PENNSYLVANIA'S #1 WEEKLY NEWSPAPER • locally owned since 1854

UPS distribution hub plans in Lower Swatara will go before public soon

Posted 8/8/18

By Laura Hayes and Dan Miller

Plans drawn up by UPS for its proposed regional distribution hub will be presented in public for …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

UPS distribution hub plans in Lower Swatara will go before public soon


By Laura Hayes and Dan Miller

Plans drawn up by UPS for its proposed regional distribution hub will be presented in public for the first time during the Aug. 23 meeting of the Lower Swatara Township planning commission.

During its Aug. 1 meeting, township manager Betsy McBride told the board of commissioners that all of the proposals, including the preliminary and final land development plans, have arrived.

The plans, township Planning and Zoning Officer Ann Hursh said in an interview, show exactly what UPS wants to do and indicate that the parcel delivery distribution facility would be 775,033 square feet. Initially, UPS officials proposed a 935,000-square-foot hub.

UPS hopes to break ground in the 2100 block of North Union Street by spring 2019.

Construction would take two to three years, meaning it would open in 2021 or 2022 if things go according to plan, said Ovidio Irizarry Jr., the project engineer and staff manager with UPS who is overseeing the hub here.

UPS has said it plans to invest $417 million in the hub, including an estimated $210 million for construction and land acquisition.

The remaining $207 million would be for a fully automated sortation system and for improvements to roads and utilities.

Hursh described a preliminary and final land approval as “two approvals in one” and said that it was not uncommon. The plan will go to the planning commission, which will either recommend or deny the plan. The commission could either take action at its Aug. 23 meeting or table it until its next meeting.

Land development plan explained

The plan included a number of details — how stormwater would be managed, where lights would be placed, how the ground would be graded and where trees, shrubs and other plants would be placed.

The hub would sit on 192.19 acres. According to the plans, the parcel delivery distribution facility would sit deep in the property, closer to the Swatara Creek than North Union Street, although the facility would not be on the edge of the creek.

Immediately off North Union Street would be a 3,467-square-foot retail center with parking. The plan calls for a 100-foot buffer yard along North Union Street.

Hursh said that technically houses could be built on the other side of North Union Street.

“If they ever do, we want them to have a bigger buffer yard,” Hursh said. The buffer yard would shield the hub from view if homes are built, she said.

There would be two entrances off North Union Street — one for trucks and one for cars. The entrances feed into two lanes separated by a median, and one lane is designated for cars and another for trucks. The truck lane would be 42 feet wide, and the car lane would be 32 feet wide.

Hursh noted that there are emergency crossovers between both lanes in case there is an accident in one of the lanes.

The plan proposes sound walls along where some of the tractor trailers will park, two fuel islands, truck-washing stations and a place to store snow equipment and a salt shed. It indicates that there would be 1,500 employee parking spaces.

As for landscaping, the plan indicates that UPS plans to plant trees and shrubs along the car and truck driveways and along the edge of North Union.

Hursh said that UPS officials are planning to do riparian buffer restoration along the Swatara Creek with grass seed and trees and shrubs in some areas.

Improvements to North Union

Road improvements in the land development plan submitted to the township by UPS are limited to “structural improvements” to North Union Street to ensure that the road can sustain the truck traffic to be brought here by the hub, Irizarry said.

This would entail rebuilding the road and widening North Union Street slightly, although Irizarry could not provide more specifics.

According to Hursh, part of the plan includes clear sight triangles along North Union Street so drivers can see when coming in and out of the facility. North Union would be widened near the truck entrance for a right-turn lane for trucks, the plans indicate.

Additional road improvements that UPS might have to complete could be required by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as part of a separate application UPS must file with the state agency, Irizarry said. What requirements PennDOT may choose to impose are not yet known, he added.

UPS in previous public statements has said that about 600 trucks would go in and out of the hub each day.

All tractor-trailers and the vast majority of package car traffic will exit the facility and head south on North Union to Route 283, Irizarry said previously. Some package delivery trucks will go north, including trucks that deliver to residential areas on the north side of the hub. However, according to Hursh, plans are now calling for no right turns for trucks to travel north on North Union.

Asked Aug. 6 to say how many trucks will go in and out of the hub each day, Irizarry said that this will be included in a traffic impact study on the hub that UPS is now preparing and plans to submit to PennDOT within the next two or three weeks.

As for the kinds of trucks, Irizarry said they will range from the full-size tractor trailers that people see on interstate highways such as 81, to the smaller trucks that make package deliveries on local roads — and everything in between.

Irizarry said the traffic impact study is to be made public by PennDOT, although he could not say when.

Regarding any concerns over stormwater runoff from the hub, Irizarry said that UPS will meet requirements imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“Those specifics will be detailed at the planning commission meeting,” he added.

UPS is proposing 54.24 percent of impervious coverage, which is below the maximum impervious coverage of 60 percent. The plan does detail how stormwater would be managed, including where the inlets would be placed, how the road would be graded to make the water flow a specific direction, where the water would be rained and emergency spillways.

UPS expects to hire 250 full-time and 1,000 part-time workers at the hub over the first six years of its operation, a spokesman said during a June 2017 presentation.

The hub as estimated would add from $1 million to $1.5 million more in local real estate taxes each year to the township and to Middletown Area School District. The school district alone could receive an additional $700,000 to $1 million in property tax revenue each year, UPS has said.

What happens next

If the plan is approved by both the planning commission and the board of commissioners, the plan would be recorded at the courthouse.

Hursh said after the plan is recorded, UPS could start submitting for building permits.