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Sidewalk Waiver Holds up Lower Nazareth Development

The developer of Estate at Deer Crossing has been seeking a sidewalk variance since March 2008; he'll have to wait until May 2 for the Lower Nazareth Board of Supervisors to vote on the matter -- again.

Sidewalks have been a thorn in Jim Faust's side for a long time.

Faust, owner of , was back in front of the Wednesday night for approval of a sidewalk waiver. He’s been working on a small housing development -- -- for six years, he said.

But Faust didn't get his final answer Wednesday night. He'll have to wait until the supervisors May 2 meeting to find out if the township will allow him to substitute pervious pavers for impervious, concrete sidewalks.

The plans have Estate at Deer Crossing located near Hanoverville Road, by . Each house would sit on one-acre lots, Faust explained to the supervisors at a November meeting.

On March 12, 2008, Faust asked the supervisors for a variance on sidewalks, according to minutes from the meeting. But the request was denied, because the township's Planning Commission did not recommend that sidewalks be taken off the development plan.

In November 2011, he sought the waiver again, noting that the state Department of Environmental Protection said the plan had too much impervious area -- ground covered by impenetrable materials, like concrete.

The supervisors tabled the issue, because they wanted to discuss the issue with the township engineer.

During Wednesday night’s meeting, Albert Kortze, the township's engineer, explained that in order for Faust to get the approval of the DEP, he has to either reduce the amount of impervious area or install additional water control measures.

“When there weren’t issues with water quality, this type of thing wouldn’t have been requested,” Kortze said about the sidewalk variance. “The requirements keep getting more stringent. Now they’re not only responsible for the volume of water and rate of runoff, but also the quality of the water.”

Kortze alluded to the Clean Water Act, which was enacted in 2009. The act made the waste water laws more strict.

The developer could consider more vegetation swells or rain gardens, which are man-made wetlands, to handle the water runoff, Kortze explained.

Another option is to use snouts. Kortze explained that snouts are sump catch basins that are installed five feet below sewer lines. The device captures pollutants, such as garbage, while allowing water and sediments to filter through.

Snouts, which the township would have to maintain, would be installed in the street right-of-way. Maintenance includes using a vacuum truck to remove the debris, Kortze said.

Timm Tenges, the township manager, said his work crews could handle cleaning out the snouts. It’s a little extra work, and the township has to borrow a vacuum truck, but his crews can do it, Tenges said.

Kortze said there is always the option to grant the sidewalk variance -- the impervious area of the sidewalks would equal 34,000 square feet or about .8 acres, he explained.

The supervisors listened.

“I bitched about sidewalks a long time ago,” said Supervisors Robert Kucsan, adding that on icy, winter days, he has watched children walk down neighborhood streets to their bus stops -- he doesn’t like what he sees.

“Kids are ditching cars on a slippery road. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” he said. “If it means some extra labor costs for the township (for snouts), I say go that way."

Larry Turoscy, director of engineering at Lehigh Engineering Associates Inc. in Walnutport, spoke on behalf of Faust Construction. He suggested that Faust use pervious pavers instead of straight concrete. Turoscy said he has used the pavers for roadways and shopping center parking lots.

One type of pervious paver holds 3,000 pounds per square inch. The pavers interlock and can be installed as large sections, which cuts down on the cost, Turoscy said.

“Your ordinance says concrete, not pavers,” Turoscy said.

Eric Nagle, the chairman of the supervisors said, “We do have an ordinance. We do want sidewalks. If there is another option, I’d like to look at it.”

Turoscy said he has used pervious pavers as part of the roadway at Eaton and Eighth avenues in Bethlehem.

The issue was tabled so the supervisors could head to Bethlehem to get a look at the pavers firsthand.

“It’s a good compromise,” Turoscy said. “You’ve got the sidewalks and we have the pervious coverage.”

Faust asked the board when the matter would be voted on.

"I just got to get this development done,” he said.

Nagle said Faust would have his answer at the May 2 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

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