Northampton Press

Friday, January 24, 2020

Standing room only

Thursday, March 3, 2016 by Elsa Kerschner in Local News

Supervisors have 90 days to decide on

The subject of Mary Immaculate Center produced a standing-room-only crowd at the Lehigh Township supervisors meeting Feb. 23.

David Jaindl wants to develop 280 acres of the Cherryville Road property. The remainder will be open space, considered unusable due to such things as steep slopes and wetlands, according to the developer.

A petition had been passed to neighbors within 1-1/2 miles of the property. More than 222 names were collected in opposition to the amendments requested by Jaindl — a zoning change to a Planned Residential Resort Community designation and changes to the subdivision and land development ordinance and to the stormwater ordinance — said Solicitor David Backenstoe.

The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission wants Lehigh Township to retain its rural use as it was designated in the comprehensive plan. In fact, many of the residents in attendance said they moved to that area because of its rural setting.

The LVPC wants one-acre lots to discourage public water and sewer.

Engineer Phil Malitsch had done a comparison between the present use of the land and what is proposed. The changes affect greater density and a change in lot size and will require public water and sewer.

No land disturbance is permitted on slopes above 30 percent.

Jaindl’s attorney, Joseph Zehner, said the current proposal is no longer what was first presented, having been changed to meet requests. He said Jaindl is in a unique position to make something special on that property. Other people interested in the property have not agreed to restore the historic seminary building.

The land is going to be developed, Zehner said, and he thinks Jaindl has the best plan. There will be 500 single-family homes and some senior housing as well as commercial development. There are proposals for use of the seminary.

The person who presented the petition to the supervisors said people did not want the zoning change because of its impact on the community.

Several people said they thought the project would help decrease taxes, but it was also mentioned that each new home requires more tax money.

The Diocese, which pays $300,000 in taxes since the land is no longer used for religious purposes, has said the property will be sold. Few people have the resources Jaindl does to develop it.

A suggestion was made to allow residents to vote on the amendments, but that is not possible, said Supervisor Darryl Snover.

Concerns are centered around an effect on the water table and traffic.

Residents have been guaranteed by the developer that their water will not be affected because the water table has been measured.

A traffic impact study is being done, and some thought it should be completed before decisions are made. Jaindl agreed to meet any future impact fee increases.

A resident from Allen Township said with greater density, taxes go up. Jaindl does not intend to use many municipal services, which should prevent that, Zehner said.

A resident asked how a zoning change could take place without a plan. Snover said there could not be a plan until the developer knows what his plan is based on. He agreed there could be development based on the present zoning.

Supervisor Cindy Miller said other people were interested in the property, including one who wanted to tear down the seminary. Jaindl said his first project would be to protect the seminary.

Another suggestion from the audience was that Jaindl develop the residential area without any commercial uses.

The records from all past meetings have been transcribed into one document for review. The supervisors have 90 days to reach a decision.

Supervisor Keith Hantz suggested a vote be taken at the next supervisors meeting.