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Historic Preservation is a Great Policy for Macungie

A zoning amendment limiting the demolition of historical buildings built prior to 1940 is being proposed in the Borough.

A zoning amendment limiting the demolition of historical buildings built prior to 1940 is being proposed in the borough.

This is policy I believe is necessary to foster a revitalized downtown area. Historical preservation is proven to make boroughs more attractive to local businesses. Preservation should be a focus to enable a community to remain attractive, compact and walkable. 

By fostering these characteristics rather then mimicking suburbia, the town's uniqueness and charm is preserved allowing it to compete with sprawling suburban retail/commercial. 

Macungie’s density, character, walkability and charm are assets that differentiate it from the sprawling void of strip malls in the township.

I get nervous when elected officials cite landowner rights as a catch-all in opposition to useful progressive policies as I heard at the Feb. 6 council meeting.

I'm a fairly conservative guy politically, however, I think the benefits of encouraging a revitalized downtown by protecting historical assets is clear.

It's common practice to use zoning ordinances to regulate development in the best interest of the community. This amendment does not put an uneccesary burden on property owners and does not limit necessary maintenance and repair. The amendment also accounts for the Zoning Hearing Board to grant special exceptions for extenuating circumstances. 

This simply prohibits demolition. Furthermore, it’s meant to “encourage continued use, appropriate rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings."

A perfect example is the Singmaster home now occupied by Liberty Savings Bank. Certainly if someone were to come in and propose demolition of this building, it would be a tragic loss to the community. The plan is to preserve the home while expanding the back of the property to create a full service bank. This is excellent use of an existing property of historic value focusing on maintaining it’s character. It is my understanding that at one time a developer inquired about the land with the intent to demolish the building. This would have been a tragic loss of a valuable asset and landmark.

I am a resident of LMT. I am also a business owner on Main St. in the borough. I believe in regional planning and consider Macungie the Main Street of the broader community including the township. As a business owner looking to find a permanent home for our studio (we currently rent our space on Main) this is exactly the kind of policy I look for when considering locations, and communities to invest in.

If a borough isn’t interested in investing in itself, why would a business owner invest in it? 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Willet Thomas February 08, 2012 at 01:55 PM
This is a great article. We should keep the history of the beautiful houses in the area.
Scott Bieber February 08, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Landowner rights are not absolute in a modern society where we all live close together. A town, through majority representation, has the right to impose certain, limited standards on the individual property owner within reason, which I think includes historical preservation. And those who don't believe that are free to move somewhere else.
Chris Becker February 09, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Great article, my wife and I own a simular home and we would never thing of tearing it down so that something better could be built; we believe that we already have a stack in the game maintaining a historic home. We bought and perserved our home for just this reason, old architecture needs to be preserved, not just for now but for the generations to come. My wife and I are not the owners of our home we are just the current care takers, just like the ones before us and the ones to come after us. Were would we stop and reflect back on our past if not to look at our society and what we have constructed over the generations, the past will help guide us into the future. Chris & Annette Becker

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