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Resident Fears 'First Park 33' will Bring Drugs, Prostitution

The Lower Nazareth Planning Commission addresses concerns over a 24/7 warehouse operation at the proposed First Park 33.

Missing drainage reports and a request to discuss the installation of sidewalks forced the Lower Nazareth Planning Commission to table a vote for First Park 33, a 58-acre lot off Route 248 opposite Prologis Parkway.

And a former trucker who lives near First Park 33 told the planners he fears the project's proposed warehouses will attract drugs and prostitution because of truckers with time on their hands.

First Industrial Realty Trust Inc., the owner of First Park 33, sought approval Monday to subdivide the land into three parcels.

Al Kortze, the township's engineer, declined to recommend approval for the preliminary/final subdivision plan and the preliminary/final development plan because storm drainage reports had not been submitted.

Members of the Planning Commission also voiced concern over an increase in foot traffic and pedestrians crossing Route 248 to reach Wawa. The board requested additional discussion on the possibility of sidewalks, which are not included in the plans for First Park 33.

According to Paul Szewczak, a principal at Liberty Engineering Inc. in Allentown, the developer would like to subdivide the land into three parcels.

Land parcels one and three will be on either side of the entrance at Route 248 -- across from Prologis Parkway. These parcels will be developed and a "For Sale" sign will go up.

The second parcel will be the proposed -- and, for the most part, unchanged -- warehouse project, which includes two warehouses at just under 600,000 square feet. The two buildings will face each other. Loading docks will run the length of the warehouses and will be between the two buildings.

Joseph Mayer -- his farm, on the 3900 block of Hollo Road, backs up to the First Park 33 property -- is bothered by the 24/7 warehouse operation.

“This is a farming area,” Mayer said. “We’re used to peace and quiet.”

Mayer added, "If [the warehouses are] open 24/7, I’m afraid it will be a hangout for truckers who show up 10 to 12 hours early and need a place to wait or sleep."

The former trucker told Planning Commission members that he knows what goes on in "those lots," and worried that drugs and prostitution will be brought into the area if truckers are allowed to hang out or sleep in their rigs.

Other tenants in the township don't allow truckers to “hang out” in lots, the planners assured Mayer. The board did agree, however, to refer the concern to the township solicitor.

Residents cannot appeal the hours of operation, the planners explained, because the conditional-use application for First Park 33 was approved in July. That was the last chance to appeal.

Approval on that application came with several conditions -- all meant to reduce the impact on neighbors who live on Country Club Road. Several residents, like Mayer, worried the project would harm their quality of life and property values.

The following conditions were addressed in the preliminary/final development plan, according to Szewczak:

  • Lower the building floor elevation by 2 feet. Raise the berm by 2 feet.
  • Plant a variety of evergreen trees. The species of trees will be approved during the land development stage.
  • Install a visual screen (solid fence) that is not less than 8 feet high at the top of the berm closest to the building.
  • On the residential side of the berm, plant a minimum of 50 large deciduous trees (those that shed leaves annually) with at least a 3-inch caliper (average height of 15 feet). The trees should be planted every 75 feet.

    Between each of the large trees: large shrubs (average height of 8 feet) and a minimum of 100 smaller caliper deciduous trees (average height of 4 to 5 feet at time of planting). The goal: four to five plantings between each large tree.
  • The berm should be continued along the northern property line of the third lot.
  • All plantings will be maintained and replaced in perpetuity. A dead tree must be replaced with the same species of tree. The new tree can be no less than 50 percent the size of the one it replaced.

The Planning Commission meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month, as needed. Holidays can also cause a shift in meeting dates. Meetings start at 6:30 p.m.

PA Mom December 20, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Great - no full-time police force and now drugs and prostitution...
Mallory Vough December 20, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Lower Nazareth Township is covered by Colonial Regional Police.
joseph violett December 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I think mr Mayer is wrong,Commercial truck drivers are drug tested at least twice a year and anytime they have a accident or injury on the job so as far as drug use it is much lower among truck drivers than the rest of the population.

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