Builder claims Up­per Sau­con or­di­nance on trucking ter­mi­nals ac­tu­ally de­signed to ex­clude such fa­cil­i­ties

The Morning Call - - LOCAL / REGION - By Charles Mal­in­chak Charles Mal­in­chak is a free­lance writer for The Morn­ing Call.

Hear­ings on an Up­per Sau­con Town­ship zon­ing or­di­nance deal­ing with trucking ter­mi­nals started Mon­day with tes­ti­mony blast­ing the or­di­nance that seems to al­low a freight fa­cil­ity but ac­tu­ally pro­hibits such an op­er­a­tion.

About 50 peo­ple at­tended the hear­ing at South­ern Le­high Mid­dle School. It was the first of what town­ship solic­i­tor Tom Dinkelacke­r said would likely be sev­eral hear­ings be­tween the town­ship and Kay Le­high LLC, a branch of Al­len­town-based Kay Builders.

Kay launched a le­gal bat­tle with the town­ship to ob­tain a “cu­ra­tive amend­ment” to a town­ship or­di­nance re­lated to trucking ter­mi­nals be­cause the com­pany is propos­ing to build a ter­mi­nal on nearly 120 acres off Route 309 near East Val­ley Road. A cu­ra­tive amend­ment al­lows prop­erty own­ers to chal­lenge a zon­ing or­di­nance and sug­gest a cure for prob­lems by way of an amend­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony, the ter­mi­nal could gen­er­ate up to 1,634 trucks mov­ing in and out of the fa­cil­ity daily. The pro­posal in­cludes three build­ings of 305,250 square feet, 563,500 square feet and 654,500 square feet.

The or­di­nance re­quires ter­mi­nals not be within 500 feet of struc­tures in­clud­ing homes, schools, day care build­ings, play­grounds and hos­pi­tals.

That’s the crux of the prob­lem for Kay. Un­der ques­tion­ing from Beth­le­hem at­tor­ney Jim Pre­ston, who rep­re­sents Kay, Jason En­gel­hardt, an en­gi­neer from Beth­le­hem-based Lan­gan, tes­ti­fied that the 500 feet is not a set­back or a buf­fer but ac­tu­ally a way to ex­clude trucking ter­mi­nals.

“No ware­house could ex­ist un­der this zon­ing law,” En­gel­hardt said. “The 500 feet is ex­clu­sion­ary from one prop­erty to an­other.’’

Even if the project is scaled back, Pre­ston said it wouldn’t mat­ter be­cause the or­di­nance per­tains to the en­tire prop­erty and the 500 feet is not a set­back from one prop­erty to an­other.

“Even if you were to put a small ware­house within the prop­erty it still wouldn’t com­ply be­cause it is a ware­house that is within 500 feet,” he said af­ter the hear­ing.

En­gel­hardt said the three­build­ing ter­mi­nal would have 413 load­ing docks and if it worked at full ca­pac­ity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week it would bring 817 trucks per day.

“So there could be 1,634 truck trips per day?” town­ship spe­cial at­tor­ney Robert Gund­lach asked.

“That would be an ab­so­lute max­i­mum but un­likely,” En­gel­hardt said.

The pri­mary en­trance to the fa­cil­ity would be on Route 309, but plans show an­other ac­cess point on East Val­ley Road. That was de­scribed as a re­stricted road, but Gund­lach ques­tioned what would be in place to keep trucks from us­ing the road.

“If you mean is there a physical bar­rier, no,” En­gel­hardt said.

The plan also calls from 1,525 park­ing spa­ces for em­ployee cars. Gund­lach asked whether if ithose spa­ces would al­ways be full and would the driv­ers use East Val­ley Road.

“The num­ber (of cars) would be sig­nif­i­cantly less than that, but it is pos­si­ble,” En­gel­hardt said.

Res­i­dents Re­nee D’Amico and John Tie­mann, both of East Val­ley Road, are part of the pro­ceed­ing be­cause their homes are ad­ja­cent to the site.

D’Amico said af­ter the hear­ing her home is 20 feet from the site. “I knew it was pos­si­ble some­thing would be built there and I ac­cepted that,” she said. “I just don’t un­der­stand why they can’t build it 500 feet away.”

A sec­ond hear­ing is sched­uled for 7:30 p.m. Sept 9 at South­ern Le­high Mid­dle School.

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