The Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, July 11 at 7 p.m.
Brad Rock of Lehigh Engineering represented Daniel DiSanto of 373 Riverview Dr., who was requesting approval of his lot line adjustment plan, and Zachary Bittner, who was seeking an extension of time for plan approval on his minor subdivision plan. Both requests were granted. Extensions of time for plan approvals were also granted to representatives of the Riverview Self Storage project and to Dennis Moyer, who along with John Moyer is working on a lot consolidation and grading plan.
Stanley Gertner appealed to the board for a similar extension in order to give him time to research his plan’s next steps due to ongoing legal issues. Gertner’s plan involves a private “paper road,” he is trying to acquire. A paper road is a road that appears on maps but has not been built, generally occurring when city planners or subdivision developers lay out and dedicate roads that are never built. Gertner has located the heirs of the individual who designed the subdivision, and they have signed off on the plan, however his neighbor must also agree that no one owns the road in question and the neighbor is not conceding. Township Solicitor David Backenstoe recommended that the board grant at least two months of extension to give Gertner’s lawyer time to take action, and the board agreed.
Next the board heard from Joseph Zader, the legal representative for David Jaindl’s Lehigh Valley Resort & Spa project at the former Mary Immaculate Center, and Adam Jaindl. Zader commented that in 35 years of practicing law, he has “never experienced a project of this complexity.” He reported that Jaindl wishes to set the project in motion as soon as possible and has made good progress with permits and paperwork. The end result of the project is to be a high-end hotel and conference center. Zader noted that because of the building’s age, it is extremely “solidly built,” so altering the construction will take time. They requested a two-year extension of time for plan recording in order to make up for delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and also offered to attend board meetings regularly in order to keep the board updated on their progress.
Zader said the plan will need some small adjustments for items such as parking; the plan originally envisioned a parking lot, but is being changed to a parking deck. Board vice-chairman Cynthia Miller asked if these changes would need to be brought to the planning commission, but Jaindl did not think it would be necessary. Miller stated she had some concerns that after four years there is still no plan recorded, but acknowledged that it is an unusually complex project. She inquired as to where the project stands regarding water and sewage, to which Zader replied he feels they are in good standing. The board ultimately agreed to the extension, but stipulated that Zader or another representative should bring them updates every six months, and that any major changes must be brought to the planning commission.
Frank Zamadics of the public works department reported that June was busy and July is shaping up to be busier. Two more cross pipes need to be installed at Cottonwood Drive, but the recent rains have caused delays.
Police Chief Scott Fogel reported that the department’s digital sign board has been replaced after being struck by a car a few weeks ago. Background checks are in progress for six applicants for the vacant positions on the police force. One resident wondered how the scheduling is working with the force being down two officers; Fogel assured her that they are doing their best and relying on neighboring jurisdictions for backup when needed. Fogel promised that officers are always given at least eight hours of down time between shifts. In response to another resident’s inquiry about the unleashed dogs of a known neighbor, Fogel urged her to call the police any time the dogs are off of their property and he will personally look into the issue.
Miller reported that the planning commission is finalizing the wording on four ordinances and they will be added to the meeting agenda for board approval once they are ready. These include a proposed change to the medical marijuana ordinance and also an ordinance for recreational marijuana use, should the state move to legalize it.
Fire Commissioner Richard Hildebrand announced the fire company has received its third grant, which will allow them to acquire bailout bags, an apparatus that works with a harness to help firefighters escape deadly situations with greater ease. The firefighters had a meeting with the board members, and it was determined that the majority of residents are not paying for fire protection. A lengthy discussion was held regarding a motion drafted by Miller, and it was agreed that a fire tax will be implemented beginning Jan. 1, 2024; the board will determine the specifications at a later date. The township will be providing $614,968 to purchase the chassis of a new fire truck so that it can be ordered at a discount. Residents will be urged to donate what they can toward the purchase. A “thermometer” sign will be erected at the fire company to show how the community is progressing toward the purchase. The board pledged that they will, at a minimum, provide $1.5 million to help buy the new truck.
Groundbreaking for the township maintenance building was announced for Monday, July 17, however there was not enough time to plan a ceremony. It was clarified that the architectural company overseeing the project will be comparing bills to specs as part of their service.
Township Manager Alice Rehrig informed the board that the used police Charger was listed for sale and garnered a great deal of interest. The winning bid was $4,050. The DEP has given the township an award of money to be used for security upgrades, and Rehrig hopes to add some security requests to the next meeting’s agenda.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 25 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building, located at 1069 Municipal Rd.