Three huge warehouses and an office building unanimously were approved by Lower Macungie Township commissioners Thursday night.
They are the first construction projects planned in David Jaindl’s controversial Spring Creek Properties subdivision, which encompasses more than 600 acres in the western part of the township.
Bethlehem-based Liberty Property Trust, which will erect and own the four neighboring buildings, anticipates construction will begin this year and that they will be leased by next year, according to Bill Bumber, that company’s vice president of development.
“We’re currently seeking tenants,” said Bumber.
The four properties together will be known as Liberty at Spring Creek. They will occupy more than 230 acres in the Jaindl subdivision.
A couple of township residents, as well as one from nearby Alburtis, voiced concerns about the warehouses before the vote.
Township resident Robert Mihok told commissioners other residents have no idea how the warehouses will forever diminish the quality of life in Lower Macungie.
“These warehouses belong in an industrial park off the interstate,” said Mihok.
Township officials explained steps being taken by the developers to improve traffic – particularly the inevitable increase in tractor trailer-traffic --- as well as to reduce stormwater run-off and even make the massive buildings less conspicuous to the public.
When the 608-acre Spring Creek subdivision was approved by commissioners last October, Jaindl predicted some of the properties in it would be sold in less than a year.
His 16-lot subdivision property now is mostly farmland west of Route 100, between Alburtis and Merztown Road. Spring Creek Road runs through the center of his land.
The first four adjoining lots to be developed are west of Spring Creek Road and south of Mertztown Road and Little Lehigh Creek.
One warehouse covering 1.2 million square feet will be built on a 77-acre lot, said Sara Pandl, the township’s planning director.
She said another warehouse covering 1.1 million square feet will be built on 70-acre lot.
Between those two, a 650,000-square-foot warehouse will be built on another 77-acre lot.
That trio will dwarf the 10,000-square-foot office building, which will be constructed on eight acres closer to Spring Creek Road.
A new private road called Congdon Hill Drive will be built to link all four buildings to Spring Creek Road. Congdon Hill Drive will end at the westernmost warehouse.
Impact on roads
Mihok asked township officials how many more trucks township residents can expect to see after the three warehouses are built.
Township engineer William Erdman said that’s a difficult question to answer. He said the number of trucks will be influenced by the types of tenants that occupy the warehouses, as well as how quickly they are built and occupied.
Erdman added: “It will predominately be tractor trailers; there’s no question about that.”
The engineer said one condition of approval is the planned buildings can’t be occupied --or have any impact on traffic -- until all necessary traffic improvements are “constructed, completed, inspected and operational” to support the project.
He said those improvements will be along Spring Creek Road from the intersection with Congdon Hill Drive “up to and including” the intersection with Route 100.
He added the intersection of Spring Creek and Mertztown roads also will be improved.
Erdman said Jaindl is paying for those road improvements as part of the approval of his subdivision plan.