Proposed warehouses cause resident concerns over noise, air pollution

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Missouri-based Mushroom Hill, LLC. wants to build four warehouses on more than 165 acres of land in Swatara Township and lease them out to big companies to store things like shoes, clothes and other non-durable goods.

The hang-up, though, is the site’s southern side borders hundreds of homes.

For the warehouses to be built, those hundreds of acres of land would need to be leveled. It’s land that Robert Helm doesn’t want to lose.

“Some people walk their dogs, some people just use it for their exercise,” Helm said, who has lived to the south of the proposed site for 49 years.

Helm helped to build a memorial walkway that currently extends from Rupp Hill through the woods, and down onto Route 322 below. He says if that wooded area is developed, residents will lose more than just nature.

“It’s gonna cause the property values to decline both aesthetically and more so financially,” Helm said. “This project, if it went through, would create degraded air quality, it would create noise pollution.”

Developers want to build on that massive wooded area, currently owned by Smith Land and Improvement Corporation.

The site is bordered by Penhar Dive on the west, Mushroom Hill Road on the East, Route 322 to the north and residential areas along Chamber Hill Road to the south.

“We don’t feel that they should try and make this an industrial park, residents come first!” Helm said.

The township changed its zoning laws in 2017 to allow warehouses and other storage facilities in the proposed district.

“We’re always looking for growth and development,” says Swatara’s manager, Jim Fosselman.

He said the developer’s plans do include a nature walk where the current walkway is, as well as residential buffer zones.

Fosselman says Swatara is perfect for highway commerce.

“Our township geographically, logistically — it’s located near 283, the Turnpike, 83. Presently it’s land that’s not being used, we’re not generating any real estate tax dollars off of it,” Fosselman said. “It’s a good area for them I think to market for a warehouse, to be able to make it available for distribution for companies that might have a need.”

Once the warehouses are built, they are rented out to companies that use them to store merchandise; in all, the four warehouses will encompass more than one million square feet of storage space.

Fosselman said the project could create about 400 jobs, 100 at each warehouse.

For Helm, though, there are few positives.

“We don’t need another warehouse, we just don’t and certainly not at the expense of the environment,” he said.

The current plans only allow trucks to enter and exit the campus from Penhar Drive, near the intersection of Chambers Hill Road; there will be an emergency-exit only road that spills out onto Mushroom Hill Road.

A public hearing is set for November 13 at 8 p.m. at the Township building where residents can voice concerns directly to developers and township leaders.

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