East Penn Press

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Thursday, May 10, 2018 by KEVIN JONES Special to The Press in Local News

New member welcomed; commercial districts discussed

The May 1 workshop meeting of the Lower Macungie Planning Commission began with the introduction of Nathan Jones as the assistant planning director. The position will take effect later this month. Jones previously worked as the planning director in Bethlehem Township and is originally from Bucks County.

During the meeting, the planning commission discussed uses allowed in the commercial district. There were questions about whether golf courses should be in the same category as pool halls and stadiums. A suggestion was made to remove golf courses and stadiums from commercial districts. Boarding houses were taken out of commercial zones.

The planning commission questioned if there should be a separate district for commercial areas in the township east of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The new commercial district would allow for the businesses already in the area.

The commissioners explained they were hoping for small retail businesses that work within existing structures. The goal of the separate commercial zone would be to save the old homes along Hamilton Boulevard in Wescosville. Some of them are already being used by medical offices as well as other small companies.

There were questions about whether hospitals should be allowed in commercial zones. The planning commission discussed multi-family apartment dwellings as a part of the commercial district and said they are only allowed as a mixed use.

There was a discussion about how fuel should be stored. A question arose about liquid nitrogen tanks for fuel cell cars. The planning commission explained there are fuel standards in every zone and felt the standards should be updated and brought together. A suggestion was made that new businesses would have to submit a fuel plan which the fire inspector would approve.

The planning commission next discussed building setbacks. It was suggested different types of uses might need different setbacks, arguing it should be a design-based code. The planning commission said retail stores larger than 40,000 square feet should have the same size buffer and setback as a shopping center. The planning commission questioned if utilities should be required to be put underground for larger commercial lots.

Members discussed trying to make industrial districts more office park friendly and less warehouse friendly. There was also a discussion about if fast food would be allowed in the industrial zone.

Uses for the highway industrial zone were also discussed. The asphalt plant use and automotive sales and service uses were added. There was a discussion about hotel uses in the highway industrial zone. Mortuaries, funeral homes and crematoriums were also discussed as a use.

Also discussed were cluster overlay districts. As long as the dimensions and setbacks match the plan, cluster overlay districts will be deemed conforming. It was also explained ramps and other construction to assist disabled use are exempt from setbacks.

In the next workshop meeting May 15, the planning commission will discuss the ETV-3, a mixed use project on East Texas area of the township.

The Lower Macungie Planning Commission will hold its next meeting May 8. The planning Commission meets on the second Tuesday of the month and occasionally the third Tuesday of the month for a workshop meeting. There will be a workshop meeting May 15. Meetings are held 7 p.m. in the Lower Macungie Township Building.