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Londonderry Planning Commission OKs warehouse behind Saturday’s Market

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 10/23/19

The Londonderry Township Planning Commission approved plans Monday for a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse to be built behind where Saturday’s Market is now located.

However, planning …

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Londonderry Planning Commission OKs warehouse behind Saturday’s Market

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The Londonderry Township Planning Commission approved plans Monday for a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse to be built behind where Saturday’s Market is now located.

However, planning commission member Carolyn Stoner expressed concerns about a lefthand turn lane into the site, whether it would eliminate a passing lane on Route 230 and if the planning commission would be able to see the developer’s road improvement plans.

“I’m concerned about that passing lane and the fact that we’re going to lose it and you won’t be able to get around any trucks going slowly up the hill,” Stoner said.

Saturday’s Market is located at 3751 E. Harrisburg Pike, which is Route 230.

Stoner voted against the subdivision and land development plan and a waiver to submit a preliminary plan. Vice Chairwoman Patience Baseshore abstained. Both did recommend the conditional use application, two application modifications, and waivers and deferrals for curbs and sidewalks.

Plans will be before the board of supervisors Nov. 19.

Charles Courtney, attorney for the developer Core5 Industrial Partners, said next summer was the most optimistic estimate of when ground would be broken, and that construction would take about a year. Site work would be done during the day, he said.

In early September, the Londonderry Board of Supervisors unanimously approved two zoning map amendments, one of which expanded the C-2 commercial district within Londonderry. The other amendment also added conditional uses within the C-2 zone, including logistic facilities.

Atlanta-based Core5 and a second developer, Vision Group Ventures, want to develop logistic facilities on three tracts, including the former School Heights Village (the land behind Saturday’s Market) and Lytle Farms (just east of the Swatara Creek north and south of Route 230) housing developments and land behind Ed’s Landscaping in the southeast part of the township.

School Heights Village is 196.27 acres. It’s made up of three separate tracts, which Core5 asked to combine into one.

Township manager Steve Letavic had told the Press & Journal that Core5 also had Saturday’s Market under contract.

“Would any of these development plans change if that purchase is completed?” Planning Commission Chairman Bruce Grossman asked.

“No,” Courtney responded.

Grossman asked if Core5 had worked on similar projects. Paul Pontius, Core5 vice president of investments, said the company has 10 million square feet across the country, including a 500,000-square-foot project in Berks County.

“Are they fully occupied?” Grossman asked.

Pontius said it usually takes about a year to lease.

“I know one is vacant in Chicago. But the other ones are leased up or have good activity,” he said.

The main access to the property would be off Route 230. The driveway would run along the western edge of the property to the warehouse. The access drive would circle around the warehouse with an emergency gravel and gated access drive off the back of the warehouse to Beagle Road.

All of the lights would be LED, with fixtures projecting light downward. The closest light to a residence is about 110 feet away, and vegetation would be about 50 feet thick.

John Murphy, president of Alpha Consulting Engineers, said there would be no light spilling offsite, but Courtney said they would be willing to put shields on the lights.

According to Courtney, Londonderry’s ordinances requires access to a main road and for the supervisors to authorize alternative access if the property borders multiple streets.

Core5 proposed its main access to be off Route 230, which is a main street, but for safety reasons, the company asked for a second emergency access off Beagle Road that would be gravel and gated.

Londonderry’s ordinances also requires a berm where the property abuts a residential district, which this property does.

While Core5 is proposing some berms, which is a raised earthen barrier, the company is proposing to leave and add to the existing foliage that surrounds the border of the property and construct a berm along the edge of the warehouse itself. Murphy said the berms would be 6 feet high.

There are three parking lots for a total of 702 cars and two truck docks with a total of 242 spaces.

“We don’t know at the time what the user may be. The nature of logistic business is that you pretty much have to get your plan approved and start the building before you identify a user,” Murphy said.

Resident Tom Thorpe expressed concerns about noise and air quality, particularly from trucks idling at the site. Thorpe said he worked for a Nordstrom warehouse, which he said was 750,000 square feet. Core5’s proposed warehouse, he said, made that look like a “junior.”

He asked for meters and studies on noise and air quality.

“We have a school right above this site where that toxicity is going to travel. Right in between the school and your proposal, the berms and trees aside, is a playground,” Thorpe said.

Murphy said the closest truck dock to the school is about 800 feet away. Courtney said they didn’t anticipate any local impact from diesel fumes or particulate matter.

Thorpe asked if the warehouses that Core5 leased were operated 24 hours a day. Pontius said some warehouses, such as those occupied by Amazon, had longer shifts during the holiday season.

“Most of what we see around Central Pennsylvania is a lot of food distribution to serve Washington, D.C., New York City,” he said.

One food distributor has expressed interest in the site and requested information, he said.

Traffic concerns

In the past, township staff have said trucks would go toward Toll House Road.

According to Murphy, they studied seven intersections — the intersections with the entrances to the property off Beagle Road and Route 230, the ramps to Route 283 off Toll House Road, Route 230 and Toll House Road, Route 230 and Schoolhouse Road, and Beagle and Schoolhouse Road.

Murphy said they’re proposing a 225-foot left-turn lane heading into the driveway off Route 230. It won’t require widening Route 230.

If a truck heading westbound up the hill is going slow, will there still be a passing lane? Stoner asked.

“Or that passing lane becomes the left turn lane, so I lose the passing lane,” she said.

Traffic/Transportation Engineer Mark Allen explained that there is a median between the eastbound and westbound lanes. That median is where the left turn lane is proposed, he said. The passing lane will be about 100 feet shorter.

Allen said the shoulder of the road would be widened for trucks leaving the site and climbing the hill.

Murphy said they anticipated that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will approve the traffic study next month.

Attorney Jonathan Crist said he was there on behalf of  Stone Creek housing development residents, which is located off Middletown Road in Derry Township. The residents are upset about the Love’s Truck Stop being built because it added traffic and they could hear the stop, he said. Middletown Road is how employees would be able to go north and south, he said. He said the road can’t take any more development or traffic.

“What my people want to see here is this development widen Hummelstown/Middletown Road to four lanes. When I heard that proposal, I kind of laughed, but that’s the way they’re thinking,” Crist said.

He said the group was trying to put the brakes on bringing public sewer to the are until the road problems are addressed. Core5 and Vision Group Ventures have offered $15 million to install public sewer lines that would serve the School Heights Village warehouse.

Baseshore pointed out that the road is four lanes in its portion in Londonderry.