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Some 90 minutes of the two-hour meeting of the North Lebanon Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 19 were taken up by public comment, much of it dealing with a new Walmart facility.

Over 20 residents were present, more than half of whom spoke up during the meeting.

Karen Simpson of 2570 Emma Road presented a petition signed by a majority of the homeowners along Emma Road and Elias Avenue concerning the truck traffic generated by Walmart Distribution Center 7377.

Read More: Walmart hiring for new high-tech North Lebanon Township warehouse

“Even though it’s not many, it is basically 100 percent of the people that live on those two roads,” she said.

Among their requests were for the township to put up signs diverting non-local truck traffic, communicate with Walmart regarding issues, and consider reducing the speed limit on Emma Road from its current limit of 40 mph.

Residents alleged that the Walmart distribution trucks that frequently drive through the area speed through Emma Road’s sharp turns, create safety hazards for residents, and have caused property damage to public and private property.

Residents say poles have been ripped out on two occasions and a cement barrier was also moved Sept. 16. Donald Daub of 2404 Elias Ave. said the incident required the services of a police officer, the fire police, and a wrecker.

Daub has also talked to multiple Werner truck drivers who told him that they are required to follow GPS instructions, which are currently directing them through these roads.

“I’m a pretty patient man, but I’m about at my limit,” said Daub. “We’re asking you to help us out, as a community. There is no reason that we should have to live in fear of getting run over by a truck or our property destroyed.

“I lived there 29 years; 29 years I had one incident and that was it. All the sudden now I have six, in a month. Something has to be done.”

Kelly Hawryluk of 2581 Emma Road said she recently had a close call with a truck while she was walking her horses across the street. She has a hearing-impaired son, who she worries would not hear a truck coming around the turn, and a 2-year-old.

“They’re speeding,” Hawryluk said. “By the time they get up to the S-turn, they don’t even know the S-turn is coming and they panic. You hear them screeching. The pole was taken out, the wires were hanging down, and it just sits there. And sits there, and sits there. Until one of us calls.

“That’s not okay. We have kids, we have animals, we have farm equipment. I just can’t see somebody’s life being taken over a tractor trailer.”

Some residents reported that large vehicles that mistakenly go down Elias Avenue have no way to turn around. Several residents commented that trucks have driven through their lawns or moved cones in homeowners’ driveways to use them to turn around.

Board chairman Ed Brensinger said that Walmart dedicated land to the township to build a cul-de-sac, but not funds to do so.

Not related to traffic, Phil Simpson mentioned that since the development of the warehouse, he has seen foam in tapwater that was not there previously. Brensinger said that the township can take a water sample to check for irregularities.

Residents also reported noise coming from the warehouse at all hours that can be heard from inside their homes. Brensinger said he would check whether the noise ordinance applies to industrially zoned properties.

Vice chairman Gary Heisey noted that township manager Cheri Grumbine had put in a request to PennDOT for signage on Heilmandale Road.

Several other public comments concerned the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails. As reported on last month, the board made a $25,000 donation to the organization last month to go toward continuing trails through the township.

Read More: North Lebanon supervisors approve plan for Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s and Verizon

Bob Reazer of Elias Avenue came forward claiming that the letter submitted by the Rails to Trails requesting funds was built on false premises, as he has not reached an agreement with them to sell part of his property.

He claimed that Heisey was aware of this due to previous interactions with him facilitating communication between the Rails to Trails and Reazer. Heisey said he wasn’t aware of whether they had come to a deal following that, and that his role in facilitating the deal was as a private citizen prior to being elected to the board.

Arnie Thompson of Elias Avenue said that the Rails to Trails have not responded adequately to reports of their trees falling on homeowners’ properties.

“I’m disappointed in the township and Rails to Trails,” Thompson said. “Nobody’s doing anything to help us, the residents.”

Cyndy Myer of Long Lane said that she has been having issues with people walking past the developed Rail Trail and even venturing onto her property. She has had issues with trespassing at night as well.

She said she worries because if a minor were to injure themselves on her property, she would be held liable.

Police Chief Tim Knight said to call and report trespassing, but Myer said she has and the parties are typically gone by the time police arrive.

There are existing “no trespassing” signs both on Myer’s property and on the undeveloped side of the trail.

Throughout public comment, Heisey wrote notes for himself to call Werner regarding the GPS used for their trucks, call Walmart about GPS for trucks, work on signage, call Rails to Trails about trespassing, and look into plans for a cul-de-sac on Elias Avenue.

The supervisors agreed that more focus needed put on the issues brought forward Monday.

Supervisors listen to comments from the public.

“Just after sitting here listening to these people tonight, I think we really gotta get on top of these problems with the Walmart warehouse as best we can,” said treasurer Arden Snook at the conclusion of the meeting. “I know we’ve been trying to resolve some of the issues, but we have to put ourselves in their place and see how we would feel when we decide how we’re going to fix some of these issues.”

Following public comment, most of the audience left. The deliberative portion of the meeting was fairly uneventful.

The supervisors:

  • Presented Officer Robert Hilbert with a Life Saving Award for providing CPR to a man having a heart attack and subsequently convincing him to go to the hospital rather than back to his hotel, which was important as the man had additional heart attacks in the ambulance and the hospital. Hilbert was off-duty and on vacation at the time.
  • Unanimously agreed to advertise budget meetings Oct. 11 at 3 p.m., Oct. 17 after board meeting, Oct. 20 at 3 p.m., Oct. 26 at 3 p.m., and Nov. 2 at 6 p.m.
  • Unanimously agreed to authorize the HVAC upgrade project for bid and the subsequent timeline.
  • Unanimously agreed to release $30,000 to the Weavertown Fire Company from the fire reserve fund to be used toward their loan for a 2019 Seagrave Rescue Engine.
  • Unanimously agreed to allow township road crew to remove a portion of the roll curb at Weavertown Fire Company and cover additional paving costs, as well as agreeing to house their fire engine at the municipal building while work is being done.

North Lebanon supervisors meet at the township municipal building the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be held Oct. 17. The meetings are open to the public and do not require prior registration.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.