Lehigh Valley

Legal opinion favors Jaindl's proposal to reconfigure Seemsville Road

Change would impact school district

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. - Per legal counsel, a reconfiguration plan of Seemsville Road across a section of Northampton Area School District land would constitute an improvement that is consistent with the district's use of the property.

That was the legal opinion rendered by the district's solicitor, C. Steven Miller, during a meeting Monday night of the district's board of directors.

The assertion provides legal credence to plans offered by developer David Jaindl to shift Seemsville Road 650 feet to the east to create a new signalized intersection with Nor-Bath Boulevard. The reconfiguration plans are part of David Jaindl's larger warehouse plans in East Allen Township. 

Miller added that the district will seek confirmation of that opinion with Pennsylvania's Department of General Services, who transferred the parcel to the district. It stipulates that the land must be used for educational purposes.

Miller said that, in his view, the improvements presented in the Jaindl plan to the corridor — which include road widening and a stormwater detention pond and access to the parcel — would meet that legal criteria.

"It's totally consistent with what the district would have to do," Miller said.

Plan could save district money

Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik said the district has no immediate plans to develop the parcel.

He added that NASD does have a shortage of classroom space at Lehigh and Moore elementary schools and is approaching capacity at George Wolf Elementary. By allowing Jaindl to this now, the district would save about $3.5 million on the upgrades to Seemsville Road should it be developed.

The new intersection would also create improved sight and vertical lines for motorists and marginalize the impact on residential property owners on Seemsville Road, according to comments made by Ann Marie Vigilante, with Langan Engineering, speaking for the developer.

It would also save the district the cost of those improvements should they ever decide to develop the 92-acre parcel with another school.

The proposal presented Monday night would have three lanes from the entrance of the industrial park on Seemsville Road to the new intersection. It would also provide an area for tractor-trailer queue spaces  and two future driveways into the district property, Vigilante said.

The move would also mean more money for the district, according to a presentation offered by Lee Huang, principal and senior vice president with Econsult Solutions. Once open, the warehouses would generate about $2 million in revenue for the district in property tax revenue and create about 600 jobs, a total of 576 of which would be full-time positions, according to Huang.

"Fiscally, this is very positive for the district, " he told directors.

Residents express concerns

Some residents weren't impressed. They claimed the presentation manipulated numbers. For example, Vigilante said Monday the development project would create about 780 trucks per day, or 1,580 two-way trips. However, one resident, Susan Lindenmoyer, said Vigilante had previously stated at a public meeting that the numbers would be higher: 812 trucks per day or 1,624 two-way trips. 

Another resident, Thea Prostko, said the job figures were misleading, as retail outlets and stores are closing. As such, those jobs would just be transferred to the warehouses rather than actually being created in addition.

The Jaindl Watson Land Company project calls for an industrial park featuring six warehouses encompassing about 2.5 million square feet. The development would be built between Howertown and Seemsville roads.

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