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Many L. Macungie residents oppose approved plan to develop farmland

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 04 2012 04:06:01 PM CDT
Updated On: May 04 2012 04:15:02 PM CDT

A controversial plan to split up nearly 600 acres of farmland in Lower Macungie Twp., Lehigh Co., got the green light Thursday.

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

A controversial plan to split up nearly 600 acres of farmland in Lower Macungie Twp., Lehigh Co., got the green light Thursday. The vote came under fire from a large and hostile crowd.

It was a standing room only meeting, and during the two hours the plan was discussed, nearly 20 residents stood up to weigh in. Still, they couldn't convince the commissioners to vote the subdivision down.

They called it "cleaning up another board's mess," but board of commissioners voted unanimously to approve Spring Creek Properties subdivision 1.

What happened prior to the vote, however, was the real drama of the night.

"If people don't want this development to occur and they want all this farmland and don't want the development, I suggest moving to Montana or Bradford County," said one person at the meeting.

Most people packed into the room didn't share his opinion, and the comment was met by boos and grumbling, while almost everyone speaking out against the project was applauded.

Residents voiced concerns about everything from truck traffic to tax burdens.

"I am personally concerned about the degradation to our environment, to the Little Lehigh Creek, to our water and to our air," said another person.

Some even said the plan review was not transparent.

"There's a saying that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and this has been a major failure since day one and it's gonna be a failure moving forward," one person said.

The commissioners said the decision was tough, but they weighed the needs of the residents and the developer. Plans have been under review since 2010.

"The planning commission has chewed on this issue for months and months and months," said Commissioner James Lancsek. "So nothing has been rushed through at this point."

Now that the site is approved to be divided, Jaindl Land Company can start selling the lots to be developed into homes, warehouses and businesses. which could take two decades.

"Certainly, we appreciate the comments coming from the public and particularly from the neighbors of the project," said David Jaindl after the vote. "Jaindl Land Company really prides itself on being a neighbor-friendly land developer."

A court case over zoning changes is still pending. If Jaindl loses the case, then this resolution will be void.