Beth­le­hem gives OK for ware­house in Le­high Val­ley In­dus­trial Park

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Peter Blan­chard

Beth­le­hem city plan­ners have granted con­di­tional ap­proval of a de­vel­oper’s plan to build a nearly 90,000 square-foot man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in the Le­high Val­ley In­dus­trial Park.

En­gi­neers on be­half of New Jer­sey-based de­vel­oper J.G. Petrucci Com­pany, Inc., pre­sented the land devel­op­ment plan to the Beth­le­hem Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Thurs­day.

The 88,000 square-foot sin­gle-story struc­ture would pro­vide enough ware­house space for two light man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies, with park­ing on both sides of the build­ing and dual en­trances for each unit. On the rec­om­men­da­tion of the Le­high and Northamp­ton Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity, the de­vel­oper agreed to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity by in­clud­ing a 50-foot side­walk along the east­ern drive­way en­trance.

Cor­po­rate neigh­bors of the 7.4-acre prop­erty in­clude Wal­mart Dis­tri­bu­tion, DHL, and Le­high Val­ley Rail Man­age­ment, among sev­eral oth­ers.

The de­vel­oper will ben­e­fit from the city’s Lo­cal Eco­nomic Re­vi­tal­iza­tion Tax As­sis­tance pro­gram, which grad­u­ally phases in prop­erty and real es­tate taxes by 10% an­nu­ally over a decade. City of­fi­cials have said the LERTA in­cen­tive has led to eco­nomic growth in the city’s south side, with LERTA prop­er­ties em­ploy­ing more than 4,000 em­ploy­ees and gen­er­at­ing about $9.4 mil­lion an­nu­ally in taxes.

With the plan­ning com­mis­sion’s ap­proval, the de­vel­oper plans to break ground on the pro­ject pend­ing a fi­nal as­sess­ment from the state Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion. renters, but In­tile said he be­lieves the struc­tures are “past their use­ful life.”

Whether or not the units should be de­fined as town­houses or multi-fam­ily dwellings be­came a point of con­tention be­tween the de­vel­oper and the plan­ning board.

Beth­le­hem at­tor­ney Jim Pre­ston, speak­ing on In­tile’s be­half, con­tended that the units fit the def­i­ni­tion of a town­house and should there­fore not be sub­ject to the min­i­mum park­ing re­quire­ments re­served for multi-fam­ily dwellings.

Af­ter ex­am­in­ing the site plan re­view, city en­gi­neers de­ter­mined that the units were mul­ti­fam­ily dwellings be­cause the pro­ject calls for more than three units on one land par­cel, ac­cord­ing to City Plan­ning Di­rec­tor Dar­lene Heller.

“Town­homes by def­i­ni­tion are on sep­a­rate parcels,” Heller said. “Re­ally, it’s a mat­ter of se­man­tics. The pro­ject is what the pro­ject is, but typ­i­cally, we’d look at this as a 5-unit multi-fam­ily dwelling.”

The com­mis­sion rec­om­mended the site plan re­view be sent to the zon­ing hear­ing board to de­ter­mine whether the units meet the re­quire­ments to be con­sid­ered town­houses.

Fifth Street Prop­er­ties has pur­chased about 60 prop­er­ties in south Beth­le­hem and turned them into stu­dent hous­ing, ac­cord­ing to In­tile. He de­clined to say whether the Van Buren prop­er­ties would be turned into stu­dent hous­ing.

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