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January 8, 2014
Attendees: Present were Council members Fran Cundall, Anne Felker, Jack Gambino, Mike Topping and George Yasko.
Approval of Minutes (December and July): Anne moved approval of the December minutes as corrected by Fran and George; seconded by Jack; approved. Anne then moved approval of the July minutes as drafted by Tracy Oscavich; seconded by Jack; approved.
Sub Committee Reports:
Energy: George reported that solar ordinances are available on the Google site and Jack reported that Planning Director, Darlene Heller, had answered his request for information and indicated the sections in the zoning ordinance where wind and solar regulations are discussed. He distributed copies of the City Zoning Ord., where solar and wind regulations are mentioned, as well as ordinances from Allentown, Easton, Cumberland County and the Columbia University Center for Climate Change Law. Some of the topics covered concern glare, height restrictions, coverage, setbacks, aesthetics, the effects of direct sunlight and the legal implications of its loss for a solar installation and how to decommission such uses when they are no longer in use. He recommended that the EAC read these ordinances, especially the one from Easton, so that we could discuss them at future meetings. There followed a discussion concerning the aesthetics of solar panels and their use especially in historic districts. Everyone agreed that there could be conflicts between the promotion of solar use and the need to preserve the appearance of properties in the Historic Districts of Bethlehem. Mike recommended that the EAC concentrate on the promotion of solar use and, subject to standard city wide zoning regulations concerning setbacks, height restrictions, etc., allow the City Historic Boards to concentrate on the appropriateness of if, when and where they are acceptable in the City’s Historic Districts. Meanwhile Jack and George will try to develop recommendations for future discussion by the EAC. George noted that small spiral shaped wind turbines are now available and Jack noted that one of the distributed ordinances drafted by Columbia University was a Model Municipal Wind Siting Ordinance.
Green: They are sponsoring a workshop on native trees at the Ice House on February 11th at 7 PM. The workshop will include discussions on planting, care and maintenance of trees. They are also in the process of putting together a talk at the City Library and are working with City Forester, Cindy Smith, in developing an Arbor Day program. She noted that Bethlehem is one of 4 or 5 communities that will be described in the National Wildlife Magazine. As a city, Bethlehem is one of the largest, if not the largest, municipality to be a certified wildlife habitat community in the country. The magazine article is scheduled to include photos of urban wildlife habitat locations in the City. Later, in July, the annual garden contest will be held.
Transportation: Anne reported that the CTAC (Citizens Traffic Advisory Committee) is now meeting again on the first Thursday of the month.
External Committee Reports:
Zoning: No report.
Planning: No report.
City Council: Jack reported that Bill #43 – 2013, which proposed to amend the makeup of the EAC by adding a member of City Council to the EAC and designated that City Council shall have the authority to chose the chairperson of the EAC, was approved. During discussion, Karen Dolan proposed that the chairperson could not be a member of City Council and this was added to and approved as part of the amendment. Also, the reference to retaining a Planning Commission liaison, which had been supported by Karen at our December meeting, was removed from the original ordinance. Jack stated that there was no discussion concerning the idea of a city planning liaison at the Council meeting.
Meeting Location: Anne recommended that we move our meetings back to City Hall.
EAC Goals: George began a review of goals for the EAC. This could include a map of illegal dumping sites in the City and a street tree survey, as well as the items mentioned in the Energy and Green reports. George thought that Lehigh students might be able to help the City in mapping this information once it is collected. There followed a long and involved discussion on the possibilities of using I phones, GPS and cameras to obtain and process this information.
Chair Recommendation to City Council: As new members of the EAC, George recommended either Jack or Tracy for this position. He felt that someone new could help stimulate renewed interest and ideas for the EAC. As a new mother, Tracy has not been to a meeting since July, and therefore it was thought that the chair might be more than she could handle at this time. Everyone agreed that Jack would make a good chairman. Although Jack has acquired additional duties at Muhlenberg and indicated that he was not very familiar with the workings of city hall, he agreed to consider the position if offered. Meanwhile, George indicated that he would continue as chair as long as he was needed at that position.
Maze Garden Site: Dennis Benner will be invited to the next meeting to discuss his proposed development at the southwest corner of New and 3rd Streets.
Golf Course Runoff: Anne asked if anyone knew anything about the composition of the runoff from the golf course, which would ultimately reach the Monocacy Creek. George said he has probes in the Creek which measure conductivity, temperature, PH, and turbidity. He noted that these probes are located from above Bridle Path Road to Dewberry Avenue. He also noted that much of the Creek is buffered from the golf course by thick woods, but some areas may be vulnerable to the effects of runoff from the golf course. Jack indicated he would hike along the perimeter to see if any obvious runoff areas exist.
Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:30 PM.