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Grassroots Group Sues to Preserve Farmland

Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie has filed an appeal in Lehigh County court

Community activists gathered Dec. 1 at the Lower Macungie Grange to organize a grass roots defense against development that would claim the largest remaining open space in the township for industrial and residential use.

The group, which calls itself Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie, has filed an appeal in the Lehigh County courts to prevent the development of up to 900 homes and several warehouses. Scott Bieber, a group leader, said they will take it to the State Supreme Court if necessary. The process is expected to take years to make its way through the courts.

One of the group's attorneys, Don Miles, said the Lower Macungie Township Commissioners absolutely violated Sunshine Laws when they made the allegedly secret deal with developer David Jaindl to ditch a proposed 600-acre quarry for
the site and replace it with the development of up to 900 homes and several large warehouses.

"But the Sunshine Law has no teeth," Miles said, "It won't help us."

The Friends group also claims David Jaindl secretly colluded with the Lower
Macungie commissioners after they were elected but before they were sworn in to create a memorandum of understanding that says Jaindl has permission to develop the land.

The Friends also alleges that, in an inexperienced effort to avoid a LULU – a locally unpopular land use – the new commissioners granted Jaindl's wishes because they were desperate to avoid the quarry development.

Miles said the commissioners should have left the quarry threat alone because state Department of Environmental Resources guidelines would never have allowed a 600-acre quarry to be developed on that land.

The Friends also said the commissioners subverted the usual and legal process of bringing Jaindl's plans before the Lower Macungie Planning Commission which did not allow for due process or the transparency residents have come to expect.

About 50 people attended the meeting at which they were asked to organize and
protest what they say is an illegal agreement. They also were asked to donate money to fund the defense.

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