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Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council
January 7, 2015
Attendees: Present were Council members Jack Gambino, Lynn Rothman, Mike Topping and George Yasko.
Approval of December Minutes: Moved by Jack; seconded by Lynn; approved.
Announcements: Mike reported that Mark Demko from Steelstacks.org who is also an outdoor writer for the Express Times is promoting a “STEP OUTDOORS Lehigh Valley” event, which will be held at SteelStacks on the South Side on May 30-31. This will include various outdoor activities and partners including archery, hiking, birding, and fishing etc. presented by Jacobsburg Historical Society, Trout Unlimited and Wildlands Conservancy among others. He also reminded everyone that the annual Shad Banquet will be held at Se-Wy-Co on January 31.
Sub Committee Reports:
Energy: George had distributed copies of the proposed solar ordinance for review. The EAC reviewed the following proposed regulations: Section 1318.29.B.5. ”Where a strict provision of the zoning ordinance may prohibit adequate Solar Access without Major loss of Efficiency,”…was considered a confusing statement but after much discussion was left alone. B.8. Restricted solar devices on low slope roofs and was considered inappropriate because it would disqualify all such buildings from having solar devices. This type of restriction should be left to the Historic & Architecture Review Boards, when such devices are proposed in a Historic District. George will research if we had previously commented on this proposed regulation. B.10 referred to “the code official” when it should be only the City Building Inspector that rules on such certification standards. Also discussed was the height allowed for solar collection devices above signs and the placement of such devices above vehicle parking areas.
Green: They will hold their first meeting for 2015 in February.
Transportation: We need a member to become involved with this committee.
External Committee Reports:
Zoning: See Planning
Planning: At their January 8th meeting, they will discuss the solar ordinance and a 75% lot coverage proposal for the RR and RS Zoning Districts.
The 75% lot coverage proposal introduces the concept of lot coverage as a new regulation over and above building coverage on RS & RR lots. RR lots have a minimum size of 15,000 sq. ft. and can be much larger. 75% impervious coverage of such lots seems like a lot of coverage and the EAC wondered what rational was used to arrive at that amount. On smaller lots (RS requires 8,000 sq. ft., RG requires 6,500 sq. ft. and RT requires 4,000 sq. ft.) 75% may be a reasonable restriction, but on large lots such a restriction seems meaningless and could encourage excessive lot coverage. Excessive lot coverage means more runoff and less landscaping on the lot. At the least, the members agreed this regulation should be reviewed by the EAC prior to any action by the Planning Commission or City Council. Although both have other commitments, George and Lynn will try to make this meeting.
City Council: Lynn noted there was nothing new of interest to the EAC to report.
City Council Coverage Schedule: George will email everyone a proposed schedule.
Filling the open seats on the EAC: Presently, we need two additional members. George will compose a letter to City Council indicating our recommendation to return to the previous makeup of the EAC without a member of City Council. He also will ask for a budget amount to cover advertising for new members as well as other matters. Lynn noted that much of the information on the EAC Webpage is obsolete - membership, meeting locations, by-laws, etc. is incorrect. Meanwhile, she has tried to contact the area high schools to get their environmental clubs involved with the EAC and George has contacted Lehigh & Moravian College to see if some of their students might become involved.
Next Meeting: George will find out if our next meeting will be held at the Fox Environmental Center, City Hall or the DAR House.
Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:45 PM.