East Penn Press

Monday, June 1, 2020

MACUNGIE BOROUGH COUNCIL

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 by PETER MCCONNELL Special to The Press in Local News

Council looking for compensation from Grandview Crossings

A new development has been proposed for the span of fields immediately abutting the Allen Organ property at the edge of the borough. Macungie Borough Council reviewed the proposal in a regular meeting Sept. 15.

Grandview Crossings has raised a number of questions for the developer. Council President Chris Becker is interested in getting some kind of courtesy funds out of the project; it does not fall within borough lines, so it pays no taxes to the borough, but Becker says it brings with it a lot of headaches due to traffic impact and other infrastructural problems. In addition the area will have to be policed by the borough's police department, as Lower Macungie has none of its own.

The new development will certainly have an impact on traffic coming off Gehman Road to Route 100, as well as traffic on the main road itself and Willow Lane. If approved, Weis Markets will move from its current position to a larger site within the development, which is mostly residential but includes a handful of restaurant spaces. Two hundred and four apartments are being added by this development, according to Borough Manager Chris Boehm.

Becker wants to see if any kind of compensation can be requested from the developer, particularly for the construction of handicap ramps at the railroad crossings as the proximity of the new development to the borough may allow for greater pedestrian traffic across its north and west borders.

Council is requesting the results of a traffic study, assuming there was one, to know the impact on southbound Route 100.

It was discovered inadvertently the newly completed Lumber Street does not have a posted speed limit, nor is a speed limit listed in borough records.

When Boehm notified council of the necessity of passing a no-parking ordinance within certain distances on Main Street near Lumber Street, council discussed parking options on Lumber Street itself. Currently parking is permitted on both sides of Lumber Street for its entire length. But the borough engineer pointed out this could become a tight fit for any tractor trailers attempting to use Lumber Street to get to Lehigh Street or as a turnaround point from Route 100.

At least one tractor trailer has to get in to Lumber Street every month because of the marble yard site, so council cannot pass any ordinance prohibiting trailer traffic.

Becker told council members they may have to consider a one-side parking ordinance. The engineer noted making Lumber Street one-side parking only may allow for lanes too wide and encourage speeding.

High speeds are already a concern for the new side street which offers a straight shot between two main thoroughfares. Marvin Moyer, resident, suggested to council a street without a posted speed limit is considered 55 mph under state code, but this was not confirmed. Discussion will resume on this topic at a later time and a speed limit sign of 25 mph will be posted on Lumber Street.

In other capital projects business, council adopted a decision to authorize the borough engineers to proceed with the design phase of Cotton Street after reviewing new cost estimates presented by Barry Isett & Associates.

The project for Cotton Street is still over the budgeted amount of money originally obtained from the general obligation note last year. Becker says costs are still around $40,000 over. Some cost cutting measures discussed included macadam sidewalks instead of concrete and postponing the construction of the pedestrian bridge.

Also adding to high project costs is the light at Church and Main streets. Engineer Ryan Kern noted costs for traffic signals have doubled in the past few years, now hovering in the $250,000 to 300,000 range per intersection.

For now nothing will be decided until designs are drawn up and bids received.

After floating the issue for several weeks on the agenda, council decided a resident who requested relief from water bill charges would have to pay the amount in full despite a faulty water meter reading which lead to the discrepancy.

The property in question showed a large discrepancy between the indoor and outdoor water meters (the latter now properly referred to as a "reader") which the borough said has happened in the past in similar situations. After the mistake was discovered, the property owner was billed for the difference and requested relief from his incurred overage charge.

Council approved another resident to pay only 50 percent of the incurred bill but council member Roseann Schleicher said she did not want to set a further precedent with this case. She noted the property owner in question had used the water, and therefore should pay for it, and also noted the borough had already made a liberal offer to the property owner. The borough is willing to take payments inasmuch as the property owner can afford and to waive any late fees incurred already.

Part of the ongoing problem is the borough water meters, as confirmed by Becker during discussion. The water meters are outdated, discontinued in fact, but the Borough Authority purchased a large stock some years ago and so they are continuing to use them.

The majority of water meters have no discrepancy or very negligible. There are a few cases where discrepancies occur but rarely in any amount as large as the one in question at the Sept. 15 meeting. The borough checks indoor meters only once the property changes hands, while outdoor meters are checked quarterly. In this case, it was noticed the amount on the outdoor meter was significantly lower than the property's average, so it sent up a red flag.

In other business, council approved a motion to authorize Berkheimer Tax Administrator to collect local services tax in the amount of $52 per year from citizens who work in the borough. This sets procedure in motion to advertise an ordinance in time for the end of the year. The new ordinance will be effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Council also approved a subdivision to the property at 61 N. Chestnut St. This property is being split down the middle so the subdivision can be sold and a new residence built on the Sycamore Street side while the current residence closer to Chestnut Street remain for the property owner.