Lehigh Valley

Forks supervisors get first look at plans for mixed-use development

Issues about location, zoning need to be resolved

FORKS TWP., Pa. - Forks Township supervisors Thursday night got their first look at conceptual plans for a mixed-use development of apartments and commercial space at 4194 Sullivan Trail near Braden Airpark.

See map at bottom.

The presentation opened what will be an ongoing curative amendment hearing sought by Bethlehem developer Richard Bartolacci to correct a possible flaw in the township’s zoning law. The curative amendment is a formal challenge to the township’s zoning law and will determine if the proposed site is exclusionary to apartment development.

Bartolacci wants to build apartments on land that’s in the township’s employment center district. Supervisors in December corrected the township zoning map to identify where apartments can be built, but the change did not include the area of Bartolacci’s proposed development.

The conceptual plan calls for 548 apartment units and 39,000 square feet of commercial space on 38 acres, 10 of which will be set aside as open space, said Mike Russek, engineer for the project.

Thomas Comitta, president of Thomas Comitta Associates Inc. of West Chester, described a mixed-use development comprising high-end apartments, roof gardens, gazebos, a lifestyle center, community center, shops and pedestrian areas. It’s the same footprint as Madison Farms on Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township, a project he helped design, Comitta said after the meeting.

There would be 1,158 parking spaces, and 30 percent of the units would have dedicated garages, Russek said. Traffic onto Sullivan Trail would be about 200 vehicles entering the development and 200 exiting it during peak times of the day, or five cars per three-minute cycles timed by a traffic light, he said, adding that there would be dedicated turn lanes on Sullivan Trail.

A handful of residents expressed concern about water runoff and the potential for increased traffic on Sullivan Trail, which is already heavily used by tractor-trailers.

Attorney Joseph Piperato III, representing Bartolacci, said all comments will be taken into consideration as the hearing and project unfold. He said Bartolacci plans “a first class” development. 

The hearing will continue at the board’s March 15 meeting.

Other business

The board voted unanimously to appoint Paul DeGiulio to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission. He was one three residents who applied. The board noted that all of the candidates were well qualified but picked DeGuilio for his background in architecture and service on the Zoning Hearing Board.


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