During the past year I have witnessed some very depressing actions by the Lower Macungie Board of Commissioners. This past Thursday night was a prime example as they barred fellow resident Ron Beitler from serving on the Parks and Recreation Committee
The Public Works Committee had voted 3-0 recommending that Beitler be appointed. At the Thursday meeting Commissioner Jim Lancsek motioned to approve the recommendation to appoint Beitler. Board President Ron Eichenberg commented that he would not approve the motion because Beitler was part of an organization that had brought suit against the township and that he used his blog to make negative comments about the township.
The motion then died with no other commissioners in support.
Commissioner Roger Reis added that he would not have recommend Beitler in committee had he known Beitler was involved in a lawsuit against the township.
Reis was unaware of the lawsuit for one reason: it does not exist.
The organization that Eichenberg referred to is the Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie Township which has not brought suit against the township. The Friends organization does support any efforts to reverse the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the zoning change that benefits developer David Jaindl.
I think it is worth mentioning that the lawsuit that Eichenbrg used as an excuse to ban a citizen from a volunteer committee was already ruled on by Lehigh County Judge Michele Varricchio. The decision was to reverse the zoning change on the grounds that the township did not give proper notice. Instead of going back and reconsidering the zoning change with public input, the Commissioners instead voted to appeal that decision to Commonwealth court.
Another meeting that I found particularly disheartening was the evening that Robert Rust was blackballed from the Zoning Hearing Board. On this particular occasion last year the board was unanimously voting to reapprove committee assignments until they reached the Zoning Hearing Board. Sensing the injustice that was about to happen, a number of citizens came forward to the podium or wrote letters asking the board to see past the need for retribution and do the right thing by reappointing Rust. Among those who showed support for Rust were William Royer (member of the zoning hearing board), Joe Pugliese who had just stepped down from the Board of Commissioners and Brian Higgins who ironically was chosen to replace Rust. Unfortunately, the words fell on deaf ears as all but Commisioner Lancsek voted to replace Rust. I recall Pugliese saying softly into the microphone "This is not right."
So what is the common thread between Beitler and Rust? Rust is one of the attorneys representing those who filed the legal challenge to the zoning change and the MOU.
Perhaps the worst of the worst was Feb. 16. At this meeting the board considered a zoning change for the Allen Organ/Remington property.
Eichenberg, a broker for the Fredrick group, is the agent of record for the property.
Rather than recuse himself from the matter, Eichenberg instead chose to participate in the discussion, frame the motion and then ignored a suggestion to allow public comment before recusing himself from the vote. The proposal being voted on would have created the highest density development in the township.
While witnessing the latest B.O.C. travesty this past Thursday, I found myself trying to decide if I should speak up and ask the board why it thought that a member of the community who disagreed with the board on a particular issue could not serve on the Committee of Parks and Recreation. I wanted to remind them that they had not been sued by Ron Beitler and that he was certainly qualified for the position. I finally decided that I would just prefer talking to a different audience.
The earliest we can begin to change this audience is the coming Republican primary in April when Eichenberg and two of the other commissioners will be up for reelection. It will be up to the voters to decide if we want more of the same or a change in course.