Lehigh Valley

South Whitehall dissolves water authority

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The South Whitehall Township Water Authority was dissolved Wednesday night by a unanimous vote by the township's Board of Commissioners. The authority had been in operation since 1962. 

Township commissioners and officials maintain everything concerning water-- quality, service, distribution, rates, billing-- will remain exactly the same as before the dissolution.

Commissioner Matthew Mulqueen  said the authority became obsolete and was primarily responsible for decisions regarding water and sewer infrastructure expenditures and acquisitions which will be handled by the South Whitehall's water and sewer department.

Mulqueen said a water advisory board could always be assembled to offer direction to the township should the need arise for significant water and sewer infrastructure improvements and expenses. Currently, South Whitehall's water and sewer reports to the township manager and the board of commissioners.   

"As we go through this process we'll review it thoroughly to establish some common sense practices," said Mulqueen.

As per Wednesday's resolution, all assets, liabilities, contractual rights, agreements, easements, obligations, and permits will be transferred to the township.   

In other business, the commissioners approved the rezoning of the Cedar Crest and Hamilton Boulevard site of the former Kuss Brothers Nursery located within a residential district to one allowing a mixed use of offices, retail shops, and workplaces.

The commissioners allayed the fears associated with overdevelopment from several area residents who previously presented the township with a petition signed by over 100 of their neighbors asking Glick Avenue not be opened to traffic once the new development is completed.

Developer Jeremy Wells, himself a neighboring resident, explained his vision for the property is for two office building containing first-floor retail with a village like development similar to Peddler's Village in Lahaska. The plans may include plazas, parks, civic centers, and pedestrian-oriented streetscapes, he said.

Resident Alex Fulop of Jefferson Avenue voiced his concern that once the commissioners approved the zoning change to becoming more commercial, that would pave the way for increased commercialization in his and nearby neighborhoods.  He termed what the developer and his engineering representatives were actually doing was "a bait and switch routine."

"What you're doing here is a drastic change to the nature of the entire neighborhood," said Fulop.

Resident Janet Batstone of Glick Avenue asked engineer Mark Bradbury of Martin, Bradbury, and Griffith Engineering of Allentown, Wells, and the board for a guarantee her neighborhood would remain largely unaffected.

Commissioner Glenn Block commented,  "There are no guarantees here, and I agree with everything the developer says in this case."

Batstone and Fulop were informed a zoning overlay on the parcel already had been approved previously and were assured by the commissioners Wells deserved their trust since he has continuously exhibited concern for the neighbors and deserved their trust because of his on-going efforts to accommodate their needs.

Wells said the resolution the commissioners passed Wednesday allowed him the ability as a developer to obtain the necessary permits and clearances in order to begin construction. He noted he would be required to go before the board again in order to secure more final clearances and approvals on the project.

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