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Lower Macungie Zoning Hearing Board Meets to Address Jaindl Issues

Several points were argued, but only one was decided.

The Lower Macungie Township Zoning Hearing Board met April 13 to address four issues surrounding the ordinance that would allow the Jaindl Land Co. to develop 700 acres of farmland in the southwest corner of the township.

The issues on the board’s agenda included:

  • A motion for a stay presented by the lawyers for Thomas Streck, et al, the member of the Friends for the Preservation of Lower Macungie Township who has filed suit to try to preserve the area as farmland;
  • a motion to dismiss the procedural arguments from the zoning appeal;
  • a motion to dismiss for failure to state a controversy;
  • and Zoning Hearing Board Chairman William Royer’s consideration of a list of subpoenas requested by Streck’s counsel.

Attorneys Donald Miles and Robert Rust represented Streck. Joseph Zator represented the Jaindl interests, and special solicitor Peter Lehr represented the township commissioners. Counsel for the Zoning Hearing Board was Mark Malkames.

Though the intent was to get through all four issues, the only one that was fully decided was the first in which Royer and Brian Higgins, the other Zoning Hearing Board member, voted 2-0 to deny either a restraining order or a stay to the Jaindl Land Co.’s development plans.

Though it was necessary, according to Zator and Lehr, to proceed with the issues in order, both Royer and Miles thought it more important to skip to the subpoena issue.

Miles ideally would like to subpoena the following:

* David Jaindl, owner of Jaindl Land Co. and the acreage in question;

* Scott Pidcock, an engineer who is working on the Jaindl project;

* Roger Reis, president of the Lower Macungie Board of Commissioners;

* Commissioner Ryan Conrad;

* Commissioner Douglas Brown;

* Commissioner Ron Eichenberg;

* Commissioner Joseph Pugliese;

* Bruce Fosselman, township manager,

* Sara Pandl, director of planning and community development,

* James Lancsek, township zoning officer;

* William Erdman, township engineer;

* and Dina Zosky, farmland activist.

Zator and Lehr claimed Miles was on a “fishing expedition” with the number of people he wants to subpoena, and that in zoning proceedings – unlike court proceedings – only relevant people and documents may be subpoenaed.

Miles maintained that he was within his rights to ask for the complete list of people and all their documents because he needs information to build his case.

Miles told Royer that he was trying to identify how the zoning ordinances in question were created. "The response of township’s special solicitor and intervener is, ‘We have nothing to hide, but we don’t want to tell you anything.’ "

Zator repeatedly told Royer that the zoning hearing was not the same as litigation in which an attorney can gather documents and then decide if they’re relevant. Instead, for zoning hearing purposes, only witnesses and documents that have previously been deemed “relevant” may be subpoenaed.

After about 2 1/2 hours of argument among the lawyers, Royer, who was charged with deciding the outcome on his own without Higgins’ vote, said he needed time to decide and would get back to Miles, Zator and Lehr with his decision on or before April 18.

The zoning board will reconvene at 6:30 p.m. April 27 in the township’s regular meeting room.

At that time Royer and Higgins are expected to start with the second and third issues on the agenda, the motions to dismiss.

Scott Bieber April 14, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Zoning hearing board chairman William Royer's decision Wednesday to consider the appellants' request that he issue subpoenas is a small victory for open government. The appellants were concerned that Royer would decide that evening not to issue subpoenas. Lawyers for the township Board of Commissioners and land owner David Jaindl argued that the subpoenas would be like a "fishing expedition" that should not be allowed. They claimed that the appellants must identify "relevant" documents and information that they want to subpoena before a subpoena can be granted. The appellants lawyers say they don't know what relevant documents and information is being hidden by the township so how can they know what to ask for. It's like, you don't know what kind of fish is hiding in the lake until you go fishing for it. You must be allowed to fish for it. Hopefully, Royer will let the appellants go fishing. In an open government, you should be allowed to fish for any documents. The lake is not private property.
Vince April 15, 2011 at 01:13 PM
I understand we have laws to follow, even if they contradict common sense. But breaking the conflict down to a common sense argument, it’s between the Township and it’s citizens, or shall we say an employee (the township officials) and their employer (the citizens of the township) As the employer of the township officials, common sense would indicate that all the work done by them, within reason and in an official capacity would essential be our work, and as such, we would own it. But unfortunately, some laws and the people who interpret them lack common sense.
Ron Beitler April 15, 2011 at 02:32 PM
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