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Hilltown sets June 26 vote on warehouse project


A proposal to build a 217,000-square foot warehouse in Hilltown drew ample comments of concern from residents in what was a second conditional use hearing on the facility.

The May 31 hearing on the warehouse ended without the Hilltown Board of Supervisors taking a vote on the conditional use application from Carson Companies, a warehouse developer that has more than 20 million square feet of warehouse space spread across locations in eastern Pennsylvania, Southern California and the Houston, Texas, area.

Supervisors wanted more time to consider the application and are expected to vote at a public meeting on the evening of June 26 at the municipal building at 13 W. Creamery Road.

“There’s a lot to consider,” said Supervisor Caleb Torrice. “We’re undertaking due diligence.”

Carson Companies wants to build the warehouse on a 19.2-acre site on Bethlehem Pike near Reliance Road.

To do so, the developer must obtain conditional use approval from the Hilltown Board of Supervisors. A “conditional use” means the proposed development — in this case a warehouse — is permitted under current zoning as long as the applicant can meet the criteria contained in the local ordinance for that particular use.

Even if Carson Companies earns conditional use approval from the supervisors, that does not mean the firm is allowed to begin building.

Carson will also have to obtain land development approval from supervisors — a process that will involve submitting fully engineered development plans and participating in public hearings where residents will be able to pose questions and comment on the plan.

The project has some locals worried, especially nearby residential neighbors. They’re concerned the warehouse will lead to a surge in dangerous truck traffic, intrusive lighting, noise disruption, and stormwater runoff that worsens flooding on other properties.

“It’s an over-sized building for the area,” said resident John Klusnik. “I am concerned about the potential for the noise.”

Local Lauren Geitz asserted that it’s not just Hilltown that will be negatively affected by the warehouse’s development.

“Perkasie, Souderton, Sellersville and Telford will all be directly impacted by this warehouse — by the traffic, the noise, the pollution, the danger of it and the visual aspect as well,” Geitz said. “A 50-foot warehouse in the middle of Hilltown is not a great look for us.”

Steve Boell, an attorney for Carson Companies, noted that the proposed warehouse is in an industrial zoning district where such a use is permitted. He reiterated positions that Carson professionals previously shared — namely that the company will comply with local rules regarding noise levels and more. The nitty-gritty details on traffic patterns/control and stormwater would be worked out during the land development process, should Carson obtain conditional use approval, officials have said.

In its quest to build in Hilltown, Carson Companies has already obtained variances from the local zoning hearing board. One allows the building to be 45-feet high, when 35 feet is the maximum allowed. The other enables Carson to slightly exceed permitted impervious surface coverage of 60 percent. Carson is looking at impervious surface of a shade under 62 percent.

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