A crowd of about 180 to 200 area residents voiced their opposition to proposed zoning changes and a warehouse construction project near Cabela’s in Tilden Township.
Residents Against Warehouses, a newly formed group of about 12 to 15 residents, hosted the meeting held at Hamburg Strand Theatre on Dec. 5 to present concerns and questions.
“It’s not going to just affect the people that live directly in that area. If you work in this area, if you live in this area, if you shop, if you dine, if you just drive through the area, this will impact you,” said Tracey Readinger, a Tilden Township resident and member of RAW, during the presentation. “At 55 feet, it will be seen by the majority of township residents. Instead of seeing the mountain, you will see the top of the warehouse. No amount of landscaping will hide a 55-foot building.”
RAW opposes the proposed zoning changes and warehouse construction project located West of Mountain Road between Pine Road and Laurel Avenue on what is currently farmland. RAW’s concerns include increased truck traffic expected to affect Upper Bern, Hamburg, Windsor and Tilden Townships, zoning change from farmland to commercial, impacts on wildlife, change in scenery, additional lighting, noise and odors, decrease in surrounding property values, potential contamination of stream and drinking water, potential for installation and forced hook-up of public water, cost and upkeep of roads and bridges in surrounding areas, and cost to tax payers versus revenue, to name a few.
“These are the questions we’d like answered by the supervisors before they make a vote,” said Cathy Shollenberger, of Tilden Township, a member of RAW. “The main concern is the area they’re going to utilize is in a residential area. We’re concerned about our property values. We’re concerned about pollution. We’re concerned about them not putting the warehouse in the right area for our township. We live in a rural area because we like the rural part of Hamburg.”
Shollenberger said Residents Against Warehouses was created in response to the proposed warehouse in Tilden Township.
“We’re not opposed to change. We’ve helped promote Cabela’s and the other areas up there. The Planning Commission has done a fine job for all of that. But it’s kind of hard to hide a 55-foot tall building and block our view of the mountain, the things that we love in the township,” said Shollenberger. “I want the supervisors to vote knowing that their family lives in the community and we want to keep the area going for generations to come and they need to make the right decisions for themselves as well as for the residents. I think they need to listen to us and listen to the points we’re making.”
Carlie Cole, a resident of Tilden and a member of RAW some of the biggest concerns are about the zoning change from residential.
“And to develop existing farmland into this massive 1.2-million-square foot warehouse with very little public awareness,” said Cole. “Without information there’s going to be speculation.”
Cole said one of the goals of the meeting was to raise public awareness. Also, attendees were asked to sign a petition, which was delivered to Tilden Township Supervisors, along with RAW’s concerns, on Dec. 6.
“(The petition) is essentially saying that residents have a lot of concerns,” said Cole. “And we would like a lot more information, research studies. A lot of us don’t understand the rush. Township Hall meetings should have been held to educate the community... There have been Township Supervisor meetings but there has been little discussion about the project.”
Cole was pleased with the number of residents in attendance.
“I think tonight is a fabulous turnout. I think we’ve received a lot more residential support than we originally assumed,” said Cole.
Among those to attend were Windsor Township resident Eric George, “Just to hear what they have to say. Get some information on what’s going on.”
George said he could have concerns regarding a warehouse, particularly at that location.
“That’s certainly prime farmland. Maybe there’d be better locations for a warehouse,” said George, who did not have a strong opinion for or against the project at this point.
Many expressed their opposition as they walked into the theater, among them was Tilden Township resident Heather Roache.
“This is ridiculous,” she said, pointing to the overlay map. Roache wants to tell the Tilden Supervisors to deny the warehouse.
According to Tilden Township Manager Cheryl Haus, the company proposing the warehouse project is Century Land Development Company of Sinking Spring.
“We have received presentations from the developer, however, plans have not been submitted. The Supervisors would have to put an overlay ordinance into effect which will address all concerns,” said Haus. “As of right now this size facility cannot attempt to come into the township. If the ordinance is approved, that will allow the developer to present a plan.”
Haus explained that “An overlay ordinance is used to establish alternative land development requirements within a specific area of the community that needs stricter standards and criteria in addition to the criteria of the zoning district. Overlay districts are commonly used in zoning for specific projects to allow the development, while ensuring health, safety and welfare of the residents.”
Tilden Township requested all residents fill out a survey regarding possible Logistics Park Overlay District, which was due on Dec. 6.
“The resident survey is for the Supervisors to gather the opinion of the entire township,” said Haus.
The overlay district ordinance should be discussed at Friday, Dec. 8 workshop at 9 a.m. and at the Dec. 13 monthly meeting at 7 p.m.
“The ordinance needs to be prepared, finalized and advertised before a vote can be taken,” said Haus.