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Portland Generating Station would face wrecking ball under redevelopment plan in Slate Belt

Portland Generating Station

Developer Lou Pektor met with the Bangor Area Commercial and Industrial Development Authority in May 2021 to discuss working together to purchase the former coal plant at the Portland Generating Station on River Road in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

A developer is looking to build on the site of a former coal plant in the Slate Belt.

Developer Lou Pektor said he is negotiating a deal to buy the property at the Portland Generating Station on River Road in Upper Mount Bethel Township. The deal would involve coordination with the Bangor Area Commercial and Industrial Development Authority, which is a local economic development agency.

Upper Mount Bethel Township, Lower Mount Bethel Township, Washington Township, and the boroughs of Bangor, East Bangor, Roseto and Portland appoint one board member each to be part of the authority’s voting board.

Pektor said he could not go into details about the potential land acquisition due to a nondisclosure deal with the landowner, but he believes a deal could be made in the next 45 days.

”We’re moving quickly to consummate the transaction,” Pektor said.

The proposed Pektor development would occupy 160 acres of the 192-acre property.

The balance of the acreage would stay with the active plant.

Coal-fired boilers at the plant were shut down in 2014 under a court agreement with then-owner NRG Energy.

Pektor said the plan would be to loan money to the development authority to purchase the property. The authority would then be able to seek government grants to help pay to remediate potential hazards on the property caused by former coal operations and removal of any asbestos in the coal plant as it is razed. Any additional money needed for remediation would come from the development group, Pektor said.

Once the property is ready for development, ownership would then transfer to the development group.

Pektor said the property is ideal to attract commercial development since it has an existing railway line running through it. Pektor has met with the authority but that agency has not voted on the potential deal.

The next authority meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. July 13.

Pektor’s group River Pointe Logistics has submitted its first land development plans for a 48-foot-tall and 420,000-sqaure-foot building at 303 Demi Road as part of the 725-acre River Pointe Logistics Center, which is on the other side of River Road from the power plant.

The township planning commission has begun its review of those development plans. A group of residents have legally challenged a text amendment that supervisors adopted in September at the request of River Pointe Logistics. The text amendment significantly increases the allowable size of buildings that can be built in the township’s industrial zoning districts, where the River Pointe center and the power plant are located.

Northampton County courts heard arguments from the parties in February but have yet to decide on the challenge.

A decision in favor of the challengers could affect plans for anyone attempting to develop in the industrial zones.

GenOn, the plant’s owner, shut down the coal-fired boilers in June 2014. The closure was in response to a federal Environmental Protection Agency order that the plant to cut its sulfur dioxide emissions by 81%. The owner said upgrades to reduce pollution ould be prohibitively expensive, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

John Best is a freelance contributor to Find on Facebook.