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Goodman Birtcher warehouse meeting draws full house

Monday’s joint meeting between Dickinson Township and Carlisle borough officials turned into a lengthy debate over the economic benefits of 2.5 million square feet of warehouses versus the health impacts.

The Goodman Birtcher plan calls for rezoning 86 acres in Dickinson’s business recreation district along Allen Road to business industrial. The plan includes four warehouses, the two largest in Dickinson Township. The property also lies in South Middleton and West Pennsboro townships, as well as Carlisle.
The Dickinson supervisors are expected to vote on the zoning change next Monday night. But first, Goodman Birtcher made a final lobbying effort at Monday’s joint meeting.
In an 11-page letter by attorney Charles Courtney of McNees Wallace and Nurick in Harrisburg, the California-based company said the plan will create 900 jobs, 80 percent of which will be permanent positions.
The letter was alternately combative and conciliatory. Courtney wrote that opponents “have resorted to threatening officials and/or spreading misleading, inaccurate information in an attempt to intimidate or mislead decision-makers.”
Goodman Birtcher offered a seven-point plan to control idling and said it will accept those steps as conditions. The company also promised to be a good corporate citizen, mentioning several local events by name that representatives have been or will be involved in.
Although not part of the letter, spokesman Tom Ahern said Goodman Birtcher would like to partner with the Downtown Carlisle Association to purchase security cameras for the borough.
Once Dickinson votes, Carlisle will take up the plan. Goodman Birtcher is asking the borough to permit warehousing in the I-C zoning district so it can construct a road to the facility.
Opponents have suggested the warehouse plan could end up in court. The Goodman Birtcher letter outlined five court cases that uphold the legality of granting access to a use in one zoning district through land in another zoning district where the use is not permitted.
Goodman Birtcher said the air has tested clean and is improving in the Carlisle area. Particulate matter levels have “decreased steadily from 2001 to 2012,” the letter states, citing state Department of Environmental Protection data.
Carlisle lawyer Nathan Wolf leads the opposition and has said the health impacts are much greater than Goodman Birtcher is willing to admit.
“There’s an enormous cost to those who are affected by this facility,” he told the Dickinson supervisors earlier this month.
Wolf could not be reached for comment this morning.

John Hilton

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