Kline planners withhold decision on warehousing

Jim Dino, Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
·3 min read

Mar. 3—The Kline Twp. Planning Commission failed to give final approval Tuesday evening for a project to build 3.6 million square feet of warehousing on a tract of land adjacent to Route 309 and the McAdoo exit of Interstate 81.

On the advice of the township engineer, Lehigh Engineering of Pottsville, the commission did not vote to give conditional final approval that developer Brewster Land Development Co. sought.

Joel Schmoyer, chief engineer for Lehigh Engineering, outlined a number of questions he had from plans submitted at the last hearing.

"Lehigh Engineering would recommend withholding plan approval until the majority of outstanding comments listed are adequately addressed," Schmoyer said. "I believe we have a resolution moving forward, but it would be our opinion there is too much outstanding at this point, especially considering some of the issues brought up tonight."

Schmoyer said it would be "a six-month process" to get third-party approvals for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems permit and an erosion and sedimentation permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and to get a Highway Occupancy Permit for traffic from the state Department of Transportation.

Attorney Donald Karpowich, representing the developer, said it could take up to eight months for those third-party approvals. So he asked for the conditional final approval so the project will be ready to go as soon as possible.

"We are asking for conditional final (approval) with the understanding your engineer would withhold releasing the plans until we could prove that we met those third-party approvals," Karpowich said. "That is common across the Commonwealth. We need that conditional approval from a financing standpoint. If you read the newspaper, you see all these warehouse and distribution facilities are cropping up everywhere else. In order to put Kline Twp. on the map, and keep us competitive in terms of securing decent tenants, we need this conditional approval."

One question raised Tuesday evening was sewage service.

Karen Pollock, the engineer for the Kline Twp. Municipal Authority, said Kline Twp. has 170,000 gallons per day of sewage capacity in the Kline-Banks-McAdoo sewage treatment plant, but the daily flow averages only 50,000 to 60,000 gallons per day.

"We have an intermunicipal agreement in which a pump station conveys our combined sewage to the wastewater treatment plant," Pollock said. "The pump station is sometimes overwhelmed during high intensity rainfall events. DEP may or may not look at that as a problem. The pump station is owned by the McAdoo Borough Sewer Authority. It is up to them and their engineer to say if they have enough capacity in that pump station. It's marginal."

Most of the rest of the questions raised by Schmoyer were answered by William Swanick, the senior project manager for the project.

Don Smith, president of Brewster Land Development Co., said he will make the project "a world-class project." At his expense, a water line will be extended to the edge of the property and made available to residents nearby, and 20 acres will be set aside in the northeast corner of the property for a preserve, where there would be a walkway around wetlands.

Christopher May, the traffic manager for the project, said a traffic study indicated the project would create 2,500 vehicles in and out of the development every day — 46%, or about 1,200, would be trucks.

The relocation of the intersection of Route 309 and the Lofty Road would cause a portion of Lofty Road to be repositioned, because the intersection would be moved north to avoid the crest of a hill along Route 309.

Attorney James Diehl of Pottsville, representing Russell Postupack, a landowner along Lofty Road, said the relocation of Lofty Road would cut off access to a property Postupack owns that is now along Lofty Road.

Attorney Mark Semanchik, the solicitor for the planning commission, said the comission will schedule another meeting within the next 30 days when questions the engineer raised are answered.

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