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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Coming Your Way, Truck Traffic and Big Boxes!

Although Allentown has received most of the recent attention, the real story is going on in Allen and East Allen Townships. That's where Fed Ex Ground is under construction. At full build out, Lehigh Valley Planning Comm'n Executive Director Becky Bradley predicts it "will be the largest ground facility in the world." It will bring jobs, but it will also include a lot more big box warehouses and logistics facilities that will double truck traffic in the Lehigh Valley over the next few years. They ware being built in Allen and East Allen Townships, near the Fed Ex, with the ultimate goal being same day delivery to customers along the east coast. And while online shopping and big boxes explode, brick and mortar department stores will wither, taking jobs away.

In his first State of the County address, NorCo Exec Lamont McClure said he's troubled by the impact of this development. But there's little a county can do. We may have a regional planning commission, but we have no regional planning and zoning laws. Over the years, developers have systematically destroyed much of the rustic charm of the Lehigh Valley. There's no longer much difference between Route 248 and in Northampton County and Route 145 in Lehigh.

A small group of local citizens have banded together. They call themselves CARD (Citizens for Accountability and Responsible Development).

In the meantime, Jaindl and Watson Land Companies which are proposing six warehouses taking up 2.5 million sq ft in Allen Township. Part of the plan requires an easement over Northampton Area School District property for a state road and a water detention basin. But a deed restriction in the school district deed requires that the land be used solely for ""education and related purposes."

CARD filed a RTK request, seeking correspondence between Jaindl and school officials from 2014 to present. It's been flat out denied and for five reasons.

One reason cited, an internal investigation, is bullshit. That would include internal correspondence, not correspondence between Jaindl and the school.

A second reason for denying everything is the fact that some of the correspondence includes real estate appraisals. That information could be redacted.

A third reason is that these are internal predecisional deliberations. Bullshit again. Communications with Jaindl are necessarily external.

A fourth reason to deny everything is attorney-client privilege and work product. This is nonsense. To the extent that there is attorney client privilege, it is waived in communications with a third party.

A fifth and final reason for denying everything is that it might reveal employee identification numbers. This is nonsense because that information can easily be redacted.

Unfortunately, the school district response is dated February 20. This was just sent to me yesterday. Hopefully, CARD has appealed. It is quite clear that the school district has no intention of being accountable.


Anonymous said...

Why is this any different than what you supported Chrin doing off 33?

Anonymous said...

What's to prevent an individual (not CARD) from putting in the same RTK? They get the same denial and then that individual appeals it.

Trumpster said...

What is needed is an improved infrastructure to support the additional road traffic, as well as freight rail links and a commercial air facility to handle cargo flights. This will support the digital commerce economy that is rapidly replacing the shopping malls for many consumer products that are sold on the internet.

If the area can provide the infrastructure, the results will be billions in income to the area and steady employment for many people in a wide variety of jobs. IT, management, logistics, warehousing.

All this is a good thing and it should be encouraged.

Anonymous said...

@0,00 sq.ft.. warehouses that employ 10 people are real great.

Long Live the Robber Barrons!

Anonymous said...

Growth is good.

Anonymous said...

This is what Jaindl did in Lower Macungie, with the board of commissioners and its Solicitor Attorney Rich Somach (of the Pawlowski trial infamy). It was all done in the dark.

Anonymous said...

Brick and mortar stores are going to keep declining, I can find anything that I need on the internet in minutes, compare several items, and get the best price. It will be delivered in a couple of days. They can sell for far less due to much lower overhead, less retail theft. I now estimate I buy 80% of my retail purchase online. One of the reason I prefer online is I dont have to waste time in traffic, which as you state, is really a pain. Then you may have to check out several stores to find what you want. I do believe brick and mortar will continue to decline until one day it will implode.

Ron Beitler said...

@6:46 this is similar to what a prior board did in Lower Mac, but not identical mechanics. In our case we (a resident group at the time I was a part of) RTK'd and poked around enough and eventually found a timeline memo that demonstrated we think clearly that a decision was already made during the course of private executive sessions or even worse off site meetings with the developer.

Here is that memo:

In this case I believe a term sheet (complete with a concept plan, I think the one that has been in the papers) has been drafted by the school district and Jaindl/Watson that will be voted on at a public meeting. So the question is how much of the train has already left the station. How much opportunity was there for public discussion AND by the time that occurs has a decision already been made or consensus reached. In that way, this might be similar to what happened in Lower Mac.

I know first hand, board's use "real estate" as a broad catch all to enable going into a executive session. Which is legal, but at no time should any polling or consensus reaching occur. Must to be for informational purposes only. Not at any time decision making. In Lower Mac from 2009-2010 I do believe decision making happened behind closed doors. I don't know if that's happening here or not, but I think CARD is doing an excellent job keeping these questions front and center.

In this case there is also a matter of if it's ever appropriate to have warehouses and schools adjacent to each other. I don't think it is. They are functionally incompatible uses.

@8:29 you are correct. I agree brick and mortar is declining which is why it was insane for Lower Mac and East Penn School District to actually subsidize the Hamilton Crossings shopping center. But with warehouse proliferation it's simply a matter of capacity. And I think we're reaching it. Also that far too many facilities have been allowed (lower Mac as an example) to be built way too far away from highway interchanges. Therefore requiring additional infrastructure to be built.

The biggest boondoggle being the major planned highway expansions / new highway interchanges that are now needed (almost exclusively because of warehouses) and where the money will come from. The federal government has signaled that state and local government should not expect the gravy train of federal subsidies to continue (I think this is a good thing, as it forces us to make land use decisions based on what we can actually afford to build/maintain).

Eric Miller said...

@Ron Beitler NASD voted 5-2 on it at their meeting last night. Mcall just posted the story.


Eric Miller said...

@4:21 An appeal was filed

Ron Beitler said...

Ugh, I'm very sorry to hear that Eric. From an outside looking in perspective this is clearly not in the best interest of the district and therefore probably runs afoul of the deed restriction. Looks like 2 directors acknowledged that there were transparency questions. Good for them. Hope you have recourse to continue fighting. Looks like you still have options until land is conveyed. Silly to move this forward without rock solid legal opinion on deed issues and shame on the majority of the board for not seeing the folly of mixing warehouses and schools. Common sense tells us that's problematic.

This is a good example of where the public needs to ask the question, why the rush? There is no good answer to that other than to accommodate a developers timeframe for construction. Definitely no public good.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why is this any different than what you supported Chrin doing off 33?"

I supported it, and so did most everyone, bc the promise was that there would be no big boxes. "Not gonna' happen," were Dave Colver's exact words to county council. Well, it did, but Colver tells me this is only permitted along the perimeter, and that the rest of the development will be different. We were all told this would mean 5,000 jobs. So against my better judgment, I supported this TIF. I generally am opposed to any kind of tax incentive, and think the only place they should be used is in an urban core bc of the huge cost associated with redevelopment there.

Anonymous said...

JOBS MY ASS!!!!! Come over to Hanoverville road where all the were going to be...hah ...thet=y can't even fill the warehouse let alone jobs...all this is..is jandl getting richer and flooding our neighborhoods with trucks!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My kids can’t wait to graduate from HS and get careers in warehousing.

Anonymous said...

Said the cancer cell...

Anonymous said...

Folks must remember that Allen Township voters turned down a referendum for open space preservation not once but twice in the past few years.This $ would have been mixed with state/county dollars to match larger funds. Alas it was not to be.Voters said no.

People forget that the land now owned by the school district was once operated by the State Hospital and owned by the Commonwealth. it was sold to the District in a good faith agreement: for a school not a warehouse

Julie Barnes said...

Jaindl gets what Jaindl wants. He submits an outlandish plan that scares the hell out of the community and then agrees to "compromise" by backing off a wee bit. The community is thankful that the plan is now bad but not as bad as it could have been. Jaindl masquerades as a good "community partner" all the while getting what he wanted all along. He's not a nice guy but kids himself by making "charitable donations." Writing checks is the easy part. What he's really contributed to is the ruination of the Lehigh Valley. Have a nice day, Dave!

Peter JCochran said...

Warehouses are an evolutionary process much like the closing of store chains ,toll takers and cable tv companies. Amazon and others will fill these facilities for now as malls close up and are taken down. The truth is a lot of folks will soon have water in their basements and they need an F-250 to get down their street without water running in the gunnels. Wait - an example will be Van Buren Road ,Just North off 248 . The West Retention pond is at capacity and there is no sidewalks ,homes or pavement yet. Where is the water all going to go ? Buy a Speedo at Amazon!

Anonymous said...

Warehouses eating up open green space makes millions for developers. It ends up costing regular folks millions in headaches. No jobs just headaches. Stop defending these corporate leeches on society. They make money off of misery. Get your heads out of your asses and start thinking for yourselves!

Anonymous said...

J. Barnes (12:23PM) has given all of us the game-winning page from every LV developer and builder’s playbook - Jaindl, Chrin, Strausser, Atiyeh, Tuskes, Koze, etc., etc., etc. Their maneuvering takes slightly different forms and nuances depending on which municipal authority they need to massage, but in the end “they get what they want.”