I like to say Lower Macungie Twp. is open for business. But with two caveats.
1.) Developers bring your ‘A’ game.
2.) Look to build your projects in the appropriate places as identified by our comprehensive plans and voluntarily buy into our vision for high quality development.
Yes, Lower Macungie is interested in preserving farmland. And to that end we’ve outlined an aggressive strategy over the last 3 years. We’ve successfully preserved nearly 300 acres of farmland and open space. Other targets are outlined on our official map. The map gives us the ability to make offers (at appraised value) on land before it’s developed. It’s our intention to do that on many of our large remaining greenfield properties. Voters stated loud and clear last 2 elections this was the priority.
So where does that leave us to build out? The answer is the Hamilton Blvd. corridor. Primarily this means redevelopment and infill projects. This is a corridor where taxpayers have already made key investments in infrastructure and now seek to cash in on them. The corridor is already well positioned close to shopping options, near existing access to major regional roadways and job centers. This is where additional traffic can be handled with good planning and the impacts managed.
What does this mean? Developers, landowners and builders – come to us with your high quality and unique ideas. We’re done with cookie cutter slop. Come to us with high quality purpose built structures. Not spec designs. Innovative plans. And high quality design.
Hamilton is going to be the townships bread-basket. A high quality and value, walkable, bike-able pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing Boulevard. (Not Macarthur Rd.) I think we’re close to done with the major shopping centers. Our township has our fill.
Ready to build on the Boulevard? Here are 5 rules of thumb.
Rule number 1. First and foremost respect the Historic Hamilton Tree Colonnade. Embrace it as the asset that it is. Work within it, not against it. Where gaps exist plan on replanting.
We will fight to preserve our historic Sycamore trees. They are the defining feature of the Boulevard and a local heritage treasure.
Rule number 2. Come with unique proposals. High quality purpose built ideas and plans. Let’s innovate to create unique people oriented places.
Let’s get creative. Think outside the box. Something like this? Let’s talk. Our zoning code is in place to protect us from bad projects. Have a cool idea? We will work with you. Most important of all make your projects unique.
This commercial building is built on a human scale. Aesthetically pleasing with lots of lush landscaping.
No. Just no. Generic, monoculture, bland. Low value. Non-existent landscaping. Even if this was “dolled up” with some say stone veneers or some other lipstick, this pig is exactly the built form we want to avoid. (and why we recently reduced our front yard setback requirements) Put the parking to the side and rear. Our Boulevard will not be defined by parking lots.
Rule number 3 – Exceed our ordinance with landscaping. The ordinance represents the bare minimum. We want to attract developers willing to exceed the bare minimum.
Planting strips and shade trees reduce heat, improve stormwater quality, and beautify retail areas, especially when designed as naturalized infiltration areas. The ordinance is the bear minimum required. Do you want to just meet the bare minimum? Or do you want to help us build a special place.
Soften your buildings with four season landscaping.
Rule number 4 – Right size your signage.
WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO AVOID IN ONE PICTURE.
This picture represents what I like to call a “sign arms race”. A total planning failure. In this picture it’s all about who can be gaudiest, highest and brightest. Our boulevard will be property scaled. Because of this visibility will be very high. You do not need to build the biggest signs.
MAKE YOUR MONUMENT SIGN VERY ATTRACTIVE. After all, why wouldn’t you? This is your chance to show off your business.
Our ordinance now requires monument signs. (which really it’s silly to build a pylon anyhow since required street trees will block your sign eventually). Monument signs offer maximum visibility and reduce sign clutter and pollution.
Get creative. This sign is perfectly scaled, attractive and context sensitive. This is a high end salon and their sign reinforces that. This business is on the Boulevard today. A fantastic partner. And the benchmark for quality.
Rule number 5 – Keep your parking to the side or the rear. High quality architecture should be the defining feature. Not a sea of asphalt.
With this bank the attractive building is the defining feature. Not the asphalt of a parking lot. Plenty of parking. (and a drive through!) But it’s located in the rear. Keep the drive thru’s hidden.
DON’T DO THIS
NO. Just no.
If you must have parking in front of buildings, be prepared to screen the headlights.
Street trees, screened parking. Great orientation. This is a Main Street feel. Not a commercial strip feel.
Over the last 5 years we’ve had some good projects and some not so good projects built. Without really calling out the dogs, I’d rather focus on the good stuff. Here is an example of a nice infill project that fits the vision.
-Infill & redevelopment project (as opposed to greenfield)
-Attractive high quality design
Aside from the pole sign which is far too tall and will someday be obscured by street trees (a monument would have been much more visible and attractive) This project was an excellent addition to the Boulevard. Attractive design, bulk of the parking in the rear, walkability, a second story adds appraised value and increases ROI. Overall a great project.
Though not built in Lower Mac, this is the blueprint for the Boulevard. It was project built on Main Street in Hellertown recently.
These are some baselines. Our township ordinances represent bare min requirements for health, safety and design. But why would you want to just simply meet the bare minimum? We’re not so much interested in regulating quality as we our encouraging it. In fact we’ve worked hard to reduce un-necessary regulations that acted as barriers to good projects. We’ve right sized parking requirements by reducing excessive parking requirements, reduced front yard setbacks, created an expedited review process for small projects. All these moves were made to encourage excellent projects.
End the day to do that we need developers/builders who buy into what we want the Boulevard to become. If you share our vision take a look at what our township has to offer.
What are our guiding documents and where can you find them?
Township official map – Where we want to preserve.
The Hamilton Corridor Study – Where and how we want to build out.