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Lower Nazareth Planners Divided on Hartman Road Extension

The Lower Nazareth Planning Commission is split -- voting 2-2 Monday night -- on the recommendation to extend Hartman Road into a proposed 56-home development.

A planned 56-home development along Route 191 in Lower Nazareth Township has nearby residents concerned -- and the township's Planning Commission divided -- over water runoff and increased congestion on already heavily traveled roads.

The Lower Nazareth Planning Commission on Monday was presented with a revised preliminary plan for Saratoga Farms. The plan was tabled in October pending resolution of the location of the development's main entrance and whether Hartman Road -- a dead-end that intersects Newburg Road -- should be extended.

The property in question, known as the Frey Tract subdivision, is next to the Lower Nazareth Township Municipal Building. If approved, the 56 single-family homes will be built on one-acre lots.

Zachariah Cobrinik, former vice chairman of the Planning Commission, praised much of the development's design in May 2011, particularly where the plan shows traffic exiting and entering via neighborhood roads that do not intersect Route 191.

“It’s all about reducing the amount of traffic on 191,” said Cobrinik, who has since joined the Zoning Hearing Board.

Residents don't agree.

“I’m wondering if the board realizes the amount of traffic on Newburg Road," Delores Hartman said at an October meeting. "We have a difficult time now and I’m concerned about accidents. It’s congested now. Who will be responsible for all this [additional] congestion?"

Earl Snyder, who has lived on Hartman Road for 31 years, said he fears for neighbors who reverse out of their driveways.

"I don't think [extending Hartman] is safe," Snyder added.

The revised preliminary plan presented Monday indicated a decision to move forward with the road extension.

“I can’t believe you guys would consider opening Hartman Road,” said Tamara Karabinus, who added that she's concerned the extension will result in additional stormwater flowing onto her property. “Is there a way to extend [Hartman] and handle the water?”

According to Al Kortze, the township's engineer, a township ordinance forbids developers from increasing the amount of runoff. By all calculations, Kortze explained, there will be a net decrease in stormwater flowing onto her property.

Kortze did, however, concede that Karabinus' water issue would be lessened even more during and after construction on Saratoga Farms -- if Hartman Road is not extended.

If the road is extended, there will still be a decrease, just not as much.

According to representatives for Saratoga Farms, an extended Hartman Road would be a two-way street and would not be widened.

Citing concerns over motorist safety and water runoff, planners Hugh Harris and LeRoy Bickert voted against recommending the extension of Hartman Road. Tara Capecci and Ronald Seidlecki voted to recommend the extension.

Chairwoman Linda Crook was absent from Monday’s meeting. Seidlecki, however, said Crook is in favor of opening Hartman Road.

With the Planning Commission divided, the decision to extend Hartman Road will head to the Lower Nazareth Board of Supervisors. The earliest date the issue could be voted on is Jan. 23, 2013.

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