Motorists will have to ease up on the gas pedal the next time they traverse a portion of Mauch Chunk Road in Palmerton.
By a narrow 4-3 measure that passed only after Mayor Chris Olivia cast the deciding vote, borough council on Thursday agreed to adopt an ordinance that will reduce the speed limit 10 miles per hour along a portion of the road.
The ordinance lowers the stretch of road from Walnut Street east to Delaware Avenue from 35 to 25 miles per hour.
Initially, council deadlocked on the vote by virtue of a 3-3 tally, with Councilmen Richard Nothstein, Kris Hoffner and Michael Ballard in favor, and council President Terry Costenbader, Councilwoman Holly Sell and Councilman Jeremy Barbosa opposed.
Due to the absence of Councilman Jason Behler, Olivia in his capacity as mayor cast the deciding vote in favor of reducing the speed limit.
As a result, the speed limit will be lowered along that portion of roadway from 35 to 25 miles per hour.
Olivia originally brought up the idea in October, at which time he urged council to lower the speed limit primarily on account of the increased truck traffic on Mauch Chunk Road that has been generated due to the ongoing redevelopment of the former New Jersey Zinc Company's west plant.
At a mixer sponsored last month by the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development, George Petrole, chief operating officer for Northface Development LLC, Lehighton, gave an update on the site.
Northface purchased the site, approximately 120 acres, in 2009. Since then, the buildings have been taken down, and remediation work has been under way.
Petrole said at the mixer that the group has been hauling in dirt to the site since last year. As a result, some days there are about 150 trucks going into the site, he said.
The plan is to offer two and four-acre parcels for development 30 acres west of the existing Mauch Chunk Road access. That should be completed by the end of next year.
Petrole said at the mixer that the company is trying to get the trucks off Mauch Chunk Road, and that they were very close to an alternate plan being approved by the state Department of Transportation that would put a metered light between Mauch Chunk Road and the ramps that connect Route 248.
A right-in and right-out access would be located approximately one mile west of the ramps off Route 248, he said.
In addition, Petrole said at that time that a point of access study has been submitted to PennDOT, as well as an application for a construction entrance at Delaware Avenue.
He said at that time the property could attract Fortune 500 companies, but also added that there may be some offices, warehouses, or industrial buildings, depending on the market.
The property had been in abandonment since Aug. 19, 2002, when the seller filed a Voluntary Petition for Relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.