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LMT Officials Stand Firm on Resident's Request for Flooding Buyout

The residents who came in front of the LMT BOC pleading for matching funding to attain a federal FEMA buyout of their properties in Ancient Oaks on Spring Creek Rd were denied the request.

The residents who came in front of the Lower Macungie Township board of commissioners pleading for matching funding to attain a federal FEMA buyout of their properties in Ancient Oaks on Spring Creek Rd were denied the request. 

Read more here

One of the residents returned tonight to ask for a explanation. She broke down at the podium.

The Commissioners rationale was they did not want to set a precedent for other residents to come to the township for flood funding. 

My issues with this decision was two fold. A precedent was already set by a previous board. Secondly, this attitude is basic burying our heads in the sand that development in LMT has affected the flood plains.

I met and visited with one of the families making the request a few weeks ago. They purchased their home in 1996. PRIOR to the building boom. Now I have lived next to this river for almost my entire life of 33 years. And yes, it always flooded. The difference now is the frequency and rate it rises. Don't tell me that development hasn't affected the flow rate. 

It's important to note that not only did the greater building boom happen after but a specific example the Wal-Mart was approved in 1999 and built shortly after. I firmly believe that the Wal-Mart swale (that floods out Spring Creek Rd. after most major rain events) is a major contributor to our flooding issues. The backflow is a significant cause of flooding upstream of Mill Creek and Spring Creek Rd. As most township residents can attest and have seen first hand, the waterflow across Spring Creek from Wal Mart and other points into Upper Macungie Township north of Hamilton Boulevard resembles a raging river during floods.

It is unfair to blame these residents for "purchasing flood prone property" when the sprawling development that our leaders have allowed for 2 decades have largely contributed to this problem AFTER the residents purchased this home. 

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.

Michele K November 02, 2012 at 01:11 PM
If it "always" flooded, the flow rate doesn't matter much, now does it? Why should they be compensated for their choice? Please stop using Patch to further your politics by pretending to be a writer.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 01:41 PM
@Michele K - Do you think the house would have ever been built in the first place if this area flooded this frequently back then? It's a part of Ancient oaks and I think the whole development went through a planning process. (I'll have to check on that to be sure) The floodplain has absolutely changed. Go to this neighborhood and look at it. See how far away from the river it is. Of course the rate/volume matters. More water = higher floodplains and fill faster. The rate the river comes up is just as important.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Anyone who has seen the flow across spring creek can tell you... It looks like a second river of equal size flowing across Spring Creek Rd. and into the stream. Any sane person can come to the conclusion that it obviously this affects the river.
MS November 02, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I see what you mean by "Troll" Ron....lol
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Always get 1 bran new SN made minutes after I post something....who just happen to post their very first post ever on my blog anytime I post something negative about commissioners policy. It's prob just coincidence :)
Michele K November 02, 2012 at 02:07 PM
No, Ron - I'm actually new to Patch, and not a troll. Just someone sick of listening to your politics and your abysmal grammar and spelling.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 02:13 PM
"of course"... It's a blog. It's opinion. It's conversational. Not trying to win a pulitzer here. I wrote that in 15 minutes during the meeting. Just trying to spark discussion. And maybe get more people interested in their local gov't.
Michele K November 02, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Maybe they would get more interested if they read unbiased reporting. When I read your profile, I expect government explained to laypeople. You aren't doing that. Further, I would think basic professionalism should demand when you write for the masses, you do it with some skill. I guess you just don't care that much, you just care about putting your opinion out as quickly as you can. It's disappointing.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Last post back and forth with you. Again. Blog. Not reporting. It IS 100% my opinion. Wanna talk about the issue? I'm game. Let's talk about the 4 seasons auto bridge. Ever see that during a storm? I have. How that passed I'll never understand. Just a few blocks up from these folks homes. Completely stops up the flow of the river during rain events.
Rob Hamill November 02, 2012 at 02:24 PM
There are laws on the books to protect downstream property owners. The problem is you have to hire lawyers to defend your rights against hordes of upstream developers. If you have LMT supervisors who look after only the interests of new developers and could care less about existing owners, you get the destruction of the Little Lehigh ecology and a downstream way of life along the river.
Scott Bieber November 02, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Hello Michele K. Beitler's blog is his opinion only. Would you mind sharing your opinion about the topics he discusses ?? I, like Betler, am very upset with the way Lower Macungie has allowed itself to be developed with little regard for creating a pleasant, attractive community for future generations.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 03:09 PM
The laws are there. But sadly your right.. the issue is lawyers are expensive and the developers have deep deep pockets.... And in the case of LMT, they have the local gov't on their side also
Cynthia Ann Hoistion Ruiz November 02, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Michele, if you are new to the Patch, How could you be sick of listening to Ron, or for that matter even know about his " abysmal grammer and spelling" The point here is the flooding happens now even with just a little bit of rain. So it is logical to look for what has changed. Sure hope I didn't make any spelling or grammer errors.
Susan Bieber November 02, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Michael K: I am one of THOSE people who live in one of THOSE houses. I have an invite for you. Next time the forecaster predict heavy rains, you are more than welcome to stay in my house and just sit around waiting for the flood to happen and when it does you'll know first hand what mental and financial stress the township has created for us. The comment made at the meeting about setting precedence was made because they know in the future that should our houses be taken down it will cause a domino effect. Right now our houses are being used as barriers to protect the neighboring houses.
Scott Alderfer November 02, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Although I concur with the BOC's logic of wanting to prevent setting a precedent. However, based on my understanding of the history here, it was the LMT Board of Supervisors in the 1970s that voted to allow Ancient Oaks to be built in the floodplain. Those arrogant Supervisors chose to ignore the FEMA floodplain maps because the flow in the Little Lehigh has slowed to a trickle thanks to the quarry in Fogelsville pumping 6 million gallons/day to dewater their quarry. When the quarry stopped pumping in the late 70s or early 80s, the flow in the Little Lehigh gradually recovered, and flooding became more frequent. I think it's perfectly valid for a BOC to disavow a decision of a previous Board. But I don't think a BOC can simply disavow gross negligence of a previous Board of Supervisors. The decision to no longer help out residents with FEMA buyouts is reasonable. But I'd like to see the BOC take a stand to try to mitigate some of the contributing factors to the current flood hazard along Spring Creek Road. This is exactly why the Little Lehigh watershed needs a Municipal Stormwater Authority -- to begin charging property owners who discharge large quantities of stormwater into the Little Lehigh instead of managing their stormwater on their own property. And it's not just Walmart. There is a lot of Upper Macungie's stormwater entering the Little Lehigh via Iron Run and Spring Creek.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Michele K. - Two scenarios here. 1. Flooding wasn't as bad when Ancient Oaks was approved and it has gotten worse since then due to twp. development decisions or 2. The flooding was this bad when Ancient Oaks was built. In which case the twp. approved homes in a known flood plain. (due to developer pressure to maximize profits?) Is there a 3rd scenario? With either one above doesn't the township have some responsibility here? Thats the crux of this issue. I believe it may be a combination. I stated that I believe flooding increased in the late 90's early 2000's during and after the building boom. (40% growth in 1 decade.) I've found out one of these residents purchased in 2004. In that case sorry but I have less sympathy, it was very clear the issues with the river at that point. But for the other two who purchased in the mid 90's or earlier...I believe twp. decisions have made their properties worthless. Do you disagree with that? If you do tell me why. Another issue. So what happens to these properties now. They don't have any value. Should they just be left to become blighted? I've changed my opinion based on discussions after I post something before. I try hard to understand people's opinions. I think it's important. Unfortunately, I think our commissioners dig in and go down with their ship sometimes (jaindl). If I'm wrong with my thinking here. Tell me why.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I know it's not just wal-mart swale (the combination of stormwater systems on Hamilton)....your right it's a combo. I just always use that example because when it flows across Spring Creek it's so very obvious. So visual. Most residents have seen it happen. It shuts down the road. The volume looks like a 2nd river of equal size pouring into the Lil lehigh.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 04:15 PM
And yes, AMEN on Muni Stormwater Authority. AMEN. Hold the big boxes and warehouses accountable for stormwater generated from their property.
Lanya November 02, 2012 at 04:23 PM
In Michele's defense, even for folks new to the Patch, it's common to see Ron Beitler comments because he is such a frequent poster. I figured that out within my first five minutes on the Patch. Regardless of his writing style, he knows a lot about the area and makes many good points.
ron November 02, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I was a teenager in the 70's when ancient oaks was built and i remember older people saying that it was crazy to build homes where you know its going to flood. it was, is and will always be a known flood plain. Right from the begining the homes had sump pumps you could drive by and see the water running out of the pipes onto the street every time it rained hard. the roads where always impassable during a major storm but they built anyway. Now after more bad building decisions the situation is even worse. So Ron both of your scenarios are correct flooding was bad when Ancient Oaks was built but not as terrible as it is now after many poor development decisions by the towship. The names of the commissioners change but theire motto of " Hey developers bring your plans here where anything goes" seems to stay the same.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
My motivation is this. I've always written about local gov. Just happens the patch is an awesome new(er) vehicle. I've written dozens of LTE's since I was a teenager. Why I write about land use issues?.... When I joined the 'friends' group and 12 of us went around the township and gathered over 1000 signatures in protest of the BOC decision.. Overwhelmingly people didn't understand the issue. That's a problem. In Alburtis a 19 year old is elected with 115 votes who ran for the fun of it only to resign from office a year later. That's a problem. Macungie has become the butt of jokes because people only hear the bad and again, no one wants to run for office, no one comes to meetings... That's a problem. In LMT the Jaindl development will affect every single township resident. Whether you live next to it, or 10 miles from it. I decided that if I can do my little part to make sure never again is such a major decision is made without the public having a chance to weigh in I would do it. Hence blogging. I think we've been successful. When the subdivision step happened in the Jaindl development instead of 10 people being at the meeting there was 125. The subdivision still passed but you can't say people weren't informed. Thats my goal. I also happen to actually enjoy local gov't. (call me crazy..) We can have different opinions but I get irked new SN's show up when questioning my motives instead of talking about he issues. Been writing on here for 2 years.
ron November 02, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Ron thanks for helping to keep me informed. I have not been to many meetings so the imformation you post is greatly appreciated.
Scott Bieber November 03, 2012 at 01:12 AM
When Lower Macungie was a completely agrarian community up until the 1950's the Little Lehigh floodplain did not normally come up to Spring Creek Road. Do you think they would have bullt the one-room school house in a floodplain ? Even when Ancient Oaks was built in the 1960's and early 70's the floodplain was not a concern because there were no developments upstream that were contributing to flooding and the creeks were often dry from the quarry pumping . Then at Fogelsville, the Kraft food and Schaeffer brewery were built, Iron Run industrial park was started, and their stormwater was dumped into the tributaries that fed into Spring Creek, which fed into the Little Lehigh, and bingo, the Litle Lehigh floodplain started to grow and has kept growing ever since. Ancient Oaks stormwater also was and still is discharged to the Little Lehigh. No one really cared at the time and now the low liers are paying for it. Even when Walmart was planned, people warned that it would worsen the flooding, but Lower Macungie accepted the half-ass Walmart stormwater plan .
Mark Spengler November 03, 2012 at 01:35 AM
The way I see this is that we have one more chance to try to reverse course in this twsp. It will all be decided on 1 day in April. That can be a new beginning or the final nail in the coffin.
Robert Sentner November 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
All of the complaining and bickering, is not going to fix the right here and now problem, of having a community that gets constantly flooded. Its the lack of leadership at a municipal level that has got us into this problem and the ONLY way to fix it is to elect forward thinking, rational people to govern our communities. What do we have now in LMT a group of commissioners that have taken there eye off the ball, the people of LMT are what makes the community. And they need to be protected from the cubic $$$'s of get rich commissioners, developers, and corporate box stores. LMT residents need to be vetting people to replace them NOW.... start working on that. Then you will have the power to change your destiny.
Susan Bieber November 05, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Scott: Why do you feel it is not reasonable not to contribute to the buyout?
Scott Alderfer November 05, 2012 at 02:52 PM
@ Susan - If I was a commissioner (and, no, I am not running), I think I might have voted differently than these guys voted. All I'm saying is that I think the rationale, of not wanting to set a precedent) that the BOC presented for not helping the homeowner with her FEMA/PEMA buyout was logical. Having said that, however, I think a court might feel that previous board have already set a precedent that the current BOC cannot walk away from. But until an affected homeowner tries to sue the township over that precedent and over the gross negligence of the Board of Supervisors of 40 years ago for allowing building on the floodplain, I think the current BOC is within its rights to try to say they are avoiding a precedent in helping homeowners with buyouts.
Michael D Siegel November 06, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I would cordially invite all who want to know the history of stormwater problems in Lower Macungie, to email. I will be gald to talk to talk to you and others as I did with the LMT EAC last month. On a separate note, I did have the gumption to put my money and time where my mouth was and fought and dam near beat Walmart in an environmental lawsuit concerning the river you now see on Spring Creek Rd. I was the expert witness for the creek but it took the testimony of more than three engineers to beat me down. The final outcome only proved me right all along. Even the Environmental Judge came out to site- never does this by the way- and said he did not see a problem with the flooding. Blinders on for sure. Michele K-- Ron does a fine job of getting to the point-- the point being that stormwater and flooding are a major problem and expense for this township. You have no idea but I can tell you its well over a half million dollars a year. To bash him is one thing, doing your trolling exercises only makes you look stupid. Step up to the plate and volunteer your services to the township rather than complaining. I have -- where are you?
Susan Bieber November 15, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I've become what I call a Bingacholic and as I was binging I came across Storm water act 167. Quite right about the blinders! Do they think it's a coincidence that (since the construction started somewhere around 2000) our houses have been flooded 3 times? Is it also a coincidence that the creek has lost about 2 feet of it's depth? Is that not doing harm to the environment and the people as stated in the act?

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