Catasauqua Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMILPrimo trucks line up at loading docks along Hoover Avenue. The company wants to double the size of the warehouse and add 13 loading docks. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL CMILPrimo trucks line up at loading docks along Hoover Avenue. The company wants to double the size of the warehouse and add 13 loading docks.

Hanover allows Primo expansion to move forward

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Primo Trucking Inc. on Hoover Avenue in Hanover Township asked the township zoning hearing board April 27 for zoning variances that would allow it to expand at its existing location.

“We like where we are,” George Paxos said. “Our business is growing, and we need more space.” Paxos is the company’s founder and majority owner.

The existing warehouse is tucked near the Carmike Theater and the A. Duie Pyle trucking terminal and across Hoover Avenue from US Foods.

“We handle specialty foods from all over the world,” he said. “Our customers are restaurants and specialty stores. US Foods, our neighbor, is a customer of ours. We work with Blue Apron.

“Our business is expanding. We would like to be able to do some of the packaging for home delivery options like Blue Apron, but we don’t have the space now.”

Primo wants to add another 39,500 square feet of warehouse space to its existing 30,000 square feet and expand its office space from 5,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet. The office space would be in a three-story tower. The new facility would add 76 new parking spaces and 13 more loading docks.

To bring the plan to fruition, Primo asked the township for relief in specific areas. The township has rules that require a certain amount of green space around commercial structures.

Primo proposes to use 85 percent of the land for buildings and parking lots, but the township would like to see 75 percent. The buildings will cover 38 percent, while the township feels more comfortable with 30 percent.

The zoning district, classified as a planned unit development, limits the height of the building to 35 feet. Primo’s office space would rise to 40 feet.

The zoning board debated the changes. The area is an industrial park, and the expansion proposed by Primo does not cause any harm to the area.

In another variance request, Primo asked for an exception to the width of the fire lane. The minimum from the township is 15 feet. Primo is asking for 12 feet. In asking for relief from the restriction, Primo’s consulting engineer, Michael Jeitner, noted the existing fire lane is 8 feet. The new proposal is an improvement over the existing conditions.

When completed, the project will have 81 parking spaces. The township is looking for 111.

Jeitner pointed out the warehouse is a 24-hour operation, so the employee parking load is spread across the full day.

“We have maybe 50 employees at a time in the warehouse,” Paxos said.

One of the other things that Primo does now that is unique is regarding the width of the approach to the warehouses.

“There is a 172-foot opening that allows the trucks to back into the docks,” Jeitner said.

A standard entrance is around 50 feet. As Jeitner explained, the unique configuration is possible because Hoover Avenue is a private road.

“We could not do this if there was a lot of traffic on the street, but this helps us use our facility efficiently,” he said.

After some clarifications, the board had no deal-killing objections to the requests.

The area in and around the Carmike theater borders a residential area. Residents of Sherwood Avenue protested much of the buildup in the area.

“We have a problem with the lights and the noise,” resident Curtis Wegfahrt said.

With the proposed expansion, trucks would back up into the loading docks, their lights and noise will be directly across from residents on Sherwood Street.

Paxos was at a loss about how to help the situation. There is a strip of land between Primo and Carmike where a noise barrier could be erected.

“The noise from trucks running all night is especially bad,” Wegfahrt said. “And it is hard to stop.”

The green area in front of Primo may belong to the theater. Carmike installed a berm behind the theater, but it does little to block noise and light.

“The second story of my house is higher than the trees atop the berm,” Wegfahrt said.

Paxos suggested there may be an opportunity to enhance the vegetation to make the berm more effective.

The board unanimously approved all the variances. Board Chairman Dean Hausman asked the zoning officer to make a note of the request for lighting and noise abatement.

Primo’s plan must now go to the planning committee for approval. Hausman pointed out lighting and noise abatement are best handled in Primo’s land development plan.

The board had one other appeal on the agenda. ABE Towing had planned to request a variance for an auto storage lot. Nearby residents were opposed to the plan. The company dropped its appeal prior to the meeting.