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Despite traffic concerns, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission moves two large projects closer to approval

America's Truck Driver Crisis Is Complicated
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Rizz Containers & Disposal
A Rizz Containers & Disposal collection truck collects commercial and development recyclables and waste.

UPPER SAUCON TWP, Pa. — Proposals for both a large commercial center in Upper Saucon Township and a recycling facility at Grand Central Landfill in Plainfield Township caused Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) to raise concerns about the increased truck traffic they would bring.

But after a committee meeting Tuesday, both projects will move ahead to the planning commission's full meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, where recommendations and positive responses to the projects' municipalities were later adopted.

  • Lehigh Valley Planning Commission's comprehensive planning committee gave preliminary approval for a warehouse development in Upper Saucon and a recycling plant in Plainfield Township
  • Both projects are expected to affect truck traffic in their respective areas
  • The proposals will move to the full commission meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26, where they are expected to be adopted

The commerce center and recycling facility were designated land use of regional significance proposals, meaning they are reviewed by LVPC for consistency with the regional plan and other established initiatives.
Review and approval of comments by the planning commission is a significant part of the development process for large projects before the final say by local municipalities.

Three warehouses coming to Upper Saucon

The commercial center proposed by Kay Lehigh, LLC between Route 309 and East Valley Road in Upper Saucon would involve the construction of three warehouses.

The buildings would be 82,500 square feet, 1,153,250 square feet and 535,360 square feet, for a total of 1,771,110 square feet.

The consolidated lots would cover 119.1 acres.

A transportation impact study anticipated 4,042 trips per day out of the site — with 1,056 of those being commercial trucks.

There's a traffic signal at Route 309 and West Hopewell Road, and the planning commission recommended upgrades to West Hopewell Road to anticipate increases in traffic at the corridor.

The group said crash rates should be monitored continually on Route 309, given its status by PennDOT as a high-crash corridor.

The proposal comments were approved without additional questions or comments.

Plainfield Township to see recycling facility consolidation

The Grand Central Landfill project proposes a 22.8-acre subdivision of the existing 190-acre parcel to create a 92,000-square-foot recycling facility at the Waste Management Inc. campus at 910 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in Plainfield Township.

Estimated truck traffic at the facility is to average 201 total trips entering and leaving on a typical weekday. Scott Perin of Waste Management said that is the net existing truck traffic that already enters the facility.

Perin said at the meeting that local recycling collection now enters the facility to be weighed before recycling is consolidated at the site and transported to the company's Northampton location.

The project proposes consolidating that local regional recycling process onto the current site.

Commission members said the municipality and state Transportation Department should monitor the potential impact and increased number of trucks on Route 512, and voiced concern over a proposed access point on Pen Argyl Road.

Perin said at meetings with the Plainfield Township Planning Commission that an access point is not needed and a revised plan would be submitted to the township eliminating it. Trucks instead will use the existing landfill access road at the intersection of Route 512.

Perin said the facility can be built and opened for use in 2025.

The commission additionally requested that the plan not impact an existing walking trail.

Other business

The planning commission also addressed comprehensive plan updates by both North Whitehall Township and South Whitehall Township.

Zoning amendment ordinances or regulatory changes for Catasauqua, Pen Argyl and Forks, Upper Milford, Lower Nazareth, Williams and Lehigh townships also were approved.

Lower Nazareth Township removes warehousing or distribution as permitted by right use within a planned business development in its Light Industrial Campus Zoning district.

The LVPC reviews major projects in Lehigh and Northampton counties and manages regional comprehensive planning for the Lehigh Valley.

The full agenda for the upcoming full planning commission meeting can be reviewed here:

This story has been updated to clarify the role of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and the passage of the recommendations at the full commission meeting