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.