No Route 10 Warehouse
Our mission - NorthPoint Development is planning to build a 738,000 sq ft warehouse (click to read more).......
Over the past 18 months Cumru commissioners have quietly been planning with developers to approve the rezoning of 170 acres along Rt 10 as industrial, agreed to install a traffic light on Rt 10 for the coming barrage of 18 wheelers, and gave assurance of no taxes to the developer.
All of this in the peaceful communities of Flying Hills, Heritage Senior Living, neighbors and other local businesses and health care providers. Big trucks will be choking traffic in the area 24 hours a day and creating huge backups because trucks won’t be able to make it up the hills on Rt 10 any faster than 10mph. Residents will not sleep because of the continuous roar of their brake retarders, and black smoke will stain the buildings from their diesel exhausts. And we get to pay for all the fire, police, infrastructure and utility improvements through our taxes.
Please help to support our legal efforts to stop this warehouse!
Click Here - GoFundMe . (Click here for instructions to donate directly to our lawyer)
The group has arranged a fundraiser with Louies Kitchen in Flying Hills for March 22. Visit anytime that day, mention you are supporting No Rt10 Warehouse, and 10% of your food check will be donated to our cause.
Remember 2023 is an election year for 2 Board of Commissioner positions. Township Commissioners are elected for 4 year terms, Ruth O'Leary and Sam Kalbach terms end this year so we need to look at our options carefully for the primary and November elections.
The following dates and locations have been approved by Gov. Mifflin for additional hearings from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.:
Mon. March 13 - GM Intermediate School Cafeteria
Mon. April 24 - GM Intermediate School Cafeteria
Wed. April 26 – Cumru Elementary School Cafeteria (SR724)
Thurs. May 4 - GM Intermediate School Cafeteria
Mon. May 8 - GM Intermediate School Cafeteria
Voting on Zoning in 2018:
William Miller (current member) – Motion to approve rezoning
Edward Gottschall – Seconded motion
Ruth O’Leary (current member) - Yes
Sheri Hoover - Yes
David Batdorf (current member) – Abstain
Recap of Zoning Board Hearing Feb 22, 2023
The hearing began with the Robeson Township Manager presenting a letter of opposition to the zoning and proposed warehouse. The letter included details from the Police Chief with analysis, diagrams, and photos of the areas that would be impacted in Robeson. They specifically mentioned the already high rates of accidents and injuries and how this land use would result in worsening conditions. They also pointed out the short exit ramp and that increased commercial traffic would cause “stacking” issues at the exit causing peril to those exiting as well as everyone northbound on I-176.
Glenn Emery was called to share his observations of the recent snow squall on Rt. 10 traffic including large trucks stuck on the hill and blocking the lanes to demonstrate that these roads cannot handle the increased traffic that an Industrial zoning would introduce. Photos were presented that demonstrated Glenn’s observations, there was some discussion about the admissibility of the photos to be decided later.
Next it was Rick Wolf’s turn to testify on his standing in the challenge. Rick also provided testimony by reading into the record specific sections of the township meetings regarding the rezoning.
Finally our team introduced an expert witness for land use. His credentials as an expert were quickly accepted and he provided great testimony about the land description, description of surrounding land, why the County and Regional Comprehensive plans were crucial and the township did not comply with either. He also discussed principles of land planning, zoning objectives, and why this property should remain Rural Conservation. We ran out of time for cross examination on this witness so he will resume at a later hearing.
Our attorneys did a great job with the direct testimony and the opposing attorney did their loud, pointless posturing on their cross examination. The next hearing is tentatively set for March 13, and they are expected to continue through April/May. Look for more details in the Reading Eagle.
Next Zoning Hearing Board meeting - February 22, 2023 6PM Governor Mifflin Intermediate School
We have not posted many updates recently, there have not been many new developments now that we are formally challenging the zoning from 2018 and have taken the process out of the Township and Developer's hands. It has been 9 months since our community first became aware of the warehouse proposal. It is amazing the progress we made by quickly informing the community, organizing support groups, and making the township aware of our position. We developed a communication strategy, organized fund raising efforts, collaborated with Penske, and engaged a expert attorney. Now the goal to reverse the rezoning is in the legal process and everyone is fully informed, aware, and participating.
A couple observations from the first hearing. The main purpose initially was for the opposing lawyers to question our legal standing to even challenge the zoning. There will probably be more points presented at the hearings that will not seem relevant but might be needed for procedural reasons if the board's decision is appealed.
During the testimony, the opposing lawyers wanted to keep giving the example of the possibility of "cluster homes" if the zoning was Rural Conservation inferring it would be worse than a warehouse. Actually, Cluster Development is Cumru requires that each home lot is a minimum of 1 acre, at least 60% of the area must be reserved as common space, and all existing slopes and natural features must be preserved. We don't understand why the lawyers would think this was a bad thing.
They also pressed Penske about traffic volumes saying Penske would generate 800 trips during a peak hour and the warehouse would only generate 40 trips. They obviously did not read the traffic reports already approved by PennDot. The MailShark example (other uses could generate even more) already shows an estimated 319 new trips during the morning peak. This would be in addition to the current 718 trips during the same peak hour. So the PennDot approved traffic study says the peak hour traffic would increase by 50%. This is nothing like the "40 trips" they think a warehouse would generate.
The upcoming hearings will now focus on expert testimony regarding traffic impact, safety impact, land values, etc. Below is the accepted "standard" in Pennsylvania to define spot zoning. Keep this in mind as you hear the testimony at the hearings.
In Takacs v. Indian Lake Borough Zoning Hearing Board, 11 A.3d 587 (Pa. Cmwlth.
2010), the Commonwealth Court explained spot zoning and the relevant legal standard, as follows:
Spot zoning is a singling out of one lot or a small area for different treatment from that
accorded to similar surrounding land indistinguishable from it in character, for the
economic benefit or detriment of the owner of that lot. The most determinative factor in an
analysis of spot zoning is whether the parcel in question is being treated unjustifiably
different from similar surrounding land, thus creating an “island” having no relevant
differences from its neighbors. Takacs, 11 A.3d at 594 (citations omitted) (emphasis
January 5, 2023:
Zoning Board Hearing 6:00PM January 23 at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School
This will the first actual session of the legal proceeding since the township failed to provide the legally required notifications for the session in November. There will be several more sessions scheduled over the coming months. The Zoning Board will eventually either uphold the rezoning or revert it. Regardless of their decision, we expect the process to continue with an appeal to Berks Common Pleas, then appeal again to the higher courts. This will be an expensive fight and it could last years – but worth it to preserve the site.
Please remember that the intersection expansion and traffic light was a result of a traffic study done in 2018 when MailShark had planned to build there. The MailShark project never materialized and no proposal was ever submitted for approval. But they did submit the results of the traffic study to PennDot based on the expected volumes for their project. PennDot approved the intersection changes and MailShark moved forward with the expectation it would make sale of the property more attractive for someone like NorthPoint. MailShark is paying for all the work including the lights themselves.
So we may end up with a big intersection and traffic lights that are nothing more than an annoyance and traffic hazard. Our next step would be to find a way for PennDot to approve the removal of the lights since there will not be enough new traffic entering Rt 10 to justify them. More to come on this topic.
December 17, 2022: Township Meetings - Tax Increase!
Reminder that there are actually 2 Cumru Township meetings upcoming on Tuesday, December 20. As always, we should attend so we can participate in our township government and decisions.
The first meeting at 6:30PM is to discuss the proposed self-storage facility at the old Giant site on Lancaster Pike. The developer plans to split the lot so Ollies and Fulton bank will be on one lot, the storage will be on the remainder. They plan to have an initial phase of placing storage units in the parking lot to start bringing in revenue. Then a second phase would be to convert the Giant building and the furniture store into indoor storage. Remember this is a flood zone so this type of business does not require flood insurance, other uses would require very expensive insurance. Seems like a great solution for the site.
The second meeting at 7:00PM is to approve the 2023 township property tax increase. We are watching this closely because the township was informed this year that the landfill that provides $500,000 per year in tax revenue will close after 2023. The township was hoping to recover some of this revenue from the proposed Rt. 10 warehouse (although it would only be a small portion of this amount due to the tax break already approved). Regardless, the township needs to prepare for the revenue loss and this is reflected in some areas of the budget.
We looked into the new rates and the 2023 budget items that are driving the increase. The township has several funds, each fund has its own budget. The funds with increased rates are the General fund and the Debt Services fund. We calculate these increases amount to $62 per $100,000 of assessed value. (Click here to review the 2022 and 2023 budgets)
Overall, the increased costs are in line with the general inflation we all are seeing, including increased fuel and utility costs, and general operational costs. The most significant budget increases are for vehicle purchases for police, fire, and highway. There is also a large storm sewer project for Montrose Blvd and roadwork for Hunters Road and Welsh Road. We also see that the township is working for grants and external funding to reduce the impact of these costs. (Click here for a more detailed review)
The township also took out a bond in 2020 for $15.7 million to fund the new fire station and other expenses. The good news is that this bond benefits from the low interest rates in 2020. However we see the costs reflected in the Debt Services budget.
October 31, 2022: We have confirmed that the hearing for our challenge to the zoning on Rt. 10 will be on November 16 at the Governor Mifflin Intermediate School Cafeteria at 6PM. We expect that several sessions will be needed due to the number of parties involved and the expert witnesses that will be called. The next session will likely be later in January and the process is expected to continue through the spring. Please plan to attend this session to show community support so this land can be reverted to Rural Conservation zoning.
Reading Eagle: Cumru residents, Penske challenge zoning change that enabled Route 10 warehouse plans
There are 5 parties involved and represented by lawyers. - our Community group, Penske, Route 10 Realty (Mail Shark/Brian Johnson), NorthPoint, and Cumru Township. The Cumru ZHB acts as the neutral party to administer and adjudicate the hearings. There will be multiple hearings to allow for all the expert witness testimony
Please continue to support our efforts by donating to our GoFundMe or directly to our attorney. Our legal costs are already over double the funds we have available and we still have a long battle ahead.
Oct 20, 2022: Just a brief update to our supporters. Our attorney, Matthew J. Crème, has provided us with a short status report recently. He has advised that he is working closely with the attorneys representing Penske in preparing for the November 16 meeting. The first hearing is scheduled for November 16, and the attorneys are working to schedule hearings in December and January, though those dates have not yet been confirmed. Additional hearings will be necessary because of the number of witnesses expected to be called. We (Cumru Township residents) have been asked to contribute to the cost of the expert witnesses.
All the lawyers involved have agreed to a stipulation that there can be no further consideration of the NorthPoint proposal until the zoning challenge is settled through the legal process. This includes Cumru Township, Brian Johnson (Mail Shark), Penske, and our group (Cumru Residents).
Along with the status report, we received our first invoice. It has depleted the Gofundme account and we have a rather large outstanding balance. We feel strongly that we cannot continue this fight without the legal expertise of Mr. Crème. If you attended the Planning Commission meeting, you heard the statements he and the attorneys for Penske provided and that testimony ultimately led to the Planning Commission deciding in our favor.
We need to raise additional funds. If you have not contributed to the Gofundme, please do so. If you are able to make a second contribution, it would be appreciated. If you prefer to write a check, instructions as to where to mail your check are provided on our webpage. Maybe you have expertise in fundraising or suggestions as to how we can raise funds. If so, please reach out. Perhaps a committee can be formed that can work together to come up with some solutions.
Separately, we have been receiving numerous inquiries about the status of the work at the intersection of Freemansville Rd and Rt 10. This work was part of the original Mail Shark development plan (it was never submitted to the township for approval but the intersection reconstruction was submitted to PennDOT and approved) - entirely paid for by Brian Johnson. Since this is not part of the NorthPoint plan, it is not impacted by our challenge. However we have submitted a "Right to Know" request for all plans and documentation related to the project. PennDOT has asked for a 30 day extension to provide the documents. We have observed that even if the roadwork gets completed, the traffic volumes proposed by NorthPoint would not justify a traffic light based on PennDOT criteria.
Submitted to PennDOT Oct 11:
"Please provide all documents related to current and planned activities at the intersection of State Route 3003 (Freemansville Road) and State Route 0010 (Morgantown Road) in Cumru Township, Berks County regarding HOP permits 05059405/05059412 and the associated Traffic Signal Permit. Information requested to include, but not limited to, all meeting minutes, requests, correspondence, final plans, inspections, Field Inspectors Diary, permits, and supplements."
We need your continued help. Please share with other Cumru residents, your friends and neighbors. We appreciate your support and commitment to this fight.
********The Wheels are in Motion*********
Sept 19, 2022: Our Community, in partnership with Penske, have filed a validity challenge against the township to revert the rezoning to Rural Conservation. We are told by the township that this now Stays any further consideration of the NorthPoint plan until the challenge is resolved.
The validity challenge is filed with the Cumru Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) against Cumru Township Board of Commissioners with regard to Spot Zoning based on the 2018 zoning change from Rural Conservation to General Industrial. The ZHB is the Judicial arm of the township government with initial jurisdiction. Depending on the outcome, next steps would be the Berks County civil courts then appeal courts.
Please keep checking back, this is the beginning of a long legal process but circumstances can change quickly. It will be in NorthPoint's best interest to pack up and go away, but we still need to correct the zoning so this cannot happen again.
Here are the Board's email addresses
President Ruth A. O'Leary email@example.com
Vice President David J. Batdorf firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Sam Kalbach email@example.com
Commissioner William B. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Lisha Rowe email@example.com
Township Manager Jeanne Johnston <firstname.lastname@example.org> (paid position, not a voting member)
Cumru Planning Commission votes to Reject the NorthPoint Plan!
At the September 12 meeting the Planning Commission determined there was no further action possible by the commission and voted to recommend rejection of the plan due to safety and traffic issues. The plan now goes to the Township Board of Commissioners for their final vote. The Board still has the ability to accept the Planning Commission recommendation and reject or they could approve regardless of the recommendation. So we need to keep up the pressure to oppose this plan.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Sept 20 where this topic will be on the agenda. The Board stated they are not able to arrange an alternate location for the meeting and the Township can only accommodate 80 people in the room, including the Township members. So public attendance will be limited. Our team contacted the Township to offer assistance to arrange for space at Governor Mifflin but were shot down. Click here to see the Township's response
Cumru planners reject developer's warehouse proposal - WFMZ
Cumru residents take stand against proposed project - WFMZ
Route 10 warehouse would ‘impair the welfare of residents,’ Cumru officials say - Reading Eagle
Another Rt. 10 rollover accident
Sept 3 about 3PM. 100 yards south of Freemansville Road. Car was headed south and somehow crossed over to the opposite side and hit a stump on the bank, causing the car to roll on it's side. Luckily no serious injuries but think about where all those trucks would go for the hours Rt. 10 was shutdown.
Latest Updates - September 3
Northpoint submitted a few new planning documents as required by Township ordinances in advance of the Sept 12 Planning Committee meeting. These check a few boxes in their hopes of getting Township approval for the warehouse plan. Still no Traffic Impact Study.
Northpoint and Schlouch Engineering should be thankful these docs are not graded on quality or content. For example, the Community Assessment plan is supposed to detail emergency management. Schlouch managed to fit the entire emergency management plan into half a page.
Please be sure to attend the Planning Committee meeting Monday Sept 12 6PM at the Governor Mifflin Intermediate School Cafeteria where these plans will be discussed.
Update - August 16
The next important Cumru Planning Committee meeting is planned for Monday Sept 12 at 6PM in the Governor Mifflin Intermediate School Commons Area. This is the meeting where we expect the planning committee to discuss the waiver requests from NorthPoint. We need to fill the room again to continue to show the township that the community is united in opposition to the NorthPoint plan.
Our attorney, Matthew J. Creme, will be there to speak on our behalf so the best thing we can do is show our strength by attending but let the attorney do the talking this time. Our hope is that the committee sticks to the ordinance requirements as much as reasonably possible and not grant waivers that NorthPoint requested at the August meeting. Mr. Creme described that some waivers for minor items are commonly granted if the developer can reach the same results with an alternate process so it would not be unexpected for some of the requests to be granted.
But the waiver requests to skip the Environmental Impact Analysis, the Community Resource Impact Assessment, and the Traffic Impact Study are very significant and the committee should required these as per ordinance. It is good planning to require these studies and make sure all issues are covered and not just "trust" the developer to do the right thing.
There are other legal challenges in process behind the scenes, but the Planning Committee actions regarding the waivers are the most important to focus on now. The Planning Committee must make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners before the November 30 deadline. The Planning Committee has the job to review the developer's plan ,determine compliance with ordinances (or issue waivers), and make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to approve or reject.
Let's Support our Township Commissioners!
We have sent some clear messages to the Township that the vast majority of residents are opposed to this development. But the Township has not approved anything and we need to support them to make the right decisions while they still have control. We must suggest to the Township what they can do to support the residents.
The Township has discretion to set the appropriate requirements for the Northpoint plan. The most obvious opportunity is for the Township to require a new Traffic Impact Study. The current study was done for the Mail Shark proposal which is now defunct. The study is very limited in scope and it is invalid for this project. The Township requirements and approval are completely separate from the PennDOT approval so the Township should not make any decision based on PennDOT. The first step before the study is started is to have a scope meeting with the applicant, the township, and PennDOT. We think the Township should require this meeting and insist the scope to include all intersections from I-176 Northbound to US-422 at Lancaster Ave to I-176 at Rt 724.
Let’s encourage the Township to make this requirement, then we can address the study findings based on a relevant scope. We should review the other parts of the plan to identify similar opportunities for the township to set requirements that ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing for our residents.
Cumru Planning Commission Meeting: Important Update
Thank you to those who took the time to attend Northpoint’s second Open House on July 26 at the Berks Nature Center.
As you may know, we have engaged an attorney to look into ways in which we can fight the proposed warehouse. We wanted to give you a brief update of what was discussed with the attorney.
First of all, we have retained an expert in the field of zoning and land development issues. He has represented 40 municipalities in 6 counties, so he is well aware of the legal process in matters of this sort.
The attorney explained the process for the submission and for the township to approve the land development plan. Once the application/proposed plan is submitted to the township, a timeline begins. The Township has 90 days within which to take action pursuant to state law. In those 90 days, reports (review letters) are gathered, environmental, traffic, water and sewer studies and the like. In this case, the Township has requested different engineers to review different aspects of the plans as submitted. Those reports often take time and in most cases, it is necessary for the applicant, the land developer, to request an extension of the 90 day period in order to provide all reports from engineers, etc., necessary for township approval. That 90 day period, in this case, will expire in September and it is very likely that an extension will be requested and granted. For this reason, it is possible and even likely that the applicant (Northpoint) will remove this matter from the August 1 agenda. This is not at all unusual and sometimes happens at the last minute.
Once the developer/applicant’s reports are submitted, they are “proofread” and township engineers make recommendation and/or suggested changes to the plans as submitted. These are called review letters and the township will point out errors in the plans that can be remedied (waivers). In a project of this size, we can expect many waivers/changes to be suggested which will prolong the process.
All things considered, we plan to attend the August 1 meeting to begin at 6PM in the GM Intermediate School cafeteria (with No Route 10 Warehouse signs in hand) to make it known to the Township that we are still very much objecting to the proposed warehouse. Whether they allow us to speak at the meeting (if the item is removed from the agenda) remains to be seen. If we are permitted to speak and make comments, it is likely that they be limited to 3 minutes per speaker.
Rest assured that our opposition to the warehouse continues. We have experts in the field planning strategies to fight on our behalf.
Please continue to follow our website, www.nort10warehouse.com
where we will post news and updates from time to time. Please also consider a donation to www.gofundme.com/nort10warehouse. All monies collected will be used to pay for attorney fees and expenses. We need your help! If each member of our community would make a donation in whatever amount they are comfortable with, we could reach our goal. We need your help! We can’t do this without the support of our community. If you have other fundraising ideas, or ideas about how to spread the word throughout our community, please feel free to reach out on our webpage with your ideas.
We appreciate your support!
"Coming together is the beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success!"
- Henry Ford
The opening track on the Beetle’s 1969 release, Abbey Road is entitled, “Come Together”. Written by John Lennon, the song was conceived as a sign of Lennon's political support for the writer, psychologist and pro-drugs activist Timothy Leary in his bid to stand against Ronald Reagan as Governor of California. The song was to be a rallying cry for people to come together in support of Leary’s campaign. History tells us that the song and the album enjoyed much more success than Leary’s campaign, which ended shortly after his arrest for cannabis possession.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to come together, if you will, with concerned neighbors and many others who have recently been made aware of a proposed 750,000 + square foot warehouse/distribution center to be erected immediately adjacent to a planned community that serves as the primary residential development in our township. As you can imagine, there is substantial push-back by residents and some local businesses. Concerns include, but are not limited to, previously approved zoning decisions, increased traffic volume, environmental impact, noise and light pollution and general safety issues. However, a remarkable thing is happening, people are coming together, working together and no one gives a damn about political affiliations, ethnicity, religion or any of the other roadblocks that so often get in the way.
Two weeks ago I began my blog, Bigger than Yourself with a quote from Norman Vincent Peale, “The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” It’s true! Over the past few weeks I have marveled at how people have come together in support of this unique cause. In this short period of time, a logo has appeared, a webpage created, and an attorney contracted. Productive meetings are happening and positive emails containing productive thoughts fill my inbox daily. Recently the developer sponsored an open-house designed to inform and enlighten. While almost all those present were against this project, not once did I hear a negative slur, a loud accusation or threat. It seemed that everyone, on both sides of this issue had embraced Covey’s 5th habit, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”
I have no idea what the outcome will be for this particular issue. I’m hopeful that those on the Planning Commission and the Township Supervisors will listen to the residents and work with the Developer in finding a more appropriate site for this project. However, regardless of the outcome, this initiative has demonstrated that people can put labels, affiliations and the like aside and come together, work collaboratively and seek better outcomes. Margaret Mead was right, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." We might not be changing the world, but you have to start somewhere!
EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE !