Traffic study stalls proposed South Whitehall development

South Whitehall approves Jaindl land subdivision

 

The South Whitehall Township Planning Commission tabled a conditional use approval request for the proposed 139-acre Ridge Farm development after a lengthy hearing Monday night at Springhouse Middle School.

The developer, Kay Builders, agreed to supply the board with two traffic impact studies involving Huckleberry Road before the board's next meeting on the subject. The study has already been completed, but not supplied to the board.

The project features a total of 780 homes and apartments at the intersection of North Cedar Crest Boulevard and Walbert Avenue and moving north to Huckleberry Road. Of the 780 units, 60% feature apartments, 20% single family homes and the remaining 20% would be comprised of twin or duplex homes.

The project's engineer said Walbert Avenue would be widened, re-striped and dedicated turning lanes would be added or extended. In addition, a traffic light would be installed at Office Center Road.

In addition, North Cedar Crest Boulevard would be widened from Huckleberry Road south to the Route 22 interchange. Also, a traffic signal would be added at North Cedar Crest and Huckleberry, according to the developer's engineer.

The total costs of the improvements to the road will register between $10 million and $12 million, according to Jim Preston, an attorney representing Kay Builders. The traffic study included no less than 27 intersections and was done in conjunction with lengthy discussions over the last 18 months with PennDOT. Walbert Avenue and North Cedar Crest Boulevard are state roads.

Although a traffic study on the area has been completed and is with PennDOT, planning commission members have not yet seen it.

"I would have liked to see it," commission Chairman Alan Tope said.

Audience members who spoke were all against the proposed development to various degrees. Their comments against the plan centered around traffic and safety.

In responding to the audience's criticism, Preston told them the reason for the conditional use hearing wasn't to win a popularity contest.

"We're not here to placate the unplacatable," he said. "… This plan didn't drop out of the sky."

Rather, Preston continued, it came after detailed and lengthy discussion with township staff and was based on the township's ordinances.

"We're here to show that the plan complies with zoning," Preston said.

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