Imagine a McDonalds that looks like a colonial house with screened parking and tasteful signage that blends in with it's surroundings. That's what the town of Freeport made McDonalds do when they expressed interest in building in their town.
Earlier this week Smart Growth Advocate Tom Hylton spoke to 40 residents and presented examples of communities who took the initiative to foster distinct, attractive communities with a sense of place. (One of the main tenets of smart growth). Of the many examples presented (many in nearby communities) the Mcdonalds elicited the most ooh's and ahh's from those in attendance.
In Freeport, McDonalds made plans to tear down a historic home to build one of its standard cookie cutter stores. Outcry from residents forced the town to adopt new rules concerning design standards. McDonald's then built the restaurant inside the home, maintaining the exterior appearance. This was one of the first times that McDonald's had been forced to change its restaurant design to fit local requirements.
Mcdonalds kicked and screamed along the way. But shortly after opening, the restaurant became the largest grossing in the area. And shortly after was featured by Mcdonalds in their quarterly bullitan. The residents truly did know what was best for their community.
That's what LMT could and should start doing, enforcing design and architectural standards on our commercial developers. Instead of the typical cookie cutter buildings that comprise 'anywhere USA' typical 'junkscapes', (think our AutoZone, WaWa's, Fast Food joints, etc) Imagine instead buildings that blend with our residential surroundings. It can easily be done here.
Our planning commission is currently reviewing our commercial standards. They're beefing up our bland standards from the 70's. We challenge them and our elected BOC to take a look at the most innovative standards other communities use and really push the envelope. I personaly want LMT to continue to be a special community, not become sprawling 'anywhere USA'.
All its takes is vision and a commitment to creating something beautiful and unique. There are some great projects coming down the pike. In Macungie, Liberty Savings bank is "recylcling" a historic building on Walnut and Main the old Singmaster house and re-adapting it into a full service local bank branch complete with drive through.
In LMT the developer of Hamilton Crossings is taking care to give us a "unique" shopping experience. So far they've done a good job compared to most projects in LMT but we challenge them to go even further.
Do officials in LMT have the kind of vision to keep pushing?