MILFORD, PA — A proposed development plan for a mega-warehouse spanning over 450,000 square feet had its first airing at a July 5 public hearing, convened by Milford Township’s Board of …
MILFORD, PA — A proposed development plan for a mega-warehouse spanning over 450,000 square feet had its first airing at a July 5 public hearing, convened by Milford Township’s Board of Supervisors.
The development has caused a divide between those who support the development, and those who fear the environmental effects the development could have on a 40-acre unconfined aquifer that serves as a water source for Milford Borough and Dingman Township. The aquifer is officially called the Milford Springs.
With the proposed plan, development and environmental protection are facing off in a prime traffic area alongside Interstate Route 84.
Concerned community members and environmental activists, such as the Friends of the Milford Aquifer (FMA), actively argued against the project, claiming it could harm various aspects of life within their community. The group was concerned about personal property, harmful repercussions on the surrounding environment and traffic issues, among others.
The board of supervisors convened the hearing to review the request for a conditional use application from LVL Engineering Group and National Land Delevopment LLC, the company seeking to construct the warehouse. The company was represented by John A. VanLuvanee, an attorney of Eastburn & Gray, P.C.
The hearing started by opening the floor to those who wanted to be interested parties in the application review.
John H. Klemeyer, an attorney at Farley & Bernathy LLC, sought to be named an interested party on behalf of the Milford Water Authority and the Municipal Authority of Milford Borough. His interest in becoming a party was due to the proposed warehouse being above Zone 2, the aquifer, and concern about keeping the water source safe from developmental harm.
There were strict criteria in which one could become an interested party. A man who resided in Shohola, was denied party status because he was not a resident of Milford Township, and was not directly affected by the proposed development.
Approved interested parties are Vito DiBiasi, an advocate with the FMA; Peter Pinchot, a member of the Pinchot family; and Richard Peter, owner of Sawkill Power Equipment.
DiBiasi and Pinchot faced objections by VanLuvanee for both property clarifications and affiliations to the case.
Larry Kirwan, a member of the fire department, requested that the fire department be a part of the proceedings, which was granted by the board.
“The fire department has concern for access to the site, buildings exposure, water source—sizes, pressures and durations—communication abilities, interior and exterior, in an event something would occur,” said Kirwan.
Following the designation of interested parties, it was found that the application provided by LVL was not reviewed nor recommended by the Milford Township Planning Commission. VanLuvanee argued that although the planning board had not reviewed the development plan, the meeting should continue. However, the planning commission had not reviewed or issued a report on newer documents that were not received days before the hearing.
“I don’t know how the planning commission can be asked to issue a report that is complete if they didn’t get the documents that are going to be presented this evening,” said Klemeyer. “It’s factually impossible for them to have done so.”
Documents and a plan submitted by LVL were revised on July 1; VanLuvanee argued that the revisions had no impact on the testimonies that the witnesses would give.
One supervisor spoke out against VanLuvanee’s approach to the board, demanding to continue the hearing despite the lack of recommendations from the planning commission. It was stated that LVL and its team needed to present their findings, new and old, to the planning committee in order for the committee to give the board a proper and accurate recommendation.
Following a brief recess, the board decided to proceed with the testimonies; however, Klemeyer requested to hold his cross-examination of the witnesses provided by the applicant, due to the short notice of the newest revisions to the plan provided by LVL and their legal team.
Allen Johns was the first witness; he serves as a consultant on the development project.
“Once I noticed what team they [the developers] had put together, I became a little frightened that they were going be able to get this done, and the only way I could have control over what they were doing was to become part of their team,” said Johns. “With strict criteria that we meet or exceed, any comments from the community, any environmental issues that may come up, any truck traffic—in other words, it was the only way I can control that happens in this town.”
Johns testified about traffic concerns, worry about properties, etc. The main problem was the traffic that the trucks going in and out of the facility would cause, to which Johns replied that he does not believe that traffic would increase.
Despite Klemeyer’s claim of refraining from cross-examination, he proceeded to question Johns on his position with the project. He asked about Johns’ knowledge of traffic patterns and his precise experience constructing warehouses. Klemeyer found that Johns’ conclusion on how traffic would be affected was based on personal experience rather than actual study of traffic patterns.
Then DiBiasi questioned how this project, specifically changes to the I-84 interchange, would be funded. DiBiasi was concerned about taxpayers’ money funding the project. Johns said it would be paid through loans from the developer and revenue generated by the project.
Klemeyer then took over the questions about the enforcement of traffic flow caused by the trucks that travel to and from the warehouse.
At the end of the hearing, there were 18 unanswered questions from the MWA for LVL. It was then decided that 10 days before the hearing’s continuance on October 3 that LVL would provide those answers to the MWA.
In addition, a meeting had been set for LVL and its representatives on July 14 to deliver the full presentation that was missing during the hearing at the planning commission; however, LVL stated that they would not be in attendance. That meeting will now be rescheduled to August 23.
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