Catasauqua Press

Monday, September 16, 2019

Hanover approves joining regional comprehensive plan

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

At its meeting Aug. 21, township Manager Christopher Garges presented Hanover Township Council with a series of agreements that would allow the township to participate in the multimunicipal River Central Comprehensive Plan.

The regional approach was originally proposed by Garges in an effort to return planning and zoning to municipal residents. The comprehensive plan includes Hanover Township (Lehigh County), Catasauqua and North Catasauqua boroughs and East Allen Township.

It is worth noting that the municipalities span two different counties, which will add complexity to the end result.

Under the Municipal Planning Code, every municipality must allocate space for every possible business. The original intent was to ensure that a municipality did not discriminate against a particular type of business.

The regional planning process proposed by Garges is a workaround for the restrictions in the MPC. Essentially, the requirements in the MPC to have locations for any possible situation are spread across the municipalities in the regional planning group.

For example, since the requirement to have high-rise residential apartment buildings is met in Catasauqua and Hanover Township, they do not need to be included in North Catasauqua or East Allen Township. The result is that a high-rise apartment building proposed in North Catasauqua can be rejected because land planning has locations in Catasauqua that might be better suited for high-rise buildings.

Council passed the resolution unanimously. The committee tasked with developing the new plan meets the third Tuesday of every month and the meetings are open to the public. The process is expected to take more than a year, and the group will have input from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

In other action, the board was split on a bid for a new security access panel. Councilman Robert Heimbecker recommended a specific brand that would be compatible with the township’s existing security systems and employs modules permitting expansion as the existing systems become outmoded.

The lowest bidder is not an authorized distributor and does not have a factory warranty. The options were to accept the higher cost option with a factory warranty, rebid without a specific manufacturer or accept the lowest bid without a factory warranty.

Heimbecker recused himself from the voting process because his company was one of the bidders. Council could not reach a consensus on how to proceed. Members will meet in executive session to iron out the differences.