The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has expressed serious concern over a proposal to bring three warehouse buildings, totaling more than 2.6 million square feet to the property along Hamilton Boulevard that formerly served as the headquarters of Air Products.
The LVPC staff report described the proposal for the Upper Macungie Township property as inappropriate for the space.
“The subject application as presented generally exhibits inconsistency with FutureLV: The Regional Plan,” the report said. “While the LVPC supports the overall intent to reuse and redevelop the site, the scale of the proposed development is not suitable for the location, which contains a mix of residential, commercial and industrial uses.”
Committee members offered their perspective during a meeting of the Commission’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, with most expressing concern over the impact on local traffic.
“I think this is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Commissioner Percy Dougherty. “The traffic problems are insurmountable in my opinion.”
While he said he does not oppose the building of warehouses on the site, the size and scope of the plans are concerning.
The committee members agreed and recommended forwarding staff comments to the full board, which include recommendations for what the LVPC would like to see happen as the development moves forward.
Noting that the property is nearby several high-crash corridors, the LVPC said they would like to see traffic impact studies revisited, noting that the study submitted did not include a number of major intersections because of current construction projects.
Other recommendations included improving pedestrian access to nearby residential and retail areas by installing sidewalks. The Commission also recommended the improvement of bike lanes and access surrounding the property and making changes that would facilitate public transportation through the Lehigh Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA)
Another major concern was plans for the removal of a solar array that Air Products had installed on the campus.
“The solar panel farm was one of Air Products’ biggest attributes in terms of when it was installed. I don’t think it would be setting a good example to get rid of it,” Dougherty said.
The committee suggested that language asking the developer to preserve or replace the solar array be added to the official comments.
Becky Bradley, executive director of the LVPC, noted that the commission only serves in an advisory capacity and does not have the authority to approve or disapprove of a project.
“We lend advisory guidance to developers and municipalities as they negotiate out the project. There will be a lot of changes as a result of this process,” she said.e