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Protest group rallies residents to fend off truck terminals

Beth Hurley and Chuck Cutshall speak at the Hub on Feb. 12 about the expansion of truck terminals in Kidder Township.
Isabela Weiss | WVIA News | Report for America
Beth Hurley and Chuck Cutshall speak at the Hub on Feb. 12 about the expansion of truck terminals in Kidder Township.

Residents organized legal and financial support against a growing number of truck terminals in Kidder Township last night.

Township supervisors approved two truck terminals and are reviewing an additional two for a 2.2 mile stretch of State Route 940. After feeling dismissed by local officials, residents formed LOVE Kidder Township, a protest organization. They held a meeting on Feb. 12 about the four terminals and possible courses of action against the two terminals in review.

Linda Christman, president of Save Carbon County, an environmental advocacy group, asked residents to join LOVE Kidder’s fight.

“Unless Kidder Township changes their zoning – and they’re only going to do that if they hear from you – unless they change their zoning, you’re going to see truck terminals five, six, seven, and eight,” said Christman. “All along [State Route] 940, because the zoning allows it.”

In May 2022, township supervisors changed a parcel of land from residential to commercial, allowing the developer to submit plans for the fourth truck depot. Since starting in Dec., LOVE Kidder has been critical of supervisors’ alleged leniency towards commercial developers.

Chuck Cutshall, one of LOVE Kidder’s organizers, pushed residents to persuade supervisors to rewrite the township’s zoning code. Truck terminals and warehouses are permitted uses of commercial areas in Kidder Township.

“So, when you have permitted use, it essentially says, these permitted uses are deemed compatible with the zoning district’s objectives. So, our zoning district objectives are warehouses,” said Cutshall.

If the township changes terminals and warehouses to conditional use, developers would have to meet additional requirements for approval. It acts as a safeguard to poorly thought-out designs or requests.

Residents gathered at the Hub in Kidder Township on Feb. 12 to hear about the effects of truck terminals.
Isabela Weiss | WVIA News | Report for America
Residents gathered at the Hub in Kidder Township on Feb. 12 to hear about the effects of truck terminals.

LOVE Kidder organizers asked all residents in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting to come to future township meetings to argue on behalf of residents’ concerns. Cutshall said supervisors have largely ignored their concerns.

“We’ve said, ‘Hey, this is bad for the environment. Hey, this is not good for traffic. Hey –’ That’s all true. But Pennsylvania law doesn’t care. It’s really not about how we feel. Everything we do has to be based on data, science, and engineering,” said Cutshall.

The grassroots group paid for an engineer to review stormwater permits and other documents on the third and fourth warehouse. They also asked for residents to contribute financially for a compliance review on the third warehouse’s documents and to retain an attorney.

After completing those reviews, organizers said they plan to challenge the warehouses’ construction permits.

Residents said they wanted to hold their supervisors accountable for their political decisions. Throughout the meeting, organizers and residents questioned supervisors’ motivation in allowing truck terminals to rapidly expand into the township.

LOVE Kidder organizers also asked residents to come to future township meetings to ask questions about the truck terminal expansion.

The next Kidder Township meeting is on Feb. 27 at 5:30 PM.

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