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March 5, 2014
Attendees: Present were Council members Fran Cundall, Karen Dolan, Jack Gambino, Mike Topping and George Yasko.
Approval of January Minutes (There was no meeting in February): Jack moved approval; seconded by Fran; approved.
Chair’s Comments: Tracy Oscavich has recently had a baby and has not been to a meeting since July. George will contact her to see if she wants to continue as a member of the EAC.
Board Comments: Karen noted that Lynn Rothman, a former employee
of the EPA, who is very active in volunteer work would like
to become a member of the EAC. Karen stated that she would
be an excellent addition to the EAC if her schedule would
permit. George noted that Guthrie Mitchell, who graduated
from Lehigh five years ago, was also interested and Jack recommended
Kalyna Procyk, a former environmental lawyer now on the staff
at Muhlenburg College, who has expressed interest in the EAC.
Mike told the members about House Bill 1576 & Senate Bill 1947, which propose to create an oversight committee to review the recommendations of the Fish & Boat and Game Commissions concerning threatened & endangered species. This would delay and possibly overrule the existing review process, which is based on the science created by the professional biologists and others on the staffs of these two agencies. He noted that most sportsmen and environmental organizations are opposed to these bills and that, if approved, many of the protections could be removed from these species, including their specific locations and habitat needs.
Mike reminded the members that the Game Commission is now selling native trees and shrubs from the Howard Nursery which are available online at www.pgc.state.pa.us or by calling 814-355-4434 between 7 AM and 3:30 PM Monday-Friday.
Sub Committee Reports:
Energy: Jack distributed sample solar and wind ordinances and discussed the common elements of each (especially solar). Some municipalities simply added the ordinance regulations to an existing section of their zoning ordinances (Allentown & Bethlehem) whereas Easton & Cumberland County created entirely new solar regulations with separate statements of purpose and comprehensive rules which seemed to cover all aspects of solar installation and use. Definitions; allowable locations (zoning districts); type of use classification; design & installation; setback, height, coverage & glare restrictions; solar access & easement requirements; decommissioning requirements and permit requirements were all addressed. Easton also included concerns for aesthetic compatibility with existing historic structures and areas. In general, Bethlehem restricts any installation in a Historic District, which can be seen from an adjoining street – there are no alleys in Bethlehem. However, Karen indicated that City Council has, on occasion, approved improvements, which could only be seen from a side street, which most people would think of as an alley. Jack & George will review the existing ordinances and recommend proposed regulations to the EAC for review at a later meeting. The EAC agreed that the proposed regulations should be placed in their own section of the Zoning Ordinance so that they could be easily found.
Green: They sponsored a workshop on native trees at the Ice House in February. An urban forester did a great job with discussions on planting, care and maintenance of trees and Fran said she learned a lot. Martha Christine did an interview on WDIY about Committee Activities and City Forester, Cindy Smith, is in the process of developing an Arbor Day program. She noted that Bethlehem received a grant for 100 trees and was described in an article, with a picture of the native plant meadow in the South Side Greenway, in the National Wildlife Magazine. Later, in July, the annual garden contest will be held.
Transportation: Anne wasn’t at the meeting. She will try to inform George of any new developments.
External Committee Reports:
Zoning: Karen noted that the proposed CRIZ regulations will affect what happens in the new developments proposed for the Southside, and that any proposed energy efficient or Leeds Regulations must be approved soon and be in place in order to be utilized for these projects. Karen indicated that it shouldn’t take more than three months to approve an ordinance promoting some type of energy efficient or Leeds regulations for the City.
Planning: No report.
City Council: Karen reported nothing new happened.
Correspondence: Ralph Carp had sent an email to the EAC describing the use of road salt in the City and how this could have an adverse effect on our City waterways. Elevated levels of sodium, potassium, calcium and nitrogen could result from our present usage and he recommended looking into how this might be alleviated.
a. George welcomed Karen as our newest member of the EAC.
b. After discussion, Karen moved to recommend to City Council to increase the number of EAC members from 7 to 9; seconded by Fran; approved. This would allow two new members to join the EAC.
c. George will plot out a GIS map that could be used to locate dumping sites in the City.
a. Bylaws Amendments:
a. Article IV. Membership - Replace existing section with the following: 2) The City Council shall select from among themselves one Council member who shall serve as a member of the EAC with full voting rights and privileges as any other member except they can not be the Chairperson of the EAC.
b. Article V. Meetings and Voting 1) – Monthly meetings. Regular meetings of the EAC shall be held at a location and time to be chosen at the December meeting for the following year.
c. 2) – Special meeting shall be held at the same location as the monthly meetings at such date and hour ….
d. 3) – Email notice of such …..
e. 5) – Add a new sentence as follows: “Voting may take place by email at the direction of the Chair. Such votes shall be repeated and recorded in the minutes of the EAC meeting immediately following an email vote.”
f. Article VI. Officers and Compensation 1) – City Council shall select the Chairman of the EAC. The Vice-Chair shall be selected by the EAC members at the first meeting of each calendar year. ….
g. Article VII. Duties of Environmental Advisory Council Members 4) – This section has been removed.
h. Article IX. Amendments – Remove (and requires three votes of the EAC.) From the end of the second sentence.
b. Road Salt: George noted that probes had been in the Monocacy to test for this kind of information, but they were removed just before Christmas. Karen noted that large piles of snow are now being placed on Sand Island and that all of the salts from that snow will drain directly into the Lehigh. This was stopped under a previous Administration but is now being done and she is sure that this practice is in violation of DEP rules. She and Gorge will research the rules concerning the placement of road snow near a stream and write a letter to the Administration advising them of our concerns.
c. Riparian Buffers: George will research previous letters concerning the need to protect riparian buffers and send a new letter to Representative Marcia Hahn. (See EAC letter to City Council dated: 11/7/12; Chesapeake Bay Foundation letter dated: 10/25/11; and MCWA letter dated: 10/31/11)
d. Meeting Location: George will send out an email asking the members to vote for their preferred location.
Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:45 PM.