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Lehigh Valley

Zoning appeal to reopen Allentown plant dropped

Plan was opposed by Midway Manor residents on East Side

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A controversial appeal to reopen an east Allentown factory, which was scheduled for a decision by the city zoning hearing board on Monday night, has been withdrawn.

The appeal has not just been withdrawn from Monday's agenda, explained Joan Fritz, clerk to the zoning board.

"They are not resubmitting," she said.

National Container wanted zoning approval to operate an industrial container cleaning operation in the vacant plant at 1344-1328 N. Sherman St., next to the Midway Manor neighborhood.

The plant would have been used to clean large containers containing paint and other residual chemicals, by power washing them with water and reconditioning them. The company also planned to cut up unusable containers, then ship them to another location for recycling.

National Container needed a special exception from the zoning board to continue a non-conforming industrial use in an area of the city where such uses no longer are permitted.

The zoning board took testimony on the appeal on June 9, but delayed deliberating and making a decision until next Monday's meeting.

Forty-eight people attended that June 9 meeting to oppose National Containers' plan. 

They objected to tractor-trailers driving on narrow streets through the neighborhood and were concerned about hazardous chemicals that would be brought to the plant in the containers that needed to be cleaned.

One resident even raised the possibility of Midway Manor becoming another Love Canal, a neighborhood in Niagara Falls, N.Y., that made headlines in the late 1970s because it was built over a toxic waste dump.

A lawyer for National Container told zoners special exceptions generally are permitted as long as the new use is no more "injurious, harmful or objectionable"to the surrounding neighborhood than the prior use had been.

After getting zoning approval, National Container planned to move its current Quakertown operation to Allentown. It would have employed 20 people, working two shifts.

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