Catasauqua Press

Friday, June 5, 2020

Hanover transferring Willowbrook Road to state

Wednesday, December 26, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Council gives township manager authority to transfer deeds, property

At its last meeting of the year, Dec. 19, Hanover Township Council passed an ordinance to give the township manager the authority to transfer deeds and property associated with Willowbrook Road to the state.

Willowbrook Road was a point of contention early in the FedEx Ground project. Hanover objected to the amount of traffic generated by the warehouse, and township officials threatened to use its powers to block the project.

Hanover also objected to the anticipated road maintenance costs, asserting that adjoining Allen Township gets tax revenue from Fed- Ex while Hanover gets truck traffic and no revenue.

When all efforts to persuade Hanover council failed, the state pushed to take over Willowbrook Road. The township agreed because it had no other option but required that the road be turned over after completion so that Hanover Township had control over the finished road project.

The Willowbrook Road project is now in its final stages. The road is scheduled to be striped as soon as weather permits.

“Sooner we give it to them, the better,” council Chairman Bruce Paulus said.

Turning the road over to the state kicked off a related topic. The township will rezone the west side of Willowbrook Road to Planned Industrial Office (PIO). The advantage to the township is that the revamped Willowbrook Road allows the township to develop this land.

“We never had the opportunity before,” Paulus said.

Part of the discussion with the Rockefeller Group, which developed the FedEx Ground project, was to find ways to develop property in Hanover Township for commercial uses. No promises were made, but rezoning the land as PIO is a good first step to attracting a business-office tenant.

Council also passed an ordinance restricting vegetation around fire hydrants. Council questioned township Manager Christopher Garges because there is an existing ordinance that restricts the height of grass and weeds to under 8 inches. The new ordinance differs because it restricts ornamental plantings within 5 feet of a hydrant.

“The new ordinance will keep hydrants accessible to firemen,” Garges said.

Council authorized an amendment to employee benefits that pushes employees over 65 to have health coverage through Medicare. The township will pay premiums. According to Solicitor Jackson Eaton, this is a standard practice but has not been codified. Presently, the cost for Medicare is less than the cost of the township program. According to a provision in the ordinance, the township will pay the lower rate should the cost of Medicare exceed the township program cost.