Plans are moving along to develop the site of the former New Jersey Zinc Company's West Plant in Palmerton.

George Petrole, chief operating officer for Northface Development LLC, Lehighton, gave an update recently at the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development mixer at the West End Saloon in Palmerton.

Northface purchased the site, approximately 120 acres, in 2009.

Since then, the buildings have been taken down, and remediation work has been under way.

"We are in the business of hauling in dirt to the site, which we have been doing in earnest since 2012," Petrole said. "We have an issue with the trucks coming in; some days, there are 150 trucks going into the site."

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.

"At that time, we'll entertain any offers for that site," he said.

Job creation

Petrole added, "The other factor involved with that time frame is the construction of the access from Route 248, which we're negotiating currently with PennDOT. We will then put it out on the market for developers to bring jobs."

To date, five full-time jobs have been created as part of the remediation, as well as a number of part-time jobs on the site, Petrole said.

"We're generating costs for remediation somewhere between $400,000 to $600,000 per year, which is being returned to the local community via labor, equipment, fuel," he said. "We almost exclusively deal with local vendors; we intend to continue to try to do that."

Petrole said the last areas will be the industrial pump site and the foundry well site, which is potable water. Those areas are owned and operated by the Palmerton Water Company.

"It's one of the reasons we believe it's one of the greatest and best industrial development sites in Carbon County, and in the region, because it also has railroad access via Norfollk Southern's line," he said. "It also has a natural gas line (UGI), and is also serviced by the Palmerton Water Company for potable water, as well as industrial water."

Petrole said the company is trying to get the trucks off Mauch Chunk Road. "We're very, very close to an alternate plan being approved by PennDOT 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.

A lot of traffic

"We're out to generate a lot of jobs; but it will generate a lot of traffic," he said. "The 24 business sites calls for 7,000 car trips per day, so any access has to be able to satisfy that amount of traffic."

A point of access study has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as well as an application for a construction entrance at Delaware Avenue. If approved, Petrole said, "We'll build that in 60 days to deal with the traffic."

"The plan is we're trying to get this to be a viable commodity out there for the community to say 'this is one of the greatest sites around'," he said.

Palmerton Mayor Chris Olivia asked whether the dirt that is being dropped off at the site is contaminated. Petrole said most is construction fill. "It's not hazardous fill," he said.

Councilman Richard Nothstein asked about prospective tenants.

Petrole said there has been interest. He said the company turned down an offer less than a year after it purchased the site from a company that wanted to do recycling.

He said the property could attract Fortune 500 companies to the Carbon County.

"At the same time, any business in the county affects every other business in the county, so we thought it was only right to make sure other businesses had the opportunity to hear what's going on at the west plant site," Petrole said.

He added, "It's an industrial development area. There may be some offices, warehouses, industrial buildings; whatever the market will do."

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.