SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - The South Whitehall Township Planning Commission took no further action Thursday night on the contentious Ridge Farm development, which has previously received conditional use approval and is now graduating to the next step of preliminary plan approval.
Representing owner Kay Builders, project planning engineer Jason Engelhardt of Langan Engineering reviewed the 138-acre mega-development.
It currently contains 780 homes and apartments of various sizes and several commercial buildings, including proposed medical offices at the corner of Cedar Crest and Walbert avenues on its southeast end.
Engelhardt then individually addressed the nearly dozen waivers the project requires from the township, including mobility waivers; highway access points; roadway improvements including widening and grading; and traffic studies already undertaken the past three years.
It has been estimated that Kay Builders will have to spend between $10 million and $14 million on road improvements and construction as part of entire project costs.
Residents expressed their concerns over traffic backups at newly proposed traffic signals on Huckleberry Road, which studies predict will result in only a half-dozen vehicles backing up at various lights.
“There’s no way my road can sustain the traffic predicted,” said neighbor Cindy Smith of Huckleberry Road. She also pointed out the construction of a connector road between Huckleberry Road and Cedar Crest Boulevard is vitally important to ease traffic flow and congestion.
Residents Robert and Monica Hodges said that considering all the waivers the project requires it should be abandoned because it falls short of so many township land development requirements and standards. They also cited safety issues stemming from roadway grading and sight distance issues in addition to traffic concerns.
Engelhardt said that no formal construction timeline has been formulated to date, but he predicted if all the necessary requirements were secured, groundbreaking would commence sometime next summer.
However, stormwater management and mitigation plans have yet to be presented to the planners because they have been under review by both project and township.
Engelhardt said that the stormwater management plan is involved and includes multiple drainage basins and extensive pipe work.