Lehigh Valley

IDI closing arguments begin in Lower Nazareth

LOWER NAZARETH TWP., Pa. - Attorneys representing the two sides in the battle over a proposed warehouse distribution center began their closing arguments before township supervisors Monday evening.

Since last year, the supervisors have been hearing testimony in favor of and against Industrial Development International's plans to put an 822,000 square foot depot on property between Hecktown and Newburg Road.

They heard scientific testimony from the company's experts, and impassioned testimony from residents who say IDI will ruin their quality of life if allowed to open.

Now, all the testimony has wrapped up, and lawyers for the company and for nearby property owners need to sum up their cases for the township before it can grant conditional use approval for the project.

On Monday, that meant Blake Marles, the attorney for IDI, who argued residents hadn't shown the project will adversely affect their lives or health.

He noted that a number of other similar businesses were already operating nearby. Why would IDI suddenly be the tipping point for their health?

He also asked the supervisors to look at the larger policy issues at work.

He argued the distribution center will mean decent paying jobs for local residents and tax revenue -- to the tune of $800,000 a year -- for Lower Nazareth.

"Right now, big box warehousing is the only game in town," Marles said.

He also argued that neighbors have known the IDI property was an industrial property for years.

"They still live there, by choice," Marles said.

But Michael Vargo, an attorney representing residents Charles and Betsy Spitale, said the neighbors were there first.

"If I buy a house on College Hill in Easton, I don't get to complain on Thanksgiving because I can't park because of the Easton-Phillipsburg game," Vargo said.

This is the opposite of that sort of situation.

Vargo also argued that IDI's proposal fits the definition of a trucking terminal, not a warehouse, and is therefore not allowed under township law.

It could be some time before the township makes a decision.

Supervisors still need to hear closing arguments from two more attorneys, and give IDI a chance to make its rebuttal.

The hearing will resume at Lower Nazareth's Sept. 10 supervisors' meeting.

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