Lehigh Valley Municipal Spotlight: Lower Macungie Township
By Andrew Kleiner on June 28, 2019
This article originally appeared in the May 9, 2019 issue of “LV Connections,” a quarterly newsletter LVEDC distributes to municipal officials in the Lehigh Valley.
Last summer, as LVEDC embarked on a journey across all 62 municipalities in the Lehigh Valley, LVEDC said that we wanted to hear from you. We wanted to understand what projects you are working on, what your long-term municipal goals are – we want to hear about your infrastructure, your parks, your favorite places and your people.
We heard your stories, your successes, your challenges, and what goals you are working to achieve. In that spirit, we are proud to introduce a new feature of “Quarterly Connections”, The Municipal Spotlight. The purpose of this feature will be to spotlight local municipalities and talk about the local news that you have made possible.
Our first featured municipality is Lower Macungie Township. Lower Macungie is in the process of a dynamic, comprehensive zoning update that looks to the future of community and economic development.
LVEDC worked with Lower Macungie Director of Planning/Community Development Sara Pandl and Assistant Planning Director Nathan Jones to provide the Q&A below which offers a window into what is happening in the township.
- What are your economic development goals for 2019?
Lower Macungie Township intends to continue to be part of the Lehigh Valley success story by attracting and retaining quality employers in our key industrial and commercial zones. Creating jobs that will allow our highly skilled and educated residents to live and work within the township is not only good for the regional economy, but sustainable for our township. The same goes for our vital commercial corridor Hamilton Boulevard, already a regional draw and soon to be home to First Commonwealth Credit Union’s headquarters and Air Products’ new world headquarters in neighboring Upper Macungie Township, we see the Boulevard as a regional employment, dining, service and recreation anchor that has even more potential to serve our residents and the region.
- Can you describe the overall objective for your recent zoning update?
The township has taken a three pronged approach to the rezoning effort, currently under deliberation with a planned Summer 2019 adoption. First, is to review and modernize the document to meet today’s needs and anticipate future land use issues by implementing sound planning principals across the board. Second, is to promote high quality development that adds value and is sustainable from land use planning, environmental and economic development standpoints. Third is to maintain the township’s premier quality of life standards as a desirable place to live, work and play. A key element to this has been examining and optimizing development, redevelopment and land use options on the Hamilton Boulevard Corridor, a key tenet to future land use visioning in the adopted Southwest Lehigh County Comprehensive Plan.
- How did Lower Macungie work to incorporate LVEDC’s target sectors in the Zoning Update?
After meeting and coordinating with LVEDC, we recognized that Lower Macungie Township is already home to many businesses in target sectors like high performance manufacturing, such as the Mack Trucks Lehigh Valley Operations Facility, where every Mack Truck in North America is made and Lutron Electronics, makers of countless lighting control systems and apparatus. Likewise, many high value business services and office operations are headquartered in Lower Macungie Township. With that, we looked to enhance existing zoning districts for uses that will continue to create jobs for the region. As proposed, everything from manufacturing, to medical offices, to headquarters or back office operations, to craft breweries or distilleries and even certain recreation and amusement uses are all now programmed for key areas of the Township.
- What sort of demographic changes are you noticing within your Township?
As the Lehigh Valley’s third largest and most populous community after the city of Allentown and city of Bethlehem, Lower Macungie Township continues to be an extremely desirable place to live and work. The township has the most educated workforce in the region and is expected to see further population growth in the coming years. Due to abundant parks, excellent schools and many other amenities, we see that the township continues to attract families from all walks of life.
- How do you feel the Lehigh Valley has changed in the last five years and where do you see Lower Macungie in our changing region?
The Lehigh Valley continues to attract new residents from many areas of the country and world, which in turn makes the region even more diverse and cosmopolitan. So many new businesses and restaurants reflect the new diversity of the region within a fabric that is distinctly historic and Pennsylvanian and it seems this trend will not subside any time soon. Lower Macungie Township is at the front lines of this shift, welcoming new residents and neighbors from all over the nation and world. The Township wants to continue to be a regional anchor community known for its high quality of life and distinct community character; embracing its historic and agricultural heritage while looking to new opportunities to serve existing residents and businesses as well as newcomers to the Lehigh Valley with services, commerce and employment.
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