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Wilsbach beer distributor gets go-ahead for Lower Swatara location

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/20/19

The Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners unanimously approved plans for a beer distribution center to be built at the corner of Longview Drive and Oberlin Road, during its meeting Wednesday. …

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Wilsbach beer distributor gets go-ahead for Lower Swatara location

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The Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners unanimously approved plans for a beer distribution center to be built at the corner of Longview Drive and Oberlin Road, during its meeting Wednesday.

Wilsbach Distributors wants to build a 284,260-square-foot warehouse with a 15,050-square-foot, two-story office building, moving operations from its current location in Susquehanna Township.

Wilsbach attorney David Getz told the Press & Journal that construction is expected to start in 2020.

With plans to have the entrance off Oberlin Road to the west of Longview Drive, township planning commission members and residents expressed concerns about potential traffic issues, specifically about speeding on Oberlin Road where the speed limit increases from 35 to 50 mph, and sight issues at the intersection of Oberlin Road and Longview Drive.

Jim Rodgers, who lives on Highland Street and will be the warehouse’s neighbor, said Wilsbach Distributors shares the community’s concerns about speeding.

“We’d all love to see that be 35 mph through there,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting.

Rodgers said he knew the land, which is zoned industrial park, would be developed when he moved in. This was the third plan for the land since he’s lived in his home, adding that it was the best plan and developer he’s seen.

He was satisfied with the plan, although he said he was nervous about water runoff from the new construction with his home downhill.

“This is the kind of customer the township should be having come to it — a local business that’s committed to this community, that wants to work with its neighbors, that listens to the concerns we have, and that’s going to employ people locally,” Rodgers said.

From the time the plan was first before the planning commission, Wilsbach has proposed additions to help address sight issues for drivers, including adding a shoulder of at least 8 feet from the entrance to Longview Drive and grading the frontage along Oberlin Road.

Wilsbach supplies beer to restaurants, stores and bars. Customers can’t walk in to purchase beer, Getz said.

About 30 trucks are sent out every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., and 10 to 20 trucks come into the warehouse throughout the day.

Most of the trucks will come in from and leave toward Swatara Township, Getz said, although some drivers might turn right if they are heading toward Lancaster. Most drivers are driving to Harrisburg, State College and York.

Commissioner Ron Paul asked if Wilsbach could control the routes that the truck drivers took. Getz said that they could control the drivers that will deliver beer from the warehouse to restaurants and stores because they are Wilsbach employees, and Wilsbach could talk to suppliers coming into the facility about preferred routes to the warehouse.

Township code would have required Wilsbach to add curbs and sidewalks along the roads and widen Highland Street, which is to the west of the site. However, commissioners approved Wilsbach’s requests to defer installing curbs and sidewalks, and waived the requirement to widen Highland Street.

Wilsbach also had asked to not widen Longview Drive, too, but Paul asked if a shoulder could be added.

Paul said the shoulder would help stabilize the edge of the road, and Commissioner Chris DeHart added that it would give runoff water and plowed snow a place to go.

Judd Dayton, a project engineer for Wilsbach, said there is about 1,700 feet of Longview Drive bordering the site, and there are utility poles and wires along the edge of the road, which would make widening it difficult.

Wilsbach agreed to add as much as is possible.

“If it’s 3 feet in some places or 2 1/2, that’s what it is,” Paul said.