The Falls Township board of supervisors held its final meeting of 2021 on Dec. 20, during which the group of five voted on a number of agenda items, including a large-scale warehouse that would boost employment in the area, the opening of a Mission BBQ, the adoption of the 2022 budget and the relocation of an ambulance-repair facility.
The board approved a minor subdivision and lot line change for Stalwart Equities, the developer of a large-scale warehouse planned for more than 95 acres along the Delaware River. The company’s sketch plan, which the board reviewed last year, called for construction of 976,300 square feet of warehouse space and 60,000 square feet of office space. The bulk of the property is at the former Solvay tract. Two other parcels are comprised of land on S. Pennsylvania Ave. and a portion of the former Rogers foam tract on E. Post Road.
Approval of the minor subdivision essentially moved 10.92 acres from one property to another, according to Stalwart attorney Robert Gundlach Jr. The existing manufacturer on Post Road had an excess of 20 acres and agreed to sell half of it.
Last year, Falls supervisors amended zoning to permit warehouses in the riverfront district, but they have not yet reviewed the developer’s preliminary land development plan. Stalwart officials previously said that the warehouse, once complete, would employ 500 or more local workers. The project would generate $963,000 in real estate taxes to Pennsbury School District, $41,000 in municipal taxes and $33,000 in annual local services taxes.
The quick-service chain restaurant plans to open a new location in Falls Township in July 2022. The supervisors approved a waiver of land development for Mission BBQ to reuse roughly half of the 8,885-square-foot former Pier 1 store, located between Commerce Boulevard and Oxford Valley Road. Mission BBQ will also have a 510-square-foot covered outdoor eating area added to the northeast side of the building.
The 10-year-old restaurant chain offers walk-in, takeout and dine-in food service. Curbside pickup is available. Supervisors chairman Jeff Dence said, “We should probably make a road trip down to a Mission BBQ and check it out before this one opens.”
A 2022 spending plan that continues holding the line on municipal taxes, which last increased in 1992, was unanimously adopted. The 2022 budget will maintain the 7.22 millage rate enacted when a gallon of gas cost $1.05 and the average home cost $122,500. Property owners will continue paying $216.60 for an average assessment of $30,000 under the budget.
Falls is maintaining its services and offering trash and leaf pickup free of charge without instituting an Earned Income Tax. Of local taxes collected from Falls property owners, the township receives 3.5 percent – less than 4 cents per every dollar – while Pennsbury School District collects 84.2 percent and Bucks County receives 12.3 percent.
Several projects are planned for 2022, including $2 million earmarked for the continuation of the annual road program. Intersection improvements are planned for N. Olds Boulevard and Trenton Road. Falls budgeted $61,000 for the project and PennDOT will fund 80 percent through a grant. Falls will finish construction of adaptive traffic signal upgrades at Lincoln Highway, Tyburn Road and W. Trenton Road, with an anticipated cost of $160,000. Federal funding will cover 80 percent of the total project expense.
Earmarked for tree trimming and removal of trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer and Spotted Lanternfly is $50,000. The budget allocates $1.1 million for five new police vehicles, firearms, training and supplies, as well as four new dump trucks for the public works department. Also, the 20-year-old playground at Elderberry Park for kids ages 2 to 12 will be replaced with one featuring wheelchair access and various amenities for children on the autism spectrum.
Wheels were set in motion for an ambulance-repair facility to relocate to Falls and double its operation. The board voted 4-1 to grant conditional use approval to SIV Ambulance. The single “no” vote was from supervisor Brian Galloway.
The company could potentially build a 30,000-square-foot ambulance repair facility at the N. Olds Boulevard and Lincoln Highway site provided that all conditions are met, and once land development plans have been submitted, reviewed and approved by the supervisors. Should the project move to fruition, it would create seven new jobs.
Several conditions were approved, including that the company could not store vehicle parts outside; repairs must be undertaken inside the repair facility; hours of operation would be Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and SIV Ambulance would contract with a third-party inspector to annually inspect the paint booth to ensure there aren’t any safety or environmental issues related to its operation.
At the company’s current location in Langhorne, there are about 40 ambulances on site, with about 15 ready for sale. Most sales are conducted online. Dence stressed that “this isn’t a done deal” since the tract, which is zoned highway commercial, sits adjacent to residential properties. Two residents voiced concerns during the meeting related to potential noise, lighting and environmental issues.
“I can feel for the residents,” said supervisors vice chairman Jeff Boraski. “It is a commercial property. Something has to go there.”
The company is open to planting trees to act as buffering between the site and the homes. Additionally, testing of ambulance sirens would be done no more than once a day inside the repair facility and would last two seconds.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org