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Development Plans for Land Near Allen Organ Could Create Highest Density in Twp.

It's back. Except it's no longer being characterized as a smart growth mixed use project as it once was. (But never really was...) Now it's being billed as exactly what it really is.

It's back. Except it's no longer being characterized as a smart growth mixed use project as it once was. (But never really was...) Now it's being billed as exactly what it really is. A supermarket and a gas station paired with 200 apartments on 30 some acres. The project would be the highest density in the township. 

This property is located in the cornfield between Mack Trucks and Borough of Macungie aside of and behind the Allen Organ offices. Township Commissioner Ron Eichenberg happens to be the realtor on the project. 

What this is, is a high density residential project next to a high density commercial parcel. In fact one of the Planning Commissioners mentioned what I mentioned a couple months ago. What this is, is the Trexlertown Mall. Note those apartments have currently devolved into HUD housing. 

Though the project has stayed essentially the same the developer is no longer seeking the new mixed use ordinance it once was. Special accomodations would have to be made since there is currently no zoning that allows this kind of development. Basically the township needs to go out of it's way to allow this.

Many members of the planning commission were absent, so no official action was taken. Will keep an eye on this one.

Notes:

The developer mentioned improvements to intersection will alleviate traffic issues - My question: Currently, there are no traffic issues. Traffic flows great at the intersection of Willow Lane and Rt. 100. Traffic issues might be created by this project, but currently there are none. This project would have one entrance in and out dumping 100 percent of the traffic onto Rt. 100.

"Just because you buy the junkiest land in the township doesnt mean you should get special exceptions" - PCom member Maury Robert

"Little uncomfortable with the highest density in the township, should we really have developments exceeding 8 units per acre?" - Pcom member Tom Beil

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Ron Beitler September 20, 2012 at 12:22 PM
As I mentioned before in posts. I have no issue with higher density as a part of a Traditional Neighborhood Development in the appropriate infill location. (For example the Lowes Parcel or the Weiner Parcel on lower mac and Brookside.) But this.... This is simply a residential project ultra high density and a commercial project. Except all without the typical buffer zones that would normally be required. It's literally an apartment complex and a supermarket smushed together. This is what I like to call a "Quality of Life Killer" project. -Highest density in the township -No controls stopping the apartments from devolving over time. -Dumps ALL traffic into one intersection -Throwaway open space being counted in density calculation (Floodplain not readily accessible by the public)
Scott Bieber September 20, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Future traffic congestions at Willow Lane and Route 100 wil be horrible if the adjacent commercial plan in Macungie is built, the Remington tract is built and the Jaindl project is completed. The township engineer has already warned that road improvement will be needed at this intersection if the giant Jaindl project two miles away becomes a reality. Now combine all the traffic from the Remington plan with the new commercial project in Macungie across from the Turkey Hill and you will have a traffic nightmare at Willow Lane. Welcome to the continuing destruction of our quality of life by short-sighted local governments who only see tax dollar from new land developments.
Scott Alderfer September 20, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Whether it's the Jandl Spring Creek development or this Allen Organ high density fiasco, the question of a police forced will be answered for us by either one of these quality of life-killing projects becoming reality. LMT already has more than its share of high density housing compared with neighboring municipalities. If Tea Party folks think our school taxes are bad now, wait until there are another 40-60 kids to shoe-horn into East Penn schools from the high-density housing units proposed here. LMT residents deserve quality retail shops and unique restaurants. This site could be a respectable, walkable, mixed-use development with some nice retail shops and a couple of restaurants and some nice townhouses. This township has the economic diversity of residents to demand a diversity of retail and restaurants. Weis does not need to move across the street to a big new store to survive. I don't feel like Weis is in direct competition with Giant in Trexlertown, because it's easier to go to the Macungie Weis from Brandywine Village than to have to snake around Mill Creek/Sping Creek/Mill Creek Road to get to Giant or Redners in Trexlertown. If Weis were to move across the street to the Allen Organ site, it would create a big box eyesore that no business will want to lease or buy & redevelop. And the Weis employees would simply move across the street from Macungie boro to Lower Macungie. That is an employment shell game, NOT a net gain of jobs in East Penn SD.
Sugarmagnolia September 20, 2012 at 09:17 PM
How can a Township Commissioner make decisions that are in the best interest of the township, while he stands to gain profit from development? This is a HUGE conflict of interest.
Scott Bieber September 21, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Commissioner Eichenberg, who has the property listed, has not voted or made a decision on this project. The state Ethics Acts forbids elected officials from voting on anything in which they have a financial stake. Whether he is pulling strings or exerting pressure behind the scenes is another matter. I hope he is not. As an elected official, I don't think he should be lnvolved in any real estate deals involving land developments that need township approval. Because the stink, if not the substance, of conflict will always be there.
LoMac Res September 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Ron - Thanks for your insightful coverage. Wouldn't have known any of these important details otherwise. Our elected officials have to start paying more attention to quality of life in LoMac. I can't believe how many warehouse projects seem to magically start popping up with little evident public discussion and input. You are exactly right: Who will step in to stop the movement toward devolving high-density housing, and the making of LoMac into the "warehouse district" of the Valley?
LMTnative September 28, 2012 at 08:15 PM
The highest and best use of the land would be for the township to purchase the property and realign Gehman Road to meet up with Rt 100 at Willow Lane. That way these busy roads could meet up at a single signalized intersection. Gehman Road and Rt 100 is a mess most times of the day with traffic from the Hill at Lock Ridge, Mack Trucks employees, and Mack Trucks deliveries. For years the township has been talking about adding a light to Gehman & Rt. 100. The realignment would be a much better plan with better traffic flow.
Ron Beitler September 30, 2012 at 02:55 PM
@Native thats a fantastic idea. The kind of thinking we need. This is why I support reinstating a farmland and open space preservation board. A board that once existed that this current BOC allowed to fade away. Recently you may have read the availability of hundreds of thousands of dollars for open space preservation completely caught the township flat-footed. (eventhough this money was voted on county wide nearly a decade ago) I think a good proposal on how to use the money was made but it's shocking there was no opportunity for the public to weigh in since there is clearly no focus on land preservation through easement purchase by this board and no plan in place that identifies farmland priorities. Sure we have the Greenway plan which is wonderful. But it mostly focuses on acquiring floodplain. A very worthy project, but not farmland preservation.
Walter Greenwood June 25, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Is this the same field that used to be planted in sunflowers back in the 80's? If this project happens, remind me not to come back for a visit. That would be too depressing.

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