“I’m glad to see so many people here this evening showing their civic responsibility,” said Eichenberg. “However, I wish you would have been here in September.”

Eichenberg may have discouraged some people from speaking because he asked everyone who stood to address the commissioners if they had read the budget.

One resident said people can’t always make meetings because they have to work. Fosselman said the 2014 budget is online and asked if it’s fair for residents to criticize township officials for the tax plan if they have not looked at the budget.

Lancsek said 95 percent of the people living in the township “don’t even know where their tax dollars are going. They don’t know the difference between the county, the school district and the township, and who’s getting what.”

Resident and former township commissioner Joseph Pugliese argued the overdevelopment of Lower Macungie is what caused East Penn School District to expand and significantly raise its property tax. “Property taxes, irrespective of where they’re coming from, have gotten to be a very large burden on residents.”

Kratzer Farm subdivided

In another hotly debated issue, commissioners voted 3-2 to subdivide a small part of the 30-acre Kratzer Farm property that Lower Macungie owns at 1966 Willow Lane.

Just over one acre of the property, containing a ranch-style house near Little Lehigh Creek, will be split off and sold. The township hopes to get $255,000 for it. The rest of the property, which includes a stone barn and a pond, will remain township-owned open space. The township also will retain ownership of the driveway to the house.

On that issue, Eichenberg, Lancsek and Reis voted yes, while Conrad and Brown voted no.

Brown said the township’s new comprehensive recreation, park and open space plan recommends the subdivision not be approved. “For that reason, I will be voting against this plan.”

Township planning director Sara Pandl said that comprehensive plan, which is still in draft form, recommends a master site plan be done on development of the Kratzer Farm property before any action is taken to subdivide it.

Added Brown: “You need a plan for Kratzer Farm, how you’re going to develop it, before you subdivide it.”

Speaking on behalf of the five members of the township’s parks and recreation board, resident Julie McDonnell also objected to subdividing the property: “We don’t believe putting a private residence practically in the middle of a big piece of public property makes sense.”

Pandl said members of the township planning commission recommended to commissioners that they also would prefer the property not be subdivided, but asked for conditions if commissioners decided to approve the subdivision. One was that the 1.1-acre lot not be further subdivided. Another was that the house will not be used for any commercial purposes.

Road issues

* Township engineer William Erdman reported that in the spring, the state Department of Transportation will complete repaving the Brookside Road Bridge over Little Lehigh Creek just north of the Princeton Road intersection.

“For those who drive that road and feel it is a rough surface, it is not complete,” explained the engineer. “They did not have the time to finish that bridge before the onset of cold weather. It will get a surface coat in the spring.”

Temporary traffic lights were operating at opposite ends of that bridge while it was being repaired from July until November.

* Township Solicitor Richard Somach told commissioners that for more than 40 years, Lower Macungie has planned to extend Sauerkraut Lane west of Route 100.

Sauerkraut finally will be extended from Route 100 to Spring Creek Road as part of Jaindl’s 608-acre Spring Creek subdivision.

Somach said about four properties along Quarry Road west of Route 100 may have land that is needed for “right-of-way purposes.” But he added one property may end up getting additional land, which no longer will be needed for roadway.

Somach said several of the owners already are aware that some of their property will be needed for the road’s right-of-way. “Some will be very minimal; some slightly more than minimal,” he said.

In the next several weeks the township solicitor and engineer will investigate specific parcels needed for right-of-way, determine “just compensation” for those parcels and then approach owners to get deeds, rather than going through legal condemnation proceedings.

* The township plans to erect signs to stop large trucks traveling south on Gehman Road from going beyond Scenic View Drive up to Mountain Road. Erdman said those signs will target trucks that are more than 40 feet long. The commissioners directed the township solicitor to draft an ordinance to authorize those signs.

* Commissioners voted to advertise ordinances to put a three-way stop sign at Riverbend Road and Orchid Place and to reduce the weight limit on the Wild Cherry Lane Bridge to 21 tons, which is being required by PennDOT.