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Kidder Township residents fight truck terminal expansion

PNK P5 LLC's lot in Kidder Township has construction permits, but developers are looking to sell the property. Residents fear the lot will be left barren and abandoned.
Isabela Weiss | WVIA News | Report for America
PNK P5 LLC's lot in Kidder Township has construction permits, but developers are looking to sell the property. Residents fear the lot will be left barren and abandoned.

Kidder Township residents are banding together to protect local wildlife and waterways from truck terminal expansion.

With truck terminals and warehouses popping up across the Poconos, some residents formed protest organizations to question the effect on local communities.

LOVE Kidder Township started in Dec. 2023 to protest four truck terminals along State Route 940. One terminal has already been built, another is already clear cut, and two others are in the early project proposal process.

WVIA News went on a tour around the four properties with one of LOVE Kidder’s organizers, Beth Hurley.

The only completed project borders Black Creek, a popular trout fishing spot. Before the project, it was designated as a high quality stream by the Department of Environmental Protection.

However, there are no easily accessible documents online showing the project’s effect on the waterway. Hurley has filed around thirteen Right-to-Know requests – they allow people to formally ask public officials for government information. Developers in the township have to submit Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) that lay out possible environmental effects and mitigation plans. Hurley has not heard back.

WVIA News reached out for comment, but the township did not respond. WVIA then filed a Right-to-Know request asking for the EIS. The township said they will submit a formal response within 30 days.

The terminal is currently owned by EQT Exeter, but was owned by Blue Ridge Real Estate at the time of township approval.

Without knowing their environmental standards, Hurley is concerned Black Creek may be contaminated by runoff from the warehouse, which flows into the Tobyhanna Watershed.

“You get all [of] the runoff down to the watershed. The Tobyhanna Watershed goes into the Lehigh River. So, we will be a major contributor to the increase in that contamination that goes all down through the Lehigh Valley,” said Hurley.

American Rivers, a waterway advocacy group, listed the Leigh River as the nation's seventh most endangered river in 2023, according to Hurley. Their website argues that poor warehouse planning along the river and its watersheds will pollute communities downstream.

“So, these…supervisors in Kidder Township are making decisions that impact not just the 1,700 people who live in Kidder, but also all the people who live in Monroe County as well. It has a multi-county impact,” said Hurley.

Besides the multi-county effect of these warehouses, Hurley said supervisors are not making any plans to renovate or expand State Route 940. It’s a two-lane road, and she worries trucks will be unable to navigate in the snow or handle heavy traffic from vacationers. Kidder is a seasonal community, home to many short-term rentals and vacation homes, said Hurley.

“Most of us were here because [of] recreation: hunting season, fishing, y’know, boating in the summertime along the several lakes. [It’s] a little kind of out-of-the-way community that we never thought would be the onslaught of many, many truck terminals,” said Hurley.

All of the terminals are built to spec – allowing companies to lease warehouse space as needed. That runs the risk of leaving properties abandoned before they are used, as there is no guarantee a business will open up shop.

Residents fear that the remaining three warehouses will be abandoned, as developers repeatedly sell the properties before building the terminal. One of those proposed properties already changed developers within the last year and a half. The current developer, PNK P5 LLC, is also looking to sell the property and has a listing online.

The two properties in the early proposal process are owned by Blue Ridge Real Estate.

LOVE Kidder Township plans to hold a community meeting about the four truck terminals on Feb. 12 at 6:30 PM. It will be at the Hub at 15 Wolf Hollow Road, Lake Harmony, PA 18624.

Isabela Weiss is a storyteller turned reporter from Athens, GA. She is WVIA News's Rural Government Reporter and a Report for America corps member. Weiss lives in Wilkes-Barre with her fabulous cats, Boo and Lorelai.

You can email Isabella at isabelaweiss@wvia.org
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