Catasauqua Press

Sunday, June 25, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY AL RECKERMark Heeb Sr., project manager for BL Companies, addresses key points of a revised plan for a proposed huge warehouse off Willowbrook Road, across from the FedEx Ground warehouse hub under construction. He was speaking at the Allen Township Planning Commission meeting Monday. PRESS PHOTO BY AL RECKERMark Heeb Sr., project manager for BL Companies, addresses key points of a revised plan for a proposed huge warehouse off Willowbrook Road, across from the FedEx Ground warehouse hub under construction. He was speaking at the Allen Township Planning Commission meeting Monday.
PRESS PHOTO BY AL RECKERNorth Catasauqua resident Rick Novak expresses his concern about noise and quality-of-life issues resulting from the proposed mega warehouse. PRESS PHOTO BY AL RECKERNorth Catasauqua resident Rick Novak expresses his concern about noise and quality-of-life issues resulting from the proposed mega warehouse.

Revised Allen warehouse plan presented

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by AL RECKER Special to The Press in Local News

North Catasauqua residents express concern about light, noise

Plans for a million- square-foot warehouse in Allen Township have been altered to meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, resulting in the planning process beginning anew before the Allen Township Planning Commission.

Previous hearings and plans for the project advanced by The Rockefeller Group, a New York City-based real estate development company, are now being modified, township planners were appraised at its meeting Monday.

A number of North Catasauqua residents attended the meeting, as the “Lot 5” property borders on their residential properties.

The projected 1.067 million-square-foot structure has decreased to 1.029 million square feet. Also, the warehouse is now being proposed on a 70-acre tract of land, not the 80 acres previous plans called for.

Residents at the meeting learned of other changes, including plans for underground retention and discharge of stormwater on the property.

Another change includes a sloping meadow berm, replacing a retaining wall that was to be erected as high as 50 feet. The earth berm will begin at the warehouse, extending to the Willow Brook Golf Course.

Regarding the original 80 acres the warehouse was to be built on, the structure will be located slightly to the east, and the 10 acres will belong to the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, which is the airport’s runway Protection Zone, the planning commission was told.

Planning Commission Chairman Eugene “Gene” Clater said there will be areas where perhaps low-growing shrubbery could be planted.

North Catasauqua resident Ernie Keller said consideration should be given to noise emitted from the project, as well as lighting.

“The light pollution is going to be exponentially greater,” he said, compared to what now is occurring at the nearby FedEx site, which is already substantial.

Further changes involve the proposed 354 parking slots for trailers, now down to 240, with 190 loading docks cut to 179.

Clater proposed an area for 18-wheeler trucks to be established for overnight parking, to be used minimally, he said.

The revisions presented show 12-1/2-foot storage pipes and 24-inch pipes for discharge, a significant reduction in stormwater discharge from the present.

Considerable time was taken by Attorney Mark Kaplan, counsel for the neighboring Willow Brook Farms. He contested infiltration and stormwater discharge, arguing the development can’t collect all the water and place it in a concentrated area.

Responding, Clater said the plans are in a preliminary stage, and a thorough review, possibly with further changes, will be made before the commission makes its recommendations to the board of supervisors. Two Allen supervisors, Gary Behler and Alfred Pierce, are also members of the planning commission.

North Catasauqua resident Douglas New- hard, while not objecting to the project, expressed concerns with traffic, noise and other quality-of-life issues.

Clater commented that “significant changes” are being made and that some information presented earlier is “old and not accurate.”

Dan Snyder of North Catasauqua questioned the location of the lot size as the meeting opened, later addressing traffic and noise as issues residents have concerns with.

Rick Novak, who said he could look out from his residence at the golf course, said the area is dark at night. He stressed concerns with the bright warehouse lights, similar to what other residents indicated.

Mark Heeb Sr., BL Companies project manager, said the proposed warehouse meets zoning requirements, and everything is being done to meet codes and expectations of the planning commission and township.