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Council eyes speed limit cut on Mauch Chunk Road

Published October 25. 2013 05:00PM

An increase in traffic volume could result in a reduced speed limit along Mauch Chunk Road in Palmerton.

By a 5-2 measure, borough council agreed on Thursdayto advertise for adoption anordinance that would lower the speed limit on the road by 10 miles per hour, from 35 to 25 miles per hour.

Councilmen RichardNothstein, Kris Hoffner, Jeremy Barbosa, Michael Ballard and Councilwoman Holly Sell votedin favor. Council President Terry Costenbader, along withCouncilman Jason Behler, were opposed.

Council's decision was reached after Hoffner read a report in the absence of Mayor Chris Olivia that urged council to consider lowering the speed limit along the road.

Before council's action, Costenbader questioned the proposed change to the ordinance, and said, "It's been 35 miles per hour since forever."

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson noted that at present, about 100 or more trucks travel the road per day.

Behler said lowering the speed limit would be akin to "trying to put a Band-Aid on a temporary problem."

After the meeting, Danielson said the decision by council to advertise for the proposed ordinance was the result of increased truck traffic due to the redevelopment of the former New Jersey Zinc Company's west plant.

If approved, the ordinance would pertain not only to trucks, but to all vehicles, Danielson said.

In 2010, George Petrole, chief operating officer for Northface Development LLC of Lehighton, proposed the conversion of the former NJZ site into a state-of-the-art business park that could create thousands of jobs on the over-100-acre site. Petrole said at that time the park would be able to accommodate up to about 27 separate building lots that would contain office and technology space of about 235,000 square feet, warehouse space of 213,000 square feet, and paved parking areas totaling 1,745,000 square feet.

Once completed, the park will have sealed more than 2.5 million square feet of land with building footprint, parking and lineal roadway, Petrole said. Of that, slightly more than 53 percent of the site will be permanently capped by impermeable improvements.

Petrole initially presented his plan to the Palmerton Area School Board that year, which then unanimously agreed toadopt a resolution compromising certain real estate taxes for buildings and parcels of real property, formerly part of the Palmerton Zinc Company Holdings.

The property has 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, Petrole said.

Petrole said the company's redevelopment efforts "are expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area, create an ongoing increased tax base for the authorities involved, and our plan intends to use as much of the 120-plus-acres as is possible for development."

He said the company has completed a Phase I investigation through the Environ Corporation and completed Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act requirements for the property.

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