Hotly-debated plans for a FedEx Ground distribution center were approved in a series of 3-1 votes by Allen Township supervisors Thursday night.

A Fed Ex representative said the 800,000-square foot building will take two years to build along Willowbrook Road in the Northampton County township and added construction may begin before the end of this year.

Voting to give the $335-million project final approval were supervisors Paul Balliet, Larry Oberly and Alfred Pierce.

Township supervisor Dale Hassler voted no every time.

Before the votes were taken, Hassler said he wants sidewalks installed along Willowbrook Road by the New York City-based Rockefeller Group, which is subdividing the property, rather than deferring the installation of sidewalks.

He explained he is concerned about safety.

A spokesman for the developer said Rockefeller is willing to do that, but none of Hassler’s fellow supervisors agreed with him. He made a motion for sidewalks, but it died for lack of a second.

“I am not against the FedEx project,” said Hassler. “But I do not want to move forward unless I see the sidewalks. So I’m going to have to vote no.”

Supervisor Bruce Frack was absent.

The other three supervisors first approved a subdivision plan submitted by Rockefeller to divide its 375-acre property in the township into three parcels.

Rockefeller is buying that land from the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

The supervisors’ second major approval was for FedEx’s overall plan on its 253-acre piece of that 375-acre property.

The third approval was for the first phase of FedEx’s land development on those 253 acres – construction of a FedEx hub that will cover about 800,000 square feet.

That building will be designed to expand as the business grows, explained Bill Connor, manager of real estate for FedEx Ground.

“We have the ability to expand it to about 1.1 million square feet,” he explained.

No presentations were made to briefly explain exactly what was being approved before each vote.

Atty. B. Lincoln Treadwell, the township’s solicitor, repeatedly said each action had been discussed in detail at previous meetings.

The approvals included a total of 53 conditions imposed by the township, according to Treadwell, as well as approval of waivers.

The Rockefeller property in the township is being subdivided into three parcels – one for FedEx and two more for future warehouses.

About 50 people attended the meeting, sitting at tables in the social quarters of the Allen Township Fire Company along Howertown Road.

Opponents sat at several tables, representatives from Rockefeller Group and FedEx sat at several others.

Rather than booing or applause, the meeting room was filled with dead silence for nearly 20 seconds after the final vote of approval.

Only four people spoke against the plans before the vote, two of them officials from neighboring Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

All four expressed concerns about increased traffic.

Passionate opponent