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Council favors reduced speed

Published November 16. 2013 09:28AM

It appears as though Palmerton is poised to lower the speed limit along Mauch Chunk Road.

By a 4-2 margin, borough council agreed on Thursday to advertise an amendment to an ordinance that would reduce the speed from 35 to 25 miles per hour on Mauch Chunk Road, from Walnut Street east to Delaware Avenue.

Councilmen Kris Hoffner, Richard Nothstein and Michael Ballard, along with Councilwoman Holly Sell, voted in favor. Councilman Jason Behler, and council President Terry Costenbader, were opposed. Councilman Jeremy Barbosa was absent.

The ordinance will be considered for adoption when council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

Hoffner said he drove along Mauch Chunk Road Thursday morning.

"I was very cognizant of my speed, and I was driving 35 miles per hour, and that was not a problem at all," Hoffner said. "However, when I got to the area where there's houses and houses, that's where there's more congestion."

But, Behler said he saw things differently.

"You're only going to be setting a precedent," Behler said. "There's places all over; that's not the only place that's 35 miles per hour."

Mayor Chris Olivia, who last month urged council to lower the speed limit, added, "I think if we lowered the speed limit, it would help."

Ballard added, "I think it will help a lot of people. That makes sense to me."

Council discussed the matter at last month's meeting on account of increased truck traffic on Mauch Chunk Road due to the redevelopment of the former New Jersey Zinc Company's west plant.

At a mixer sponsored earlier this 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.

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