In what has become a common scene in communities throughout the Lehigh Valley, between 50 and 100 residents came out in full force to protest the planned development of a new warehouse complex. Allen Township residents filled the Allen Township Fire Company on Tuesday, February 27 to voice their concern over the proposed Jaindl Watson Land Company warehouse development.
This development, which will be built at Howertown and Seemsville Roads and Route 329, will consist of six different warehouses, totaling roughly 2.5 million square feet. Plans for the development were submitted to Allen Township in December 2016.
The land of the proposed warehouse complex is currently zoned for warehouse use, leaving supervisors’ hands legally tied.
“Every municipality has to provide for all different uses,” explained B. Lincoln Treadwell, township solicitor.
However, frustrated residents could not help but feel as if supervisors and developers like David Jaindl are not listening to their voices. Many residents who took a stand asked the same question of supervisors: What can we do?
“We are looking at our community as a whole,” said resident Pete James, who voiced concern about 13 proposed warehouses in the area. “That is a wall of warehouses.”
“We have had three large warehouse developments come into our beautiful rural areas,” said Marcy Vogal. “Perhaps you can look at keeping our quality of life what we would hope it would be…perhaps we need to do it [Allen Township’s recent comprehensive plan] again.”
Numerous residents, like Robert Hoskins, expressed concern over the environmental impacts of the warehouses Other residents appreciated the job opportunities the warehouses would bring, but wondered aloud whether Allen Township has experienced too much development in too short a time.
“We do not always control the change we get,” said Larry Oberly, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “I cannot use the public opinion to violate the law.” Both he and Treadwell explained that if plans meet the township’s requirements, supervisors cannot legally decline the project.
David Jaindl and his team were in attendance during part of the meeting. They addressed several planning issues, including the position of a City of Bethlehem waterline (which supervisors voted 3-2 to place 11 feet off the curb).
Jaindl also talked about plans to realign Seemsville Road 650 feet to the east to accommodate increased truck traffic. This would require the approval of East Allen Township.
East Allen Township resident Eric Miller asked Jaindl what his team would do should their request be denied.
“This is what is proposed right now,” countered Jaindl. “When we meet that hurdle, we will address it.”
Public comment during the three hour meeting was cut short, frustrating some residents who were waiting to speak. Public comment was reopened at the meeting’s end, but Jaindl’s development team was no longer present, leaving residents to address supervisors instead.
“How much warehouse space is enough?” one resident asked Oberly.
“I think we are at it,” he replied.
Mutters in the packed audience indicated that this is a remark citizens of Allen Township are not so quick to believe.
The next Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 8.