SALISBURY TWP., Pa. – What originally began late last year as the proposed addition of several new toilets and a couple of showers at the local Girl Scouts' mountaintop campground in Salisbury Township has turned into a series of fairly contentious public hearings.
The hearings have already lasted over 8 hours total and another hearing is scheduled for March 9. The hearings have involved local residents versus the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania's top administrators.
Referred to as the 'Girl Scouts Adventure Place Mountain House' campground on West Rock Road in the township, the Girl Scouts' plan is to build a two-story 7,000 square-foot total structure containing new modern bathrooms with toilets, as opposed to the outhouses the girls currently use. In addition, the second story would include not only more bathrooms for staff, but also a relocated regional administrative office appearing to be the greatest point of contention. The new center would also include a small store and a sizeable activity room for the scouts.
Tuesday night's hearing at Salisbury Middle School was the second four-hour installment on the proposal, with another hearing still to come. This session centered on the testimony of Girl Scouts regional CEO Kim Fraites-Dow, two scouts, a civil engineer assigned to the project, and nearly a dozen residents who voiced their concerns.
Fraites-Dow explained the current regional administrative 8,000 square-foot office located on Moravian Avenue in South Allentown is too large for continued use. The proposed new building would serve to consolidate the scout's administrative offices thereby making better use of the current property.
Residents objected to potential increased local traffic, speeding vehicles, water usage, stormwater runoff and septic system installations. They also objected to the construction of at least a partial office building in a zoning district labeled "conservation-residential."
Fraites-Dow testified her organization has no plans on turning the camp into "some kind of mega-center." She did comment, however, if the proposed changes were not approved the scouts might have to sell their 15-acre property, possibly to a residential developer.
Residents were left with some of their questions remaining unanswered because the project is in its earliest initial stage being reviewed by the zoners. After their ruling, land development plans would still have to be reviewed and approved by both the township's planning commission and finally by the board of commissioners.
In addition, several state and local environmental approvals would also have to be secured prior to the start of any construction.
The third and final hearing will take place in three weeks on Monday, March 9 at the Salisbury Middle School on Devonshire Road at 7 p.m. More testimony from residents, final comments from each party and a ruling by the zoning hearing board are expected.