A pool construction company located at 3742 Kreidersville Rd. in Northampton is not violating Allen Township zoning rules, says Allen Township Solicitor Lincoln B. Treadwell. This decision comes several weeks after neighboring residents voiced concerns over expansion at the property, which switched hands to new owners in late 2021.
During the June 28 Board of Supervisors meeting, Treadwell explained that the property, from 1988, has a nonconforming use. The lot contains a single-family home as well as a business. When built 34 years ago, the property adhered to the township’s zoning regulations. However, the land has since changed from industrial-commercial zoning to rural. Because the property was constructed before this change, Treadwell said the property and business are “entitled to protections.”
The main concerns among residents, voiced by Gene Clater, are traffic and noise. He claimed that vehicles are coming and going from the site as early as 3 a.m. He added that there are no buffers on the property to hide the noise and traffic from neighboring homes. In addition, he claimed there are as many as 11 vehicles parked on the property, more than the seven the property has a variance for.
Treadwell visited the property to investigate these complaints. Instead of violations, he said he saw “natural expansion” of the business.
“It is a business,” he told Clater and other neighbors in attendance. “We would expect that it would grow in some way.” He added that there was no dust, noise or odor.
Clater, former chair of the township’s planning commission, said the township’s ordinance allows businesses to expand 15% of their land area without the Board of Supervisors’ approval and 30% with Board approval. Anything greater requires zoning approval.
Clater estimates the business has expanded its land area by at least 75% without following zoning requirements or standards like buffering or paving.
Treadwell called Clater’s estimate inaccurate, adding the land on the property has always been used for the business. Under the old owner, rocks were piled there. Now, it is used for parking.
“Because there are cars there instead of rocks doesn’t mean it is an expansion of the area,” Treadwell told the audience.
“We hire a solicitor…if the solicitor has given his legal opinion and advice…it is not in the best interest of the township as a whole to go against that advice,” said Supervisor Gary Behler.
Since neither the township solicitor nor zoning officer found issues with the property, no violations will be handed out.
In other news, the township selected three architects to interview for their facility’s upgrade plan. Those architects are Alloy5, MKSD Architects, and Dewey Engineering. The three proposed the lowest bids for their services. Supervisors Behler and Paul Link volunteered to conduct the interviews.
During the meeting, supervisors also voiced concerns over paving progress on West 27th Street, the site of Towpath Estates. In late 2021, owner and developer Tim Livengood promised to complete paving, unfinished since 2013, by this August. However, paving has not yet started.
“Something is wrong with this picture,” said Supervisor Dale Hassler. “People are living there, paying taxes, and getting nothing but a beat-up road.”
If the developer does not pave the road by the deadline, the township will use the developer’s escrow to finish the job.
Finally, supervisors discussed new tapping fees for property owners. Tapping fees, one of three fees property owners must pay for a sewer connection, have not been updated in nine years.
Engineer Andrea Martin worked to bring the new fees up to standard, calculating new requirements and the costs of the recent Act 537 Plan drafted by the township. The increase, she said, is “significant.”
Because Allen Township uses the Northampton Borough Water Authority for some water and sewer services, a total tapping fee is charged by both municipalities. Allen Township’s fee, currently $500, can increase to no more than $1,320. Northampton’s fee is $5,070. Should the board approve the maximum tapping fee, property owners of new developments would pay $6,390 per EDU. This charge is only for those hooking up to Northampton’s line.
While this tapping fee is higher than the average fee in the state ($5,000-$6,000 in most municipalities, according to Martin), the township is “well within” its right to charge the maximum amount.
Because the increase is so significant, supervisors asked Martin to prepare a comparison chart to help them decide on the final fee. Once decided, they will need to draft a new ordinance for the fee to officially go into effect.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be held Tuesday, July 12 at 7 p.m.