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Board hears LVHN proposal concerns

At the Oct. 3 workshop meeting, the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners heard concerns from residents regarding the proposed Lehigh Valley Health Network development.

Dan Quay, LVHN vice president of business development, briefly discussed the elements of the proposal that stayed the same and others that have been changed since the original proposal.

LVHN is proposing two buildings on MacArthur Road, across from the municipal complex.

One building would be a full-service community hospital providing diagnostic imaging, laboratory services and other general emergency services. The proposed hospital building is not intended to be a Level 1 trauma center, meaning it will not be equipped for brain surgery or major cancer treatment.

A helipad has been proposed to airlift patients with major trauma injuries to another LVHN branch equipped to deal with such injuries.

The other building would contain medical offices. These offices would consolidate some of the many practices in the township, such as the laboratory services and vaccination sites, and add new services residents currently receive elsewhere.

While the majority of the proposal remained the same, there have been a few changes to the plan.

The maximum building height decreased from five stories to four, while the previously proposed restaurant pad and behavioral health facility were removed, Quay said.

Scott Pidcock, engineer, also reported LVHN is purchasing the Whitehall Township Authority property. He said the property will stay as is and will function as a buffer.

A small portion of the property would potentially be used to provide a third access point to the hospital. The new entrance would be an unrestricted driveway off Mechanicsville Road, between the Beth-El cemetery and Rosewood Lane.

The hospital’s main entrance would be the signalized intersection of Lehigh Street and MacArthur Road. An additional one-way entrance would be located farther down on MacArthur Road, where there is currently a barricade.

Township residents were allowed to ask questions and make comments on the proposal following the brief presentation.

An overwhelming amount of comments concerned an increase in traffic on both Mechanicsville and MacArthur roads.

Residents stressed there is often bumper-to-bumper traffic on Mechanicsville Road, especially during school drop-off and pickup hours.

The LVHN development plan is proposed to have 400 employees and nearly 1,000 parking spots.

Traffic isn’t the only issue facing nearby residents. If approved, residents said, the hospital and medical offices could add a significant amount of noise and light to the area.

A vote on whether or not the plan will move forward to the township’s planning commission for more in-depth comments will take place at the commissioners’ next meeting. Any decision made at that meeting pertains only to moving the proposal to the planning commission for further review.

The commissioners will next meet 7 p.m. Oct. 10 in the Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority public meeting room, 3213 MacArthur Road, Whitehall.