EAST ALLEN TWP., Pa. - At a price tag of $2.7 million, a 112-acre East Allen Township cornfield is expected to be bought by Northampton County. County Executive Lamont MaClure says it's to stave off warehouse proliferation.
"Anytime you can preserve over 100 acres that is a big deal," said McClure.
"We are going to keep fighting to make sure there is a balance with economic development, job creation, and green space."
Green space making way for a grey lining. 29 million square feet of warehouses have been built in the Valley since 2016, with 18 million more square feet of warehouses proposed.
"The only way a community can prevent this type of development in their township is to be proactive," said Lower Macungie Township Commissioner President Ron Beitler.
Beitler would know. With a dozen, his township has been called ground zero for warehouse development.
Pennsylvania code says municipalities must have every kind of zoning. However, there is a caveat. If municipalities band together they can pick where a warehouse would go.
That's how Lower Mac is taking one for the team.
Two years ago they joined with Emmaus, Macungie, Alburtis and Upper and Lower Milford townships to update their joint comprehensive plan.
"Because Lower Mac does have these long-standing warehouses in the township, those other communities in partnership with us, do not have to be zoned for them," Beitler explained.
Once the state minimum requirements are met, warehouses can be denied. Beitler says it's been done three times in the township recently.
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission says there are six similar comprehensive plans making up 34 of 62 municipalities in the Lehigh Valley.
In upper Lehigh County, Weisenberg Township has been deemed the warehouse area as they joined with the likes of Heidelberg Township, Slatington, and others.