April 10, 2023
As residents and property owners adjacent to and around the Lionville Station Road farmland, we are in strong opposition to the industrial mega-warehouse development proposed by Audubon Land Development and reviewed by the Uwchlan Planning Commission at its 3/1/2023 meeting.
Consisting of more than 1.9 million square feet of warehouse and office space, 1432 car parking spaces, 348 loading docks, 394 trailer parking spaces, and 40 "trucker lounge stalls", the proposed industrial site will permanently and negatively impact the surrounding community which includes a large percentage of Downingtown Area School District (DASD) students and their families. Our concerns are centered on:
Traffic: Traffic on Routes 100 and 113 in the vicinity of this project is already problematic. The proposed mega-warehouse project will greatly impact these congested roads, especially when combined with the approved mega-warehouse development at Happy Days Farm, with similar numbers of loading docks, truck parking spaces, and car parking spaces. Though perceived by some to be Turnpike traffic, the proposed freight activity will present serious ramifications for surrounding townships as Route 202 and I-95 exist as major routes to ports in Baltimore, Wilmington and Newark, NJ.
Water: The proposed warehouses, associated roads, and parking lots will cover a significant amount of permeable land in an area where residents depend on clean well water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and household use. Toxic run-off (including oils, fuels, tire wear, antifreeze and other substances) will greatly impact the health and safety of residents. Of additional concern is the environmental impact to Pickering Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River, classified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as "High Quality-Trout Stocking". The Pickering Creek Water Intake is one of three intakes for the Pickering Water System that serves approximately 570,000 customers in Chester and Montgomery counties.
Noise: Activities that create a nuisance, deprive residents of enjoyment of their homes, affect property values and quality of life, and create noise pollution are prohibited in Uwchlan Township. The constant and exceedingly loud burping of tractor-trailer engines as they compression break, noise produced by over-sized tires as they carom off highway rumble strips (which can be detected more than 3,000 feet away), the relentless 24/7 beep-beep-beeping emanating from an unyielding flow of semis as they back into their loading bays all fit the bill of “noise pollution” and directly impact residents’ quality of life.
Diesel exhaust pollution: With a total of 742 diesel truck loading docks and parking spaces, the area surrounding the warehouse facilities will become a concentrated source of diesel particulate emissions and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Air pollution, including diesel emissions, is associated with a wide variety of adverse health effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems. The developing lungs of toddlers and school-age children are particularly vulnerable to VOCs.
Police/security/fire protection/ambulance: A facility of this type and magnitude with associated traffic and workforce will also negatively impact public services for police, fire, public infrastructure, and public works. Uwchlan Ambulance responds to over 5000 calls per year. Route 100 is the only practical road for ambulances to use when transporting to Chester County Hospital. Routes 401 and 30 are the primary routes for transporting to Paoli hospital (our area’s only trauma center). Route 113 is the primary route for transporting to Phoenixville Hospital. All these routes will become more congested if this project is approved. Delayed ambulance response times directly equates to poor patient outcomes, including permanent injury and death.
Environment: There are wetlands and streams throughout this property, along with habitat for aquatic and dry land plants, animals, and birds. Lionville Station farm is one of the last refuges for the area’s wildlife.
Effect on local businesses/change of character of area: Heavy truck traffic, noise, diesel exhaust, and the industrial environment created by the warehouses will negatively impact local businesses and will irreparably change the character of the Chester Springs and Lionville areas.
Arguments in favor of this proposal: Centered on tax benefits for the Township and the creation of new jobs, data has not been provided to establish the accuracy of these claims. The Chester County year-end 2022 unemployment rate was 2.4%, significantly less than the Pennsylvania year-end unemployment rate of 4.3%. It is not a given that the developer will be able to fill these positions with a local labor force.
We acknowledge that DASD stands to make a large profit from the sale of this land (though less than the initial sale figure) and ongoing income from real estate taxation. While we are for DASD filling its coffers, we are less enthusiastic about the windfall covering up a lax tax attitude that failed to keep pace with all of DASD’s peer school districts in our county, despite its lofty capital expenditure goals. With respect to real estate tax, we believe this source of income can be similarly generated by other property uses. We believe this income to be considerably out of balance with the negative economic impact on the community, DASD’s constituents and, to a greater degree, their children; the very same that DASD is obligated to educate and for whom they are expected to model civic excellence.
1. Liu NM, Grigg J.,”Diesel, children and respiratory disease”. BMJ Paediatrics Open 2018;2:e000210. doi:10.1136/ bmjpo-2017-000210
2. U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PACHES5URN)