County commissioners debated whether they should hear the opinion of Lehigh Valley Planning Commission on Hamilton Crossings before they vote. LVPC is expected to make a recommendation on the project on May 30 – a week after they are scheduled to vote.
Commissioner Percy Dougherty, who serves on LVPC’s board, predicted LVPC probably will make a recommendation against Hamilton Crossings, on the grounds that the Route 222 bypass was not designed by the state Department of Transportation to handle additional traffic created by future development.
But Ron Eichenberg, chairman of the Lower Macungie commissioners, said the bypass was intended to open up areas of Lower and Upper Macungie townships for development.
Said Dougherty: “Instead of getting a full expressway, it became a bypass with traffic lights.”
Atty. Blake Marles, former Lower Macungie solicitor, said the bypass originally was envisioned to be like the Route 222 bypass around Kutztown. “Ultimately, PennDOT made the decision that this corridor was for urban development,” he said. “On that basis, Lower Macungie rezoned that whole corridor commercial.
Marles, who represents the developers, said it boggles his mind that LVPC now is suggesting “this corridor isn’t suited for this development.”
Marles said LVPC’s recommendation will go to PennDOT and Lower Macungie. Fosselman noted it does not go to the county or school district.
Added Fosselman: “Regardless of what the planning commission says, the project doesn’t get done unless PennDOT approves it.”
Commissioner David Jones said if PennDOT approves the project, that overrides any recommendations from LVPC.
Mazziotti wondered why LVPC and PennDOT can’t come to an agreement regarding Hamilton Crossings.
Harrison said he and Lower Macungie officials will meet with LVPC’s staff on May 14. “We’re hoping to have a chance to change their minds,” said the developer.