EAST PENN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Smart growth was among the top themes discussed by East Penn municipal officials who addressed an East Penn Chamber of Commerce luncheon recently held at the Gather Meetings and Event Center, 5402 Chestnut St., Emmaus.
The one-hour event featured East Penn School District Superintendent Kristen Campbell, Emmaus Borough Manager Shane Pepe, Macungie Borough Council President Chris Becker, Upper Milford Township Manager Bud Carter and Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners President Ronald W. Beitler.
Campbell told the audience the district’s goal was to develop students who “would learn from their failures and develop skills, attributes and attitudes” that would make them well-rounded citizens. The district is home to roughly 8,000 students and 1,200 staff.
Last year’s graduating class included 670 students, with roughly 60 percent of them going on to attend a four-year college or university, with 20 percent attending a two-year college and the remaining 20 percent entering the workforce.
The district’s budget, at about $158 million, is largely staff allocated.
“We are in the people business,” Campbell said.
Among current items under consideration are adjusting the starting time for secondary students, which is now 7:23 a.m.
“Yes, that’s early,” Campbell told the room.
In turning the spotlight on Emmaus, Pepe noted “there is more development than in the last 35 years.” He noted the borough is focused on making the Southwest Lehigh County Comprehensive Plan more than just words.
“We’d like to turn it into a somewhat feasible document that will benefit our residents,” Pepe said.
Becker said Macungie has weathered many challenges since its inception in 1857. He added, however, that it is “very difficult to keep our identity alive.”
The borough, home to roughly 3,200 residents, has also recently experienced “a great deal of infrastructure changes” that will benefit citizens and the region.
“It’s good to reinvest in our community,” Becker noted.
In his address, Carter said Upper Milford Township’s recent focus “has been on open space preservation.”
A total of 323 acres have been protected in the last few years.
Carter was also frank in his comments, noting how the township “was really concerned about the volunteer fire companies” who are struggling.
Beitler said two strategies have dominated Lower Macungie Township’s recent agenda. The first is farmland preservation and the second is encouraging “higher-quality development” when it does occur. In particular, the township is “concentrating growth on Hamilton Boulevard.”
Beitler added the township recently updated aspects of their code. This was done not to stunt economic development, but “to make it easier to do business.” In addition, the township recently enacted zoning changes in the Wescosville area.
Beitler acknowledged this is part of the township’s agenda to “try to become a better neighbor” to nearby municipalities.
Alburtis Borough Council Vice President Steve Hill, also scheduled to speak, did not attend.