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Lower Macungie Zoners Will Address Farmland Issues

Representatives of the Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie Township and the Jaindl Land Co. will present opposing sides of the issues.

When the Lower Macungie Township Zoning Hearing Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night in the Community Center, the Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie Township will be asking for permission to subpoena several key players involved in rezoning hundreds of acres of farmland so the Jaindl Land Co. can put warehouses, shops and hundreds of homes on it.

The Friends group, through its attorney Robert Rust, says that more than a year ago, the Lower Macungie Commissioners secretly agreed to the rezoning to keep Jaindl from building a quarry on the land.

To get to the bottom of the issue, Rust says, it's necessary to subpoena 12 people including David Jaindl; Scott Pidcock; Commissioners Roger Reis, Ran Conrad, Douglas Brown, Ron Eichenberg and Joseph Pugliese; Township Manager Bruce Fosselman; Sarah Pandl; James Lancsek; William Erdman, and Deana Zosky.

Rust says that several months ago, Judge Michele Varricchio said his group would be allowed to serve the subpoenas later in the proceedings, in other words, now, but that Jaindl, through his lawyer, Joseph Zator, is trying to take that right away. 

Not surprisingly, Jaindl, through Zator, disagrees.

The Zoning Hearing Board meeting may not even progress as far as the subpoena issue at the Wednesday meeting, Zator said.

Before any of that can be considered, Zator will be asking the Zoning Hearing Board to quash the entire case because the law states that the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance cannot be challenged in a vacuum. And that's exactly what the Friends group has done, Zator said.

Additionally, Zator will ask the Zoning Hearing Board to dismiss the entire zoning proceeding because the courts have assumed jurisdiction over issues that include allegations of the unlawful adoption of the rezoning, amending the comprehensive plan, contract zoning and failure to follow the required methodology, Zator said.

Only after those issues are decided will the subpoena issue be addressed, Zator said.

Another issue that stacks the cards against the Friends group, Rust said, is the fact that only two Zoning Hearing Board members -- William Royer and Brian Higgins -- will hear the arguments. If there's not a unanimous decision, Zator and Jaindl automatically win.

Rust was a member of the Zoning Hearing Board until this issue arose, but he and another board member recused themselves. The chairman resigned. 

"Almost every other Zoning Hearing Board in the area has three-to-five members," Rust said, adding that he was not successful in arguing the unfairness of having only two board members hear the arguments.

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