Delaware County-based Airgas is looking to bring more business to the Lehigh Valley.
Airgas USA, LLC, has proposed to construct an approximately 34,000 square foot building in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, as well as several outdoor storage tanks and an eight-foot tall fence surrounding the property.
Airgas applied for a special exception request from the Plainfield Township Zoning Board for the proposed facility that will be located at 730 Bangor Road.
Although Airgas does not currently own the mentioned property, according to Peter Cook, director of fleet logistics for Air Gas, the sellers of the property have agreed to the purchaser's intended use of the property.
The first letter of intent to purchase the property was dated April 2, 2013, because “it took that long to negotiate the terms of the letter."
According to Cook, the neighborhood surrounding the property is a “commercial-type” neighborhood comprised of various businesses and a few residences. Cook emphasized that he felt there would be no significant disruption to the surrounding community with this facility.
The plans include electronically operated gates located along the fencing of the property for the trucks to enter and exit, Cook said.
“[These will be] secure gates that can only be operated by personnel with the appropriate security device to [open] it,” commented Cook.
Airgas plans to also plant several large shade trees along the Route 191 side of the property to help with the privacy of the facility. This was a suggestion made by the Plainfield Township Planning Commission during their meeting with Cook in January, Cook said. The Planning Commission has recommended that the Zoning Board approve the special exception request.
In accordance with a request made by Plainfield Township Fire Chief Ryan Poole, Airgas will be responsible for having five fire hydrants surrounding the property to assist in fire control. There is currently one fire hydrant located on the property and Airgas will be putting two more on the inside of the fencing, and two others on the outside of the fencing.
Originally, Poole suggested having nine fire hydrants on the property, but after meeting with Cook and looking at the layout of the property, Poole agreed to allowing only five fire hydrants to secure the property.
The water used to supply the hydrants will be taken from the detention pond that is currently located on the property, Cook said. The main concern from the audience present at the meeting was if this would be enough water to put out a fire on the property.
“The system that is there now isn’t going to handle any kind of fire,” commented Arthur Dorney, a resident across the street from the proposed facility. “Is there any way to improve the security as far as a possible fire?” he questioned.
“We’re going to design the detention pond and water system to meet the needs [ of the facility],” responded Cook.
Cook was unable to give the audience and the Board an exact gallon amount of water that will be in the pond at any given time, but he assured concerned residents that there will be enough water to supply the hydrants if there was ever a fire on the property.
The Zoning Board ended their meeting without making a final decision regarding the Special Exception Request. The Board plans to continue this discussion on April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Plainfield Township Volunteer Fire Company.