Lower Macungie Township Agenda Preview 4/17

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.

*Very light published agenda again this week. We rec’d a memo today however that Hamilton Crossings Traffic Impact fee will be discussed. I suggest those interested tune in. I will wait til tomorrow to comment on the impact memorandum that will be outlined by the Solicitor tonight. It is significant.

No hearings, announcements or presentations.

LMT Historical Society – Letter of support for HC’s Log Home upgrades in exchange for taking of park land.

LCIDA – Formal letter indicates that the Lehigh County Industrial Authority will no longer actively seek County participation in the Hamilton Crossings TIF. More information here.

1 letter in opposition to TIF – Cites traffic concerns

1 letter in favor of township enacting a Homestead exclusion. More information about Homestead exclusion here. Please take a moment to read this proposal I made in January.

Interesting letter from Paula Werley – Mrs. Werley is requesting the township take a look at her property for possible acquisition. She lives along the river and has seen increased flooding. In the letter she claims the increase is due to development. She has lived in the home for almost 60 years. Recently the township through a PEMA grant acquired and will soon demolish two homes off of Spring Creek Rd. She homes were victims of repeated flooding over the years.

This letter will surely invoke a larger discussion about the potential of more flood buyout requests and the downstream impacts of development. I am certain that development in the western portion of the township will further exacerbate existing problems. This was an argument made by myself and others when we opposed industrial and commercial rezoning. As a longtime township resident myself I have always heard with each new major subdivision that flooding issues will be “improved”. It’s been my anecdotal observation over the years living near the Little Lehigh River that this has never been the case. Slowly but surely flooding has worsened.  I believe it to be a direct result of development. This will be an interesting and important conversation.

Dennis Timmer – Letter of resignation from Parks Board.This is an unfortunate loss. Mr. Timmer is resigning due to serious illness. Mr. Timmer has been the bedrock of the PR board over the years. I wish him recovery and speedy return to the board. 

Dept. Matters – 
Nothing new – We will be voting on a resolution to approve the LCA et al vs. City of Allentown Sewer Settlement Agreement. Basically this was a billing issue that was resolved. The Township will receive money back because we were over billed.

Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety – Has not met since last meeting (Beitler/Brown) Next mtg May 1st 6pm
  • Budget and Finance – (Conrad/Higgins) Next mtg May 1st 6:15pm

Two re-occuring items under Budget and Finance:
Recommendation from Planning Commission for Capital Improvements Plan.  I  support this. A capital improvement plan is a tool used to assess the long term capital project requirements of a government entity. The purpose for LMT is to evaluate requests for capital items such as maintenance of parks, trails, sanitary sewer, storm water management, open space preservation, public works and fire equipment. The written plan would hopefully identify and describe capital projects requests,rank priority, forecast the years in which funding each project is to occur and methods of funding. I support this initiative. Without a long term capital projects roadmap smart growth planning is incomplete. At it’s core, smart growth is important because it lays out a sustainable financial roadmap for our township. Planning ahead for capital needs is critical.

Investigate Homestead Act  I encouraged exploration of this in February. It’s something I support exploring as a way to reduce property taxes for residential properties. More information on my thoughts here. 

  • Planning & Zoning – Planning and Zoning has not met since last meeting. (Beitler/Lancsek) Next Mtg April 21st 4:30

Here are re-occuring agenda items:
Last meeting we authorized creation of an East Texas Study Task Force at the next Planning & Zoning Committee mtg we will approve members. –  I will be sitting on this task force as a member of the planning and zoning committee. The East Texas study will 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. I’m looking forward to the start of this project.

  • Public Works Committee (Brown/Higgins) Next mtg April 28th 7pm

Recommendation to create municipal stormwater authority.
Last meeting 
our EAC (environmental advisory council) made a recommendation to explore a municipal stormwater authority. In the letter Mr. Alderfer passes on the recommendation of the EAC encouraging the township to explore creation of a Municipal Stormwater Authority.

In 2013 in an effort to empower municipalities to better manage stormwater SB 351 was passed into law. The bill was sponsored by state Senator (R) Ted Erickson and passed with mostly bi-partisan support.

I will comment on this in the coming weeks after I learn more and do some research. Meantime here are some primers for interested residents: (In addition I suggest clicking on agenda detail and reading the letter which contains a very good overview) Considering a stormwater authority? 12 steps to help a township make the decision. 

  • General Administration (Higgins/Conrad) No items on agenda. Next mtg May 22nd.