East Penn Press

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 by KEVIN JONES Special to The Press in Local News

Weiner tract and buffer yards discussed

The June 19 meeting of the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission focused on the East Texas Village 3 draft ordinance and buffer yards.

The planning commissioners explained existing day care centers are a permitted use, but newly constructed day care centers would be a conditional use. There was a discussion about all uses in the district having a 50-foot setback.

A portion of the East Texas draft ordinance dealt with the development planned for the 16-acre Weiner tract. The development was represented by engineer Bud Newton. The discussion involved backyards and garages, which would be in the back of the Weiner tract.

Newton introduced the idea of having a small memorial for Edward Weiner, the late oral surgeon and developer, whose family donated an over 200 acre parcel of land to the township for agricultural protection. The memorial would also honor Weiner’s service in the military.

There was a discussion about putting in some sort of a buffer or berm between the development and neighboring properties. An issue with the idea was that a berm could not be put on top of an easement. A suggestion was made to keep trees currently at the site and fill in the gaps with evergreen trees.

Another suggestion was made to have a 50-foot buffer around the entire property. It was questioned if the development plan is viable because there are large power lines going through the middle of the development.

It was debated if the buffer should be coterminous with the building setback. Planning commissioners explained they may need a 60-foot setback to allow for 20 feet of planting around a 40-foot pipe.

Commissioners also argued a fence is important for this property because it would prevent debris and trash or wrappers from getting on neighbors’ properties. The position of the fence may be up for debate. It was decided the development would have 10 feet on top of buildings for elevator shafts. Commissioners said elevator shafts on the buildings should be shielded.

Commissioners also decided the minimum building separation between both residential and commercial buildings would be 20 feet.

There also was a discussion about fire hydrants and when they should be turned on. This was brought up because there have been previous issues of fire hydrants not being turned on. Hydrants should be turned on as soon as combustible material arrives on the site.

There was discussion about the commercial district of the Weiner tract. Newton explained there would be two 15,000- square-foot buildings for anchor tenants. Lower Macungie Township Planning Commissioners allowed the structures for the anchor tenants as long as the total square foot blueprint does not exceed 60,000 for the commercial district.

Commissioners explained there would be a maximum of 60 percent of either residential or commercial development. They continued 50 percent of residential development could be built before any commercial development is put in or vice versa. In addition, both anchor tenant structures could be built in the same phase.

There was a discussion if nursing homes should be allowed in the development. It was questioned whether a nursing home would be considered residential. Commissioners argued buffer yards are necessary if a walkable community is wanted. It was questioned if the eight houses facing the road should be allowed to face the road.

Since the yards are not reverse frontage, buffer yards do not make sense, according to the meeting discussion. A suggestion was made to put in some sort of fence or wall to prevent units from street noise. It was argued that homes should not face the two main roads.

Commissioners decided all uses in the district should have a 25-foot setback from the right-of-way. The setback was defined as 25 feet of a landscape buffer exclusive of all easements.

The southern border of the Weiner tract would be 65 feet from the property line due to a 40-foot wide pipeline and 25 feet of buffer. There was a debate about whether to save the existing tree line on the edge of the property and fill in the holes with new trees or to replace the whole line with evergreen trees.

The commissioners looked into the sizes of yards on the units and talked about not allowing nursing homes as a mixed use in the district. There was a discussion of having a path going from the development to a nearby creek and a bridge going over the creek. The revisions of the East Texas Village Ordinance were approved unanimously.

There was a conversation about changing the term from buffer yards to buffer screen so it is easier to differentiate between buffers and yards. Commissioners also set the maximum allowable slope at 3 to 1. It was mentioned that all industrial uses should require a 50- foot buffer along all side and rear yards. The question was raised whether front yards should be included.

The next regular meeting of the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission is scheduled July 10. Meetings are held 7 p.m. in the Lower Macungie Township building, 3400 Brookside Road.