Wanted: Smart Growth oriented Builders & Developers

Lower Macungie: Open for business.

I have a reputation among some as being “anti development”. Truth be told that’s not accurate. I ran on a platform of “a better way to grow” not “stop growth”.

I’ll continue to push back against sprawl. I’ll fight for farmland preservation. But I also understand that development pressure will continue. The LV Planning Commission forecasts another 10,000+ more residents in Lower Mac alone over the next decade. 145,000 more in the greater Lehigh Valley. People want to be here and with good reason.

Defining question: How do we avoid becoming what folks came here to get away from?

Moving forward, focus can’t and shouldn’t be on stopping growth. That’s both impossible & foolish. Rather we must work to attract and embrace better projects and more responsible builders and developers as partners. Smart Growth has far less impact (traffic, loss of open space, demand for infrastructure) than dumb growth. It has a much higher return for taxpayer dollars.

It’s documented we’ve had unfortunate situations that forced the township to deviate severely from good planning. Sad reality. We’ll pay for terrible decisions made by previous Boards. There are lessons to be learned.

Development in the Valley is unfortunately still dominated by cookie cutter. Smart growth projects do happen but are few a far between. Today, in Lower Mac we have good projects in the works but also a number of un-inspiring. How do we convince higher quality responsible builders and developers to want to do business here? How do we market the township to them?

Some home grown developers are slowly getting it. We want the best and most innovative right now. To find it we have to look beyond the Valley. I take road trips around SEPA looking at smart growth projects. Lots of inspiring examples. Great projects. I want them here.

Are you a developer who does responsible high quality smart growth? I want to meet you. Reach out to our Director of Planning & Community development. Check out some of our visioning documents below. Let’s get together. Let’s talk about Lower Macungie’s growth vision. Like I said. We’re a great place to live, work and play. By attracting better projects we can ensure we remain that way.

So, why should smart growth developers consider Lower Macungie?

A snapshot: The place to be in the Lehigh Valley.

  • The Lehigh Valley is the fastest growing and third most populous region in the state of Pennsylvania with a population of 821,623 residents
  • Population Growing: After 20 years of explosive growth – The total population of both Lower Macungie Township (30,700 +/-) and Upper Macungie Township (20,100 +/- ) is 50,800 +/-. As mentioned above the LVPC forecasts our growth to continue.
  • Desirable demographics: Lower Macungie Township has a mean household income of $78,359 and Upper Macungie Township’s mean is $85,600. By comparison the Pennsylvania Mean Household Income is $50,713.00.
  • Highly educated: Collectively the general population have High School Degree or higher at 92% +; Bachelor Degree or higher at 45% + and 67% are considered a white collar workforce.
  • Access: Our blessing & curse (because of logistics warehouse pressure) Easy access to I-78. Major arterial serving the greater Northeast.

Guiding documents/Visioning:
The township has a number of guiding documents that outline our aggressive smart growth strategy and outline how we must grow in a more managed and better fashion.

  • The Hamilton Blvd Corridor Study – This is where our appropriate density should be. The plan outlines how we can capture value from a corridor that should serve as the townships “bread-basket”.  We need to attract thoughtful mixed use development. As an example the township has demonstrated we will work with developers on a shared vision recently with Hamilton Crossings. Though not perfect, it does represent in alot of ways a public private partnership.
  • The township smart growth roadmap. This Smart Growth Plan recommends policies to assist in carrying out the Southwestern Lehigh County Comprehensive Plan and the new Lower Macungie Township Greenway Plan.
  • Township Parks & Recreation & Greenway Plans

Township/Developer working relationships. Customer service and smart growth friendly policies. A track record.

  • A track record of working with high quality developers on projects that reflect township smart growth principles and shared public/private vision. Ex. Hamilton Crossings (a step in the right direction), Stone Hill Meadows, (A cluster project with 70% open space).
  • A new expedited administrative review process. For low impact projects – get government out of the way.
  • Zoning and SALDO updates in support of smart growth. Again, get Gov’t out of the way of better projects.
  • 2016: The Township will reduce burdensome parking requirements for low impact businesses. We will also reduce commercial setbacks and review other regulations that needlessly stymie good projects.
  • 2016: East Texas Village Mixed Use zoning.
  • Working with our neighbors to update the Southwest regional comprehensive plan. This will be a robust process kicking off in January (at least the public component, stage setting work has been ongoing for about 6 months now)

Lower Macungie isn’t anti growth – We are Pro Smart Growth! – And we want to work with smart growth builders & developers.