Friends for Protection of Lower Macungie Township, submitted a questionnaire to candidates for the 134th. The 7 questions overview various smart growth issues that are vitally important in South Whitehall, Lower Mac and Upper Mac. The questions were emailed to the addresses indicated on candidate websites.
They were sent to Arlene Dabrow, Pat Slattery and Ryan Mackenzie. We only received responses to the questions back from Pat Slattery. *Ryan Mackenzie declined to answer the questions and we received no response from Arlene Dabrow.
We indicated we would repost the responses with no editing or commentary as our bi-partisan steering committee is not endorsing a candidate. Below are 5 of the 7 questions. To see responses to all 7 questions, please visit our Facebook page.
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission states the potential 700 acre Spring Creek development directly contradicts comprehensive planning that calls for this area to remain agricultural, as it has been preserved as such for over 2 decades.
Q - Do you believe municipal control over land use planning has weaknesses that need to be corrected? Will you support legislation to amend the PA Municipal Planning Code to give regional planning bodies more power over zoning in order to promote more effective land use planning as is the case in many other states?
Slattery - The MPC has little teeth and allows individual municipalities to ignore best practice regional planning. I support legislation to improve regional planning approaches. The MPC has far reaching consequences. Any changes must be made with a comprehensive and inclusive process that involves maximum community involvement.
Q - Some states are starting to build express toll lanes under private-public partnerships, as an effective way to add more capacity to congested freeways. A. Do you support this idea for Pennsylvania? And B. Do you support tolling the interstates highways as a way to generate the funds necessary to maintain these roads?
Slattery - Pennsylvanians consistently demonstrate support for user fees to support infrastructure projects and maintenance. Source - (Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. PPPs are a growing method of mitigating early substantial investment by the state in exchange for providing profits for private companies over time. The Governor and Legislature need to work together to design a comprehensive array of legislation to address our crumbling infrastructure which may include PPPs and adjustments to user fees. Pennsylvania has more than 7,000 miles of deficient roads and bridges. This is more than any other state and an opportunity for bi-partisan efforts to address the issue.
Statewide Farmland Preservation
Q - In light of the Governor's plan to eliminate the $20.5 mil. in cigarette tax revenue for farmland preservation, where should the money come from to continue funding this successful program, or do you favor cutting funding? Would you consider diverting funds from gas drilling taxes to Preservation programs?
Slattery - Preserving farmland is an economic and social imperative. Sustainable, vibrant communities need to protect farmland. I wholeheartedly believe in buying local especially our food. Misdirecting funds away from farmland preservation is short-sighted. Revenue from Marcellus Shale drilling would be a logical and appropriate source of funding.
Local Truck Traffic
Q - A major complaint of residents in our township (Lower Mac) related to warehouse development is tractor trailer traffic on state roads. Residents frequently feel helpless to address the issue as the township claims "it's a state-road" and Penndot is largely unresponsive. What would you do to advocate for the residents of the township regarding our concerns about tractor trailer traffic on local residential roads?
Slattery - It will be my job to facilitate PennDOT's response to the issue and work with local residents to figure out a solution that protects local residents. It will also be important to make sure that this issue is considered before plans are approved for any further development in areas that lack the infrastructure to appropriately handle commercial traffic.
Wildlands Preservation Trust
Q - Would you support continued funding of the Wildlands Preservation Trust? How would you fund it and what would you cut to achieve the necessary funds?
Slattery - I am endorsed by the Sierra Club and firmly believe that support for the Wildlands Conservancy and the Preservation Trust is critically important. State funding is strained in every major and minor budget category but there are ways to fund our priorities including the bi-partisan effort to close the Delaware Loophole which costs Pennsylvanians $5 million a year. There are also millions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse detailed by the Auditor General which could be diverted to important environmental issues across the Commonwealth.
*See Ryan Mackenzie's response to the questionnaire on our Facebook page.