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Zoning Hearing Board Appointment Reveals Serious Red Flag

In my opinion the BOC's rationale as laid out in today's Morning Call article doesn't hold water.

In my opinion the Board of Commissioners (BOC's) rationale as laid out in today's Morning Call article doesn't hold water. The appointment of Brian Higgins certainly looks and smells like an "end around" tactic resulting in political pay back to Bob Rust for his involvement in representing residents of the township in the Jaindl lawsuit.

Higgins himself, very well qualified, had strongly endorsed incumbent Mr. Rust for reappointment. This, in addition to a litany of "who's who" of respected township volunteers and community members including Bill Royer, who chaired the Jaindl zoning hearing board (ZHB) proceedings, Commissioner Lanscek, former Commissioner Pugliese and ZHB Chair Larry Schneider, made eloquent cases for Attorney Rust's reappointment. Rumor has it that even Mr. Jaindl was supportive of Bob Rust's reappointment. And, contrary to Mr. Brown's assertion of a "split vote," the recommendation for Rust's appointment was a 2-1 majority with Eichenburg himself voting in recommendation of Rust. 

When I attended the Dec. 8 interviews, what I saw was Ron Eichenburg projecting consideration because of Mr. Rust's qualifications and past performance. What he may have really been doing was setting up votes for his elevationto BOC presidency. The 180-degree turn last night was shocking and sad, as he supported Bob Rust's reappointment on Dec. 8, but perhaps after obtaining other votes needed for his elevation was no longer obligated to support Bob Rust. 

So, the bottom line remains: Politics as usual. What's in it for me and not what's BEST for the Township.

Throughout appointments the board also set a sound precedent of appointing incumbents who served previously and this was the case with multiple other positions. Only in Rust's case was an incumbent not appointed despite a majority recommendation. 

Furthermore, any argument that Mr. Rust displayed any conflict of interest is baseless. Rust recused himself and took no part in that ZHB decision, the ZHB decision was not appealed further, and that case is now over definitively. This is no different then Ron Eichenburg properly recusing himself last night when a work associate was being considered for a committee. Rust's representation of clients before the ZHB in the future could not possibly effect his decision as a ZHB member for future ZHB matters, since the ZHB proceedings are now over.

I've said many times that I believe this board way back when the whole Jaindl issue began was doing what they honestly believed was right. When it turned out the public strongly disagreed and when given the chance to restart the process after the county court decision in favor of the residents and give the public a chance to weigh in on "quarry vs. warehousing" they dug in and chose to appeal. This raised flags. And now this latest decision to not appoint Bob Rust, a man whose integrity cannot be questioned and whose past performance certainly and unquestionably is deserving of reappointment, is mind boggling. It further leads to alarming and uncomfortable questions in terms of motivation. How can you rationalize this decision other then being exactly what it looks like? Punishing a longtime township servant and good man for dissenting. 

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.

marand January 06, 2012 at 10:49 PM
When are you "friendemenies" going to stop acting like you run the township. I've been following the case and you all should be embarrassed about how much you money you have caused the taxpayers. It 's one thing to be proactive in your beliefs and another to just cause damage not only to the township itself but to us as its citizens. Funny you all say "secret" negoitations but your own zoning hearing board found that the commissioners DID NOT do anything illegal or in secret. So, do us all a favor with your constant bashing and harping and put your time and energy into something that could really benefit your neighbors like come together in peace and work together to protect and preserve our community.
Robert Sentner January 06, 2012 at 10:59 PM
You are kidding right ???? "Southwest Comprehensive Plan". A plan that 7 communities signed on to, you should read it sometime, stop by I'll gladly give you a copy. Not only does the actions of the LMT commissioners effect the residents of there township but also that of all the surrounding communities. They just plain disregarded everyone else, not even giving the ability to comment. POOR leadership and lack of transperancy. But what else would you expect.
marand January 06, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Are you?? Sounds like the commissioners acted in a way that would protect ALL of its citizens, not the select few dozen who would be angry with ANY result. Again, your comments are destructive and not constructive. Move on:)
Friends for Protection LMT January 06, 2012 at 11:48 PM
"Marand" Appreciate dissenting views. Exp on this issue when its so rare to find one. Just have two questions. 1. Protect the community from what? 2. There are 1000, thats 1 followed by 3 zeros, 1 thousand signatures on petition asking the BOC to withdraw from the MOU. Significant difference then "couple dozen" And the thing is the 1000 signatures wasn't even hard to get. People jumped off their stoops to sign.
Friends for Protection LMT January 06, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Well apologies thats a question and a point...
Ron Beitler January 07, 2012 at 12:05 AM
I guess I just look at this different. The first thing I think of is the people who live in the area. It's real easy to dismiss if you live on the other side of the twsp. The fact is, comprehensive planning in the mid 80's (the result of township wide surveys) called for that side of Rt. 100 to remain farmland. For 23 years this particular tract the 700 acres in question was protected as such. Now, say you bought a house in that area. That "neighborhood". For most people who aren't rich a home is the biggest investment you make in your lifetime. The largest single purchase you make. Takes decades of saving for some. And for some moving is not an option. So say you bought a house here 10 years ago. It was a safe assumption that with a 10 year precedent of ag protection that what your buying into is going to retain the same character within reason, and further if this zoning were to ever change you would be adequately informed (Judge ruled they weren't) and have a chance to participate in a discussion on any changes. How would you feel to have your home surrounded by 2 story warehouses the size of multiple football fields. How would you feel to have your neighborhood invaded by 100 tractor trailers a day. Ever have a tractor trailer drive by your house? Actually day is a bad word. These are 24/7 operations. The traffic is all hours. You don't feel for these people? And thats what got me into this and why I refuse to "move on".
marand January 07, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Protect our community from two things: 1. Government intrusion on property rights 2. Devastation from a 700 acre HOLE in the ground that does nothing for our community. At least we get a pretty big public park out of the MOU. Regarding dissenting views--you represent the dissenting view on this issue. YOu may have gotten a 1000 signatures, but who knows what you are telling these people to get them to sign. If someone came to my door, asking me if I would like to help preserve farmland...(Without knowing all the fact, which I am sure you purposely leave out all the details), I would say YES!!!
Ron Beitler January 07, 2012 at 12:25 AM
This is agree to disagree point. 1. No ones property rights were in question. As stated in previous blogs. The majority of Mr. J's land was purchased knowing the ag protection ordinance was in place. You buy land with certain zoning it's expected you understand that. The only people (according to a court of law) whose rights were violated are those who live in that neighborhood. 2. I believe the quarry wouldn't have been built. Period. Thats a personal opinion. Furthermore and this is more substantiated by the facts, I believe even if it was it would not have been anywhere close to 700 acres. And next on a scale built I believe the affect on QOL would have been far less. And I trust the EPA to protect the Lil Lehigh. When I say QOL I mean truck traffic. I believe warehouse truck traffic to be far far worse. It's 24/7 in nature and far higher volume. I've said this also before... Drive by a quarry in Whitehall township. You may have already... You might not have even noticed you were driving past it. And lastly, a quarry when used up becomes a lake. The affects of warehousing is forever in terms of QOL and $$$. 1 tractor trailer = the impacts of a thousand cars. Ongoing maintenance is paid for by.... you guessed it. The taxpayers. Forever. Oh and the public park.. Flood plain. Period. The "generously donated portion of land"... Floodplain the vast majority. Look at a map.
Ron Beitler January 07, 2012 at 12:30 AM
And thats quarry vs. warehouse, which as I said don't think would have happened. And if so, the township could have fought. Something I believe the taxpayers would have felt worthy. But thats quarry vs. warehousing. There is also an argument to be made regarding high density housing 700 more town home or condo units and it's impact on EPSD. If it is Penns West like, or Annandale like these developments are kid factories. Starter homes sub divisions that churn out enrollment year after year. A municipality and it's zoning code has a responsibility to the school district I believe. Some make the argument LMT is directly responsible for enrollment issues in EPSD I believe.
Robert Sentner January 07, 2012 at 01:23 AM
"700 Acre HOLE in the ground" You must be one of those people that thinks the food that you eat comes from Walmart, or Giant. That 700 Acres of PRIME farmland has been just that for hundreds of years, was farmland when Mr. Jaindl purchased the property with Ag preservation easments years ago. But the almighty Dollar came into play both for Mr. Jandl and the short sighted LMT commissioners. Mr Jandl being able to make big bucks by making a back door deal with LMT commissioners so that he could sell lots and warehouses, and the LMT by collecting more tax money. Had nothing to do with the quarry as we are all aware of the High quality streams, cold fisheries, and head waters for the chesepeke, they would have had to jump through hoops beyond belief to meet DEP requirements for a quarry.
marand January 07, 2012 at 01:24 AM
You're wrong and ought to stop talking like you are a know it all. Jaindl's property rights were in question....he bought the land with the right to build a quarry and commissioners took that right away from him a few years ago. You're also wrong about what you're implying about the park in the floodplain...you can put a park in the floodplain and there's plenty of space for a good size park system. Ask your friend lanscek, he helped come up with the plan and thought it was a good idea. Oh wait, you don't know where he stands on the issue. sorry. And I am sure you will have to respond to this last statement, Mr.Beitler...as you MUST have the last word:))
optimist January 07, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Jaindl did not lose the rigtht to build a quarry. By the ag. zoning rights he was had a green light to try. What you don't seem to understand or believe was that the state of PA would have to agree to it all. The problem would have been proximity to the Little Lehigh. What the Friends group is correctly pointing out is that either a smaller quarry operation or perhaps no quarry would have been granted by the state. The BOC could have also joined the state and local residents in that fight. Let me ask you marand: 1) Do you care at all about the increaded flooding? 2) Any concern about overcorwded schools and higher taxes? 3) Do you care about the traffic that those local roads can't handle? 4) Do you give a hoot about the enormous infrastructre projects that the future holds 10 years down the road? 5) How about the fact that none of this was properly studied before the zoing was changed? 6) Do you honestly beleive that a brief advertisement pd. in the East Penn Press and a few onscure signs were proper notice? (A Lehigh County judge did not think so).
marand January 07, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Wrong again. commissioners took away his right to build a quarry a few years ago (sometime in 2009). 1) I care about flooding but the friends imply any new development will cause more flooding. That's not true. regulations exist to deal flooding. i bet regulations are better now than they were a decade ago when the real development boom came to LMT. 2) even if all 700 homes were built (which I seriously doubt will happen), it's a really small percentage of the already existing homes in the epsd..so crying that this project is the root of all evil is wrong. 3) jaindl has to address traffic if he builds anything, you know that. 4) yes. 5) you know and so do the friends that studies arent required to change zoning, studies come later 6) even the judge agreed residents got notice...the judge only said a few more words should have been included. So, I think you should stop with all this grand standing, blowing things out of proportion cause it makes you feel good about yourself. It actually sounds like everyone complaining on this blog hates LMT. If that's the case, why live here?
optimist January 07, 2012 at 02:34 AM
I see you avoided all of the PA requirements for the quarry statements so very well on with the rest of it. 1) Jaindl's develompment near the 222 corridor is unopposed because it is not next to the Little Lehigh. The friends group does not oppose all development. That is development away from a major waterway with the roads to deal with it and it may bring economic development: Bravo! Look at Willow Lane Elementary School just down the road. Ove 30 kids in some 1st grade classes. Is that somebody else's problem? That's a new school marand. Not sure what makes you think Jaindl has to address traffic or anything else. He seems to be able to get around zoning so traffic should be a breeze. Look at what he pulled in Upper Mac. Twsp. Studies may not be required by law but the twsp. in the interest of its citizens certainly could have required them for this project. I think they got bullied for one and were also given bad advice by their their legal folks. That's understandable. What stinks is that they continue to dig their heels in. And this treatment of Bob Rust is completely absurd which was the pt. at the beginning of this discussion.
optimist January 07, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Also, not sure what this crap is about taking away the quarry rights. Jaindl himself said that it remains a viable option if the deal does not go through. If the land goes back to ag. he can try to build a quarry. The BOC took that away by changing the zoning but that has been defeated in county court which of couse is being appealed.
marand January 07, 2012 at 04:36 AM
point is, there's a few sides to this issue. your group has been consistently nasty with their comments and involvement. turns off a lot of people. I like living in LMT, your group should be trying to help promote it, not tear it down.
MS January 07, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Promote it? You mean encourage people to move into a township that gives no credit or thought to what it's residents feel will be a bad idea? Encourage new people to move into a township that basically is telling the residents it's our way or the highway? This township does one thing well, it keeps it's residents on the other side of the door when the important decisions are being made that will affect us in the future. Not sure why I would promote a township that holds its residents hostage to their ignorant decisions. I am sure I'm definitely responding to one of our illustrious commissioners though, especially when you can't reveal your real name
optimist January 07, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I disagree with the term nasty. Nasty would be personal attacks, character assaults, inapropriate language etc. The friends group has shown passion for this issue and I know you would really prefer not to have opposition of any kind. You should probably just get used to the fact that if you stick to the present course, the policy criticism and objections will continue. The BOC is an elected board subject to criticism by the population. That is part of the deal in this country. Please review the 1st amendment to the United States Constiution. Also, this debate is moderate compared to the tea party vs. the supporters of the President over the past year.
Robert Sentner January 07, 2012 at 02:00 PM
A quarry is a viable option, not the best use of the land but a viable one, much better than a 700 acre developed, new school causing, traffic congesting, property devaluing, monstrosity. Just what we need another mega warehouse. The one thing I do agree with Marand that new development would not add to the flooding and would most likely make some of the areas actually better. Discharge rates with Act 167 would make them handle all of the existing storm water plus any new water that they would generate. Also with the new MS4 regulations around the corner if the commissioners don't make Jaindl pay upfront the taxpayers are going to have some huge bills coming there way.
MS January 07, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Robert, I think you give the commissioners too much credit at the end of your comments. While it sounds smart to all of us that jaindl should pay these fees up front , it's very clear with all the past proceedings that the commissioners have a different agenda to this entire process. If I'm not mistaken, three of the commissioners are in line to make a hefty amount of money from this development just by being on the payroll of one of the biggest realtors in town, the same realtor working with jaindl to get this property developed That alone tells me and many others that these commissioners will make jaindl any promise they can to get his work, including sticking it to the tax payer once again.
Robert Sentner January 07, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I guess I am talking on how it should work. beings a Supervisor in UMT we pride ourselves on how transparent everything is in our township. Just scares the hell out of me, what this thing is going to look like in the end, and the impact it will have not only on the residents of LMT but all of the surrounding communities. I am sure that a traffic study will reveal that more traffic lights are needed, and that only causes more gridlock during peak hours. Say good bye to your nice suburb's.......
Scott Bieber January 07, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Need some CORRECTIONS : None of the commissioners works for a realtor who is helping Jaindl develop his land. Comm. Ron Eichenberg works for the Frederick Group Realty Co. and this group has done business with Jaindl in the past but there is no evidence that the Frederick Group is working with Jaindl on this project. Comm. Ryan Conrad is CEO of the LV Realtors Association and there is no evidence this group is associated with this Jaindl project, and Comm. Roger Reis is a realtor with another realty company with no apparent connection to Jaindl. All of that is not to say that these three commissioners, as professional realtors, would naturally prefer to see this land developed. As for stormwater, the Jaindl project would definitely worsen flooding in the Little Lehigh Creek during real heavy storms and hurricanes. State regulations only require rainfall from a two-year storm (about three inches) to be kept out of the creek. Anything more is allowed to discharge directly to the creek. This was verified in a letter from the township engineer to a Brookdale resident concerned about flooding. Every stormwater detention basin shown on the preliminary Jaindl subdivision plan shows overflow outlets directly to the creek.
Robert Sentner January 07, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Scott don't they have to meet ACT 167 requirements
Robert Sentner January 07, 2012 at 05:35 PM
http://www.stormwaterpa.org/assets/media/regulatory/02%203930-PM-WM0035.pdf NPDES permit appendix B page 11, first 6 questions. how are they going to get by this one ??
Scott Bieber January 07, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Yes they must meet Act 167 requirements, which now include water quality controls. But check the Act 167 ordinance for the Little Lehigh Creek, (google Act 167, Lehigh County) All Act 167 ordinances in the state are limited to controlling the two-year storm, which is the state requirement. The Little Lehigh Act 167 ordinance calculations all refer to the two-year storm, which is three inches of rainfall in a 24 hour period. A developer can only be forced to hold back water from a two-year storm. Anything more can go directly to the creek. I think it has always been this way.
Ron Beitler January 07, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Gotta disagree with characterization of Friends trying to "tear down the community" thats absurd. I meet with dozens of people in the group regularly and hundreds more through friends email communications. What I see is the opposite of that. These are people deeply invested in the area. People that deeply care. Which is why they simply won't "go away" when they see injustice in terms of a decision being rammed through a process without the chance to be engaged. With this zoning change citizen input should have been solicited not only to the bare minimum requirements of law, but above and beyond. As Robert stated, quarry is not the best option vs. remaining farmland. But Quarry vs. Warehousing? I'll take a Quarry on the scale that would have actually been built without a doubt. Actually all many people really want is to have had a say. In local gov't you don't vote to send commissioners to represent us in far away places like Harrisburg or DC. Locally citizens should have significant input in community decisions.
Ron Beitler January 07, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Marand you state the BOC did what they thought was best for the community... Local officials are elected to: (1) keep citizens informed about community issues and services, (2) to obtain feedback about citizen concerns and, (3) to ENGAGE citizens in shaping community direction. Local level officials should play a role more as facilitators vs. representative/decreeing what they personally believe is the best interest of the township. Decreeing whats best for the township isn't the job description.
MS January 07, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Mr bieber you will never convince anyone that those three realtor commissioners don't already have their hands dirty in the jaindl cookie jar, I'm not that stupid.
careless fills March 06, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Isn't some of the Jaindl land at Quarry Lane the same property that the EPSD school board, with Rust as president, condemned shorty after it was zoned down nearly 25 years ago?
Ron Beitler March 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
@Careless that was the Romig Farm in 1989. It was later sold to Jaindl.

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