By Chris Amato
White Township, a rural community in Warren County, is poised to be the catalyst for significant negative regional change, if the township does not act in its own best interest soon.
Plans have been submitted for an 800,000-square foot warehouse building on almost 600 acres of prime agricultural land owned by a land speculation company from Pennsylvania. There is potential for more than 12 million square feet of warehouse space to be built in this rural hamlet. This is the same out-of-scale development that is impairing the quality of life for the people of the Lehigh Valley. The traffic from this development will overload Warren County roads and will permanently, negatively change this beautiful, thriving agricultural haven.
White Township made the choice several months ago to explore options to remediate inconsistencies between its master plan and the township’s zoning. These inconsistencies have been noted multiple times in the past on public record. A subcommittee was formed and an engineering firm was contracted to help with this known problem. Tens of thousands of dollars were allocated to finance this study. The subcommittee voted unanimously to approve these recommendations and to have the findings presented to the township planning board. Unfortunately this necessary legislation has stalled despite the best efforts of some very dedicated planning board members.
At this point, White Township is not in total control of its own destiny. The Pennsylvania developer that owns the land in question is sitting in the driver’s seat. White Township sits squarely on the passenger side. Its future may sacrifice all its residents love about their community because its officials lacked the fortitude to say no.
White Township has an obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens by adopting the necessary legislation as ratified by its own master plan subcommittee. Township officials also have an obligation to behave in a fiscally responsible manner.
The township needs to take the wheel to put itself in a better bargaining position with developers who seek to destroy this rural haven as a consequence of an absurdly out-of-scale development scheme. Both the developer and White Township can do better than this. The good people of White Township deserve better than this.
Chris Amato, who grew up in White Township, has a Bethlehem chiropractic practice and lives in Walnutport. He’s a member of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.