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UPS hub solid addition for Lower Swatara Township: Editorial

Posted 9/6/17

We understand concerns raised about the plans that UPS has to build a 935,000-square-foot distribution hub in the 2100 block of North Union Street in Lower Swatara Township.

But we also have not …

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UPS hub solid addition for Lower Swatara Township: Editorial

Posted

We understand concerns raised about the plans that UPS has to build a 935,000-square-foot distribution hub in the 2100 block of North Union Street in Lower Swatara Township.

But we also have not heard anything that would make us think it isn’t a good idea to build it.

The area north of Pennsylvania 283, on the axis of Fulling Mill Road and North Union Street, is becoming quite the industrial area. The new UPS facility would be just north of a FedEx Freight facility.

This is a high-class problem for the township to have — if you can really call it a problem. An international company wants to build a distribution hub within its limits. There are townships in this country that would love to have such a proposal before it.

So far, the arguments have been the common concerns when such a facility is proposed. A loss of farmland. An increase in traffic. In this case, concerns about the health that the increased traffic would bring because of exhaust from vehicles.

About 600 trucks would use Pennsylvania 283, Pennsylvania 441 and other nearby roads daily if the facility is built, according to a previous UPS presentation.

Lower Swatara Township Planning Commission member Dennis Fausey said the project will bring in at least 200 jobs, help with the tax base and potentially keep taxes where they are, and aid in increasing property values.

“This is good for Lower Swatara Township,” he said, as the commission approved a zoning change that moves the project ahead. A zoning change is needed because the plan calls for the hub to be built in a mineral recovery district.

We hope that such a project helps keep the tax rate stable. According to Dauphin County, Lower Swatara’s 2017 millage rate is 33.656, the sixth highest of the nearly 40 boroughs and townships in the county.

Now the decision on the UPS hub heads to the township board of commissioners, which must hold at least one hearing on it before it votes.

UPS says it has budgeted $417 million for this project, according to the presentation. Land acquisition and construction costs are at $210 million, package handling at $187 million, and $20 million for infrastructure improvements, which includes mitigating traffic concerns, road improvements, and improvements to utilities. These infrastructure improvements would be along North Union Street, Fulling Mill Road and the Pennsylvania 283 overpass, exit and entrance ramps.

Those infrastructure improvements are key, not only for the residents, but for the company.

“Consider what our business is. It’s a time-definite delivery service. For that to operate, traffic has to flow smoothly. We all want traffic to flow smoothly, and we are prepared to invest to make sure that the traffic flows smoothly with the addition of our operation in this area,” Steve Slifer, vice president of global real estate for UPS, said at a July forum that the company held to answer questions from residents.

Remember, UPS doesn’t want its drivers to be stuck in traffic or drive over poor roads any more than you do.

Will the North Union Street-Fulling Mill Road area eventually become too congested for any more businesses to locate there? If growth continues, yes. But this UPS project isn’t the tipping point.

So Lower Swatara should continue to do its due diligence on the matter. But the location appears to be a good fit, and the benefits to having such a facility seem genuine.

Unless something dramatic comes up, we hope the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners give the plan the go-ahead.

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