Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Board denies request by cottage developer

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 by PAUL FOX Special to The Press in Local News

Township commissioners vote against zoning change recommendation

During the final meeting of 2019, held Dec. 9, Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners cast several important votes, received an update on the construction of a new township building and expressed heartfelt thanks and goodbyes to the board members whose terms are up.

In the voting portion of the meeting, members voted on a list of resolutions. Among them was a previously reported request by developer Abraham Atiyeh to change the zoning on a 14.75-acre property at 3101 MacArthur Road. This change would allow him to build a gated independent living community, Cottages of Whitehall.

The board could only vote on a motion to direct the township planning commission and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to review the zoning change request. The board voted against the recommendation in a vote of six to one, and the resolution failed to pass.

The board voted on a number of ordinances, including the approval of the 2020 budget, locking down the 2020 real estate tax rate and purchasing property along Mechanicsville Road so the road can be widened.

Also at the meeting, Mayor Michael P. Harakal Jr. presented an award of recognition to Whitehall resident Nate Smith. Recently elected as state junior vice commander of the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, Smith served in both the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

By joining the military, Smith followed in the footsteps of his father, who served at Iwo Jima, and his three brothers, one of whom was killed in Vietnam. In thanking the mayor and the board for the award, Smith praised all of the public servants and volunteers in Whitehall Township.

An attorney representing Dave & Buster’s addressed the board before its vote on granting an intermunicipal liquor license transfer to the new sports bar/arcade, which is currently under construction on MacArthur Road. Set to open by the middle of 2020, the 30,000-square-foot building will employ 240 employees at launch, with the potential to add more as needed.

Given the arcade’s massive appeal to children and the restaurant’s generally family-friendly nature, Dave & Buster’s attorney explained the company goes through great lengths to ensure its employees keep alcohol strictly separated from underage customers. The board approved the transfer.

The board of commissioners was given a thorough presentation on the upcoming renovations and new construction for Whitehall Township’s emergency services complex and municipal building.

Representatives from KCBA Architects and D’Huy Engineering walked the board through a project timeline, which starts next week when the project will go out to bid.

Phase one of construction, which begins in March, will focus on the new two-story police building. Once that is mostly complete, township administration will temporarily move into the police building while renovations begin on the current township building. After those renovations are completed, construction will refocus on the police building for the finishing touches, bringing the whole project to a close by December 2021.

Arif Fazil, president of D’Huy, announced that through value engineering, the company has been able to firmly hold the estimated cost at $17.8 million.

As the meeting came to a close, members of the board made their closing statements, and member Shawn Clary announced he is resigning from Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners due to family issues. This would be his last meeting, he said.

Vice President Philip Ginder praised Clary as well as retiring board members Dennis Hower and Ann Freyman.