Reading Eagle 12-05-17

Greenwich supervisors reject warehouse proposal

Tuesday December 5, 2017 12:00 AM

Greenwich Township supervisors turned thumbs down Monday on a proposal to construct a 505,000-square-foot warehouse on Route 737, north of Krumsville.

The standing-room-only crowd in the township building erupted in applause as supervisors Victor M. Berger, Alice Flyte and Harry Hoppes voted unanimously to reject a preliminary plan for the warehouse, known as Crossroads X, about a mile north of Interstate 78.The decision, which came after several months of delays, pretty much ends the project as proposed.

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The developer, James A. Vozar of Northampton County, can resubmit the project to a reconfigured township board of supervisors. In January, Dean Spohn will replace Hoppes, who did not seek re-election.

Vozar was not available to comment on his plans for the tract, southwest of the intersection of Route 737 and Long Lane Road.The developer did, however, make an unexpected revelation shortly before the supervisors voted.Vozar said he had a client that would put a manufacturing plant, not a warehouse, on the property. Vozar said he was excited about the prospect and preferred to have a manufacturing plant on the site.“Time is of the essence for me,” he said. “If I can’t use it for manufacturing, I will have to put up a warehouse on speculation.”
Asked what benefit a warehouse would be to Krumsville, Vozar estimated it would produce $515,000 in school taxes, $135,000 in county taxes and $84,000 in township taxes a year.“
Are we willing to sacrifice somebody’s life for money?” asked Leroy Kerschner, a township resident and critic of the warehouse. “The welfare and safety of everyone is at stake.”
An estimated 800 trucks — 400 in and 400 out — would travel over Route 737 to and from the warehouse daily. Critics warned of safety hazards at the intersection of Route 737 and Old Route 22.The trucks would also pass within a few feet of about nine homes along Route 737, just north of Old Route 22.PennDOT had yet to issue a highway occupancy permit for the project.
The supervisors’ rejection of the project, however, was based primarily on several unresolved issues in the preliminary plan.The proximity of the entrance and emergency exit, which were only 70 feet apart, caused concern over access to the warehouse should there be an accident near the entrance on Route 737.John R. Wichner, the developer’s transportation engineer, said PennDOT regulations require 455 feet of sight distance for trucks leaving the facility. The entrance could not be moved to the north, which the supervisors preferred, because there would not have been adequate sight distance, Wishner said.
Other unresolved issues involved the location of a retaining wall near an adjoining property and whether a bridge on the road to the building was within 50 feet of a stream.
Concerns over the safety of traffic entering Route 737 at Rhoades Road, a short distance north of Old Route 22, were also aired. They were, however, not part of the preliminary plan and beyond the supervisors’ jurisdiction.
Catherine E.N. Durso, the developer’s lawyer, provided assurances to the board that the issues in question could be resolved in the final planning process.“A preliminary plan is a tentative site and land development plan with less detail than a final plan,” Durso said, reading from the township’s zoning ordinance.
Robert A. Pinel of Bethlehem, a lawyer hired by an opponent of the project, characterized the developer’s plan an incomplete and urged the supervisors to reject it.“They don’t have a preliminary plan,” Pinel insisted. “It’s so early in the process and the plan is so undeveloped I don’t see how you can approve it.”