A proposed warehouse along Route 222 and Schaeffer Road in Maidencreek Township continues to draw opposition from Maidencreek Township residents.
The 930,000-square-foot warehouse proposed by Maiden Creek Associates, Plymouth Meeting, will not only increase traffic along Route 222, but will create noise, diesel and light pollution, according to Save Maidencreek, a group of citizens that have banded together to stop the development.
Carol Ann Mauer Donahue said the 81-acre parcel of land is zoned C-2 and a warehouse does not automatically qualify so conditional use hearings are ongoing. The latest, held at Willow Creek Elementary School May 30, drew a packed house.
“This is agricultural property that sits between a memorial garden and a housing development,” she said. “It sits right at a roundabout that has three entrances. A fourth would be built as an entrance to the warehouse property.”
Mauer Donahue said the group, which has raised close to $4,500 toward its $20,000 goal to fight the warehouse construction, is concerned about safety along the already busy road, citing several overturned tractor-trailers in the roundabout since it was put in less than a year ago. The latest was over Memorial Day weekend, which closed the road for more than four hours.
Maidencreek Township Manager Hunter Aihrens said the warehouse could be approved by the board of supervisors as a conditional use. Ongoing hearings are being held monthly, he said.
“We don’t have a lot of warehouses in the township,” Aihrens said.
The three that are there are off major roads and isolated from residential areas, he said, adding this is the first proposal that people think of as a warehouse.
One of the issues raised by Save Maidencreek is that the developer wants to build on spec. Aihrens said from a Berks County perspective, that is in line with recent economic development.
Currently, there are three lawsuits pending against Maidencreek Township by the developers.
The first suit alleges that the township’s noise ordinance is not in compliance with state law, making it impossible for the proposed warehouse to comply with township noise regulations.
In a press release on the township’s website, the supervisors said they will review the suit with the township solicitor and will respond appropriately.
The second two have to do with the amount of time the township is allowing residents to question the developers’ experts during the hearings.
In a letter to residents on the township website, the township said, “This filing objects to the township process of running the Conditional Use Hearings. The suit alleges that the township’s pace of meetings and the process of questions by members of the public have not been fair.
“The Board of Supervisors will review the suit thoroughly with the township solicitor and will respond appropriately. As this is a matter of ongoing litigation, the amount of comment that the township will offer publicly will be limited,” the letter said.
Requests for comment from Maiden Creek Associates attorney Gregg Adelman have gone unanswered.
“I live within 1,000 feet from where it will be built,” said James Tyler, a member of Save Maidencreek. “This is a small township with a lot of rural space which appealed to us when we moved here.”
Since moving in 2011, Tyler said, “quality of life has been disregarded with road widening projects and extensive development. We’re exhausted being a construction site with the widening of Route 222. We’ve had enough.”
Tyler said several warehouses have been built in nearby townships that are still vacant.
“Yet, they are still building. This will change Maidencreek forever and we haven’t seen a reason for it.”
Both Tyler and Mauer Donahue said the developer has been using diversion tactics to avoid answering residents’ questions, which Mauer Donahue said is “frustrating.”
“We want clarity,” Tyler said. “We are not being told the actual size or what it will be used for or how much traffic will be generated. We are looking for answers to basic questions.”
According to Mauer Donahue, the developer alleges they have “Defacto” approval for the project because the township is not following procedure.
“I filed a suit against that,” she said. The lawsuit, filed with the Berks County Court of Common Pleas is against the township to prevent the warehouse from receiving automatic approval.
“From my view, the developer’s attorney is doing everything he can to push this through without giving us a voice. Knowing we aren’t [legally] represented weighs in his favor,” she said.