Lehigh Valley

Expert: Lower Nazareth warehouse noise study "fatally flawed"

Hearing resumes next Tuesday

LOWER NAZARETH TWP. Pa. - A report claiming a proposed warehouse in Lower Nazareth Township would not violate the township's noise ordinance is essentially useless, according to John Michael Spencer.

Spencer, the president of a Bethlehem acoustics company, said Monday that the report based its findings on a fundamentally flawed process that failed to take into account, among other things, noises from the 182 truck bays, the loading docks and the sounds of diesel engines starting.

Testifying as an expert on behalf of opponents to the plan, Spencer of JMS Acoustics, questioned the validity of a report prepared by Skelly and Loy, the Harrisburg engineering firm that concluded the proposed 822,500 square foot warehouse between Hecktown and Newburg roads would not violate the township's noise ordinance.

Spencer said there is no way of knowing if that is true given the modeling tool that was used.

"This assessment dismisses many site sound sources, such as loading activities, dock plates and building mechanical systems as insignificant but provides no quantitative basis for such dismissal," Spencer said in a report.

He continued that the modeling formula used is designed for highway noise, not to determine the noises created by a truck terminal/warehouse facility.

As a result, Spencer said, the noise analysis presented by Industrial Developments International, one of the largest industrial property companies in North America in support of its argument for a conditional use approval from the township is "fundamentally flawed."

 IDI's plans call for a 24-hour a day, seven-day a week operation.

The company's plan has drawn strong opposition from landowners and neighbors, who have hired lawyers to fight the proposal.

They have found experts who have testified that home values and air quality would drop if the warehouse were to be built.

Spencer's  testimony came on the fifth night of hearings on the proposed warehouse, during nearly four hours of testimony Monday before the Lower Nazareth Township supervisors.

Besides the expert testimony, the supervisors listened to Lorraine Mineo, the owner of 27 acres adjoining the proposed warehouse.

Mineo said there is no doubt in her mind the warehouse would decrease the value of her property. Calling the proposed warehouse "way out of scale," she noted it would be 44 feet high.

"That's five stories," she said. "There's nothing like that in the area."

Mineo and her husband, Isidore "Bill" Mineo, who holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, claimed a high berm IDI plans to build near the Mineos' property line would in effect be a dam that would cause water to pond on the property.

The hearing will resume Tuesday, April 8, at 5 p.m.

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