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No Action on Subdivision of Jaindl Property

Lower Macungie Board of Commissioners will talk again about the plan to subdivide almost 600 acres of farmland at its April 5 meeting.

The Lower Macungie Board of Commissioners took no action toward approving the Spring Creek subdivision plan presented in its revised form at the March 15 meeting.

Township officials presented the plan in its latest iteration to commissioners before turning over the plan for public comment, which included several tense moments.

First to speak, Township Planner Sara Pandl described the breakdown of the 14 lots which totals just under 600 acres:

  • Three lots -- a total of 168.3 acres -- would comprise the agricultural protection overlay, the green space.
  • Seven lots -- a total of 367.7 acres -- would make up the highway industrial component
  • Four lots -- a total of 60.5 acres -- would be dedicated to commercial development.

Township Engineer William Erdman spoke mostly about the traffic studies to which the property has been and will be subject.

During the public comment, Scott Bieber, an Upper Milford Township resident and member of the grassroots Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie Township, exceeded his 3-minute speaking limit when he polled each of the commissioners on whether he had read all of the traffic and waiver notes.

When Bieber began to ask a question about the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Commissioner President Ron Eichenberg told Bieber his time was up and that it was time for the next person's comment.

A contentious exchange followed with Eichenberg ultimately raising his voice and Bieber still holding his ground at the podium.

"I'm not stepping down," Bieber said, to which Eichenberg again told him to sit down.

"What if I don't? Will you call the police? You might have to," Bieber said.

Ultimately, Bieber sat down.

Another member of the Friends group, Mark Spengler asked Bieber's question: What ramifications would there be -- according to the MOU -- if the board did not approve the subdivision plan.

"The MOU is not binding. There would be no ramifications," Township Solicitor Richard Somach said.

Scott Bieber March 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM
There certainly may be ramifications if the township would not approve Jaindl's plan. Jaindl could activate his dormant quarry plan, which would not be as terrible as this monstrous development plan. Or Jaindl could sue the township in court because the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has language allowing the township or Jaindl to "seek recourse to the courts" involving disputes in the "interpretation or adminstration" of the MOU. The MOU obligates the township to assist Jaindl in developing the land and if it refused to approve the plan I think that could be considered a dispute.
Bill Thomas March 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM
This is a much better synopsis than what was written in today's Morning Call. Thanks Lower Macungie Patch. People should stop grandstanding. We should back our officials. Professionals worked on the plan and were taken to task by those who just want their name in the news.
Scott Hower March 16, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Neither article mentions a material fact... that the subdivision vote can move forward under either ordinance.
Ron Beitler March 16, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I don't know Mr. Thomas... You consistently make assumptions about people you don't know. Maybe it's calculated to discourage people who care? When someone cares deeply for something and it's dismissed as "just wanting their name in the paper", it's disheartening. Maybe thats the point? Try to discourage people? Who knows. Need I remind everyone about what can happen when people blindly "back officials". Remember the whole little MILLION dollar embezzlement thing? Sort of a big deal. I WISH people were as engaged then as they are now. 1st class change was a purge. It was needed and valuable. It changed the equation, but you still work with the same variables. Elected officials. This is why local gov't is so unique and different from state or federal. It invites the public to closely monitor, engage and participate in it. It depends on it. Yes, we have some great professional staff here at the township. Sara Paindl is a progressive, smart and forward thinking planner. Engineers are engineers and can only do so much with a plan that stinks from the get go. This ordinance and MOU was written by Mr. J's personal lawyers and engineers and rubber stamped by our elected officials. Thats the crux of the matter at hand and the problem in general. Ordinances should be written with input from the community, the planning commission and professional planners. Not lawyers and developers.
Mark Spengler March 16, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Two observations: 1) It seemed last night that Scott Bieber was called on the time limit once Com. Eichenberg seemed to dislike what he was saying. Most of his time up there consisted of responses from the township. I saw another member of the audience speak for what seemed to be 10 minutes. For some reason that was allowed. 2) The people standing up to unwise dvelopment in Lower Mac. should be admired rather than criticized. The children of this township will pay dearly for this foolishness.
Kevin Spear, PE March 17, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I concur with you Scott. A subdivision does NOT grant usage rights. The subdivision could get approved as is and still end up a quarry. Does anyone think granting the subdivision will guarantee the MOU uses? As long as the "lots" meet the current or porposed ordinances, how is this nothing more than an administrative matter? If Jaindl is seeking variances to create these lots, then there would be opportunity to discuss those issues at the ZHB. I have not followed this case as closely as others, so will defer to their knowledge. I just don't understand the combative nature. Clearly Mr Jaindl has resources to proceed under many different configurations. Why not work WITH him? The sad reality is that land is privately owned and can be developed however the land owner sees fit. Zoning changes, ordinance revisions are common given the dated nature of the codes. For instance, most SALDO codes are just now codifying BMP storm water issues that have been happening in the greater Chesapeake bay watershed for at least 20 years. If you want public officials to respect your opinions, then you need to respect the process. Something that Mr. Beiber seems severely frustrated about.
Scott Bieber March 18, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I agree with Kevin and Scott that the subdivision can move forward under either the new or old zoning ordinance. But our real battle is not the subdivision, but zoning. Kevin makes an erroneous assumption about the "sad reality" that the land can be developed as the owner sees fit. It can only be developed as the owner sees fit within the constraints of the zoning ordinance that governs what land uses can occur. Our legal appeal is challenging the new zoning which allows warehouses, commercial sprawl and high density housing. Kevin says respect the process, If he knew me he would know that I always respect the political process. But I don't respect a process that has been corrupted like it was by these commissioners when they secretly negotiated a new zoning ordinance with Jaindl with no public participation. The correct process would have been to seek public participation in crafting a new zoning ordinance as an alternative to Jaindl's quarry plan. If a publicly approved zoning ordinance would have been adopted that allowed warehouses, commercial sprawl and high density housing, I could have no complaint because the process was fair. But as we all know, had a public process been followed, such a zoning ordinance would not have been accepted by a public majority. Hopefully Kevin, now you might have some inkling of why I have a combative nature. When our public officials cheat the process on an issue that is dear to me, (land development) I get pissed and cry foul.
Scott Bieber March 18, 2012 at 07:21 PM
As for Bill Thomas's comment, I take that as an insult because the man doesn't know me, yet he accuses me of grandstanding to get my name in the paper. Pretty odd, coming from someone who blogs with his name and photo in print continually. And Thomas's kind of thinking about "we should back our officials" because professionals worked on the project is the kind of naive thinking that gets society into many of its problems. First of all, we are not critcizing the township professionals, (engineers, planners,) who worked on the project, we are criticizing the elected officials who are promoting this bad zoning and subdivision plan. Second of all, Thomas ought to study some political theory before making such an apparently uneducated comment about backing public officials .
Craig Moyer March 21, 2012 at 04:21 PM
This entire situation makes me sick. I am a life long resident of Alburtis and spent many fall weekends in my teens hunting pheasants in those very fields that will eventually be developed into another blight on the landscape. How much money is enough for the Jaindl family? Why can't these farm fields be left to just that? Open space farm fields?
Ron Beitler March 21, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I believe in the private rights of citizens to do what they want with their land so long as zoning allows for it. This situation is sickening because of the way the zoning was changed and way it was handled by LMT's elected officials. The MOU is a disgrace. They could have successfully fought the quarry. Instead they chose to fight the community. Sad Sad Sad. Interested to see when this is all said and done how much money they have and will spent fighting the lawsuit by citizens vs. fighting the quarry. The Jaindls seem to be all about money. Thats their right. The villains here are the LMT BOC.

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