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PA Court Rules in Favor of Lower Mac, Jaindl

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reverses Lehigh County decision.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on Friday reversed a decision Lehigh County Judge Michelle Varricchio made more than a year ago that invalidated the zoning ordinance that would allow David Jaindl to build a mix of warehouses, commercial buildings and hundreds of homes on 700 acres of prime Lower Macungie farmland.

In other words, the Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners appealed Varricchio's September 2011 decision and won, according to a story in The Morning Call.

The zoning ordinance stands as written.

Ron Eichenberg, president of the township commissioners, said the commissioners are pleased with the decision.

"Lower Macungie Township is pleased that the Commonwealth Court recognized that we acted appropriately and in compliance  with applicable law in providing notice to the public of the July 2010 amendments to the Zoning Ordinance. We understand and appreciate that certain residents of the township disagreed with these amendments.

"However, it is clear that all residents received the required notices and had an
opportunity to comment at public meetings prior to enactment of the amendments. ...

"With this ruling, it is our hope that we can move forward in a positive direction with respect to tha future of the township," Eichenberg said.

Others were clearly not happy.

"Friends for the Protection of Lower Macungie Township is very disappointed in the commonwealth decision," said spokesman Ron Beitler.

"Funding for this lawsuit was an overwhelming community effort by nearly 1,000 residents who signed a petition. Neighboring communities spoke out against it and smart growth advocates have condemned this zoning change as the antithesis of smart growth.

"The details of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) were negotiated confidentially and once decided unilaterally by elected officials only a few weeks were available for the public to review what could be the single largest and most destructive land development decision in the history of the township. 

"The commonwealth decision is 22 pages and complex. The appellants will consider their options after the holidays," Beitler said.

The 700-acre parcel bounded Smith Lane and Mertztown, Spring Creek and Ruth roads in the southwest corner of the township is, some say, some of the best farmland not only in the state, but in the country.

Jaindl Land Co.'s plan to develop it with more than 700 units of high-density housing, warehouses and commercial establishments has been a hotly debated issue in the township since the change to the zoning ordinance was signed in July 2010.

Michael D Siegel December 18, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Michele K, I am not an ally of anyone group except the Little Lehigh Creek- which no one speaks for the creek - just a proponent of good governing and planning. Yes, I do have the planning and governing credentials and have had constructive conversations with the Jaindl family for over 20 years. What everyone needs to do is request a meeting with David in an open forum and discuss good planning techniques and not petty bickering. Here is a great opportunity for the Township to make this area shine with good smart growth planning techniques. Presenting Mr. Jaindl constructive ideas and options of what your friends and family would like to see in this area will go a long way to heal the wounds. For too many years the war has been feuding against Mr. Jaindl in this township and it is time to work with him rather than against him.
Ron Beitler December 18, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Ugh....It's not always an us vs. them thing. People are so tired of politics as usual. I disagree with policy. Sometimes I agree. I've written positive blogs about policy and ones questioning. They are all on my blog. Every opinion I've had last 2 years. I just want solutions. Either way it's about issues. There are hundreds of ppl on friends mailing list and FB page. They have a right to say what they want. Name one thing that I'VE said thats an insult. I've said I don't think commercial greenfield realtors are the best choice for a township with growth issues. Thats a blanket statement nothing personal. If you want to talk about issues and solutions lets do that.
Ron Beitler December 18, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Michael I think you would make a great arbitrator of that hypothetical discussion. An open forum with Mr. Jaindl would be a fantastic idea. I know for a fact 'Friends' would be open to that. It's the township that seems to prefer confidential negotiation.
Ron Beitler December 18, 2012 at 03:53 AM
@Michelle, one last attempt. I'll try to make it easier for you to understand the question with a visual. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=184488904932407&set=a.184488891599075.40601.171403946240903&type=3&theater Does this document outline: A. A public process outlining for the public a choice between a quarry, fighting a quarry or an alternative plan of industrial warehouses, strip malls and housing, then inviting the public to participate in a discussion about that choice? or B. Does this outline a pre-determined outcome negotiated confidentially where bare minimum public participation required by law is observed?
Ron Beitler December 18, 2012 at 03:56 AM
And... crickets.....

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