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Warehouse project discussed

By Susan Bryant


The Route 100 North warehouse project and funding the fire companies were the main topics of discussion July 1 at the virtual and in-person Lowhill Township supervisors’ meeting.

The first item discussed was the review and approval of the sketch plan for the Route 100 North 190,960-square-foot warehouse distribution project at 7503 Kernsville Road, Orefield.

Presenting the sketch plan was Kestra Kelly, senior engineer with BL Companies, and Brian Reisinger, vice president of development with Core5 Industrial Partners LLC.

“Subsequent to our sketch plan, we did have a scoping meeting with the township and PennDOT and we got some feedback about the driveway locations mainly due to turning lanes, so we have since revised the sketch plan,” Kelly said.

The sketch plan is significantly the same except for the location of the driveway, which is now located more or less in the center of the frontage along Kernsville Road, which will allow for turning lanes to be installed, she stated.

“As a result of that, we had to rotate the building and it did get smaller. So right now it is proposed at a little bit under 200,000 square feet,” Kelly said. “We are proposing underground stormwater management and on-lot septic.

“We are proposing to extend the waterline to the site.

“That is one thing we were hoping to request at the meeting tonight is the waterline extension.”

Kelly said it is their understanding the existing waterline ends just past Beechwood, so they would be looking to extend it up Route 100 over to Pony Road and Orchard Road to the site.

She also said the revised sketch plan does have the required 55-foot-wide buffering and screening along the residential district and they will be achieving that likely between a combination of earth, berms and landscaping.

According to Kelly, a traffic study has not taken place, but will be included when they go in with the land development.

Kelly said they propose to seek a variance for the building height after a question was raised about the height.

“It’s your standard (height),” Reisinger said. “For most buildings like this, it would be 36 feet clear inside the building so that puts the height of the building around 41 to 42 feet.”

According to Administrator Brian Carl, the township allows 35 feet with on-lot services.

“If they get an approval for the waterline extension, they will have public water and on-lot septic so you would still be capped at 35,” he said. “If they have both public services, they could go to 50 feet.”

Kelly said they plan to seek a variance for that.

After Supervisor Robb Werley raised the question on what the planning commission recommended, Carl commented.

“They recommended not approving the two waivers they were seeking,” Carl said. “One was to skip the preliminary stage and go right to the preliminary final and the other was to resize the buffer on the west side and it sounds like they kind of did that.

“Otherwise, they were kind of in agreement that everything does check the boxes from the sketch plan.”

Werley then made a motion to approve the sketch plan and Chairman Richard Hughes seconded it.

After the motion was approved, Kelly asked if the approval included the waterline extension, which raised another discussion on which direction the waterline should go and an amended motion, which was approved.

The amended motion gives Core5 and BL Companies the approval to extend the waterline on the approval of the Lehigh County Authority and the supervisors the right to approve which way the lines go.

Next on the agenda was the approval of the George “Buddy” and Cheree Wessner Stone Haven minor subdivision preliminary plan to move various items toward the front of the property.

After a brief discussion, supervisors approved the plan with Supervisor Wessner abstaining.

The board then approved and signed the Ryan and Sarah Halpin sewer planning module for 3606 Windy Road.

Next on the agenda was Engineer Ryan Christman’s report regarding the Bear Road Bridge Replacement project.

According to Christman, the project is slowly moving along and is still on schedule.

“Everything is working out with PPL on getting the pole moved,” he said. “They may have an issue with getting some of the signatures because there are three co-owners on one of the lots. One is deceased, one is in Florida and one is in Georgia. PPL is going to stay on it.”

He said the cost to move the pole is about $5,000.

Carl stated during his administrator report, the Sanctuary at Haafsville would really like the township to sign a contract with them.

He said the total for the township used to be capped at $500 to $550, but the Sanctuary does not have the funds to be able to cap anymore.

“They have to charge for services,” he added.

After a short discussion, the board approved a motion to sign a contract with the Sanctuary for its services.

The next item under the administrator’s report was funding the fire companies that serve Lowhill Township.

“So, we did have our fire company meeting last month,” Carl stated.

“We have got to kind of figure out how we can generate some more revenue for those guys.”

He suggested one option of funding them would be a fire tax based on the assessed values of Lowhill Township properties.

Carl said using the .444 millage rate a home assessed at $505,000 would pay a fire tax of $221 a year and a home assessed at $159,000 would pay a fire tax of $70.18 per year.

After a lengthy discussion about whether to implement a fire tax and how to fund the fire companies, the board decide to appoint Carl as their point person on this matter.

Solicitor Charles Waters Jr. suggested having another attorney experienced in this kind of matter attend the next supervisors’ meeting.

Carl said at the next fire meeting he will try to find out a time line of when the supervisors have to make a decision on funding the fire companies by, so they have an enough time to implement something.

He also suggested the supervisor try and come up with a funding model and he still thinks it has got to be based on what services the fire companies provide.

The third item under Carl’s report was the township received its first half of its COVID money.

The board approved opening a new checking account for the funds at New Tripoli Bank.

The last item under Carl’s report was that he was getting pricing together to transfer all paper property files to electronic files.

Roadmaster Joe Kalusky stated in his report, for June the road crew cut the shoulder on Browning Road, put a 150-feet of drainpipe in, put millings down, started back filing on Farrier Road, and took the trees down by Bear Road Bridge that needed to come down.

He added they did grass mowing, put the speed limit signs up on Hollenbach Road, and did oil and chipping in Weisenberg.

He said for July the road crew are going to finish oil and chipping in Lynn and he would like to get started on the Valley Road Bridge project.

There were no items reported under old or new business.

The next supervisors’ meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5.