Tuesday, January 24, 2017
500,000 Sq Ft Distribution Center Planned on Brodhead Rd
Plan to develop the last remaining commercial site along Brodhead Road were considered by the Bethlehem Township Planning Commission at their January 23 meeting. The land is owned by Brodhead Holdings,L.P., which wants to develop a 37-acre tract along the south side of Brodhead Road and north side of Route 22 into a 513,520 sq ft multi-tenant building. Prominent land use attorney Blake Marles presented the project, and Commissioners agreed to place it in administrative review. The goal is to have a plan ready for approval in March so that construction can begin in June.
Brodhead Holdings also owns a separate tract between the railroad and Route 191,but have no plans to develop that piece.
The chief concern is one of two access points into the development. One of them is located along a steep hill going along Brodhead Road, along the west side of the railroad tracks Engineers pointed out that there is a clear sight triangle at both access points. In addition, Brodhead Holdings plans to build a left turn lane for tractor trailer traffic But is that enough?
Dave Colver,who happens to chair the Palmer Tp Board of Supervisors and has dealt with numerous land use issues in his time. He owns the office building located right at the access point closest to Route 191, and that has him concerned. "Brodhead Road is a problem on a good day," he observed He added that truck traffic already stacks at that location and is concerned that in the winter, it will be a problem.
Resodent barry Roth noted that a truck in the left lane will be at a dead stop on a hill with an 8% grade, and will have difficulty tuning. He worries that traffic coming from the opposite direction will run into trucks as they turn.
Township engineer Anthony Tallarida agreed that "it's a very challenged road and that trucks need a lot of space to stop and start." Planners have suggested that one of the access points be relocated closer to Fritch Road.
Another concern was the railroad crossing on Brodhead Road, though both Marles and Solicitor Wendy Nicolosi said they were doubtful that Norfolk and Southern would do anything to improve safety.
Planning Director Nathan Jones had a suggestion that everyone seemed to like. He noted that Brodhead Road has the most transit riders of any location in Bethlehem Township. He suggested that part of the planning include a bus shelter to protect employees waiting for a bus in inclement weather.
One legal concern is whether the development must also comply with the requirements of an overlay zoning district at that site. Marles said No, and Nicolosi said Yes. Marles plans to research that matter to see if there is any case law on point.
One of the people with Brodhead Holdings is developer Lew Ronca. I walked over to say Hi and he told me he was busy texting Alicia Karner.
"Now I know where you want to put Martin Tower!" I told him.
Lew was accompanied by his son, who seemed to love it when I teased his Dad.