Dialogue on development

(14th in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan)

Followers will recognize that Gadfly has been fussin’ over how to feel about “development.”

He is much intrigued over the phrase “socially conscious development” in Council candidate Grace Crampsie Smith’s press release and is anxious to hear more about what’s behind that phrase.

So he couldn’t help but be drawn into the public dialogue between our past mayor Don Cunningham and our present Councilwoman Paige Van Wirt (who is running again) on Amazon, truck traffic, and the growth of warehouses (delightfully termed “sprawl in a box”!).

What Gadfly has seen now several times and really likes in CW Van Wirt is her dismissal of dichotomies. You know, the simplistic either/or kind of thinking that characterizes so many politicians. When she says things like “as if our only choice is between warehouses and economic stagnation,” Gadfly’s antennae go up and his wings flutter. That’s an interstice (good SAT word) he needs to believe in. Yes, maybe we can have significant development with its economic advantages but common-sense and socially conscious development.

PVW’s thoughtful piece worthy of attention.

Don Cunningham, “You can’t use Amazon and then complain about truck traffic.” Morning Call, January 16, 2019.

Paige Van Wirt, “Lehigh Valley shoulders heavy burden of warehouses.” Morning Call, January 21, 2019.  (online link not available yet, will add later)van wirt newspaper

“You’re not allowed to hate what you love and what you use, and then complain about what it [Amazon] creates.” (DC)

“I think characterizing truck traffic in the Lehigh Valley as a consequence of our own dependence on internet retailers such as Amazon is in error. This opinion ducks our responsibility as a region to adequately plan for warehouse expansion that minimizes traffic and environmental impacts, and it disregards the loss of our farmlands to warehousing.” (PVW)

“If you order products online and have them delivered to your door, you are not allowed to complain about trucks on the road.” (DC)

“It’s easy to point the finger at internet retailers and say the rest of us should consider ourselves lucky, as if our only choice is between warehouses and economic stagnation. But people who are stuck on Route 22 behind six big rigs, or the mom dealing with yet another asthma attack as her child breathes our air, might find this dismissal of the problem just wrong.” (PVW)

“People are inherently lazy and love little wrapped gifts and surprises, even if we know what’s in them. So, the idea of sitting on the couch, ordering things and having someone bring them to our door is appealing. Voila, a new industry is created: e-commerce. And, yes, trucks deliver the packages.” (DC)

“Watertown, Mass., recently mandated the installation of solar panels on all new commercial buildings, and even on renovations of buildings over a certain size. Imagine the pollution and energy costs that could be avoided by mandating solar panel installations on top of all those flat, treeless warehouse roofs.” (PVW)

“Nonetheless, we go online, order packages, try on clothes, return them if they don’t fit and have someone carry a new package to our door all the while complaining about the explosion of warehouses in the Lehigh Valley.” (DC)

“What we should be demanding from our region-wide planners is a path for centralization of the warehouses, so truck traffic impact is minimized, as well as conducting highly localized studies of the particulate burden in our air in order to prevent the siting of any warehouses in current air pollution hot spots and creating green standards that specify how warehouses can operate.”

It’s Monday, January 21, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

2 thoughts on “Dialogue on development

  1. Glad to see someone really knowledgeable about urban planning [PVW] weigh in these issues. Spot on!

  2. I note that Don Cunningham is compensated – probably very well – to be an advocate for development and therefore a supporter of truck transportation. I would *not* say that Councilmember Van Wert is at the opposite end of the continuum because that would end up being a false dichotomy. There’s a place for a variety of viewpoints here. And yet, has anyone noticed how many days recently we’ve had “unhealthy for sensitive groups” notes on our phones’ weather pages?

    With clear skies and moderate humidity, our current air quality – 7:34 pm on January 21, 2019 – is “Moderate” with an air quality index of 73.

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