East Penn Press

Sunday, May 19, 2019

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by KEVIN JONES Special to The Press in Local News

Adaptive design guidelines discussed

The March 5 meeting of the Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission began with a discussion of the public forum scheduled March 14 to discuss the revised zoning ordinance.

The six talking points of the forum are going to be main streets and villages, highway commercial uses, new uses, environmental regulations, open space and design guidelines for adaptive reuse. The forum is for neighbors likely to be affected by the new zoning ordinance and will take place 5:30 p.m. There will be a meeting for the public 7 p.m.

Design guidelines were discussed during the planning commission meeting. The planning commission showed different design layouts they had created for a variety of uses. They began with setbacks and looked at options for different sized lots as well as looking at setbacks for corner buildings.

The planning commission also looked at the design concept for the reuse of an existing shopping center. The design included outdoor seating, adjusted setbacks and a public area. There was also discussion about an attached dumpster enclosure. The width and depth of the enclosure was questioned, but it was said this would depend on the need of the property.

The planning commission looked at design concepts for drive-thrus. There was discussion about screening and fencing as well as parking along the side of the building and preventing the stacking of cars.

In other meeting news, buffers and setbacks regarding natural resources were discussed. It was questioned what planting would go in the buffer. There was also a discussion about flood plain setbacks.

It was suggested the ordinance should require applicants to show the riparian buffer as well as the 100- and 500- year flood plain.

Commissioners also looked at design concepts for large parking lots, such as in shopping centers. The parking lot would be broken up and would include islands, walkways and stormwater management. How to block off receiving and unloading areas for trucks was also discussed.

Regarding village commercial parking, it was decided there would be rear access parking and the main entrance would be a pedestrian entrance.

A decision was made to shorten yard requirements and lessen the amount of open space required to accommodate available land tracts. It was also decided 30 percent of the stormwater management land could be used as open space.

A suggestion was made to restrict people from crossing land being used for agriculture. Lower Macungie Township Planning Commission Co-Chairman Maury Robert argued there should be an access easement in case the land is no longer an agricultural use in the future.

Regarding the flood plain, it was debated if fencing is permitted between the 100- and 500- year flood plain. A decision was also made to allow spray irrigation in the 500-year flood plain.

There was a debate if the flood plain should be included with the zoning ordinance or be its own ordinance. It was decided the flood plain would be a separate ordinance, but would be submitted for approval at the same time.

The planning commission had concerns about a part of the flood plain ordinance allowing township approved pathways, roads, trails, driveways and bridges in the 100-year flood plain. There was a debate if private roads should be allowed in the 100-year flood plain. A decision was made to change the language from “township approved” to “township owned.”

Usually the planning commission meets the second Tuesday of every month and occasionally there is a workshop meeting on the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings take place 7 p.m. and are in the township municipal building.