Lehigh Valley

Lower Nazareth truck depot would "swallow" neighborhood, residents say

LOWER NAZARETH TWP. Pa. - The finish line is in sight for Lower Nazareth Township's marathon hearing on a proposed 822,000 square foot trucking terminal.

After several hours of testimony spread over six different meetings, Lower Nazareth residents on Tuesday got their first chance to speak out on Industrial Development International's plans to build the depot that will have hundreds trucks moving out of the facility between Hecktown and Newburg road 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

That has residents in Lower Nazareth and nearby Palmer Township worried about noise, exhaust, flooding and traffic in an area they say is already congested from existing businesses.

"My entire house is being swallowed up by this facility," Newburg Road resident Melissa Garcsar told the board of supervisors, her voice breaking. "I really hope you guys are going to do something."

That "something" is a denial of the Georgia-based IDI's need to turn farmland off of Route 33 into its new facility.

Residents who say they moved to the area to escape traffic told the supervisors the IDI depot could drive them away.

"Two weeks ago, we started looking for a new home," said Alpine Drive resident Warren Ferguson, who told the supervisors he had moved from New Jersey because of respiratory problems in his wife's family. "We can't live downwind from this."

Other long-time residents said the area has enough traffic as it is.

"If we had 20 cars a day, we had a traffic jam," said Richard Tucker, describing Hecktown Road in Palmer Township decades ago. "Now, if we see 20 cars a minute, we're doing good." 

At previous hearings, supervisors had heard testimony about pollution and property values. They also heard from representatives of the company, who said the township would bring in an estimated $800,000 in  annual revenue from the facility.

IDI had previously proposed a larger version of the project in 2007, but withdrew after a legal battle with neighbors that went to the state Supreme Court.

The company is expected to offer a series of rebuttal witnesses when the hearing resumes next month.

Gary Asteak, the township's solicitor, said that hearing will take place May 14 at 5 p.m. at Lower Nazareth Elementary School. Once testimony concludes, the supervisors have 45 days to reach a decision.

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