Lehigh Valley

Lower Nazareth supervisors review Route 248 warehouse plans

LOWER NAZARETH TWP., Pa. - The Lower Nazareth Township Supervisors got their first detailed look at a proposed warehouse development on Route 248 on Wednesday night.

Developer David Jaindl is partnering with Watson Land Company of Carson, California, to build two warehouses – one would be 487,000 square feet and the other 157,000 square feet – on about 62 acres on the west side of Route 248 north of Hollo Road.

The developers need conditional use approval to establish a planned business development, which will include the warehouses, in the light industrial zoning district. A hearing held during the supervisors' meeting gathered testimony and exhibits as the developers and their professional consultants and attorney, Joseph Zator, made their case for why the conditional use should be granted.

In April, the township's planning commission recommended that conditional use be granted.

The board deferred action on the request until its July 10 meeting.

Traffic was one of the biggest concerns that came up during the hearing. Rick Roseberry, a principal of Maser Consulting of Allentown, said a traffic study was conducted from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. on Dec. 5. He said it showed that the estimated 181 truck trips a day amount to just 3% of the traffic on Route 248.

"That ain't good," Supervisor Robert Hoyer said.

Hoyer said it's already a challenge to enter Route 248 from Hollo Road without the added truck traffic from the proposed warehouses.

"You gun it and time it right," he said, describing the discipline it takes to enter Route 248. "It's bad now, and it's going to get worse."

Hoyer said the added truck traffic will back up traffic on Route 248 and suggested that a traffic signal at Hollo Road might be a solution.

After some back and forth discussion with Roseberry about the state Department of Transportation's criteria for installing a signal, township solicitor Gary Asteak asked if the developers would install a signal if PennDOT would allow it.

Jaindl agreed that he would consider adding a traffic signal.

On the operational side of the proposed warehouse, Kirk Johnson, executive vice president and chief investment officer of Watson Land Company, said the tenants are not yet known. He said the inventory in the warehouses would not be hazardous. The site would have dark sky lighting to minimize glare and a berm and dense landscaping to shield the site from neighboring properties. The larger warehouse would employee 120 people, the smaller one 40, Johnson said. They would operate around the clock seven days a week.

Jaindl said that the warehouses will be owned and operated by the partnership.

Only one resident, Matt Michael of Hollo Road, spoke during the hearing. The owner of a preserved 200-year-old farm bordering the warehouse site, he said he was concerned that the development will damage the value of his farm and increase traffic on Route 248.

As the supervisors considered another significant development, they also moved forward with taking action on preserving open space. Township voters last month approved a nonbinding referendum to establish an earned income tax to fund purchases of open space.

Hoyer announced that a committee will be formed to implement open space preservation, which would be made possible through legislation to establish the 0.25% earned income tax.

Candidates will be selected in July and August, and appointed by the board in September. They will meet with environmental engineering company Gilmore & Associates Inc., which is developing the township's open space and recreation plan.

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