During their meeting on Wednesday, May 10, East Allen Township supervisors met with representatives of Bright Farms LLC, an indoor farming company that grows local, non-GMO lettuce. The company is interested in building one of its East Coast greenhouses in East Allen Township on Locust Road between Route 512 and Arrowhead Road. The company already has six greenhouses along the East Coast, including one in Selinsgrove.
Kate Bowdler, Senior Project Developer, said Bright Farms grows lettuce for local consumption. West Coast lettuce, she said, lacks in quality due to shipping times and also pollutes the environment because of cross-country shipping. Bright Farms lettuce is consumed by customers within a four hour radius. Giant is currently one of the company’s biggest customers.
The 32-acre greenhouse is powered by sunlight and uses horizontal farming. It would cost roughly $300 million to develop and create 255 full-time jobs with healthcare, 401Ks, and managerial opportunities. The company predicts 68 trucks per day at full-build, which will happen over the course of eight years.
To begin the development process, Bowdler and her team requested the opportunity to open up an escrow with the township and meet with the township’s solicitor and engineer to potentially plan out language for a zoning amendment that would allow for a controlled environment greenhouse in this agricultural zone. The draft amendment must still go through the proper advertising procedures. Supervisors approved this request.
In other news, supervisors also granted conditional final plan approval for the 6292 Hanoverville Rd. Minor Subdivision Plan. This plan is part of developer Abe Atiyeh’s Farmhouse Village Major Subdivision in Hanover Township.
The development is at Jacksonville and Airport roads. The municipal dividing line between Hanover and East Allen Townships is mid-way through the development. While homes will be in the southwestern corner of the property in Hanover Township, their backyards will be in East Allen Township.
The northern portion of the property in East Allen Township consists mainly of detention ponds.
However, Atiyeh is asking for an emergency access road onto Hanoverville Road. The emergency access road would consist of 39 paved feet, then a gate prohibiting through traffic. The rest of the emergency road will be used with impervious pavers.
Atiyeh’s representatives at the meeting said their client does not know what he will be developing in East Allen Township yet but insinuated that the road could potentially become a public road in the future.
“Every day is an adventure,” one representative said of working with his client.
Supervisors approved the conditional final plan, deferring curbs and sidewalks for two years.
Supervisors also approved an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement with Northampton Borough for Sanitary Sewer Treatment & Conveyance, as well as a separate agreement with Allen Township for Sanitary Sewer Conveyance. This will allow sewage to flow from the future Northampton Area School District building on Route 329.
Supervisors also approved the purchase of an asphalt paver and trailer with Moore Township. The township received a $266,573 state LSA grant, which was used to purchase the paver from Stevenson Equipment. The trailer was purchased from Hale Trailer. Moore Township will own the trailer, while both townships will own the paver. However, East Allen will be permitted to use the trailer for hauling. A formal maintenance agreement between the two municipalities is being drafted. The total cost after the grant was $16,708.
Finally, supervisors accepted the resignation of Dave Mowen from the Planning Commission. This leaves a vacancy on the commission.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be Thursday, May 25 at 7 p.m.