Developers propose 3 new housing developments in Upper Macungie
UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. — Plans for three housing developments totaling nearly 500 units were considered Wednesday by the Upper Macungie Township Planning Commission.
Just one gained preliminary approval, and another drew opposition from neighbors.
- Planning commission members discussed almost 500 new housing units at their meeting Wednesday
- Dozens of residents voiced concerns about one of the three plans, Sunset Orchards. Residents said they worried it would cause increased traffic, flooding and road safety issues
- The other two developments were less controversial, though planners said they had safety concerns for a sketch plan of an apartment complex at 8739 Hamilton Blvd.
The proposals came from three separate applicants who want to put housing developments in different areas of the township. The 476 units include single-family homes, twin homes, townhouses and apartments.
The most controversial of the three would be called Sunset Orchards and located at Schantz and Ruppsville Road. The property used to be a tree farm, but now is unoccupied.
The developer wants to put 110 twin home units, which are similar to duplexes, and 106 townhome units on the property.
Dozens of residents from the neighborhood that would border the development attended the meeting to express concern about the impact it would have on traffic, stormwater drainage and road safety.
Other residents questioned how Parkland School District could handle the new students it would bring.
Public comment on the development issues lasted more than 90 minutes.
“I think that the consensus here is that the people that have been living here, paying taxes for decades, should be given consideration for their quality of life, instead of a company that happens to discover an unprotected piece of farmland that wants to cram 200-plus houses into an already overcrowded area.”Andy Snyder, township zoning hearing board member and neighbor of the proposed Sunset Orchards development
Andy Snyder, a township zoning hearing board member, spoke at the meeting as a resident of the nearby neighborhood.
“I think that the consensus here is that the people that have been living here, paying taxes for decades, should be given consideration for their quality of life,” Snyder said, “instead of a company that happens to discover an unprotected piece of farmland that wants to cram 200-plus houses into an already overcrowded area.”
Planning commission member Chris Walls said the developer will change its proposal now that it has received feedback from the board and residents. He also said that, as a resident of the nearby neighborhood, he does not like the current proposed plan.
“There's nothing about it I like,” Walls said. “It'll change, and when it changes we'll all be able to address it properly. Right now, it's in such infancy. We're looking at it, and we're just as dazed as you are.”
Township Director of Community Development Kal Sostarecz told the residents several times that if the proposal meets the zoning ordinances for the area, there is nothing the township can legally do to stop it from being developed.
Planning and Zoning Administrative Specialist John Toner said the proposed plan falls under a permitted use in the area.
Sostarecz said in an interview that he understands the residents’ concerns, and he will work within the confines of the law to address their concerns.
“We just want to make sure that the best possible development is put on the land that can be,” Sostarecz said.
The planning commission didn’t take action on the proposal Wednesday.
Residents can expect a revised proposal to come before the commission in the coming months, Sostarecz said.
The other two developments discussed at the meeting received less resident feedback.
The second proposal, known as Trexler Pointe, has plans to develop 128 townhome units near Route 100, and Weilers and Schafer Run roads in Breinigsville.
The developer already received preliminary final approval for the plan, but ran into issues with stormwater, so it submitted a new plan. The planning commission voted to give the plan preliminary approval.
Other developers presented a sketch plan for a development called Twin Ponds. It would include a daycare facility and 132 apartment units across 22 buildings at 8739 Hamilton Blvd.
“The kids will try and run across, and they'll try and jump the barrier. And then we're going to have another fatality. And we don't want any more of those. We have enough traffic fatalities in Upper Mac.”Paul McNemar, vice chair of the planning commission
Because it was only a sketch plan, the planning commission didn’t take action on it. But board members expressed concern for road safety if it were developed.
In particular, Vice Chairman Paul McNemar said he worried children might try to run across the four-lane road to nearby Earl Adams Memorial Park.
“The kids will try and run across, and they'll try and jump the barrier,” McNemar said. “And then we're going to have another fatality. And we don't want any more of those. We have enough traffic fatalities in Upper Mac.”
Planners next meet Nov. 16. Sostarecz said it’s unlikely the Sunset Orchards development will be on the agenda for that meeting.