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Carbon County seeks compromise with Mahoning over Packerton Yards

Published February 24. 2012 05:01PM

Carbon County officials are hoping that they will soon be able to come to a compromise with Mahoning Township so that they can move forward with the Packerton Business Park project.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, said that he thinks the county has resolved most of the issues that the Mahoning Township Planning Commission has on the project.

He noted that there is one outstanding issue sidewalks at the business park, which would run between the railroad lines and Route 209 on the west side of the park that must be fully resolved yet.

"I feel we should stick with the request for the waivers," he told his colleagues. "It (the sidewalk) is a safety issue and that is our main concern. We definitely do not want to encourage people to walk down there."

Nothstein added that he plans to go back to the Mahoning Township supervisors and ask them to vote on the three issues separately. That way, if one of the waivers fails, the county will know exactly what is holding up the project.

He noted that if the supervisors do not approve the waivers, the county may meet with its attorney, Edward Hughes, to see what could be done to rectify the issues and move the project ahead.

He asked Commissioners William O'Gurek and Thomas J. Gerhard if they are still in support of the project and staying strong on the issue of the sidewalks.

Both O'Gurek and Gerhard agreed.

"I'm in favor of it (the industrialization of the former Packerton Yards)," O'Gurek said. "I've been in favor of this project and I'm in favor of us requesting a waiver on the sidewalk requirement. I don't see any need to have a sidewalk heading down to the industrial park."

He noted that he and Nothstein recently discussed one of the railroad's concerns about encouraging people to cross the tracks and walk down at the park. The sidewalks would need to cross both Reading and Northern and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

"I think someone once told us as commissioners or as railroad commission members that almost everyday of the year someone is hit crossing railroad tracks," O'Gurek said. "That is the last thing we need to do is to be encouraging people to walk down there. I'm with you on that waiver request. I think we should hold fast on that for a lot of reasons, including safety."

Gerhard added that he supports the commissioners' views on the sidewalks because it brings up a large safety issue, it would cost an estimated $130,000 to install, and would delay the project further.

He thanked Nothstein for his efforts with the Mahoning Township planning commission and supervisors.

"I didn't realize how involved we are in this project," he said, "but we are certainly trying our best to move forward with this project."

Nothstein then announced that there are potential buyers for the property.

One business said they would want to purchase all seven parcels of land at the 59-acre site, which straddles Mahoning Township and Lehighton.

The board also discussed the need to begin moving forward with the project because nearly $4 million is in jeopardy of being lost due to the many delays.

"We have a lot riding on this," Nothstein said. "They have their concerns and we have our concerns. I hope we can get to a happy medium."

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