Lower Macungie grants extension for major project


LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. – The Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners approved a conditional use sketch plan for the redevelopment of ABE Doors.

The vote was 4-1 Thursday night, with Commissioner Brian Higgins dissenting.

The proposal for the property, located at 6776 Hamilton Blvd., involved a consolidation of three lots into one lot and the land development of a car wash and multiple retail stores with associated site improvements.

Specifically, the applicant plans to construct a 3,960-square-foot car wash building along with a 12,000-square-foot retail building on the south side of Hamilton Boulevard. The property is located in the township's Commercial Zoning District. However, several single family homes are directly behind the proposed changes on Ivy Drive.

On-site parking is proposed in the plan outlined by Ott Consulting engineers during Thursday night's hearing. The parking is proposed in front of the strip center. A total of 78 parking spaces are proposed, with four of them assigned for employees. In addition, another 27 parking spaces will be allocated for the retail center. Further, vacuum and queue lands were proposed in front of the car wash with additional parking provided along the sides of each building.

The plan includes two car wash lanes, upon exiting the car wash tunnel and 18 vacuums. Further, the plan provides "long stacking lanes." These lanes can provide waiting areas for vehicles in lieu of dedicated spaces. Designers said this should limit any intense queueing on the site. The number of stacking spaces proposed was 21.

The approval came with stipulations. First, commissioners were adamant in protecting the existing Sycamore trees on Hamilton Boulevard. The trees, they said, must stay and removal requires a variance. Commissioners also required significant buffering between the property and neighboring residents to marginalize noise and augment their privacy. A solid fence barrier will be required along the length of the car wash to protect neighbors from noise. In addition, lighting on the property must conform with the township's ordinances. This means that no lighting will be permitted at the rear of the site that could negatively impact abutting neighbors with ambient glare.

The proposed hours of the car wash's operations were from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, after complaints during the meeting from abutting neighbors, commissioners reduced that to 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

President Ronald W. Beitler was less than enamored with the project, but did support it.

"This isn't the best use for this site," he said. "But the fact is we have no reason to deny this. We would be sued if we did."

"I do have an issue with the car wash," Higgins said in voting "no."

More details will be required when the developer presents the required land development plans.