Lehigh Valley

Testimony nearing the end in Lower Nazareth warehouse hearing

One more session planned June 9.

LOWER NAZARETH TWP., Pa. - Property values would not drop and noise would not significantly increase if a sprawling warehouse project is approved, two experts for Industrial Developments International testified Wednesday night.

Raymond Geiger Jr., a real estate broker and appraiser who was hired at $250 an hour by IDI, criticized a report prepared on behalf of opponents of the proposed 822,500 square foot warehouse.

Opponents claim property values would drop more than 11 percent.

"I'll do you one better," Geiger said. "It helps their property."

The remark drew a muffled laugh from the back of the room.

Project opponents claim not only property values would be damaged but air quality would suffer from diesel fumes caused by an estimated 550 tractor trailers pulling in and out of the warehouse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Geiger said property values could potentially increase because once the warehouse is built, their land could be developed into uses other than residential, including office space.

Geiger rejected claims the warehouse would make the neighborhood less desirable to potential buyers.

He referred to the success of Valley View West, a housing development off Schantz Road in Upper Macungie Township near Allentown, in Lehigh County, which is near a large ShopRite warehouse, and another called the Traditions of Hanover, which is near a Kraft Foods warehouse in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

"You have houses going up right alongside of similar industrial uses and there is no evidence of a negative impact on value," Geiger said.

A large block of the four hour-plus meeting focused on how IDI expert William C. Kaufell of Skelly and Loy engineering-environmental consultants of Harrisburg arrived at his conclusion that warehouse operations would not violate the township's noise ordinance.

Kaufell was cross-examined at length on highly technical aspects of acoustical logarithms and modeling methods.

After leaving the stand he remarked he would have preferred a "root canal" to his time on the stand.

Wednesday's meeting was the seventh on the warehouse proposal.

The hearing is expected to conclude when it resumes June 9 at 5 p.m., solicitor Gary Asteak said.

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