Mar. 8—Jefferson Twp. residents acted fast to oppose the proposed construction of two 1 million-square-foot industrial buildings at the site of the former Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
A petition started by Sarah Roscioli, who lives on Golf Club Road next to the nearly 177-acre property, was approaching 1,400 signatures Sunday evening, less than a week after a representative from the Kansas City, Missouri-based NorthPoint Development presented details on the scope of the project during the township’s March 1 planning commission meeting.
However, the land at 1099 Golf Club Road, which is currently zoned as residential, would need to be rezoned as commercial before the firm could move forward with the project, said township Supervisor Jason Hollister.
Hollister said NorthPoint has not yet submitted zoning or land development applications to the township, and a public hearing would be required to discuss both plans.
The golf course, which had been operating since 1960, didn’t reopen last year following the state-mandated shutdown of recreation facilities because of the coronavirus pandemic.
At a February 2020 township supervisors’ meeting, real estate and development representatives of the owner of the property, SMGC Realty LP, first pitched the idea of an industrial park with warehouses as an alternative use for the 18-hole course.
Max Breitmayer, a development manager with NorthPoint, said Monday the firm would plan to develop the two Class A industrial buildings on a speculative basis, meaning they would be built without a specific tenant in mind.
Depending on the tenants, he said the project could generate between 300 and 500 jobs per building with hourly wages ranging from $15 to $25.
Roscioli fears Golf Club Road — where many people enjoy walking, jogging and riding bikes — would no longer be safe if the project takes shape. She is also concerned about noise and light pollution, and depreciation of property values.
“I understand the importance of jobs, but it’s just not the right area,” Roscioli said.
Breitmayer said the firm has built about 5 million square feet of industrial facilities for distribution or manufacturing purposes in Northeast Pennsylvania, including Hanover Twp., in the past three years and has filled the buildings.
He said tenants generally sign 10- to 15-year leases, and the firm has worked with Chewy, True Value and Home Depot in the past.
“Generally, in our experience in Northeast Pennsylvania, we’re able to find tenants to lease the buildings 80% of the time even before we break ground or during construction,” he said.
The total development cost of the project could range from $50 million to $85 million, Breitmayer said.
The firm completed a traffic study, which includes the widening of Mount Cobb Road for a turn lane onto Golf Club Road, at the end of December, Breitmayer said. He added that up to 180 trucks could enter the property during the peak hours of 7 to 10 a.m. each day.
Roscioli questions the timing and accuracy of the study.
“It was done when schools were closed and people were working at home,” she said.
Breitmayer said the firm will also ask for a zoning variance to construct 40-foot-tall buildings, 5 feet higher than currently allowed in the township’s ordinance.
The size of the buildings is another reason Roscioli is against the proposal.
“It will be a giant eyesore,” she said.
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