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Developer Proposes Transformation Of Willow Brook Farms Property

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A project was presented to Allen Township supervisors at their July 13 meeting that would transform the current state of Willow Brook Farms in the township, repurposing historical structures to creating a village-like “hamlet” that would be surrounded by new residential units in Allen Township, Northampton Borough and North Catasauqua Borough.

On behalf of the Fuller Family Trust, Robert Dwyer, a real estate agent with Land Trust Properties Inc., presented the supervisors with a master plan that would call for a 50 percent increase in the amount of housing units in the township.  

The project, which was only a presentation and not an accepted plan, proposes development that would buffer the open space core of the development, which Dwyer continually referred to as a “hamlet,” by constructing apartments and townhouses in the surrounding area, which would range from two stories to three stories depending on location.

Between two-story apartments, three-story apartments and three-story townhouses, the project would call for 500 housing units along Willow Brook Road, according to Dwyer.

Dwyer said that there would be a total of “700 units of product in Allen Township.”

The large nature of the project, in regard to both structure size and housing density, concerned some on the board, particularly Chairman Larry Oberly, who did not view a 50 percent increase in housing stock favorably.

“The current housing stock in the township is 1,200you’re proposing 700. That makes me choke,” he said.

Dale Hassler, who serves as both a township supervisor and as the township’s fire chief, was strongly opposed the the idea of having three-story buildings within the township, due to potential fire concerns.

“No higher than two stories as far as I’m concerned. I will not go higher than two stories,” he said.

The project would reduce the size of the Willow Brook golf course to nine holes. It would also repurpose barns into a pro shop with a grill and a clubhouse. The property’s renowned equestrian center would also be preserved.

According to the plan presented to the supervisors, an assisted living facility is also being proposed along West Bullshead Road.

Representatives of the Fuller Trust would need to have an overlay zoning district approved by the township to be able to make the project a reality.

Jim Constantine, who specializes in urban design projects, said the project could serve as a “focal point” to create something that’s unique in the township.

“It’s a great piece of land,” he said. “You have history.”

Dwyer concurred, believing that the finished product could prove to be a strong asset for Allen Township.  

“It will be a phenomenal setting and a real asset to the township, I think,” he said.

Vertek Presents Planned Improvements To Rt. 329, Airport Road

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Representatives from Vertek Construction Management presented supervisors in East Allen Township with planned roadway improvements to accompany the 450,000 square foot warehouse that is planned at the intersection of Route 329 and Airport Road.

Ronald Check, the president of Vertek Construction Management, attended the July 12 East Allen Board of Supervisors meeting with his engineer to detail the $4 million worth of improvements that will be made to the roads. The plan that they presented to the board included results that were gathered after conducting traffic studies and analyses on the nearby roadways.

Ben Serrecchia, a project engineer for Vertek, outlined the many infrastructure changes that will occur along with the development of the warehouse.

“As we head north on Airport Road, part of our improvements include a right turn and decel lane for entrance to our truck court for our project,” Serrecchia said. “We’re also bringing in a new left turn lane for Keystone Drive. The center lane through would continue up through Airport Road, and as we go further north, we’ve also increased the length for vehicular stacking of the left turn lane to go westbound on Nor-Bath Boulevard.”

“Heading further north we’ve also included a brand new right turn lane at the intersection of Nor-Bath and Airport Road,” he said.

New storm sewer improvements on the east side of Airport Road will also be implemented to encompass the widening that will come with the project, according to Serrecchia. The sewer improvements will include new piping, manholes and other structures.

Serrecchia said they will be increasing the length of the left turn lane for westbound travelers on Nor-Bath Boulevard who will be looking to turn left and travel southbound on Airport Road. Additionally, he pointed out that a new right turn deceleration lane and right turn lane into the project’s driveway, will be located further east on Route 329. He also noted that there will be a new left turn lane for the Keystone Aggregate Products driveway.

For those heading westbound on Route 329, there will be a dedicated left turn lane to turn into the warehouse property, according to the plan.

“If we head westbound coming back on Nor-Bath Boulevard, coming towards our project, there is a dedicated left turn lane to get into our driveway for vehicular traffic. We’re also continuing our through lane up to the intersection with Airport Road and Nor-Bath Boulevard,” Serrecchia said.

The developers also described a full left turn center lane that will extend from Route 329’s left turn lane onto Airport Road to the Vertek project’s driveway on Route 329.

“As part of our improvements and in conversation with PennDot, we originally had what would have been called an hourglass taper between the left turn lane heading southbound on Airport Road and our driveway right turn and left turn into Keystone Aggregate’s property,” Serrecchia said.

“PennDot did not want us to have an hourglass shape to the road, so what we then did was, with their guidance, was from the left turn at Nor-Bath and Airport up to our drivewayit’s a full left turn center lane all the way through.”

There will also be a dedicated right turn lane for eastbound traffic on Route 329 to turn onto Airport Road, Serrecchia said.

In addition to improvements to the intersection at Nor-Bath Boulevard and Airport Road, roadway improvements will also be made to the Locust Road and Airport Road intersection, which will be a “fully-improved signalized intersection,” according to Vertek.

“This intersection to itself contains a brand new dedicated right turn lane if you’re heading westbound on Locust Road. The center, or drive through lane, would become a dedicated left turn lane for southbound traffic onto Airport Road, and the dedicated right would be for northbound traffic onto Airport Road,” Serrecchia said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Roger Unangst stressed that tractor trailers will be prohibited from turning left off of Airport Road onto Locust Road.

“That needs to be signed, and signaled, and signed again, and then more signs again about no trucks turning left,” he said.

In other business, the public hearing of the board to consider Rockefeller’s request for rezoning of their airport property will be held on August 16 at 7 p.m. in the Northampton Area High School auditorium.

The board will next meet on July 27 at the municipal building for a regular meeting at 7 p.m.

Bikers Remember Friends, Help Children At 12th Annual Event

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Pictured is Jimmy Pasquariello, Bath Borough Council, Mayor Reginelli-Mirabito, Marcia Hahn, children from the Dreams Come True organization and participating bikers.

On July 15, the parking lot outside Bath Social Hall once again became home to a barrage of motorcycles, their owners and a charitable ride, as the 12th annual Bikers Remembering Bikers motorcycle run commenced from downtown Bath.

The proceeds from the event, which totalled $10,421, will go to the Blue Ridge chapter of Dreams Come True, a nonprofit organization that works to fulfill the dreams of children who are “seriously, chronically and terminally ill,” according to the chapter’s website. The $10,421 total does not include late donations that often trickle in following the event. The event raised approximately $6,000 in 2016.

While the ride has always been in remembrance of friends and family within the motorcycle community, this ride held a special place in the hearts of many who participated, as the event’s founder, “Big” Al Warner, who previously ran the event, died earlier this year.

Warner’s presence could be felt throughout the event, which memorialized his life and work through commemorative bracelets, as well as a pre-ride speech that remembered his contributions to the local community, particularly children in need.

Jim Pasquariello, a friend of Warner’s who has helped run the event, gave a heartfelt remembrance of Warner before the ride commenced. He held a moment of silence for fellow bikers that have died and for United States servicemen and women, which Warner always did before the start of every ride.

“I’m struggling a bit,” Pasquariello said. “Al was my best friend.”

Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito and members of Bath Borough Council were in attendance for the charity bike run, as was Pennsylvania State Rep. Marcia Hahn. Hahn presented Pasquariello and the social hall with a plaque to remember Warner and thank the club for their charitable work at the event.

T-shirts, raffle tickets, food, beverages, and live music were available for participating bikers and attendees, with the Smith Compound Band performing.

With all the festivities that the event presented, nothing shined brighter than the smiles of the children who were going to be helped due to the generosity from the community that came together at the social hall.  

Pink Heals Holds Ambulance Dedication Fundraiser In Bath

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Pennsylvania State Rep. Marcia Hahn, Pink Heals Lehigh Valley Chapter Executive Director Bill Andress, Linda Trexler, Bath Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito and members of Bath Borough Council.

The Borough of Bath held multiple charitable events over the weekend. Not only did the borough host the Bikers Remembering Bikers motorcycle run to much success on Saturday, but a fundraiser for a local community member was held at Ciff Cowling Field on Sunday.

The July 16 event at Ciff Cowling Field featured a kickball tournament, food vendors, a raffle and the dedication of a pink ambulance to raise money for Nazareth resident Janna Keiser.

The event was ran by the Lehigh Valley chapter of Pink Heals, a local chapter of a national organization that partners with public safety organizations and local businesses to help raise money and awareness for women battling health issues.

The organization and its chapters travel and offer home visits for women affected by health issues, such as cancer and other diseases. The pink ambulance was dedicated to the life and memory of Nazareth resident Mae Trexler, who was a breast cancer survivor for 18 years before her death at the age of 98 in March.

On hand to commemorate the ambulance was Bill Andress, the executive director of the Lehigh Valley chapter of Pink Heals, as well as Linda Trexler, Mae Trexler’s daughter. Bath Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito was also in attendance along with members of borough council to support the work of Pink Heals.

“Mae was one of our charter members,” Andress said. “In the few years that we could take advantage of her services, she would sit at her dining room table, put stickers on brochures, fold letters, stuff envelopes—whatever we needed to do.

“It just seemed fitting that we would pay tribute to her today, and tomorrow, and the day after, everywhere this vehicle goes,” he said.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Marcia Hahn was also present at the dedication, and recalled her friendship with Mae Trexler and her daughter. She presented a citation to honor the life of Mae Trexler and the work of Pink Heals.

“She was always bright and cheerful and just bubbling with life. It’s with sadness that we dedicate this truck,” Hahn said. “She truly exemplified the best qualities of human experience and her spirit of giving and dedication and greatly impacted the lives of others.”

Mae Trexler’s daughter spoke to conclude the dedication, remembering her mother and her affinity for Pink Heals.  

“She is with each one of us. We knew her in many different aspects of our lives, but most of all we knew her as a loving, kind person who always had a smile on her face,” Linda Trexler said. “She loved Pink Heals. It’s a wonderful, caring group of people who run this organization and never think of themselves.”

Bath Withdraws From Colonial Regional Police

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After months of discussion, town halls, and informational sessions between the Borough of Bath Council, the Colonial Regional Police Commission, and borough residents, Bath’s council unanimously chose to withdraw from the CRPC.

The decision was made during council’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 12. Several members of the Colonial Regional Police were in attendance as each council member cast their vote to withdraw. This vote gives Borough Manager Brad Flynn the authority to draft official letters of withdrawal.

“This has been a very tough decision,” said Council President Mark Saginario as he thanked council for their work. “I know pretty much everyone on council lost sleep over this.”

However, Saginario once again stressed that the decision did not reflect the quality of the CRPC’s services. Ultimately, the decision came down to what was best for the borough’s future “five, seven, [and] ten years down the road.”

Colonial Regional, Saginario said, was “worth every penny,” but the borough does not have any more pennies to give and “taxes just cannot go up anymore.”

Although the decision to withdraw has been made, the contract the borough has with the CRPC will remain in place through 2018. The borough has until January 2019 to find a new police department.

“[This] gives council plenty of time to decide who the best fit will be,” Saginario said.

The borough currently has several options available, including contracting the services of the state police, Moore Township, or Colonial Regional.

Council also motioned to send a legal representative to all future CRPC meetings until further notice. This motion, council explained, is to make sure the borough is “protected” by someone who “knows the legal end” of the situation.

While perhaps the most difficult decision council had to make has passed, according to Saginario, it is time to “move on to the next phase.”

Other News in Bath:

Also during the meeting, Fire Chief Emilio DeNisi told council of plans for an upcoming open house at the fire department, an event for families that DeNisi estimates may draw between 400 to 500 people. He asked council for permission to shut down Center Street between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 14 for the event.

The event, which will be advertised in area schools, will have a smoke camper for kids, giveaways and handouts, music, a moon bounce, and more.

DeNisi said the event will be “very educational” and an opportunity to get the community involved, showing them “where tax money is actually going.”

All members of council thought this was an excellent idea.

“I think this council will be behind you 100 percent,” said Saginario.

“You guys do a fabulous job,” said Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, “I commend all of you.”

More information about the event will be released as it draws nearer.

Gab Over The Fence | 7/13

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Well, I’m back. It was a short vacation, but invigorating, so I’m back on the job.  The weather was great, a few raindrops here and there, but pretty darn nice. . . .I hadn’t been downtown, and was surprised to see that Main Street from Walnut Street all the way out to the eastern end did indeed get a welcomed blacktopping.  Now if the powers to be can take care of W. Northampton Street, Barrall Avenue, Washington Street and Penn  Street, we’ll really feel good about our streets. Our tires are taking a beating with all those potholes hanging on from year to year. . . .I see all the markers are down on Thirst Quenchers, so in the months ahead that building will become Bath’s Town Hall.  It has a history of being an Acme Market and Alex Dettmer’s Bath Hardware before it burned down. I remember coming back from a Yankee ball game, the only one I ever attended, when it happened. . . . We had some more history this week – July 9, 1945, the day of the cloudburst that made a big flood in downtown Bath, and the German prisoners of war who cleaned up under the Monocacy Creek bridges afterward, the drowning of the Irkie Rehrig child, and cleaning up the debris and mud in our homes and businesses down town. All that blocked up at the bridges and so water rolled down Chestnut Street a foot deep in minutes.  All that 72 years ago last Sunday, but you don’t forget it when you’re growing up . . . . It was nice to see the Phillies hit six home runs on Sunday. Now they know they can hit long balls. After the All-Star game break, let’s turn this thing around and at least get into a playoff. . . .The home run derby on Monday night was entertaining and the all-star game on Tuesday figured to be a good one as usual . Prediction: NL – 6-5 winners. . . . Hear TP hasn’t gotten to see the IronPigs or Fightin’ Phils yet. What are you waitin’ for buddy – get going already! . . . Good News: Clark Smith is back and playing cards with the Lion “Hearts” gang. . . . Jeff Varju and wife Jessica are back in church with their little boy born recently, and she’s back on duty serving at My Place Pizza. . . . The 4-H Center in Bushkill Township will be a beehive of activity all of next week as another lass studies in person all about the environment. The youngsters have been going to the school since George Kreitz and Ye Ed organized it in 1981. Enjoy the summer everybody!!!

Ten Facts Of Happiness

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One of my favorite magazines is Entrepreneur.  I read ten facts about happiness from around the world and thought the information is not only interesting but food for thought.  This year, the report deems Norway the happiest country in the world.  The U.S. is in 14th place.  Here’s what the World Happiness Report found.

1. Self-employed people have higher overall life evaluations.

In developed countries, self-employed people report being more satisfied than those who are traditionally employed.

2. People are happier when they maintain their social life throughout the workweek.

Most Americans feel happier on the weekends. But this weekend effect disappears when people work in a “high trust” environment — where they consider their boss not as a superior but a partner — and when they take part in social activities throughout the week.

3. American happiness has been declining over the past decade.

For the past decade, Americans have been reporting lower and lower happiness levels. They associate their decreased satisfaction with having less social support and personal freedom.

4. It’s important to prioritize your mental health.

The most powerful way to decrease misery in the world is the elimination of depression and anxiety disorders (the most common forms of mental illness).

5. Have someone to count on.

People who have partners, solid relationships with extended family or simply someone to count on are much happier than those who do not.

6. Family, childhood and schooling influence happiness later in life.

For adults, happiness levels are largely influenced by one’s current economic, social and health status. While backgrounds are often overlooked, they too play a major part in determining overall life satisfaction.

7. Income is more important than education.

Survey respondents from all countries included in the report agreed that income is more important for happiness than education. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are college dropouts, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

8. Happiness depends on the type of job a person has.

It’s no surprise that employed people are happier than unemployed people, but the type of job also comes into play. The report reveals that blue-collar jobs — in industries such as construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, farming, fishing and forestry — tend to correlate with lower levels of happiness.

9. It’s not all about the money.

Salary isn’t the only career aspect that influences one’s happiness level. Social status at work, social relationships in the workplace, daily work structure and goal-setting also play major parts in determining happiness levels.

10. Unemployment is “scarring.”

Even after a person finds another job, the report explains, the unhappy feelings they experienced while unemployed linger.

I suspect we are all searching for happiness and, in addition, we all want our children to be happy.  As you can see, when it comes to the extenuating factors people who are generally happy are self-employed, have a healthy social life, have trusting relationships and one’s economic, social and health status.

Are you happy?

Rose Leadum (credit)

Carol serves as a featured writer for The Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog.

Notes From Moore Township’s July BOS Meeting

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The Moore Township Board of Supervisors received a barrage of updates at their July 6 monthly meeting, hearing multiple briefs from respective departments on safety, recreational, preservational and environmental business.

In the recreation department report, Supervisor Richard Gable said that the township is beginning to look into purchasing materials to construct a portable stage for community days. Gable suggested building a structure that has wheels and can be put together in sections so it can be easily moved.

Gable said that the township will not be able to use Northampton Borough’s portable band shelter this year due to scheduling conflicts, so the township may as well look into building an alternative structure.

Gable suggested the township set aside roughly $1,500 to purchase materials to build the structure that is approximately 24 feet by 16 feet.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Gable said.

Supervisors Chairman David Tashner stressed that any potential structure would have to be kept portable, so the township does not have to adhere to any adverse regulations.

“If we create any kind of permanent structure, it’s going to have to fall under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Labor & Industries (L&I) regulations,” Tashner said.

The board went on to approve the funds so they can build a structure if they are unable to secure one for upcoming community days.

The Klecknersville Rangers Volunteer Fire Company detailed in their fire and ambulance reports that the month of June saw 59 fire calls for a total of 495 man hours, 60 ambulance calls for a total of 240 man hours and 162 total hours of fire and ambulance training.

Moore Township’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) reported that they are looking into purchasing an affordable replacement for the township’s Appalachian Park sign that was stolen. Peter Locke of the EAC also announced that the council will have a set of finalized and recommended rules for the park at the next board of supervisors meeting. EAC members have also been evaluating trails within the park.

The board of supervisors motioned to allocate $159,400 to the township’s land preservation board toward land preservation efforts to secure a particular property. Bob Romano, chairman of the township’s land preservation board, said that as of the current date, the township has preserved 33 farms and approximately 2,000 acres, with two additional properties set to be secured in August.

The next Moore Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be on August 1 at 7 p.m.

Lehigh Township Planners Send Warehouse Ordinance To Supervisors

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Members of the Lehigh Township Planning Commission agreed to send a draft ordinance on township warehouse restrictions to the board of supervisors for consideration at their July 10 meeting. The ordinance is aimed toward large warehouses and would restrict warehouse development from every type of township zoning district except for those that are designated for industrial use.

The ordinance would bar warehouses from being developed in any district that’s not industrial, and would set other restrictions on how they would be allowed to be built within industrial districts.

The ordinance, if approved by the board of supervisors, would set a maximum building coverage of 50 percent. This limitation would mean that the physical building can only cover 50 percent of the plot of land, essentially limiting how large a warehouse can be.

Additionally, the planning commission discussed maximum lot coverage percentages, which would limit how much land could be used for total development, including both the building and relevant parking lots.

Planning Commission Chairman David Shulman cautioned against making restrictions too harsh, particularly pointing to the maximum total coverage percentages. Shulman said leaving a little bit of wiggle room can protect the township from unwanted conflicts with developers.

Township Engineer Phil Malitsch echoed those concerns.

“I would think that we can’t put something in the ordinance that is overly restrictive for industrial zones,” Malitsch said.

“We have an extremely limited industrial area left,” Shulman said. “And we’ve had numerous discussions… could we be challenged because we don’t have enough industrial space?”

Currently, the township only has one 60-acre industrial lot.

However, Shulman maintained that the ordinance’s development is to protect from excessive warehouse development and that a cap needs to be placed to limit total lot coverage.

“Certainly, it should not be 100 percent,” he said.

The ordinance would also limit building height to 36 feet at the highest point, lowering it from a current height of 50 feet. The planning commission initially discussed making the maximum height 35 feet, but changed it to the standard warehouse height of 36 feet to avoid any potential problems.

“Rather than create the issue upfront, just make it 36 [feet] and be done with it,” Shulman said.

Planners also expressed support for the ordinance to require traffic studies and turning templates for any warehouse project that also detail what types of tractor trailers the development will attract.

The proposed ordinance seemed to be received favorably by the few township residents who were in attendance. Resident Frank Vitovitch, while favorable toward the ordinance, said the township must follow and enforce it if it gets enacted.

“I think this is exactly the time to be restrictive. The ordinances are adopted to protect the area and the residents,” said Vitovitch. “If we enact this, we have to stick to it.”

Brew Pub Slated For Main Street In Nazareth

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Nazareth residents could soon be able to enjoy a cold beer right along Main Street, as a 4,700 square foot craft brewery is all but certain to grace the street within the coming months.

Nazareth Downtown Coordinator Stephanie Varone announced that she has recruited a second brew pub into the borough at borough council’s July 5 business meeting. The tenant, Wayne Milford, signed a seven-year lease and plans to open it up on Main Street by September.

The brewery, Birthright Brewing Company, will be at 57 S. Main St., at the location of the former Nazareth Run Inn. The craft brewery will be headed by Milford, who has previous experience in the craft brewery business which has led him to a multitude of different places, according to Varone.

Vacationers may have visited another Milford-inspired location, as Milford was the head brewer at Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

“He has built the Dogfish brew pub in Rehoboth, he has built brew pubs in Cancun… He knows what he’s doing,” Varone said.

Varone said that while the craft brewery will not be a full restaurant, it will have a pizza oven to provide visitors with a diverse selection of items, from pizzas to sandwiches.

“Even though it’s a microbrewery, he will still serve food, and it’s a really great menu. I’ve seen it, I’ve worked on it with him. I couldn’t be more excited,” she said.

Birthright Brewing will be open by September, Varone told council.

Varone said this is the seventh business she’s recruited onto Main Street as downtown coordinator, which has resulted in $297,000 in revenue from closed leases, and $2,067,000 in total revenue for the borough in three years.  

In other business, leaders of three Nazareth Borough first response departments were honored for their leadership at the meeting, marking positive improvements among the borough’s services.

“Stars for Heroes” awards were given to Police Commissioner Randall Miller, Fire Chief John Deutsch, and Ambulance Director Jennifer McCloskey. The patriotic mementos given out are commemorative stars taken from American flags that are no longer able to be flown. They were presented by a representative from the organization, who noted that Stars for Heroes has previously recognized a local resident for their service.

Harry Adams, a World War II veteran, was honored with a military star last Veterans Day.

Keeping with the theme of first responders and emergency personnel, Mayor John Samus swore in Joe Ianovale as 2nd Assistant Fire Chief, and council made a motion approving Ianovale for the position.

Nazareth Borough Council will next meet on Thursday, August 3 for a workshop meeting at 6 p.m.