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U. Milford Supervisor: Lower Mac Ruining our Quality of Life

Upper Milford Board of Supervisor Robert Sentner expressed his concern with what supervisors see as out-of-control development going on in Lower Macungie Township during Thursday night's Board of Supervisors meeting.

There’s a feud a-brewin’ in the southwestern corner of Lehigh County that could ultimately rival that of the Hatfields and McCoys.

The source of the dispute? What the Upper Milford Board of Supervisors feels to be the uncontrolled and ill-conceived land development in Lower Macungie Township. It was that development and what, if anything, Upper Milford Township can do about it, that became the focus of a spirited discussion between the supervisors and the Upper Milford residents in attendance at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Some might say that what happens in Lower Macungie is none of Upper Milford’s business. But that’s not exactly the case as a result of a document known as the Southwestern Lehigh County Comprehensive Plan. Signed by six municipalities in 2005, the comprehensive plan is designed to control development and preserve open space and it mandates that those who signed the agreement send to the other partners any potential zoning changes for review and comment.

The six partner municipalities involved in the comprehensive plan are Upper and Lower Milford townships, Macungie, Alburtis and Emmaus boroughs, and Lower Macungie Township.

It was a series of potential zoning changes in Lower Macungie and the Upper Milford Planning Commission’s reaction to those zoning changes that sparked the discussion at last night’s supervisors meeting.

The Planning Commission’s concerns came before the supervisors in the form of a memo by Planning Coordinator Brian Miller. In addition to detailing those concerns, Miller’s memo asked the Upper Milford Board of Supervisors to write a letter to Lower Macungie stating that the zoning changes Lower Mac is considering are inconsistent with the Southwestern Lehigh Comprehensive Plan.

Supervisor Robert Sentner, who has expressed his extreme upset with the development going on in Lower Mac at past supervisors meetings, wants to do more than send a letter. He called for Upper Milford Township to take the lead in setting up a meeting with all of the Southwestern Lehigh Comprehensive Plan partners, the two school districts serving those municipalities – East Penn and Southern Lehigh – PennDOT, and the state representatives serving the communities.

“I’ve complained about Lower Mac before and I am going to do it again,” Sentner said. “They want to take something zoned agricultural/residential and turn it into commercial. We are going to wind up with a Macarthur Road on Route 100.

“Upper and Lower Macungie are devastating the prime agricultural land that we have. I don’t care who I offend. It’s a quality of life issue. That’s what it’s boiling down to. The southern portion of Lehigh County is being destroyed,” he said.

In the end, the supervisors unanimously voted to both direct township staff to send a letter to Lower Macungie Township and set up the meeting Sentner described. That meeting would be held at the Upper Milford Township Building and be open to the public, although a date and time have yet to be determined.

In particular, a proposed Lower Macungie Township development project on a tract of land on Route 100 next to Allen Organ was of concern to both the supervisors and residents last night. If completed, that project could result in a supermarket, gas stations and 100 townhomes, according to Sentner, who expressed particular concern about the strain such development will put on East Penn School District.

Ron Beitler January 18, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Repairing our relationship with our neighbors is important to me and a part of my platform. The fact remains, LMT failed to amend the southwest comprehensive plan when they moved forward in negotiating the industrial compromise on the Jaindl property. Upper Milford is the most vocal, but others are upset as well. I've talked to many residents of Alburtis and Macungie over the past two years that are angry over LMT development decisions that have directly affected their quality of life. It's time LMT learns to play nicely with it's neighbors and commit to regional planning. All communities in the East Penn school district should be concerned with the nearly 1000 housing units currently in the development pipeline in various stages in the township. Enrollment issues will reach a critical mass in the school district and LMT development decisions are largely to blame. All East Penn taxpayers will have to shoulder the burden of major capital expenditures (such as 2nd high school) that will be needed to accomodate LMT. Are you willing to pay higher taxes to feed LMT's growth addiction? ronbeitler.com
Scott Bieber January 18, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Please, Upper Milford, if you are serious about trying to stop the jaindl rezoning in Lower Macungie, join the zoning appeal petition to the state supreme court. Writing an angry letter to Lower Macungie and organizing the other regional planning members to voice opposition to the Jaindl rezoning is meaningless unless you are willing to join the lawsuit. But at least it is good you have decided to publicly complain about and hopefully organize against Lower Macungie's continuing rezoning of land parcels for intense development along the Route 100 corridor.
Rob Hamill January 18, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Well said!!!
patty January 18, 2013 at 06:30 PM
good. someone stop the destruction of farmland. i live in lmt and cringe at the thought of more traffic and people. It used to be open and farmland and cornfields. not anymore. which is why i will be moving. soon.
Mark Spengler January 18, 2013 at 09:52 PM
It's not just citizens in Lower Mac. who are let down by these zoning change to develop land, it is our neighbors as well. During the zoning hearing board discussions it seemed like whenver the SW Plan was brought up (or any other plan) the lawyers for the developer a well as the twsp. would just dismiss the violation by reminding the audience that those plans are not binding. That may be so, but that in itself does not make it right.

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