Lower Macungie Agenda Preview – 6/18

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 before issues are settled. One of my biggest issues with the Jaindl debacle was folks didn’t truly understand what was happening until it was “too late”. This is one mechanism to avoid that. I hope people find it useful. 

Trexler Business Center
The issue is we have a grandfathered application under an old shopping center ordinance. Since the original application the plan has changed but the applicants argue not enough to require a new submittal under the current shopping center ordinance. (which is much better)

The second iteration of the sketch is improved from a traffic standpoint, but I worry that we have less leverage to improve the internal design of the overall plan under the old inferior ordinance.

The goal is to have all new shopping centers in the township at the same level of quality or preferably even better than Hamilton Crossings. The problem here and what we have to consider tonight is whether or not we are legally obligated to consider the plan under the old ordinance. And also if Mr. Jaindl is willing to commit to working together to improve the current plan. It’s my opinion there is alot of room for improvement.

Here is the sketch:

The question is whether this plan is fundamentally different from the original submission.

The question is whether this plan is fundamentally different from the original submission.

Here is an abridged list of items I’d like to see addressed summed up in 4 categories:

  • Improved context sensitivity with Hamilton Blvd as outlined in the corridor vision study.
  • Much improved pedestrian Interconnectivity with the project. Walkability is more than just the physical sidewalks.
  • Amenities package on the same level as Hamilton Crossings
  • Assurances that the traffic improvements will remain as in the sketch


Jaindl & Liberty Building Permits.
This one is a complicated one to sum up. I will try to do so succinctly. Basically the issue is as a requirement of the Spring Creek Properties settlement agreement all traffic improvements on Spring Creek Rd. are to be in place BEFORE certain permits that trigger additional traffic are issued. Originally Mr. Jaindl requested flexibility on that issue. Over the last couple days there has been a flurry of updated memo’s. I would have been hard pressed to support the original memo since it represented a fundamental departure from the original settlement agreement designed to protect the community by ensuring the roadways can handle traffic BEFORE development takes place. Staff also expressed serious reservations. Making sure improvements are built before truck traffic comes from warehouses is a lesson we learned the hard way over the last few years at Schoeneck & Rt. 100.

This will be an interesting discussion tonight. It boils down to if our professional staff – legal, planning and engineer are comfortable with the latest iteration of the proposal. The fundamental question being – Does this protect the township from unfinished improvements? They were not comfortable with the original proposal. It remains to be seen if staff is with the latest proposal. This issue has been fluid all week. As commissioners however our duty is crystal clear. That is to make sure the intent of the settlement agreement remains intact and rock solid. I will rely heavily on our internal legal, planning and engineering experts to make that determination.

Plan approval for Liberty at Millcreek.
This is approval for two very large warehouses off Millcreek Rd. on what is now Air Products property just off the bypass. Most of this project is un Upper Macungie and unfortunately (inexplicably..) they have this area zoned for Industrial. I’d have no problems with Industrial the same scope as Air Products but this isn’t the best location for a warehouse since our area is over-saturated.

Unfortunately, since this is largely in Upper Macungie it is out of our control. I am very nervous about these two warehouses but we are left with very little leverage. Fortunately, I do place a good amount of faith in Liberty properties. Though I disagree with the land use in this location, I am happy it is Liberty developing the property. They have been great to work with. It’s important they get this right as it will be an industrial warehouse in the middle of our boulevard.

Schoeneck Rd. long term maintenance of stormwater controls.
To sum up we are being asked by a developer to take long term maintenance responsibility for stormwater controls. I have concerns with this as it represents a long term financial responsibility for taxpayers. This is a fundamental problem in the township. Over time we are accrusing more and more long term responsibilities to maintain systems that will increase in cost over time. We should be very careful taking on even more we don’t absolutely have to. 

Authorization to advertise 7871 Mtn Rd. in Agriculture security zone.
A step to preserving 50+ acres of farmland off mountain Rd! Purchase of these development rights will be done entirely with county money. Inclusion in the townships ASZ is a step in the process. This land will forever be permanently preserved. The first 50 acres of I hope a couple hundred over the next 10 years.

Brake retarder study on Rt. 100
This is a resident request that I support 100%. This is one of a number of items we have to get a handle on as truck traffic is going to essentially double in the township. The study will hopefully result in a prohibition of brake retarders on Rt. 100.

If your not familiar it is this sound: (:23 seconds) Jake brakes is using the engine to brake a truck. It’s a safety feature for stopping on long hills. It saves the mechanical brakes. Problem is sometimes truckers abuse them and utilize them on flat roads near residential communities.