EAST HANOVER TOWNSHIP — In eastern Dauphin County, Interstate 81 rumbles through a landscape of farmlands and hills, dotted with a casino, hotels and gas stations.
A black strip of perpetual motion. Tractor-trailers hauling the goodies that make the economy run, and commuters heading to work to pay for those goodies.
It’s the perfect place for a warehouse, officials with Hanover Logistics LLC of Lebanon believe.
Some residents of East Hanover Township don’t agree, saying more than 1 million square-feet of warehouses will change the rural nature of their hometown.
But a decision on whether or not two proposed warehouses will be built in this Dauphin County community will be made another day.
It was a packed house of roughly 50 residents at the East Hanover Township supervisors meeting Tuesday night. Hanover Logistics was seeking a conditional use permit to allow for the construction of two warehouses on 55.5 acres north of I-81, east of Firehouse Road and south of Fox Run Road.
Supervisors heard from both the warehouse developer and some concerned citizens and will meet to hear more at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 before making their decision.
The company’s attorney, James Strong, explained if the plan is approved, 14 parcels will be combined into two large properties for the warehouses.
One of those 14 parcels lies just over the border in the neighboring East Hanover Township in Lebanon County, where Hanover Logistics is seeking a variance to build a parking lot on 17.2 acres.
They presented two sets of plans Tuesday night to the Dauphin County East Hanover Township – one containing their neighbor’s approval for the parking lot and one without.
The main difference between the two is the largest of the two warehouses will be 158,000 square-feet smaller to accommodate the parking lot on the Dauphin County side should it be turned down in Lebanon County.
In both plans, the smaller of the two proposed warehouses would measure 317,901 square-feet, accommodating parking for 44 trailers, 148 employee cars and 55 dock spaces.
If the parking lot is approved, the larger warehouse will be 963,790 square-feet with parking for 299 trailers, 256 cars and 234 dock spaces on two sides of the building.
If the parking lot is not approved and has to be located on the Dauphin County side, the larger warehouse would shrink to 805,030 square feet with parking for 233 trailers, 256 employee cars and 192 dock spaces.
There are currently no tenants for the two warehouses.
This area of the township is already zoned for warehouses, township solicitor Kurt Williams pointed out. This hearing was held to determine whether or not the proposal meets the township’s zoning requirements.
Strong and warehouse engineer Keith Ottis argued that it does.
“Yes, our intent is to comply with the ordinance,” Ottis told the supervisors.
That includes landscaping and buffers as well as LED lighting with cutoffs that would minimize light pollution.
The driveway entrances have been moved from the original set of plans to address some residents’ concerns about traffic, he said. There will also be an anti-idling policy in place to cut down on truck pollution and noise, which would be enforced as part of the lease.
Though the developer said the plans will fit the township’s zoning, that doesn’t mean everyone is on board.
“My main concern is for the local residents,” said resident Kevin O’Brien. He asked the supervisors to consider the noise and traffic impact, adding “And who is going to maintain the roads?
The township only paves about five miles of roads each year, resident Tina Hastie pointed out to the supervisors, noting damage to the roads is just one part of the major impact the warehouses would have.
The township’s own guidelines say proposals may not detract from the enjoyment of adjoining properties and they shall not change the character of the neighborhood.
“It’s crazy to think this won’t impact our neighborhood,” she said.
The noise, the deteriorating roads, oil leaking into the groundwater will all negatively affect the residents, she said. She told the supervisor’s it is their duty as elected officials to turn down the proposal.
“Uphold this township’s rural nature and protect its residents,” she said and was met with a round of applause from the crowd.
Before the supervisors meet again to discuss the proposal next month, the East Hanover Township Board of Supervisors in Lebanon County will host a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the township building, 1117 School House Road, over the company seeking a variance to build the parking lot on 17.2 acres.
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