Lower Macungie Planning Commissioner Maury Robert appeared to reverse his own decision at the Aug. 9 commission meeting.
Robert requested Red Maple Mobile Home Park owners William Mayo Sr. and William Mayo Jr. make a $78,000 contribution to the township when it expands the park by 20 homes.
Robert referred to a 1988 ordinance in which there is a requirement of 20 acres of recreational facilities per 1,000 in population. These facilities, he said, include “pocket parks,” or private parks within developments, and local/regional parks, which are for public use. In this ordinance, he explained, developers are not required to contribute to the public parks if they include a private park in a development.
Robert's proposed change in the ordinance would require developers to contribute to the public facilities, whether they include a pocket park or not.
These parks do not benefit the township residents who don't live there in any way, he said. And residents of the developments and their guests are still able to use the public facilities.
Consequently, developers should pay the fee for the upkeep and maintenance of the public facilities, he said.
After some discussion, the Planning Commission agreed with Robert and will send the proposal to the Board of Commissioners.
Mark Malkames, attorney for the owners, protested the request.
“We thought we had a plan [two pavilions and a walking path] you wanted and approved. Now you want to change an ordinance and we have to pay. What about all the months of work we put into it?” Malkames said.
Larry Turoscy, Red Maple project engineer, was similarly upset.
“According to Jim Lancsek [zoning officer currently on a leave of absence], we would be credited dollar-for-dollar up to the $78,000 for the pavilions and walking paths. Now, you’re saying we won’t get the credit. What about the papers we gave you?” Turscy said.
Sara Pandl, township planning director and interim zoning officer, told the commission she had located the information earlier that day with estimates for the pavilions and pathways, as requested by Lancsek prior to his leave.
Robert apologized saying he was unaware of the paperwork already handed in. Because the information was handed in as asked, and accepted, he said the agreement should be honored.
"But this is the last time this will happen," Robert said.
Planning Commissioner Tom Beil still felt Red Maple should contribute to the township's recreation facilities, and asked for some sort of compromise.
It was not well received by the Red Maple owners.
“I thought we had an understanding,” said the younger Mayo. “I want to table this and think about it.”
The commissioners agreed, and it will be discussed at a future meeting.