, check out their website)
  • RESPONSE 4a: Well, it is not our responsibility to post anything on a website, all residents can make a formal request for copies of the meeting minutes and the agendas are published in the newspaper.

At this time, the room gets a little out of control as multiple people start chiming in and requesting that meeting minutes be posted on the township website.  That the proposed construction plans be posted on a website. That the entire project be posted and updated daily, on a website.

Pretty much, the township attorney rebuffs all these comments and concerns with the statement:  “We do not make decisions, this is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to review the construction plans for legality as zoned by the township and to make the developer aware of any illegal plans so those illegal plans can be corrected to be legal plans.”  (this is a verbatim quote)

This next series of questioning is very interesting.

  • QUESTION 5: Who are our representatives for the township, the county and the state.
  • RESPONSE 5: I’m not sure I understand your question.
  • QUESTION 5a: Who do we contact about our concerns about this proposed construction project?
  • RESPONSE 5a: The Board of Supervisors is your township representative.
  • QUESTION 5b: So the Board of Supervisor represents us at a township level.  Then why were we not informed about this project before now? And who do we contact at a County and State level?

Unfortunately, the room exploded with many people all talking at once so I was unable to hear the response from the attorney regarding who to contact.  I will have to investigate that information on my own and I will post it here.  I believe he said that there is not a County Level representative, but I’m not sure.  I could petition the Planning Commission for a copy of their meeting minutes, but I’m not sure how that will go as I carefully watched the people at the table and I did not see anyone taking notes, or recording this meeting.

And for several minutes, the line of questioning, comments and concerns revolved back to the “WHY WERE WE NOT INFORMED” with more of the same responses.

As a seasoned public speaker and meeting moderator, I am appalled by the unruliness of this meeting.  It is not being brought back to control by the Planning Commission members and it’s getting loud and angry.  I am desperate to get things back into a productive discussion so I raise my hand and speak over the crowd (and you all know me, I can out “loudness” an entire room!)

“EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME, I have three questions”

Amusing me greatly, the attorney looks relieved and he directs his attention to me and tells me to proceed.  The room quiets down as I ask my first question.

  • QUESTION #6: Obviously, the tractor trailer traffic into a 40 bay warehouse is going to generate a lot of noise in our quiet historical town.  I believe there are approximately 30 homes along the proposed route from I-78 into the warehouse that will be affected by the noise. What is the townships plans to reduce this noise for the current residents.
  • RESPONSE #6: Well, we don’t have any plans for that.  Why would you believe the township should be responsible for noise control?
  • QUESTION #6a: Is there a noise ordinance in place in our township?
  • RESPONSE #6a: No, because of the highway through our township, to affect any type of noise ordinance, you would find that you would not be allowed to run your lawn mower?
  • QUESTION #6b: So, there will be no controls in place to reduce noise from the tractor trailer traffic through Krumsville?
  • RESPONSE #6b: Not at this time.  After the warehouse is in operation, you would have to prove that the noise is disruptive and then present that to the Board Of Supervisors for review.

(Did I just hear that correctly?  There will be no studies prior to the construction and after the construction we would have to “prove” that there was a noise problem?)

  • QUESTION #7: My home was damaged during the major part of construction on the new bridge due to the constant traffic of dump trucks and large equipment.  My home was built in 1872 and the vibrations of this heavy traffic caused mortar to become dislodged from the bricks, we even lost a couple bricks during this time.  What is the townships plans to prevent historical buildings in Krumsville from becoming damaged by the heavy tractor trailer traffic.
  • RESPONSE #7: This would be the responsibility of PENN DOT.
  • QUESTION #7a: Excuse me, excuse me, but no, my insurance company clearly told me that there is no recourse in damage reimbursement from PENN DOT for the damage to my home caused by the heavy equipment.  So my question is, What plans does the township have to protect the historical buildings in Krumsville?
  • RESPONSE #7a: That is not our responsibility.  You would need to prove that the tractor trailer traffic was causing damage to your home.
  • QUESTION #7b: So, after I prove that the new warehouse and the traffic is generates is damaging my historical home, how does the township plan to handle those damages and protect its historical buildings?
  • RESPONSE #7b: That is not our responsibility, it would probably be PENN DOT that you would need to petition.

(You’re kidding me, right?  Time to involve the State Historical Society.)

At this point, the crowd gets loud again, barraging the council with questions, statements and concerns about damage to their property and the dangers to the small children living along the proposed route into and out of the warehouse and the dangers to the Amish and Mennonite families that drive their buggies down Rt 737 into Kutztown.  Many people stand up and the questions become repetitive, and the answers remain the same.

WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE.

WE DO NOT MAKE DECISIONS.

I did not get to ask my third question so I want until there is a brief break in the chaos.

  1. QUESTION #8: Excuse me, but I believe I have one more question to ask.  All us residents are very aware of the dangers to our intersection of Old 22 and Rt 737 when the highway has an accident and they reroute traffic onto Old 22.  ( the crowd rumbles with confirmation of this statement) Tractor trailers cannot make the turns safely.  Over the years I have lost my mailbox several times, I have seen many cars get run over by trailer tires, people have had their cars damaged parked at the Krumsville Inn (the crowd roars with yesses) and at the Antique Shoppe.  Cars have been crushed sitting at the intersection waiting their turn (again the crowd rumbles with hear us!) What is the townships plans on handling tractor trailer traffic through this tiny intersection?
  2. RESPONSE #8: That would be a PENN DOT issue, not a township issue.
  3. QUESTION #8a: So, the township has no plans on making the intersection safe for the residents?
  4. RESPONSE #8a: That is not our responsibility, these are state owned roads.  We have had three meetings with PENN DOT on these very issues and they are starting studies.
    (here is a photo of the intersection off I-78 through Krumsville proper that these tractor trailers are supposed to travel through)

Photo taken March 21, 2017

The crowd goes mad.  Many people are asking how they can be informed about these PENN DOT meetings so they can attend and make their concerns publicly heard.

PENN DOT MEETINGS ARE PRIVATE AND NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE RESIDENTS TO ATTEND.

(update March 23, 2017) After several phone calls we are informed that ANY meeting with PENN DOT by Greenwich Township is transparent and any township resident can attend the meeting and can receive an official copy of the minutes from that meeting, whether they attend or not.  We have made a formal request for the minutes from the three meeting that Greenwich Township stated they had with PENN DOT.  You can also make a request.

Oh boy, the crowd is angry and many people are speaking out about the dangers of increased tractor trailer traffic, and why are we not allowed to be involved in these road traffic meetings, and how to we make our voices heard.

And, once again we come back around to the “Why were we not informed and why is the township hiding information from the residents.” and the every famous question, that was asked and asked and asked, “How do we stop it?” The response every being, “You can’t, it is an approved use of the land and now the only thing that will stop it is itself.” – meaning that the construction plans can’t get approvals through other outside state and federal agencies.

Yes, I am done.  it is 9:00 pm, we have been here since 7:30 pm and here is the Reader’s Digest version.

The warehouse proposal was approved by the township in 2016.  It is to be built on a section of land was designated “INDUSTRIAL” in the year 2000. (CORRECTION, as of March 2003, this parcel of land is still registered as Commercial.  I have requested the variance and when the variance was approved to change the parcel to Industrial)  The development company got the necessary testing/approvals so they proceeded with the purchase of the property and now they will start the plan approval stage.  Multiple groups will be involved.  PENN DOT, the state DEP are two that were mentioned over and over again.

In my internet research last night and today, I have found that a petition was presented to the township, with roughly 900 names on it, regarding the warehouse.  This petition was presented in January 2016.  Surprisingly, there are no Board of Supervisor minutes posted on the website after December 2015.  Soooo, what happened with this petition?  Who was in charge of this petition and why wasn’t the petition followed up on?

Here is what I propose to the residents that are concerned.  We have to attend every meeting from now until this warehouse is built.  We have to keep presenting our concerns and start producing “proof” that this warehouse is not in the best interest of the community.  We have to reach out to other state agencies that can help us provide this proof.  And we have to be diligent. (UPDATE March 23, 2017 – I will be presenting a formal request for the meeting minutes that are not posted on the website.  As Greenwich Township HAS, in the past, posted their meeting minutes on their website, I can formally request that all minutes from 2016 and 2017 be posted on the website and they have five days to comply)

In today’s world of instant gratification, I do not see a crowd of 120 people attending every meeting coming up.  In fact, I full expect it to boil down to a couple of residents that are directly affected, like the family that is going to lose a piece of their land and old trees to the construction project.

In which case, the warehouse will get built.

NEXT MEETING, APRIL 3 – Board of Supervisors.  I’ll be there.  Will you?

I have downloaded the township ordinances.  I will be going through it with a fine tooth comb and highlighting those areas in which we (the township residents) have the power to make submissions of protest.  I will be attending the meeting with pictures, diagrams, and documented concerns regarding the warehouse (not fitting into our historical community), the increased tractor trailer traffic (causing major safety concerns for all residents along the pathway) and the loss of value to our homes and property.

See the document I will be presenting at the April 3rd 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting.