Apart­ments draw ire from res­i­dents at meet­ing

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS -

Ho­tel’s best shot at cre­at­ing a mar­ketable site, Shapiro said.

De­spite this, E&B Ho­tel shared an al­ter­na­tive plan for the site should it re­main high­way-com­mer­cial. That plan in­cludes 316 apart­ment units and 124,000 square feet of of­fice and re­tail space. Mo­bilio, once again, chal­lenged the pre­sen­ta­tion of the in­for­ma­tion.

“What’s the pur­pose of show­ing us this?” Mo­bilio said. “Is this you telling the pub­lic, if you don’t grant our plan here tonight, this is what will go on the site in­stead?”

Durso said the plan com­pares traf­fic from the site with other pos­si­ble uses. A traf­fic anal­y­sis pre­dicts that daily trips from the site with the cur­rent plan would num­ber 2,189 com­pared with 5,533 trips if the de­vel­oper opted for a mixed-use plan.

Res­i­dents who spoke up at the meet­ing weren’t con­vinced about the traf­fic fig­ures since they were es­ti­mates based on na­tional trends.

Those near­est the prop­erty have been cir­cu­lat­ing a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the project, and by the end of Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, had gath­ered 239 sig­na­tures. They say the project is too dense and would cre­ate traf­fic woes and safety con­cerns in sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods.

Over and over again, South White­hall res­i­dents asked ques­tions, de­mand­ing to know the scope of a pos­si­ble traf­fic im­pact study. That study, mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts and a way to ad­dress the site’s lim­ited ac­cess, would be un­packed dur­ing the land de­vel­op­ment stage of the project, said traf­fic ex­pert John Wich­ner, of Allentown-based McMahon As­so­ciates.

With a re­cently ap­proved ware­house north on Route 309 and the pro­posed Ridge Farm project, a 780-unit mixed-use project at North Cedar Crest Boule­vard and Wal­bert Av­enue, res­i­dents won­dered how much more de­vel­op­ment lo­cal roads can take be­fore they are clogged to ca­pac­ity.

Res­i­dents also voiced a deep skep­ti­cism about the own­er­ship of the project. E&B Ho­tel has been the owner of the prop­erty since Au­gust 2010. Prior to its re­nam­ing as the ParkView Inn, the ho­tel was the Econo Lodge and was man­aged by Nick Bizati, who is one of the ap­pli­cants for the cur­rent pro­posal.

In 2017, the Econo Lodge was un­der pres­sure by town­ship of­fi­cials to evict the long-term ten­ants whose month­s­long stays were a vi­o­la­tion of mu­nic­i­pal code for the op­er­a­tion.

A drug-re­lated shoot­ing in the park­ing lot of the ho­tel in July 2017 brought ex­as­per­ated res­i­dents to town­ship meet­ings. A bul­let from the in­ci­dent hit the nearby Le­high Val­ley Home and Gar­den Cen­ter.

Durso said that while E&B Ho­tel is the com­pany seek­ing to de­velop the land, it’s not un­com­mon for the owner to hire a con­trac­tor to man­age op­er­a­tion of the site, but said none of that had been deter­mined this early in the process.

“What’s the pur­pose of show­ing us this [al­ter­na­tive plan]? Is this you telling the pub­lic, if you don’t grant our plan here tonight, this is what will go on the site in­stead?”

Morn­ing Call re­porter Sarah M. Wo­j­cik can be reached at 610-778-2283 or swo­j­[email protected] — Matthew Mo­bilio, Zon­ing Hear­ing Board mem­ber


The Park View Inn in South White­hall Town­ship.

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