Police Solve Mystery of Loud ‘Booms’ Many Heard Overnight, Township Says

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Dawn broke on Friday, Jan. 20 with many residents of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township awaking weary and bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep; a lack of sleep they say was caused by loud “booms” that could be heard throughout much of Hellertown, Freemansburg and eastern parts of Lower Saucon Township overnight.

A question about the mystery noises posted by Beth Brader on Saucon Source publisher Josh Popichak’s Facebook page at around 11 p.m. Thursday elicited dozens of responses from other residents who said they heard them too and were annoyed by them. Most said they wanted to know what they were caused by.

“Can’t sleep… Banging, booming, whatever noises still going on…sigh. It is 1:11 a.m.,” commented Lori Stinner of Hellertown.

At around 7 a.m., Sharon Beltzner Szmodis noted that the noises could still be heard.

“So tired,” she said. “Really want to know what it is. Please share when someone finds out.”

And it took some investigating by the Lower Saucon Township Police Department–which apparently received complaints about the booms–to do just that.

None of the theories proposed by commenters–such as railroad cars being stacked and even pre-inaugural fireworks–turned out to be correct.

In fact, township manager Leslie Huhn said in an email to council members, the noises were “coming from propane cannons on the warehouses located in the Majestic Commerce Center in the City of Bethlehem.” The commerce center is part of Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII, and is located between Rt. 412 and Easton Road in an area that was formerly owned by Bethlehem Steel.

“The cannons are set to go off periodically to scare the roosting birds off the roof tops,” Huhn said, adding that police Sgt. Tom Barndt and Ofc. Tom Louder investigated the matter and uncovered the source.

In a news release, police said officers responded to two noise complaints from Wilhelm Road–one in the 3800 block at 1:38 a.m. and one in the 3700 block at 8:50 a.m.–and that in both cases there was speculation the sounds were gunshots.

It wasn’t until 11 a.m. that they were able to “pinpoint the source…to the area of Commerce Center Bouelvard off Rt. 412 in Bethlehem,” the news release said.

“LSTPD also notified the Hellertown PD as they had several complaints as well,” Huhn wrote in her email.

Whether Majestic Commerce Center and/or its tenants could face any legal repercussions for the nuisance noises remains to be seen, however Lower Saucon Township does have a noise ordinance, which is part of its Nuisance Ordinance.

Chapter 112-5 of the Lower Saucon Township Code, Enumeration of Nuisances, states, “The following activities shall be deemed to be a nuisance when, based upon actual conditions in the Township, they constitute a nuisance in fact, and it shall be unlawful and a violation of this chapter for any person to create such a nuisance in the Township of Lower Saucon. It is understood that the listing of the following activities is in no way to be construed as a limitation on those activities which may be prohibited as nuisances and violations of this chapter pursuant to § 112-4.”

C. The willful making or causing to be made any loud boisterous or unseemly noise or disturbance so as to disturb or annoy the peaceable public near to or upon any street, lane, alley, park, square, common or in any public building, public place or business place or private building or private place within the Township of Lower Saucon.

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