Hilltown residents voice disapproval of proposed warehouse off Old Bethlehem Pike


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Nov 17, 2023

Hilltown residents voice disapproval of proposed warehouse off Old Bethlehem Pike

HILLTOWN — Hilltown residents roundly criticized a proposal for a large

HILLTOWN — Hilltown residents roundly criticized a proposal for a large warehouse off Old Bethlehem Pike at a conditional use hearing before the Hilltown Board of Supervisors Wednesday evening.

At the previous hearing, Carson Estate Trust presented its case for a 217,000-square-foot warehouse with related truck court, parking and other facilities northwest of the intersection of Bethlehem Pike and Reliance Road. The hearing closed with a presentation of a preliminary traffic study, which determined that the property would not have a significant impact on local traffic.

But residents were not persuaded, consistently citing concerns about truck traffic and noise throughout Wednesday's hearing.

John Klusnik cast doubt on the traffic study's estimate of four truck trips during the peak AM hours and seven truck trips during the peak PM hours, pointing to the property's 43 loading docks. He further criticized the township's 110 decibel limit as inadequate and requested action to minimize the noise from the truck traffic, particularly the jake brakes.

"I’m all for capitalism; I have three businesses," said Klusnik. "But I think it's an oversized building for the area. And I am concerned about the potential for the noise. If you could limit the amount of noise, we’d appreciate it."

Dale Ott noted that a diesel truck acceleration amounts to 114 decibels, exceeding the 110 decibel limit. He argued that the traffic study only accounts for the utilization of half of the property's loading docks and raised concerns about the potential materials that will be stored on the property.

"We don't know if it's nuclear vaporize that's gonna be stored or paper from Staples," said Ott. "Doesn't that consideration go into effect as to what is gonna be stored in these facilities and the usage of it?"

Sue Hatch said that the area is already afflicted by traffic congestion and unsafe driving, saying she has witnessed trucks and cars running red lights on Bethlehem Pike. She additionally highlighted the absence of a traffic light at the property's truck exit.

"So they’ll just pull out, and we’ll have to slow down and stop at their will, because there won't be a big enough break for them to pull out," said Hatch. "I just can't imagine adding more traffic through here."

Lauren Geitz said that the traffic study failed to account for truck traffic from neighboring distribution centers and the anticipated influx of traffic following the completion of the Route 309 Connector project. She further argued that the study misclassified the building as a long-term storage facility rather than a manufacturing facility, a high-cube transit warehouse or a high-cube fulfillment center. She concluded by noting the high decibel readings for pickup trucks and construction equipment.

"The exterior of the building, if it has the amount of cars and trucks that they predict, will very easily exceed the 110 decibel limit," said Geitz. "These are all things that I ask you to take into account when you reach your verdict."

Following the residents’ comments, Carson attorney Steve Boell gave his closing remarks. He argued that the parties failed to demonstrate that the warehouse will "substantially affect the health, safety and welfare of the community" as required by conditional use law. He reiterated that the company will abide by the noise ordinance and other township requirements and underscored that the residences are located in an industrial district, where such warehouses are permitted.

"Simply saying, ‘I don't want this in my neighborhood’ or ‘This may have the same impacts as any other warehouse’ cannot be grounds for the denial of the application," said Boell.

In the residents’ closing remarks, Geitz retook the podium to point out that the warehouse could be used for manufacturing, which contains additional requirements that the company has not committed to fulfilling. She argued that the property will have a significant impact on the health and welfare of Hilltown and the surrounding municipalities.

"Perkasie, Souderton, Sellersville and Telford will all be impacted directly by this warehouse, by the traffic, the noise, the pollution, the danger of it, the visual aspect of it as well," said Geitz. "A 50-foot warehouse in the middle of Hilltown is not a great look for us."

Klusnik added that a young man was crushed to death by a trash truck a few years ago due to the area's current traffic congestion.

"I have two boys that are gonna be driving in a few years," said Klusnik. "To say it won't have an impact, it absolutely will."

Following closing remarks, the board adjourned the hearing and announced that it will reveal its decision at the June 26 Board of Supervisors meeting. For more information, visit hilltown.org.

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