Whitehall-Coplay Press

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Developer seeks sidewalk deferment

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Local News

Lease agreements in place for Planet Fitness, Goodwill at MacArthur center

A Montgomery County real estate company hoping to add more businesses to a Whitehall Township shopping center went before the township board of commissioners at its workshop meeting Monday to discuss a request for a deferment of required sidewalks.

The development of MacArthur Commons, 2631 MacArthur Road, will be considered for conditional approval at the commissioners’ regular meeting next week.

Todd Dratch, of Abrams Realty & Development, said developers had been working on the project since April. The company also bought MacArthur Towne Center, 2520 MacArthur Road, last year.

MacArthur Commons already has existing retailers including a Giant supermarket, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Burlington Coat Factory, T.J. Maxx and others.

Dratch said he has lease agreements with new businesses such as Planet Fitness and Goodwill for MacArthur Towne Center and wants to add more eateries. He said Smoothie King and Mod Pizza have expressed interest in putting their restaurants there.

“We are investing a lot of money in Whitehall and really believe in it,” Dratch said.

The deferment request is for sidewalks along the frontage of MacArthur Commons for about 662 feet.

Currently, there are no sidewalks in front of Burger King and Panera Bread. Commissioners expressed concern about the safety of pedestrians.

“We don’t want people to walk in the road,” board Secretary Thomas Slonaker said.

Dratch said developers might not be able to legally put sidewalks in some areas because of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation easements along MacArthur Road.

“I think we need to sit down with PennDOT and deal with the entire corridor,” Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. said.

Carl Lagler, township surveyor, presented a report of the township’s 2019 street improvement program, in which he identified seven streets where curbing and sidewalks were missing.

Of those, he recommended requiring homeowners to install sidewalks and curbing on North 14th Street between Fairmont Street and Overlook Road; Jordan Boulevard between Grape Street and West Union Street; North Third Avenue between Chestnut Street and Poplar Street; North Church Street between Main Street and Hoffman Drive; and Hoffman Drive between Lehigh Street and North Church Street.

Lagler recommended deferment of sidewalks for some properties on Fairmont Street between 13th Street and 14th Street. He said only half the homes have sidewalks, but there is not a lot of traffic, and there is a steep embankment on the south side of the road. He said he thinks only homes on the north side of the street should be required to put in sidewalks.

Lagler also recommended a deferment of sidewalks for all the homes along Oak Street between Washington Street and North Ruch Street. He said there are no sidewalks on either side of the street, but he felt putting in sidewalks would disrupt the character of the area. He said there are steep embankments and unique characteristics in the area.

The commissioners also discussed an ordinance that would grant the township an easement on Glenside Drive along St. John’s Union Cemetery.

Township Engineer Frank Clark said the township wants to reroute the storm sewer from Seventh Street along the east side of Glenside Street. He said St. John’s Union Cemetery Association was in favor of the ordinance.

“It will benefit them greatly,” Clark said. “They won’t be inundated with stormwater anymore.”

In response to a question from Commissioner Jeffrey Dutt, Clark said the new storm sewer also will reduce ponding in the area.

The next board meeting is 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at the municipal building, 3219 MacArthur Road.