The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) voted 24-7 against the proposed Hamilton Crossings shopping center project in Lower Macungie Township. (LMT)
What is the LVPC?
These recommendations have no teeth and have been ignored in the past by LMT officials. In the past 3 years the LVPC has come out against aspects of the Jaindl warehousing project and aspects of the Allen Organ supermarket project.
With Hamilton Crossings however, the situation is different since the project is seeking TIF financing to pay for infrastructure costs. To approve the TIF mechanism the developer needs approval by all three taxing bodies. This includes the County, School District (already approved) and Lower Macungie Township (Hearing scheduled June 20).
Many feel eventhough it isn’t binding that the LVPC recommendation will carry weight with the County Commissioners when they vote on TIF financing on June 12th.
With the vote last night the LVPC board approved a draft letter. This letter will be sent to the County and Township indicating “strong reservations and objections to the proposal”.
A summary of some of the concerns outlined in the draft are:
1. The project is inconsistent with regional planning. The project represents strip style commercial. The LVPC opposes new strip commercial projects because strip commercial projects require additional traffic control mechanisms and increase the probability of accidents.
2. Effects on the Bypass. The bypass was designed as a limited access road to mitigate congestion on Rt. 222. The road was not designed to provide direct access to new development. The LVPC feels as though the project will cause a “level of service” drop on the by-pass resulting in delays. The by-pass was built at a cost of 140 million.
3. Public Liability. The County Comprehensive plan has policies that state “developers, not the public should pay for the (traffic) improvements” Municipalities should enact appropriate impact fee ordinances to ensure this happens.
4. Intent of TIFs. The County Comprehensive plan has a policy stating public sector efforts to influence growth should give high priority to assisting economically distressed commmunities. They go on to cite the assessment offices assertion that Lower Macungie has the 3rd highest assessed valuation of taxable property in Lehigh County and the 4th highest median household income.
5. Affect on existing neighboring communities. The LVPC feels the shopping center will negatively affect neighboring residential neighborhoods.
Here is the WFMZ Story.