LOWER NAZARETH TWP., Pa. - Lower Nazareth Township manager, Timm Tenges, faced questioning from all angles during Wednesday's fourth session of a conditional use hearing for a proposed warehouse facility by Industrial Developments International.
IDI wants to build an 822,500 square foot warehouse on land zoned as light industrial between Newburg and Hecktown roads. The proposed facility will feature 182 tractor bays, which can handle 522 tractor trailers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
That has residents living within shouting distance of the proposed warehouse up in arms, arguing that their quality of life -- including breathing pollution from trucks fumes, constant noise and plummeting home values -- will suffer.
On Wednesday, Tenges, who was questioned on March 4 on the township's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances, resumed his testimony at Lower Nazareth Elementary School.
Attorney Nicholas Noel, who represents Val Vista Drive resident George Cortelyou, asked Tenges if residents living on Val Vista, Fischer, Clearview and Hecktown roads would hear the beeping noises coming from trucks backing up into bays.
"I don't know. I'm certain they'd hear something. Some noise would emanate from the area at all parts of the day," Tenges said.
Noel pointed out that "stacking" of trucks that idle more than 15 minutes have occurred at C&S Wholesale Grocers warehouse in the township.
Tenges said the trucks stacking did happen and termed it unacceptable.
Noel asked Tenges if the more than 500 trucks per day expected at the facility would "break and bulk," meaning trucks could drop off product on the loading dock and have it moved to another area.
Tenges replied that current ordinances would prohibit that at the facility.
Noel prodded further, asking if trucks would leave the warehouse and turn left into Palmer Township, instead of turning right heading to Route 33.
"They'll head toward Route 248, the Palmer Park Mall and the other businesses in that area," Noel said. "How will you control that?"
"To the best of our ability with signage and ordinances," Tenges replied.
"Just like the signs that prohibit the garbage dumping at C&S and the truck stacking," Noel retorted.
After a quick redirect examination by IDI attorney Blake Marles, where Tenges said that "even at this preliminary stage, the township and developers are cognizant of the problems," local residents took their best shots at the township manager.
Resident Pat Denny, who lives within 1,500 feet of the proposed facility, asked for somebody on the board of supervisors to stand up and say the area will be safe from carcinogens.
In February, Breena Holland, an associate professor of political science at Lehigh University, said the Environmental Protection Agency has classified diesel exhaust as a "likely carcinogen" when inhaled.
"I'm not equipped to answer that," Tenges said.
Holland asked earlier this month that a 1,500 foot buffer be established between the source of idling tractor trailer diesel fumes and residential homes.
Supervisor Robert Kucsan asked Tenges if he was aware of four warehouses or more being planned at Tatamy Road and Route 33 in Palmer Township.
Tenges said a 1.1-million square foot warehouse is being planned in an area 1,700 to 1,800 feet from Nazareth Middle School. His answer brought cries of derision from the crowd of about 60 residents.
Noel later called Bethlehem police officer, Wade Haubert, to testify on the difficulties of enforcing truck idling ordinances.
"It's very frustrating and difficult to enforce," Haubert said. "I don't have the luxury to wait around to see if they've been idling for five to 15 minutes."
Marles pressed Haubert on citing the truck driver, stating that the Colonial Regional Police Department could cite the property owners instead.
"There are practical and realistic aspects of enforcing any type of truck idling ordinance," Haubert said.
Gary Asteak, the board solicitor, reiterated that supervisors will write a decision within 45 days after testimony is closed.
Just when testimony will close is still up in the air.
Asteak said the conditional hearing will reconvene for the fifth time on Monday at 5 p.m. at Lower Nazareth Elementary School. A sixth session could be necessary in April, Asteak said.