Traffic issues dominated the conversation when planners from Emmaus, Upper Milford Township and Lower Macungie Township in Lehigh County met with developers of the proposed 218-home Fields at Indian Creek project Monday night.
While the meeting was called to discuss a proposed emergency access road for police, fire trucks and ambulances off Chestnut Street in Emmaus, the underlying issue was the development’s impact on traffic throughout that area.
The age 55-and-older development is proposed on 72 acres of a former golf course in all three municipalities.
It will be surrounded by Chestnut Street, Cedar Crest Boulevard, Indian Creek Road and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Matthew Hunter, chairman of Upper Milford’s planning commission, said he wanted to confine the conversation to emergency access to the site, but that didn’t happen.
The discussion included the developer’s plans to install traffic signals at Chestnut and Allen streets; traffic problems at the intersection of Indian Creek Road/Indian Falls Road and Cedar Crest Boulevard, and even whether the proposed emergency access road should become a main entrance into the development.
While the developer intends for residents of Fields of Indian Creek to walk along that emergency access road to reach nearby shops in Emmaus, a member of the Emmaus Planning Commission noted that will only give them access to shops on one side of Chestnut Street.
During the meeting, it was announced that Upper Milford Township is asking the state Department of Transportation to prohibit people on Indian Falls Road from turning north onto Cedar Crest Boulevard.
And Lower Macungie planning officials said the proposed development will have no benefit to their township, but will only put more traffic on its roads.
Only a small section of the Fields at Indian Creek is in Lower Macungie and none of its homes will be in that township.
The largest chunk of the property is in Upper Milford, which is why the township’s planning commission hosted the unusual meeting.
Members of the Emmaus Planning Commission attended, as did the chairman of Lower Macungie’s planning commission and that township’s planning director.
Several people who live nearby complained that Fields at Indian Creek will add to already-growing traffic congestion in the area.
“We can’t make one developer responsible for all these regional problems,” said Hunter.
“We’re trying to come up with the best traffic solution we possibly can,” said developer Rick Koze, who owns Kay Builders.
Hunter reminded residents that the proposed development “is a permitted use by right” and, based on sketch plans, it coincides with Upper Milford’s ordinance.
Koze came to the meeting looking for consensus from the planning commissions on traffic and access road issues.
“Those are the two issues we’ve noticed perhaps a disagreement among the municipalities,” explained Atty. John Hacker, Koze’s lawyer.
Koze wanted to make sure all the parties share the same opinion “so we can move forward.”
Last year, Koze expressed hope that he could begin building homes in Fields at Indian Creek this year. Now he hopes it can happen by the middle of next year.
The next steps in the process will be for him to present a preliminary plan to the three municipalities and to submit a traffic impact study to PennDOT.
Koze proposes an emergency access road into the development off Green Drive, behind the Auto Zone store along Chestnut Street in Emmaus.
The 15-foot-wide roadway would include a bridge over Leibert Creek and will be designed to be accessible even during a storm that comes along only once every 100 years, according to Koze.
Planners indicated they want that access road designed so it safe for pedestrians to walk along at the same time it is used by emergency vehicles.