East Penn Press

Monday, October 22, 2018

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 by KEVIN JONES Special to The Press in Local News

Township map, cell tower zoning amendment discussed

The April 17 workshop meeting of the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission entailed the official township map and a 5G Zoning Tower amendment.

Planning commissioners noted many parcels of land in the township have been recently preserved. They elaborated that the largest piece of preserved land was the Shepherd Hills Golf Course. Despite this, there is still a substantial amount of unpreserved farmland, some of which is up for sale.

Commissioners wanted to make sure everyone knew they are always open to suggestions for future preservation. They typically try to work with property owners who have an interest in preserving their property. In addition to adding land to parks, the planning commission is considering a property near the Kratzer farm.

Another topic discussed during the meeting was a 5G tower zoning amendment. The legislation is something Internet providers feel is important because customers are asking for higher Internet speeds. The higher speeds would be specifically useful in more densely populated areas.

Internet providers are looking to put a distributed antenna system in the right-of-way. The antenna can be attached to a pre-existing structure, such as a telephone pole. The planning commissioners said they are trying to limit the amount of amending to the cell tower ordinance.

It was explained the sizes of the distributed antenna systems can vary and the width is often an issue. It was questioned whether a distributed antenna system can be located in a utility easement since such a system is not considered a utility.

There was a suggestion made that if providers wanted to put a distributed antenna system in residential districts, residents should have a voice in the matter. The planning commissioners said they would need to put zoning requirements in place. There was a question about what liability the township has if something in the right-of-way is hit.

An idea was suggested to put the distributed antenna system in an underground vault. The issue is that there is really no good place for it because the right-of-way is not large enough for significant sized underground vaults.

The planning commissioners explained this is not just a local issue. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation might get involved and commissioners questioned whether the distributed antenna system should be put in the PennDOT right-of-way. The planning commissioners said they were worried it would cost a lot of money to relocate an antenna on a telephone pole.

There were questions whether to allow distributed antenna systems on township poles, or if they should be forced to collocate. Since the antennas only have a range of 500 feet there could be one on every other block. The planning commission looked into finding experts or hiring consultants experienced in this topic.