Lower Macungie Commissioners Agenda Preview 2/20/14

FYI –  In these previews I may indicate thoughts on an issue, but it in no way means my mind is set. During a critical hearing for the Jaindl issue, a Commissioner spoke before public comment outlining he was voting to move forward the project regardless of what people said during public comment. That was wrong. Public debate was circumvented when the Commissioner indicated his mind was made up.

My hope is by blogging I open the door for conversations. One of my biggest issues with the Jaindl debacle was folks didn’t truly understand what was happening until it was “too late”. I plan on doing everything I can to make sure residents have background information on issues. This is one mechanism to do that. I hope people find it useful. Please contact me at ronbeitler@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns about any issues.

Township Board of Commissioners 2/20/14 – Agenda with detail here

All committees have now met. Committee agendas and meeting times are posted on the township website.

No Hearings

Public Comment on non-agenda items
Lee Mescolotto – Request to schedule hearing for rezoning 8 acre parcel at 7513 Quarry Rd
. Mr. Mescolotto is requesting his property be zoned from Agriculture Protection to Highway Commercial. (Strip commercial) Mescolotto has been in front of the Planning & Zoning Committee and also the planning commission multiple times. He and any resident at any time have the right to request a zoning change hearing. The Board of Commissioners however is under no obligation to grant the change.

I believe any zoning change requests to more intense uses should only be granted under community serving circumstances. I use 4 general criteria when evaluating:

  • Planning Goals: Is the application consistent with township and regional planning goals? This includes transportation, financial and land use taking into consideration the purposes of each zone and the zoning pattern of surrounding land. NOTE: This request is not in accordance with both the Lehigh County Planning Commission regional plan or the Southwestern Lehigh Comprehensive plan. The LVPC provided a letter stating they are against this change. 
  • Neighbors: Will the application negatively affect neighboring land uses, property values or quality of life. Is there widespread opposition to a change? Do you live in Ancient Oaks, Farmington or any other adjacent development? If so I am interested in hearing your thoughts. 
  • Return on Public Investment: Will a zoning change resulting from application result in a net increase of tax revenues? Will the zoning change create liabilities? Have costs and benefits been forecasted over multiple life-cycles? I believe Lifecycle cost and benefit analysis should be completed before any up-zoning is granted.
  • Legality. There has been some question raised on if this request is spot zoning. It is the opinion of the the planning commissioners solicitor this is not. 

Mickey Thompson of Pennsylvania Media – Request for continuance for the Schantz road billboard conditional use hearing.

Michael Huff – Statement of interest for library board.

No appointments

Dept. Matters
Planner – Report on Joint BOC and Planning Commission Workshop

Committee Reports
Public Safety (Beitler/Brown) – Next Mtg. Feb 20th 6pm
Ivy Lynn Fox – Letter concerning Trucks Traveling Through East Texas to Macungie Borough. Specifically trucks turning onto East Texas Rd. from Brookside. I’ve forwarded this concern to Penndot via Senator Pat Browne and Rep. Ryan Mackenzie’s offices. Both East Texas Rd. and Brookside Rd. are state roads. I am in complete agreement that tractor trailers on local roads is a major concern we face. The question is how can we better work with Penndot to make sure truck routes are identified with local input.

Budget & Finance (Conrad/Lancsek) – Next Mtg. Feb 20th 6:15 PM
Investigate Homestead Act – This is an initiative I suggested and support. I will be writing about this in depth in the near future. It is a way to reduce property taxes for primary residences while still maintaining current levels on Industrial and Commercial uses.

Planning and Zoning (Lancsek/Beitler) – Next Mtg. March 12th 4:30pm
Approved MS4 permit. (see prior meeting agenda for overview)

Planning Commission recommendation for East Texas study. I support the East Texas study to take a look at community serving zoning changes for East Texas Village meant to preserve the walkable town center character of the area as a traditional neighborhood. The township rec’d a matching grant from the county for 10,000 dollars to pay for the approximately 6 month planning study.

Public Works & Facilities (Brown/Higgins)
Issues and improvements with snow plowing
Review of Snow Emergency Routes & Procedures – Our enforcement officer and township manager believe it is overdue for a review of what roads in the township are designated snow emergency and what criteria is used to make that designation. I agree and think there are many township roads where the designation should be removed. I am interested in learning more about what the criteria is for designation.

General Administration
Work order process for engineer requests – 
This came out of a recommendation by the Audit Advisory Board to review internal policies for engineering projects.

Review Board/Commission appointment policy regarding need to interview incumbents –
 I feel strongly that incumbents should interview each time they are up for re-appointment. Some boards (such as zoning hearing board and planning commission) have people turned away due to lack of open spots. Appointments can sometimes be for up to 4 year terms. I absolutely think incumbents should re-apply for open positions and be interviewed in person at a public meeting.