No Route 10 Warehouse
Our mission - NorthPoint Development is planning to build a 739,000 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.
Zoning Decision Appeal Filed
The decision by the Cumru Zoning Hearing Board was not a surprise so our plans were already in place to continue the battle in the court system. Our legal team filed the appeal on August 21 with the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. The appellee is the Cumru ZHB with NorthPoint and Route 10 Realty (Mail Shark) joining as Interveners. Cumru Township Commissioners will also join as an Intervener. This process will take several months but we now have the opportunity to be heard by an impartial judge with no ties or allegiance to the Cumru Commissioners. The court filings are public domain so everyone can view the progress and arguments on court's docket site. The docket number is 23 12961.
Please help to support our legal efforts to stop this warehouse!
Email us at NoRt10Warehouse@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list for news and updates.
******Cumru Township Commmisioner Election******
Cumru Zoning Hearing Board Decision July 25, 2023
The Cumru ZHB denied the appeal brought by community residents and Penske at the July 25 meeting. This was not unexpected as the zoning board members making the decision were appointed by the Cumru Board of Commissioners (which is who made the zoning decision we are appealing). We now have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Berks Court of Common Pleas. In the meantime, there are still no approved plans for the warehouse, no permits have been obtained, and the township has not voted to approve or deny the proposed warehouse.
Note - The ZHB decision is almost a verbatim copy of NorthPoint's submission with only a few numbering changes. The only difference is the ZHB decision on the last page.
Zoning Hearing Board May 8, 2023
Recap of Zoning Board Hearing Feb 22, 2023
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.
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.
December 17, 2022: Township Meetings - Tax Increase!
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.
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).
********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
Township Manager Jeanne Johnston <email@example.com> (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
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.
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.