East Penn Press

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Thursday, January 31, 2019 by KEVIN JONES Special to The Press in Local News

Definitions and commercial zones discussed

The Jan. 22 workshop meeting of the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission focused on the definitions and commercial zones in a draft of the township’s new zoning ordinance.

Township Director of Planning Sara Pandl talked about how the zoning ordinance had to protect the township’s natural resources, such as the Little Lehigh and Swabia creeks and South Mountain.

The planning commission decided three meetings would be held in February to review the remainder of the zoning ordinance. There was a discussion about having a widely advertised meeting in early to mid-March where members of the community can voice their opinions on the zoning ordinance.

The conversation moved on to refining definitions in the zoning ordinance.

Impervious coverage was the first definition discussed. It was defined as anything that does not absorb water.

Township Zoning Officer Carl Best warned establishing impervious coverage for residential uses is a double-edged sword. He explained that with residential lot sizes and improvements such as decks and pools there would be a number of pre-existing nonconformities.

There was a discussion about crematories being a more commonplace use at a mortuary. Planning commissioners decided to remove crematories as an accessory use and create a stand-alone use for the crematories.

The next group of definitions reviewed covered nursing homes and life care centers. Planning Commission Vice Chairman Maury Robert wanted to combine the two definitions into one. Robert wanted to remove a section of the definition describing the use as “a residential community age 65 and older.”

There was also discussion about a continuing care facility and the three levels of care provided – skilled care, personal care and independent care.

The Lower Macungie Township Planning Commissioners also talked about yards, explaining that a reverse frontage can be used no matter which side of the yard is facing the road. They also clarified the buffer yard definition, saying porches could extend into the front yard.

There was also a discussion about industrial hazardous waste, regulating its storage and keeping waste out of the townships lakes, rivers and streams. Commissioners looked into the difference between hotels and motels as they wanted to combine the two into a single use.

The discussion then turned to restaurants and a decision was made that drive-up lanes are allowed for restaurants that do not serve fast food but still allow take out.

When it came to the Wescosville commercial district, planning commissioners said they wanted to promote the reuse of existing structures. They said applicants in the zone should either adaptively reuse the property or have new construction with a build and style that matches the current structures.

It was argued that new construction cannot be done on a smaller lot without zoning relief. The suggestion was made sidewalks should be required for new construction.

In the highway commercial district the focus was on the area around Dorney Park. The planning commission was looking into adding other types of entertainment and hotels in the area for tourists who visit Dorney Park for multiple days and are looking for other things to do.

There was a debate over whether shopping centers should be a minimum of five or 10 acres.