East Penn Press

Friday, October 20, 2017

LOWER MACUNGIE

Thursday, April 20, 2017 by KEVIN JONES Special to The Press in Local News

Residents speak out against development

The April 11 meeting of the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission focusing on a possible warehouse development on Schoeneck Road was well attended by the public.

John Snyder and Matthew Curry appeared before the planning commission to submit a primary land development plan and have a conditional use hearing for the warehouse in question. The warehouse would be 200,000 square feet and would be located along Schoeneck Road and just south of Alburtis Road.

The planning commission questioned whether the plan was in the best interest of the township and if it would convenience the community and improve their well-being. One issue they found was the dock doors of the property would be visible from Schoeneck Road. There was a suggestion to add a substantial number of evergreens in order to shield the dock doors from view.

“This kind of industrial use seems to be entirely wrong for the neighborhood,” Planning Commission member Ann Bartholomew said.

The plan would involve the leveling of a hillside. The planning commission questioned whether the project would damage the nearby Swabia Creek in any way. Snyder and Curry assured the planning commission they would not hit groundwater when they cut into the hillside.

Resident Steve Hensley said the warehouse is not in the best interest and proper welfare of the community. He said the community in general wants fewer trucks and warehouses because warehouses increase traffic and create a loss of the hometown feel.

Resident Mary Hensley also had a comment about the issue of tractor trailers getting lost. She explained they are missing the signs for the proper roads and their navigation systems are telling them to go through back roads or developments. Hensley also said trucks don’t want to be driving in this area any more than residents want them to be driving in this area.

Resident John Aleszczyk mentioned he does not blame the tractor trailers for the issues in the community, but instead blames the people who approved the current warehouses. Aleszczyk questioned where the rain water would go with the large amount of additional impervious surface.

Resident Greg Harp was concerned about the safety of children with increased traffic on Schoeneck Road. Residents who transport children to play on the ball fields on Schoeneck Road park on the other side of the road and then cross. He said the increased truck traffic would not be conducive creating an area where children can grow up.

The planning commission also talked about sewers and fire hydrants at the proposed warehouse. There was a possible issue because the fire department was short one pumper. The warehouse puts another burden on the township to provide fire protection for them.

The planning commission explained Snyder and Curry still needed to submit a traffic impact study and the location of dock doors. The plan would call for a maximum of 30 dock doors. There was debate over whether there would need to be road improvements in order to accommodate the trucks.

Resident Gretchen Harp had some concerns about whether the intersection of Alburtis and Schoeneck roads would remain a stop sign or become a traffic light. The issue has become personal for Harp after her daughter had a near head-on collision with a tractor trailer at the intersection in question while her two younger children were in the backseat of the car. After this close call, Harp feels trucks don’t obey stop signs and fears for the safety of her children while driving.

Resident John Leonard had questions about the traffic study done for the project. Supposedly the traffic study was held off because of a road closure. Leonard explained the confusing part was the road was still closed, so how could there be a quality traffic study by the end of the week as planned.

The planning commission decided to table the discussion until the next meeting. The planning commission also discussed a pair of two lot subdivisions at the meeting.

The first was Orchid Place, which had a circular driveway. The property is consistent with the zoning ordinances. The planning commission had some questions about the slope of the land. The house would be rather small, be energy friendly and have a low impact on the environment.

The planning commission decided to forward the application to the zoning hearing board with approval. There were two objections from Planning Commission Chair Maury Robert and Planning Commission member Thomas F. Beil.

The second two lot subdivision looked at during the meeting was the Fleming Subdivision. There was a plan to use a quarry hole on the property for stormwater. The property owner was worried if the house is too close to the road, the septic system might have to be in the back yard. One of the property owner’s family members said they wanted the house further back from the road because they have a young child. There was also a conversation about adding a path through the property to have a bus stop for children on the property as well as neighboring properties.

There was further discussion about the Shepherd Hills subdivision. The planning commission talked about splitting the Shepherd Hills property between the commercial portions and the golf course portion of the property. The application was approved.

Twenty feet of Lower Macungie Township resident Matthew Rhone’s property was in dispute with the Shepherd Hills golf course. The deed of the golf course is being changed and Rhone will get his property back. The resolution was passed unanimously.

The Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission meets 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Lower Macungie Township campus. The planning commission holds a workshop on the third Tuesday of each month when needed. The planning commission will hold a workshop meeting April 18.