Commissioner Race – Glaring Policy Contrasts

Below are 5 of the most glaring contrasts between the incumbents and myself. There are many more. These are just the most obvious. This election is a clear choice. By attempting to pull the focus off these issues, the incumbents are playing little political games. These are the issues that matter to residents.

Land development/Growth issues

1. Jaindl – The grandaddy of terrible decision making. Dissected at length over the last 2 years and deservedly so. No need to re-hash here. For those who want to read in depth my thoughts visit here. One decision that will change the tone of the township forever. Residents never had a voice in quarry vs. over 1 square mile of warehousing once the awful MOU was negotiated. The incumbents chose the urban industrial path vs. the rural quarry path. (Quarry = 1/10th of the truck traffic)

Transperancy LMT style

2. Allen Organ upzoning/conflict of interest – Here is the elevator sypnosis: Weis wants to move across the street to new store with gas-pumps. Weis thinks they can then compete with the Wegmans and Giants of the world. Ok that is fine. No problem with a private business doing what they think they need to do to improve business. They have every right to do this since previously the parcel across the street was zoned commercial. Supermarkets are allowed in C-Commercial.

Now….Fast forward a little bit. A developer wants to facilitate project. The developer can’t make money off of just building a supermarket on this parcel with it’s many constraints that make it tough to develop. (railroad, floodplain, limited frontage) So developer asks board of commissioners to change the rules so they can also build up to 250 apartments. This way the developer can make money. So board unanimously rubber stamps a bran new zoning ordinance that will allow developer to shoehorn a supermarket and apartments on a small parcel. A parcel with one major entrance/exit that will create traffic nightmares on Rt. 100. The realtor on the property? Happens to be our very own president of the board of commissioners who will cash a hefty commission check off the deal.

Supermarket and up to 250 apartments proposed with new zoning ordinance.
LVPC comments on Allen Organ Plan 

Solutions: How do we do better?
Cost benefit analysis of re-zoning
Transferable Development Programs.

Refusal to deal with traffic concerns

3. A Police Department to solve traffic concerns (which would equal a massive tax increase that I do not want) is NOT the answer. The answer is traffic calming measures. Such as the ones outlined here and here. The board has consistently refused to even explore these options. Now that we’ve set ourselves down a certain path thanks to decisions by the current board we need to consider these measures to control traffic and speeding issues. Traffic calming and walkability go hand in hand

Pennsylvania’s traffic calming handbook

Next, truck traffic. Decisions were made to go all in on warehousing. So now what? Now we need bandaids. Instead of beefing up signage and implementing no truck zones to funnel traffic to safe routes getting them to the highways safely and quickly the board does nothing. “We don’t want to stop commerce” – Roger Reis. I do not get this statement, no one wants to stop commerce. We want to stop trucks from using local shortcuts through residential areas. These trucks are not going from warehouses delivering to our local community. What they are doing is cutting through to get to the highways. We’ve gone all in on warehouses and not we have to deal with consequences and stop burying our heads in the sand. We also must prepare for the next “bypass of the bypass” project and others like it that will cost the taxpayers dearly for terrible decisions over the past 3 years.

Over-regulating homeowners and small business

4. Three examples of new regulations the current board has indicated will pass or already passed.

A. As part of the new Act 537 sewage plan, mandatory inspections of on site sewer systems will be required every 2 years. This is regulating household maintanence. Classic regulatory overkill.

B. New mandatory inspections of all of Lower Macungie’s business owners next year may have to pay for an annual fire safety inspection of their buildings. As a small business owner, I do not believe in imposing additional costs on small businesses.

C. New Tree harvesting regulations limit the amount of trees a private resident can cut down on their property. Two parts to this, first the commercial aspect of this ordinance is great. However, I think the residential limit of certain number of trees in one year was too intrusive.

Preservation of our character.

5. There is no more bigger issue moving forward then managing growth. The biggest recent example was a missed golden opportunity to explore taking land preservation out of the hands of politicians and putting it into permanent preservation mechanisms. The Kratzer farm is the prime example. 88 acres of farmland and open space in a central location providing a positive benefit to 1000s of adjacent homes. For the some reason the board refuses to apply it to the county easement program. (A program voted on and passed by county voters 2-1) 

LMT’s Wiki photograph soon to be extinct

I never noticed this before. I’ve been to the township wiki page many times. But check out the photograph. Take a good look because it may soon be gone. The picture I believe is of the Jaindl tract. The caption states is was taken off Hilltop Rd. It’s either a small part of the tract or directly adjacent. And yes, the photo would represent only a tiny portion of the immense warehouse project. Looks to be about 20 acres. Just a small speck of the 700 acres. That’s how immense this development could be.


Interestingly enough this bucolic countryside scene will be plowed over and replaced with a giant warehouse, maybe a parking lot for tractor trailers or perhaps a storm water retention basin. Hilltop Rd. connects with Mertztown Rd near the Butz-Leister farm.

Maybe it’s time someone submits a new photo for our wiki entry? Since this is the last part of the township that looks this the photograph does it really make sense anymore?

This scene may disappear and become extinct in the township. And it’s solely because of a choice made by our commissioners in 2010 including Roger Reis and Ron Eichenberg who are up for re-election on May 21st. I’m hoping folks remember this when they vote and consider replacing them.

Friends LMT response to commonwealth court decision

 We’re disappointed with the commonwealth court decision. Funding of this lawsuit was an overwhelming community effort by nearly a hundred individual donors making individual contributions ranging from 5 to 1000 dollars.Nearly a thousand residents signed the petition, multiple neighboring communities and smart growth advocates have condemned this zoning change as the antithesis of smart growth.

The details of the MOU (document allowing this travesty) were negotiated confidentially and decided unilaterally by seated commissioners without public input. By this action, the residents and neigbors of LMT were prevented from weighing in on the most significant zoning change in township history. A change affecting 5% of our township directly and all residents indirectly.

For now, the commonwealth decision is 22 pages and extremely complex. Moving forward the appellants will consider their options after the holidays. Friends will be open to supporting whatever decision they make. Remember, without overwhelming community support we wouldn’t have been able to stop this project. We sincerely thank all those who have put up a yard sign, contributed money, signed the petition or attended our events. The decision is ultimately the appellants but our organization stands ready to support the decision they make.

Ron Beitler – Outgoing Chair Friends for Protection of LMT

Friends LMT is a Smart Growth Resident Association. Our mission is to promote smart growth through education programs, advocacy and raising awareness. The past 2 years friends has supported the appellants attempting to overturn the Jaindl re-zoning to allow 1.5 million square foot of warehouses, Urban density tract housing and over a hundred thousand square ft. of strip mall just outside Alburtis on 700 acres of previously protected farmland. 

Join the conversation here on our facebook page

ACT 537 Sewage Plan

This post comes from a fellow Friends board member from our Facebook Page. (Scott is a resident of Upper Milford, but grew up in the township and is active advocate for smart growth and land preservation.)

If you have a septic tank sewage system. mandatory pumping of the tank is going to be required under the township’s proposed new Act 537 Sewage Plan. The pumping requirement is one part of the revised sewage plan. The other part of the sewage plan calls for the expansion of the township’s public sewer area to include the proposed Jaindl development project on Spring Creek Road.

Expansion of the public sewer area is necessary for the Jaindl project to be built. Giant warehouses, 700 new houses and townhouses and commercial sprawl can’t use septic systems. They need public sewers.

DEP may require some minor changes to the sewage plan but is expected to eventually approve it.
The township claims the public sewer area has to be enlarged to serve the zoning change of the Jaindl land. Only problem is that the zoning change is currently not in effect since a Lehigh County judge voided the zoning change last year because of inadequate advance public notice of the zoning change.

Meanwhile, Jaindl’s commercial and industrial subdivision plan for his land cannot get final approval until he completes specific sewage planning for his subdivision plan. And he can’t start that process until the township’s sewage expansion plan is approved by DEP.

in other news, the appellants appeal (supported by Friends) of the Jaindl subdivision plan is scheduled for oral arguments in Lehigh County court in October.

We claim the township cannot approve a subdivision plan while the underlying zoning change is still under legal appeal.

Meanwhile, we are waiting for the ruling from the commonwealth court on the township’s and Jaindl’s appeal of the county judge’s ruling that voided the zoning change.

Are you confused now ?? At least the people who have septic systems know that mandatory pumping is coming for sure.

Allen Organ Supermarket and 200+ Apartments is back.

It’s back. Except it’s no longer being characterized as a smart growth mixed use project as it once was. (But never really was…) Now it’s being billed as exactly what it really is. A supermarket and a gas station paired with 200 apartments on 30 some acres. The project would be the highest density in the township.

This property is located in the Corn Field between Mack Trucks and Borough of Macungie aside of and behind the Allen Organ offices. Township Commissioner Ron Eichenberg happens to be the realtor on the project.

What this is, is a high density residential project next to a high density commercial parcel. In fact one of the Planning Commissioners mentioned what I mentioned a couple months ago. What this is, is the Trexlertown Mall. Note those apartments have currently devolved into HUD housing.

Though the project has stayed essentially the same the developer is no longer seeking the new mixed use ordinance it once was. Special accommodations would have to be made since there is currently no zoning that allows this kind of development. Basically the township needs to go out of it’s way to allow this.

Many members of the planning commission were absent, so no official action was taken. Will keep an eye on this one.


The developer mentioned improvements to intersection will alleviate traffic issues – My question here is. Currently, there are no traffic issues. Traffic flows great at the intersection of Willow Lane and Rt. 100. Traffic issues might be created by this project, but currently there are none. This project would have 1 entrance in and out dumping 100% of the traffic onto Rt. 100.
“Just because you buy the junkiest land in the township doesn’t mean you should get special exceptions” – PCom member Maury Robert
“Little uncomfortable with the highest density in the township, should we really have developments exceeding 8 units per acre?” – Pcom member Tom Beil

Jaindl verdict could come soon

Jaindl verdict could come soon

The commonwealth court could rule on the Jaindl zoning soon. Or it could be another month. There is no way to tell.

The court will either uphold Judge Varrichio’s decision that invalidated the re-zoning or it will overturn the decision. Varrichio’s ruling concluded the advertisement of the zoning by the township was “misleading” because, among other things, the location of the lands being re-zoned was omitted.

Before adopting this ordinance in 2010, our newly elected officials Ryan Conrad, Ron Eichenberg, Roger Reis and Doug Brownentered into a confidential written agreement with Jaindl, agreeing to change our zoning and abandon an agricultural protection ordinance that had been in place for 23 years. The appellants also argued this represented contract zoning, but the Judge only ruled on the technical aspect last summer. Depending on the outcome contract zoning could come back into play.

This new zoning will allow Jaindl to develop potentially hundreds of new homes, 4 million square foot of massive warehouses and typical strip/big box commercial. All on land that for 2 decades was preserved through zoning as agricultural and according to the Lehigh Valley comprehensive plan was to remain designated as such. The tract is located in the extreme western portion of the township.

Possible outcomes:
Appellants and community win: Jaindl and the township would have to persuade the Pa. Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

Appellants and community lose: The court will remand the case back to Judge Varricchio to deal with contract zoning.

A taxpayer take: Dollars and Sense – Why Jaindl development makes no sense


Let’s take quality of life, environmental, smart growth and loss of farmland out of the equation. Important points, but here lets just talk dollars. All five township commissioners (BOC) ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, a good thing.

On May 3 the BOC will “take up” the Spring Creek Subdivision, aka the Jaindl development.  Included is 4 million sq. ft. of warehouse space, 700 or more homes and some strip malls.

It’s my take the Jaindl Development is an unfunded liability. A tipping point that will lead to major tax increases in the township. In simple terms this development creates new liabilities it will not produce the revenue to pay for. This is math and accounting. I have two questions I would like to see answered before the BOC votes on this.

Question 1 – When does this end? What is the game plan for sustainable growth? That is,development that pays for itself without the need to raise taxes or to constantly “expand the tax base” with costly greenfield development. Is there a plan?

Greenfield (farmland) development relies on constant new development to avoid a large tax increase. What happens when we have no more fields to develop? “Expanding the tax base by greenfield growth” simply isn’t sustainable. The problem is that raw land development doesn’t create enough tax revenue to pay for the long-term costs of providing bran new public services to the development on the publics dime. We are subsidizing this development, we should know what our return on investment (ROI) is.

Question 2 – Where is the long term accounting to show the taxpayers ROI? Has it been presented to the public to show this development will generate enough tax revenue to cover the public liability? Provide the community with a full accounting of obligations the taxpayer is assuming for building and then maintaining the infrastructure required by the MOU. (outlined below) How much will this cost us in the long run? This MUST be addressed before preliminary/final is granted.

Below is a overview of the potential costs to the taxpayer that need to be accounted for before the board takes action:

Short Term
Cost of the specially waived traffic impact fees that Jaindl or any other developer will not have to pay until after the MOU agreement expires on Dec. 30, 2030.

Potential Long Term
Traffic & Streets
Includes: Road Widening, Intersection improvements, Traffic lights, Railroad crossings. Specifically widening of Rt. 100 to 4 lanes and multiple major intersection upgrades including Spring Creek, Alburtis Rd. and Mill Creek Rd.

Includes: Infrastructure ongoing maintenance, Future capital improvements including those needed if flooding worsens and downstream residents are flooded. Specifically  the possible enlargement of Spring Creek Road bridge over the Little Lehigh to prevent worse flooding at Brookdale. We know the wooden bridge at church lane costs millions. Whose gonna pay for a major reconstruction of the spring creek bridge?

Emergency Services
Includes: EMS, Fire, Police. 2nd Fire Station – Building costs, training, land acquisition. (Recent for comparison – Fire Protection – 2.5 Million for Willow Lane Fire House)

Includes: New school buildings, maybe even a new high school, because the 700 or more new households may tip the school district into finally needing another new school building somewhere. See recent article about the already strained EPSD budget.


Greenfield development NEVER balances out in terms of cost vs. benefit. It simply doesn’t. We have to be shown the accounting where this works out and the taxpayer doesnt pay the price. I’m all for land owners doing what they want with their land within the parameters of zoning. But NOT when it relies on unfair subsidies from you and I. We shouldnt have to pay for new infrustructure that doesnt offer us a return on our investment as a community.