New police officers Collin Haupt (left) and Richard Houser Jr. (right) were given the oath of office by Judge Robert Hawke.

The Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, June 11 began with the swearing-in of two new officers for the township police department. Collin Haupt and Richard Houser Jr. are the first police academy graduates to have been sponsored by the township. Police Chief Scott Fogel introduced them to the board and those in attendance. Judge Robert Hawke administered the oath of office, and members of the new officers’ families were invited to step forward and pin their badges on them. 

Next the board heard from Timothy Pitts, who submitted his final lot development plan for their approval. He stated that with the assistance of Township Engineer Michael Muffley, the plan has received all necessary permits and he has made adjustments recommended by the engineer; they are only waiting on a few minor details to be finalized. The board agreed to approve the plan for lot development, conditional to those final details being completed.

Board member Cynthia Miller thanked Muffley for his email regarding two bills related to local zoning. These bills, HB1976 and HB2045, are currently on the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and must pass the House three times in order to be sent to the Senate. The legislation in question would allow for the development of high-density housing in areas which had previously been zoned for single-family dwellings. Miller urges residents to contact Zach Mako’s office and make their views on the matter known, as she herself has done; a copy of her letter may be read on the township website, www.lehightownship.com, with the May 28 meeting minutes.

Sandra Hopkins reported that the recreation board’s joint basket raffle with Furry Feet Rescue, held on June 9, was well attended. 

Public Works Director Frank Zamadics said that the department is at work on the road list for their bituminous paving project.

Zoning Officer Elizabeth Amato reported 19 new complaints and 45 new permit applications for the month of May. Muffley and Township Solicitor David Backenstoe will join Amato in reviewing an application for a cell tower. 

Police Chief Scott Fogel is seeking a draft ordinance for speed reduction on part of Mulberry Drive. The area is residential and should have a limit of 25 mph. The speed study which was originally planned for the area has been deemed infeasible. He said there have been no crashes in the area, but many near misses. The board agreed to change the ordinance and make the speed limit for Mulberry Drive 25 mph between Long Lane Road and Laurel Drive, provided the township’s traffic engineer approves.

Fogel also reported that the department is working on plans for National Night Out in August. This year’s event will have a western theme and will feature mechanical bull rides.

In other news, July 9 will be the retirement date for Matthew Enstrom, the township’s detective, and the police department plans to celebrate him with a parade and sirens around 5 p.m. 

Fire Commissioner Richard Hildebrand announced that the tanker truck has been taken in to have the transmission replaced, which will take six to eight weeks. The firefighters have a number of community events in the near future which are outlined on their social media. The police thanked the firefighters for all of their assistance with the traffic crashes of the last several weeks.

A discussion was held about the planning commission’s recreational marijuana ordinance, which has been drafted as a “trigger ordinance,” conditional upon state legislation. Backenstoe explained that if Pennsylvania legalizes recreational marijuana use, only then will the ordinance become active. He said that this proactive measure will allow the township to regulate where cannabis products can be grown, manufactured, sold and consumed from the moment such a state law would be enacted. The ordinance does not allow the use of recreational marijuana until and unless it has been permitted by the state legislature. Township Manager Alice Rehrig was authorized to send the proposed ordinance to both the Lehigh Township Planning Commission and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for review, and also to advertise the ordinance for adoption. She was further authorized to do likewise with a proposed ordinance regarding parking for medical marijuana facilities. 

In other news, Rehrig reported that the property at 450 Walnut Dr. has finally been transferred and the township should be able to recover its past losses. All of Rehrig’s payment requests have been approved and the funds should be received within four to six weeks.

The board authorized writing a draft ordinance concerning a request for an interim zoning change at the Merkle property. The estate of Elsie Merkle will absorb all costs related to drafting the ordinance, and sending it to the township and regional planning commissions for approval.

Backenstoe has prepared a draft lease for the farm at Delps Park. The terms of the lease are for one year but can be extended, and he recommended receiving payment in one lump sum rather than monthly. The township must provide the tenant with at least one year’s notice of any intent to sell the property. The board agreed to put the lease out for bid.

The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 in the municipal building, located at 1069 Municipal Rd., Walnutport.

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