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The story behind the Jaindl-Lower Macungie settlement

After nearly three years, litigation involving my proposed mixed-use development known as Spring Creek Properties in Lower Macungie Township has been resolved. I initiated this settlement for two reasons – out of respect for the good faith efforts of the current township commissioners and in response to the input of several of the project’s neighbors.

Based on four consecutive legal decisions in our favor – at the municipal, county and state levels – I was in a position to conclusively end all existing litigation in my favor, without any discussion with the appellants. Instead, together with the township and the appellants, we worked to create a settlement agreement.

In response to the township commissioners’ request for consideration of alternatives, I proposed Plan B, which, while a less rewarding business plan, nevertheless provides several enhancements in deference to community concerns. It was the leadership of the current Township Commissioners that kept Plan B alive.

Plan B enhancements include:

• A reduction in the overall density of development, which will correspond to a significant reduction in new traffic generated.

• A reduction by more than half of the number of proposed homes from nearly 900 to 400.

• Conversion from public ownership to private ownership of approximately one mile of new road creation, which will virtually eliminate the township’s legacy costs of maintenance and repair in the future.

• Supplementing the original landscape plan with additional berming and landscaping to reduce noise and increase visual appeal.

• Increasing the amount of preserved land from 123 acres as originally proposed to approximately 160 acres.

• Relocation of the 78.5-acre new recreation area to a location more convenient for public access.

• A site for a future community fire station.

In support of Plan B, Jaindl Land Company will be installing approximately $15 million in infrastructure improvements, much of which will benefit not only the development but also the community.

All of these improvements will be paid for by our land company. Not one cent will be derived from state grants or redirection of tax funds from Harrisburg.

The settlement of this litigation and my advancement of Spring Creek Properties bring to a close a chapter of zoning turbulence which began in 1988 with the township’s removal of residential and industrial land uses from these properties.

At that time, my father Fred and I felt the township’s actions were grossly unfair – not to mention the economic devaluation the down-zoning represented – and hoped that clearer thinking would one day prevail.

Nevertheless, and against my persistent objection over a number of months, in 2009 the former township board of commissioners moved to strip the remaining legitimate land uses from my property through a municipal curative amendment process.

I was left with no choice but to file for one of the few remaining and economically viable land uses then available to me – a quarry. By filing the quarry plan, I intended to retain some of the land value and to do so by partnering with an established quarry operator.

Subsequent discussion with the township led to the reversal of my quarry plans and the adoption of the new zoning plan upon which Spring Creek Properties will be developed.

Moving forward, today’s vision of the project includes not only various residential, corporate, industrial and commercial uses, but also a significant commitment—almost one-third—of land dedicated to recreation and open space. A majority of the development will expand the tax base to the benefit of local government and East Penn School District and will generate much-needed new employment opportunities as well.

Throughout the course of these three years, public response to our project has been overwhelmingly positive. The prospect of new tax revenue, new construction jobs and new permanent employment opportunities with Fortune 100 employers all resonates with a growing Lehigh Valley eager to secure a bright economic future and to expand both employment opportunities and open space.

We are proud to be a part of the Valley’s momentum and appreciate the support of so many as we move forward to accomplish our plan.

David Jaindl is owner of Jaindl Land Company, a leading Lehigh Valley land developer of residential, commercial and industrial properties. (The above first appeared in the Morning Call.)

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