LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. – The Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners continued, for a third time, a conditional use hearing on the proposed Lower Macungie Manor project Thursday night.
The hearing, which lasted one hour, produced a cliffhanger. Commissioners requested the project's developer, Abraham Atiyeh, answer questions about how the project has evolved since the South Whitehall Township portion was rejected Feb. 4.
Atiyeh was not in attendance Thursday night, nor at the hearing's previous two installments, which occurred Jan. 7 and Jan. 21.
To remedy this, commissioners, township solicitor David Brooman and Atiyeh attorney Blake Marles reached an agreement to have the developer answer legislators' questions via affidavit.
"Commissioners want to have a better understanding of exactly what the use is," Brooman said in summarizing the commissioners' position.
Even though the agreement was reached, Commissioner Richard Ward asked Marles, "Is there a reason Mr. Atiyeh isn't testifying?" Ward added, "It might be helpful if we could get his thought process."
Thursday night's hearing began with neighboring residents' cross-examination of Richard Roseberry, the final Atiyeh witness called Jan. 21 when the hearing was continued.
Roseberry, a certified planner, then testified that senior assisted living projects were "essential facilities" and added they "promote the public welfare." He cited a self-composed report, which quoted various studies as evidence. Roseberry also said the project would not have a significant impact on traffic in the surrounding community.
Those same residents were then granted the chance to make statements. Their objections were articulated variously but essentially concluded that, at best, Atiyeh's plan is neither complimentary nor compatible to the neighborhood, and at worst, poses traffic, safety and stormwater challenges.
Atiyeh, who owns the Manors of the Valley, had originally crafted a plan to build a life care complex on about 19 acres in Lower Macungie and South Whitehall. Most of the project, 15 acres, is in Lower Macungie. The plan features four buildings, including the now rejected memory-care facility in South Whitehall; 172 total housing units over two, three-story buildings in Lower Macungie; and a 5,400-foot clubhouse encompassing both townships.
The site, formally at 900 S. Hillview Road, is located off Hillview Road and Kressler Road and rests along Interstate 78.
Last Nov. 10, the township's planning commission recommended approval of the project with 21 different conditions.