The first phase of the massive redevelopment at the former U.S. Steel site in Falls Township is about to be underway.
During its Monday, March 15 meeting, the board of supervisors approved shell construction on an initial 1 million square feet of the large-scale warehouse project, consisting of more than 1,800 acres. This is slated to begin by July.
Plans include a 49-foot-high warehouse with 196 doors and 475 parking stalls, including 18 handicapped parking spaces. This would be constructed on 100 acres situated on the eastern side of River Road, south of Biles Creek on the eastern portion of the development. Trucks would enter the site primarily via Tyburn Road and Route 13.
Preliminary and final land development approval was unanimously granted to NorthPoint Development, setting the wheels in motion for the buildout of up to 15 million square feet of warehousing, which is expected to create up to 10,000 new jobs.
“One down, 14 to go,” said supervisors chairman Jeff Dence.
NorthPoint plans to carry out the multiple-phase warehouse project with 20 or more state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings for various Fortune 500 companies. A total of $1.5 billion is being invested by NorthPoint into the site, which it renamed The Keystone Trade Center.
In addition to advancing the warehouse project, the supervisors granted approval for a 54-acre parcel situated on the southwest corner of the site, where a wastewater treatment facility is located. Morrisville Municipal Authority, the provider of the site’s water- and sewer-related utilities, will construct its new wastewater treatment facility on the site. The plant is expected to be operational within the next four years.
During the meeting, the supervisors took steps to protect the local environment. They voted to authorize advertisement of several proposed changes to the Falls Township Parks Ordinance and bring the township in line with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
If adopted, the ordinance would prohibit the release of helium balloons and luminaries. According to Brian Andrews, director of Parks and Recreation, families often release balloons in memory of loved ones, but they contribute to litter and have been known to kill wildlife that mistake them for food. Fish, birds and other animals have been found with balloons in their stomachs.
The proposed amendments also include a requirement that boats of any kind be in compliance with the Fish and Boat Commission boating regulations, and anyone occupying a watercraft would be required to wear a flotation device at all times. The current ordinance requires flotation devices for children under age 12 only. Wading and swimming would be prohibited.
Additionally, Dence tasked township staff with organizing trash pickups. Residents can participate in TAG (Towns Against Graffiti) to help clear major roadways of litter. Falls Police will begin ticketing individuals caught littering or dumping garbage.
“It’s disgusting,” said Dence. “People drive down the street throwing trash out the window.”
According to Green Matters, litter releases toxins into the environment that it is not suited to handle, giving off harmful gases that hurt the air and atmosphere, such as methane. Supervisor John Palmer suggested a community activity or recognition in honor of Earth Day on April 22.
Next on the agenda, the supervisors granted preliminary and final land development approval to Tavo Packaging, which manufactures folded cartons commonly used in fast food service, for a one-story, 77,100-square-foot warehouse addition on its existing space, situated on Towpath Road.
Before the vote, Palmer questioned the applicant why plans didn’t include the planting of street trees. The developer told the board that planting trees along Newbold Road was not possible because of the overhead PECO lines and underground utilities. Palmer convinced him to instead donate trees to the township’s Shade Tree Commission for planting elsewhere.
Dence suggested hiring an arborist to offer expert advice on tree care and help the township develop a plan. The supervisors then considered a bid award for tree trimming services, voting 3-2 to award a bid for tree trimming and removal to Kent’s Quality Tree Service.
Regarding upgrades to the hockey rink at Falls Township Community Park, a lack of bids is causing a delay. Though the supervisors expected to award a bid for renovations, which include resurfacing the rink, painting and a new dasher board, they received only one. This single bid exceeded the budget. Township engineer Joe Jones was asked to re-advertise the project with a modified scope of work. The hope is that most of the costs will be covered by a state grant.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com