Lehigh Valley

Forks officials select areas to allow apartment construction

The board will vote later to amend zoning map

FORKS TWP., Pa. - Forks Township supervisors Thursday discussed at some length where officials should allow apartments in the township, a topic that continues to be a contentious one among some township residents.

The three possible areas allowing for apartments include along Kesslersville and Newlins roads, within the town center district along Sullivan Trail. Officials propose extending the zone south to where it intersects with Forks Avenue and the suburban residential district between Sullivan Trail and westbound toward Kesslersville Road.

Supervisor Eric Chuss spoke in favor of the three locations.

"Those are all better locations," he said. "We're never going to please everyone all the time. I am open and willing."

Also speaking in support of the proposed locations was Supervisor Ed Moore.

"I would make a suggestion to keep this thing moving," he said.

Resident Gordon Crowell addressed the board, emphasizing safety issues involved with the apartments.

"It's not the best thing for the residents," he said.

Resident Anthony Nichols, an airline transport pilot, echoed Crowell's concern.

"It's not about the apartments, it's about safety," he said. "This is about having an airplane going through somebody's window."

The areas are near Braden Airpark, a small municipal airport along Sullivan Trail.

Mike Russek, of MSR Engineering, said residential safety concerns regarding building apartments near Braden Airport were weak.

"There have been a number of fallacies and detrimental claims made publicly about the property that just are not true or which were spun to place a negative connotation for selection of the property," he said. "The biggest fallacy was representation that the flight path for Braden Airport is right over the property."

Richard Bartolacci of RB Associates in Bethlehem, told the board he feels an area he owns in the township is appropriate to be included in the proposed ordinance. He said he would like to bring a mixed-use to the township.

"These apartment complexes are very, very high end," he said. "I really do think this is a great location. They'll be restaurants and a club center. I would like to bring that to Forks Township."

The board is scheduled to vote on amending the township zoning map at its Nov. 16 meeting, allowing for the apartments in the three areas, and at its Dec. 21 meeting to vote on the ordinance.

"Nobody likes this but it has to be done," board Chairman John O'Neil said.

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