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D&H gets exceptions for warehouse, hopes to break ground by June 1

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 1/8/20

D&H Distributing recently was granted a special exception to build a taller building than allowed under township ordinance for its proposed 745,200-square foot warehouse on the former Jednota …

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D&H gets exceptions for warehouse, hopes to break ground by June 1

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D&H Distributing recently was granted a special exception to build a taller building than allowed under township ordinance for its proposed 745,200-square foot warehouse on the former Jednota property in Lower Swatara Township.

The warehouse is planned for 83 acres to the north of Rosedale Avenue, west of the Airport Connector road and south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. D&H Distributing Senior Director of Corporate Operations and Executive Projects Jason Wilhelm told the Press & Journal on Monday that the company was looking to start construction no later than June 1.

The township’s planning commission and zoning hearing board both have approved allowing the height of the building to be increased to 50 feet, as well as a reduction in the number of required parking spaces around the warehouse.

Project manager Kenny Hinebaugh Jr. said the 50-foot height would be at the peak of the building and the roof would then slope down.

In Lower Swatara’s industrial park zone, the permitted height of a building is 40 feet, but it could be higher with a special exception, Hinebaugh said.

At the Nov. 21 planning commission meeting, D&H’s attorney Jon Andrews said the extra height allows for racks with more storage. 

D&H Distributing, which is a technology distributor headquartered in Harrisburg, also submitted its land development plans to build the warehouse to the township Dec. 6.

According to Planning and Zoning Coordinator Ann Hursh, those plans might go before the township planning commission Jan. 23.

Sale of the property to D&H also was finalized recently. The deeds for land to the north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, between the turnpike and north of Rosedale Avenue, and to the south of Rosedale were transferred to D&H for a total of $12,999,400 on Nov. 1.

D&H Co-President Michael Schwab confirmed to the Press & Journal that the company has purchased the land.

Land development plans

The warehouse would be on the eastern part of the tract, close to the Airport Connector Road and the turnpike. In the past, D&H representatives have said about 52 acres on the western edge of the land would act as a buffer to residential areas.

“Although there’s no concentration of properties around, we were sensitive to keeping this as far away from residential properties as possible,” Andrews said during the zoning hearing board meeting Dec. 11.

During the rezoning process, D&H said it planned to maintain an office building and build a second warehouse on land to the south of Rosedale Avenue. This second warehouse, D&H has said, would be leased to a third party until the company needs it.

Timothy Kinsley of Kinsley Properties said the company planned to start the engineering of the second warehouse after the first of the year.

The submitted land development plans call for two entrances into the site off Rosedale Avenue. Near the western entrance, there would be a space for trucks to turn around on Rosedale Avenue.

Hinebaugh said during the zoning hearing board meeting Dec. 11 that the trucks would enter in the eastern entrance, circle around the building and exit through the western entrance.

When D&H was going through the rezoning process, the company had said that as part of its traffic improvements, it proposed to ban trucks from driving on Rosedale to the west of the facility and on White House Lane.

Additionally, D&H has previously proposed improving Rosedale Avenue and the intersection of Rosedale and Meade avenues. Hinebaugh said as part of the improvements, the road would be widened, shifted and reconstructed, although he didn’t specify where.

Andrews said there would be a traffic impact study as part of their application for a highway occupancy permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

First Catholic Slovak Union’s memorial and wall along Rosedale Avenue will remain. D&H’s plan calls for adding more buffer to trees along Rosedale Avenue.

In total, D&H is proposing 452 parking spaces, mostly to the south of the warehouse, and 118 trailer parking spaces on the east and west of the warehouse. 

Lower Swatara’s ordinances would have required 921 parking spaces. Hinebaugh called the township’s method to calculate offstreet parking outdated, and D&H has been allowed the 452 spaces instead, which means almost 2 acres less of impervious surface, according to Hursh.

The reduced impervious area, Hinebaugh said, would result in less stormwater runoff and less disturbance of the land.