Lehigh Valley

Palmer residents fill center to oppose warehouse construction

Meeting to be continued next month

EASTON, Pa. - More than 100 Palmer Township residents from The Highlands and Glen Moore 55-plus communities filled the Charles Chrin Community Center Tuesday evening to voice their concerns for the second time as part of a continued hearing conducted by the township's board of supervisors regarding a proposed warehouse to be built in their back yards.

The first hearing was held Jan. 30. 

Developer Ridge Palmer Partners LLC, a national property developer, has proposed a 175,000 square-foot limited warehouse and distribution center to be built at the intersection of Newlins Mill and Van Buren Roads. The completed structure most likely will be leased to warehousing and distribution tenants, with a minimum 85 daily truck round trips, dropping off and picking up goods in one of 27 docking bays.

Representing the developer, President of HD Engineering Jim Diehl said trucks will not be backed up on adjacent roads waiting to enter the warehouse's parking lot and noted his client is willing to address all associated construction completion issues, such as widened area roads and the parking lot's entrance, a nearby walking/bike path and public utilities installations.  

Township officials said border shoulders and associated landscaping between the warehouse property and neighboring senior townhouses have to be a minimum of 60 feet wide and must be approved by Palmer's zoning board. 

Highlands resident Timothy Fisher referred to the developer's labeling of the area between the warehouse and its neighbors as open space as a nebulous definition at best. He said a shoulder is required because the development is 200 feet or less from bordering residential property lines. 

With regard to traffic impacts, engineer Rob Hoffman of Traffic Planning and Design said there would be no traffic increases over seven percent, per measurements, taken at nearby intersections. He noted the study his company conducted revealed traffic resulting from the new warehouse would not exceed PennDot limits of acceptable service requirements. 

Supervisor Anne Marie Panella distributed copies of Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine findings, which revealed that diesel truck exhaust is responsible for increased levels of asthma, emphysema, COPD and lung disease. 

"You can block out such things as noise and structure visibility, but not diesel emissions," she stated.

She said as a chemist she understands both ozone and nitrous oxide levels. 

Traffic recommendations include widening portions of both Newlins Mill and Van Buren Roads, inserting a special right-turn only lane flowing directly into the parking lot, and stop sign installations to control traffic in the area. 

When questioned by Fisher about the overall legitimacy of his traffic study, Hoffman said it followed not only Pennsylvania but also national traffic standards.

The supervisors are expected to continue the hearing at their meeting at the end of next month.

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