Skip to main content

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission on Thursday examined a proposed 420,000-square-foot building for the Township of Upper Mount Bethel and found fault with just about everything.

“I don’t even know where to start,” Commissioner Stephen Melnick said of developer Lou Pektor’s proposal for 303 Demi Road in River Pointe Commerce Park.

This is exactly what Commissioner Chris Amato said last July when the LVPC reviewed the township’s zoning changes that helped pave the way for the development of 13 buildings.

The LVPC staff report said that there are not enough lodgings for the trucks, that emergency access is inadequate, that environmental threats are not taken into account, and that nearby roads and bridges are not available. not ready for increased traffic. The Demi Road plan was the first LVPC review of a specific building in River Pointe.

Pektor owns 725 acres at the eastern end of Upper Bethel, near the Delaware River. The land is zoned for industrial use. Pektor’s representatives claim that River Pointe will only use 2% of the township’s land, create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Groupe CBRE Inc., the rental agent of River Pointe, describes the development of Upper Mount Bethel Township over the past year as “the largest industrial park planned on the east coast.” The development will provide more than 5 million square feet of industrial space.

The Demi Road building is identified as a “logistics hub,” a term Commissioner Susan Lawless found vague.

“You’re just going to have jobs in the warehouse, so don’t promise us anything,” she said. Lawless also said development traffic studies “are worthless”.

Jillian Seitz, LVPC’s senior community planner, said without public water service development will not support high-paying jobs. It has been a frequent comment from LVPC on warehouse plans: The lack of sufficient improvements to utilities and roads when they are built means the buildings will not provide better jobs in the future.

LVPC chairman Greg Zebrowski said the plan ignored the concerns of township residents. At outdoor mass gatherings last year, locals said Pektor’s plan threatened their rural way of life. Zebrowski also said that as warehouses become more automated, truck traffic will increase.

Warehouse traffic to and from the east will cross the Portland-Columbia toll bridge to connect to Interstate 80. LVPC executive director Becky Bradley said the Pennsylvania and New York departments of transportation Jersey have both expressed concern about the additional traffic coming from River Pointe.

Charles Cole, a resident of Upper Mount Bethel, used a sanitized version of a crass expression to express his thoughts on the industrial park: “Droppings are happening.”

The committee voted to approve the River Pointe staff review. These comments will be sent to the Upper Mount Bethel Planning Commission.

The LVPC neither approves nor rejects the developments. Its professional staff review the plans and assess whether they meet regional goals. The appointed commissioners then review those comments, make suggestions, and vote to approve the review, not the development.

Warehouse redevelopment in Forks Township

The panel also approved staff review of a plan for a 220,000 square foot warehouse at 600 Kuebler Road in Forks Township. This project is a “redevelopment”, taking the place of a 175,000 square foot building that will be demolished. This part of Forks was mostly farmland years ago.

“This area was once almost entirely agricultural and now includes existing and proposed industrial development,” Samantha Smith, chief community planner, wrote in her comments.

The site is already in use for industry, so the plan is “generally consistent” with FutureLV, the LVPC master plan for land use planning in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

The commission has met virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The full meeting agenda is available online.

The next LVPC meeting will take place on June 24 at 7 p.m. Visit the LVPC website for more information.