“The expansion is going to destroy our quality of life,” said resident Russell Sutton. “We need you to help us defend our quality of life.”
“People made a lot of good comments tonight,” said LVPC board member Percy Dougherty just before the vote. “But you will still have to go and appeal to your township board. We are just looking at the county comprehensive plan. We’re looking at the zoning, the land use, the traffic and the problems associated with our comprehensive plan.”
Sutton complained the landfill’s expansion plans have put residents through an 18-month-long ordeal.
Lower Saucon officials at LVPC
Priscilla deLeon, who serves on Lower Saucon’s 5-member township council, told LVPC that late last year the township’s planning commission took an initial 6-1 vote against the proposed rezoning, after an informal review.
After that, said deLeon, the township council put the issue on the back burner until a few months ago, when it voted 3-2 to start a formal review process on the merits of the proposed rezoning. That’s how the proposed rezoning ordinance got before LVPC.
DeLeon said she was very pleased with the excellent job the LVPC staff, committee and commission did in reviewing the rezoning proposal.
She told the LVPC board she does not support any expansion of the landfill.
After the vote, deLeon said David Willard and Ron Horiszny, two other members of Lower Saucon’s council, also attended the LVPC meeting. They did not address the LVPC board.
The LVPC board member who abstained from voting was Atty. Charles Elliott, whom deLeon identified as Lower Saucon’s environmental solicitor.
DeLeon expects the township’s planning commission will review LVPC’s recommendations when it meets Aug. 22, and that the township’s environmental advisory council will do the same when it meets Aug. 13.
Donato of IESI said his next move will be to go back to Lower Saucon’s planning commission.
At 7 p.m. Sept. 25, Lower Saucon will hold a public hearing on the proposed rezoning at Saucon Valley School District’s administration building.
Proposed zoning changes
The LVPC raises several objections to the proposed rezoning in the letter it is sending to township manager Jack Cahalan Friday.
That letter was drafted by LVPC staff, then reviewed and approved by the board’s comprehensive planning committee Tuesday afternoon.
At Thursday’s meeting, David Berryman, LVPC’s chief planner, reviewed the letter before the full board voted to approve it.
Berryman said the township’s rezoning involves three zoning districts: light industrial, rural agriculture and light manufacturing. Most of the area would be rezoned to light industrial.
In the light industrial zone, said Berryman, the proposed rezoning would change landfills from special exceptions to conditional uses.
And the proposal would remove the light manufacturing district, said Berryman, because that district does not allow landfills.
Atty. Maryanne Garber, who represents IESI, argued that until 1998, 101 acres in the potential expansion area was zoned light industrial, not light manufacturing. She said the proposed zoning change simply turns those 101 acres back into light industrial. She also said there has been no development in that light manufacturing district since 1998.
Berryman said the proposed rezoning also would “unlock the buffers” that current zoning creates around the landfill. For example, the easternmost section of Bethlehem would be directly across Applebutter Road from the expanded landfill, eliminating any buffer between IESI and the city.
One section of the proposed ordinance calls for 100-foot buffers, which the LVPC considers insufficient.
LVPC maintains the rezoning may create traffic “impacts” on the township, neighboring municipalities and state-owned roads.
LVPC also states the proposed rezoning will disturb designated natural resource areas. It would permit a developer to set aside an equal amount of land as open space, even if that land doesn’t contain the same environmental features. “Open space is not the same thing as natural features you’re preserving,” noted Berryman.
Lower Saucon’s proposal allows developers to contribute money to the township rather than providing open space, which LVPC does not support.