ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A proposed 261-unit Bethlehem Township age 55 plus housing community was found not to conflict with Northampton County's comprehensive plan by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) during Thursday evening's monthly meeting.
The highly controversial Traditions of America at Green Pond also was found to have a daily traffic count of 1,082 trips classifying it as a low impact traffic development, according to LVPC Director of Community Planning Eric McAfee who reviewed the findings of a traffic impact study on the project.
The LVPC also recommended that since the development is located within a Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) bus route, Traditions of America should explore with LANTA a possible fixed bus service to the development in an effort to reduce traffic congestion in the area.
LVPC Executive Director, Becky Bradley, said Tradition's plan also includes installing significant man-made wetlands on the property which will help manage complicated storm water drainage in the area.
She explained that following significant rains when the Green Pond overflows onto area roadways, the development will help mitigate the flooding by directing it towards the created wetlands which will absorb flood waters with its landscaping containing tall grasses and other plantings.
According to McAfee, the developer's plan does not include sidewalks or public streets inside the gated community, however trails between the homes are included.
He remarked the plan demonstrated an "absence of pedestrian connectivity".
In addition, he said the plan lacks open space and the community's nonpublic roads are not in conformity to the township's width regulation.
LVPC Senior Planner Ngozi Obi said in a letter to Bethlehem Township, the LVPC expressed its concern about the private roads and urged reconsideration so they be built to township standards and consistently be maintained by the township with regard to snow removal and general maintenance.
Appearing at the meeting to address the commission, Traditions partner David Biddison said his company never turns their private roads over to a municipality.
He pointed out the community is gated to prevent traffic from using its roads as a shortcut.
He also mentioned he has further plans to addess flooding in the area, but offered no specifics.
However, Biddison said his original development plans have been modified based on the township's and residents' feedback.
He specifically mentioned the wetlands area has been increased with a revised wetland delineation of between one to five more acres.
In other matters, the LVPC voted to forward a list of its area plans, programs, studies, and updates for use by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in formulating the environmental impact study phase of its work on the PennEast pipeline project.
The materials consist of the Lehigh Valley comprehensive plan to 2030 in addition to transportation, trails, greenways, historical sites, and environmental studies.
"It is critical the land use implications of this proposed project be fully considered," said Bradley in a letter to FERC.
Following the meeting she commented, "We have to remain neutral in the case of the proposed pipeline because we are a public entity that serves the entire region."
Bradley explained she wants the LVPC and its Lehigh Valley studies, plans, information, and resources to remain accessible to both the public and business sectors of the community.
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