Lehigh Valley

3 development projects slated for South Whitehall Township

S. WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - "I've loved living here. It was quiet, rural, accessible and a perfect area to raise a family," said Monica Hodges.

Hodges, her husband Rob, and South Whitehall Township neighbors David Burke and Mike Wolk share the same concern of the "unprecedented development going forward."

The proposed projects include a 249-home development off Walbert Avenue, warehouses on Crackersport Road and Ridge Farms, and a massive mix-use project on the corner of Cedar Crest and Walbert.

"Ridge Farms is located at probably the busiest intersection in the township. It's going to make it much much worse," said Burke.

The group is launching a website and wants to recruit others to put pressure on commissioners to scale back the developments.

"I'm not anti-development. I realize we need to have some. I just think it has gotten away from us," Wolk said.

But Community Development Director George Kinney says all three projects fit into the township's comprehensive plan, adding Ridge Farms and the warehouse have not been approved.

"At this point, both are very conceptual. In fact, we're not even to a point where the commission can even entertain a decision on it," Kinney said.

The commissioners say they're planning a public information meeting next month. Hodges for one is ready.

"Why are we doing such a dense development and why are we not doing more to preserve our greatest resource: Our land?" Hodges asked.

The group is also concerned about land north of Huckleberry Ridge, fearing more high density developments could wipe out farmland and open space.

However, much of the northeast part of the township is zoned industrial.

The Jeras Corporation is the largest landowner in the township and owns 1400 of those township acres - basically from Cedar Crest Blvd. north to Orefield Road and then east to Mauch Chunk Road.

If sold, that land could be developed under industrial zoning, radically changing the township and the Lehigh Valley.

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