A group of about a half dozen Lehigh Township residents showed up at the April 24 Lehigh Township supervisors meeting to express concern and anger about an ongoing project in the township. Ultimately, the Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors voted 3 – 1 to deny the Northwoods Major Subdivision project from moving forward with an extension for a plan approval until July 31, mostly because of stormwater drainage and runoff issues. Supervisor Phil Gogel was the only no vote because he said he would like to give the developers an extension and a chance to rectify the problems with the development plan. “The neighbors should meet with [the developer] and discuss your problems now. Meet with him and get it resolved. Don’t let it eat at you for 14 years,” Gogel said.
Dave Lear, of Lehigh Engineering Associates and one of the engineers charged with planning the development for Lurrs and Nikki Inc., was in attendance at the meeting and repeatedly apologized to the residents and the board. Some of the points of contention were the fact that the planning stage for 196-home development has been ongoing for more than 14 years and poor communication between the planners and the people who own property adjacent to the proposed project. “We aren’t trying to put anything over on the property owners,” Lear said.
Chairman Daryl Snover was concerned with the plight of the residents, saying that the conditions for approval have not been met even after all of this time. “What the heck have you been doing for 14 years?” he asked Lear who again apologized and implored the board to give them more time. “We insist on clean plans coming forward. All conditions must be met,” Snover continued. Vice Chairman Cindy Miller was also strongly opposed to approving the extension, being the only no vote when it was presented to the planning commission earlier in the week.
Throughout the meeting the neighbors continually said that they didn’t trust the engineers or their plan. They said that the last development in the township that Lurrs and Nikki, Inc. built, Heritage Village, resulted in unresolved water issues and were concerned that Northwoods would be more of the same. Trevor Jones, a township resident who lives near the proposed development is worried about where the redirected stormwater would end up, because he is “downstream.” The supervisors held an informal poll with the gathered public and all of the neighbors present encouraged the board to vote no.
The developers will be able to resubmit the plan again at a later date.
The next Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be May 22 at 7 p.m.