The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
May 7, 2002 Meeting MinutesBETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING ARTICLE 1739 ENTITLED REGULATED RENTAL UNIT OCCUPANCY.Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 15 - 2002 was declared passed on First Reading 11. RESOLUTIONS A. Authorizing Grant Application - Communities of Opportunity Program - South Side Business District Improvements Ms. Szabo and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 13,805 which authorized the filing of an application for proposal for funds in the amount of $150,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development under the Communities of Opportunity Program for South Side Business District improvements. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed. B. Authorizing Grant Application - Communities of Opportunity Program - Lehigh University Parking Garage - Morton Street Ms. Szabo and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 13,806 which authorized the filing of an application for proposal for funds in the amount of $1,500,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development under the Communities of Opportunity Program for Lehigh University's Parking Garage on Morton Street. Mr. Schweder inquired when the Communities of Opportunity Program (COOP) Grant for Lehigh University was discussed before Council. Tony Hanna, Director of Community Development, stating there was not a discussion with City Council about the Grant, affirmed this is the first time the matter is being brought before Council. Mr. Hanna explained that Lehigh University had a commitment from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for $3 million of funding, of which $1.5 million was received under a program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that Lehigh University could apply for directly. Mr. Hanna continued on to advise that Lehigh University had also dealt with the Commonwealth for an additional $1.5 million that was to be made available through the Communities of Opportunity Program for which only the City could apply. Mr. Hanna, stating that the request was made for the City to apply on behalf of Lehigh University, said the City agreed to act as the applicant on Lehigh University's behalf. Mr. Schweder, stressing he is not arguing the merits of the grant, pointed out that, since Mr. Hanna has confirmed that the matter has not been brought before City Council prior to this time, said he has a question about the procedure especially in view of the amount of the grant. Mr. Schweder queried whether the matter should not have been at least broached with City Council. Mr. Hanna, responding that Council will have an opportunity to discuss the matter, explained that the Resolution only allows the grant application to be filed which has been done. Mr. Hanna stated that, ultimately, when the contract is received from the State, there will be discussion at the Finance Committee to establish the line item for the grant funding. Mr. Schweder observed that the matter seems to have been before the Administration and Lehigh University for some time and yet is on Council's Agenda only tonight. Mr. Hanna, noting that is correct, advised that word was just received from the State that dollars were available to be applied for before the end of the State's fiscal year and consequently timing was of the essence. Acknowledging there were discussions with the State on the project for probably the last year, Mr. Hanna commented that it was unsure as to where the additional dollars would be found. Mr. Hanna restated that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made a commitment to Lehigh University directly for $3 million. There was $1.5 million in one program and the City was asked to apply on Lehigh University's behalf for the COOP program. Mr. Hanna highlighted the fact that the City is just passing through the funds on Lehigh University's behalf. Mr. Schweder inquired if the Resolution were to be tabled tonight would that action delay the process of applying for the grant. Mr. Hanna replied yes it would. Mr. Schweder, verifying he will not request that the Resolution be tabled, stated he thinks that the procedure is improper, and the matter should have been discussed with the Community Development Committee and with Council before it reached this step. Mr. Schweder said he would respectfully suggest that be done going forward. Mr. Delgrosso, agreeing it is a good project and beneficial for South Bethlehem and the City, remarked he finds it interesting that a non-profit institution can obtain $3 million in State grant funds to build a garage but the City had to obtain a Bond Issue in order to build the new garage at Main and North Streets and received no State funding. Mr. Delgrosso expressed that he congratulates Lehigh University for being able to obtain the funds. Mr. Hanna pointed out that Lehigh University agreed to invest about $27 million in their project known as Campus Square, and the grant was part of Lehigh's commitment. Mr. Hanna explained that the $3 million commitment in grant funding made by the State was an inducement for the project expenditure by Lehigh University for which a bond was floated. Mr. Hanna added that the leveraging was about 8 to 1 in terms of Commonwealth dollars. Ms. Szabo remarked it disturbs her that Mr. Hanna said the proposal was already filed with the DCED. Mr. Hanna affirmed that it has been filed because the State has already agreed to fund the project. Ms. Szabo expressed that Council's vote is useless in that the filing has already been done. Dana Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, explained that the process for accessing funding through various State programs is such that the City must file a Single Application for Funding Assistance, an on-line website-based application that is directly transmitted to the Commonwealth. However, when the document is submitted, Mr. Grubb advised there "are still a lot of strings that have to be tied up afterwards". Mr. Grubb continued on to explain once the application is reviewed and a funding determination is made, then the Commonwealth requests that the loose strings be tied up. Acknowledging it seems that the process is backwards, Mr. Grubb advised that one of the loose strings in this case is a Resolution in support of the application but that is only after the State has indicated there is a probability of getting funding. Mr. Grubb expressed his agreement that it does not make sense that the application for funding is submitted and then Council is requested to adopt the authorizing Resolution but that is the way the State handles this type of grant. Ms. Szabo asked what would be the procedure if Council would say no to the Resolution. Mr. Grubb advised it could possibly delay or potentially reject the offer of the funding because the Resolution is required in order to complete the application process. Mr. Schweder, with reference to Mr. Hanna's comments, said no one wants to vote down the $1.5 million but the concern is procedurally there is frustration that this is not the first example of the way in which things are occurring. At the very least, Mr. Schweder stressed, it would have been helpful to Council had this been discussed either informally or formally with the Committee. Mr. Grubb indicated that the Department will certainly endeavor to do so and meetings can be scheduled for informational purposes. Mrs. Belinski questioned why the City has to be the go between, and why the City cannot use the $1.5 million to improve areas of the South Side. Mr. Hanna, replying that the money is allocated for Lehigh University, advised that the funding program is not unlike the dollars being made available for the Forte Building. Mr. Hanna highlighted the fact that the money is not available to the City and the City cannot use the $1.5 million for anything other than the Lehigh University garage because the grant is tied specifically to the University's investment of $25 million. Mr. Hanna pointed out it just happens to be a procedural item which has to pass through the City. Mrs. Belinski expressed she does not think that the $25 million Lehigh University project is very attractive for that gateway area. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed. C. Amending Rules of Council - Effective Date of Ordinances Mr. Delgrosso and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,807 that amended the Rules of Council to change the effective date of ordinances to 20 days after final passage by Council and approval by the Mayor, to be consistent with the provisions of the Optional Third Class City Charter Law as recommended by the City Solicitor, by deleting the current provision that Ordinances are effective 10 days after final passage by Council and approval by the Mayor. (The 10 day effective date provision had been incorporated in the Rules of Council in 1978 when Council readopted its rules under Resolution 8881.) Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed. D. Authorizing Grant Application - Communities of Opportunity Program - Forte Building Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 13,808 which authorized the filing of a proposal for funds in the amount of $200,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development under the Communities of Opportunity Program for the Forte Building being developed by the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley located at 1345 E. Fifth Street. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed. Motion - Considering Resolutions as a Group Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder moved that Resolutions 11 E through 11 H be considered as a group. Voting AYE on the motion: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed. E. Certificate of Appropriateness - 355 Broadway Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,809 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install an awning with a sign at 355 Broadway. F. Certificate of Appropriateness - 25 West Third Street Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,810 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install 4 signs at 25 West Third Street. Ms. Szabo, with reference to the proposal for a sign that would be painted on the West facing bricks on the upper part of the structure and have white background and black letters to read the Fowler Arts and Education Center, said on the West side of the building there is a big sign on a white background that reads Fowler Arts and Education Center. Ms. Szabo questioned is that the sign that is being referenced in the Certificate of Appropriateness or will there be another sign added. Mr. Hanna commented he believes the sign on the building is the same one that is referenced in the Certificate of Appropriateness. Ms. Szabo observed it would seem "they jumped the gun and put up the sign before they applied for it." Mr. Hanna, advising he cannot answer for that, stated he would check on the matter. Mr. Donchez, with reference to Ms. Szabo's remarks about concerns that have been raised in the past when building owners on Main Street have made installations prior to Council approval, recalled that about a year ago as President of Council he had sent a memorandum to the Historic Boards informing them that no action should be taken until City Council approves the proposals. Mrs. Belinski noted her recollection of the historic guidelines is that white backgrounds were to be discouraged. Mr. Hanna, noting there are different guidelines for the North and South Side historic districts, pointed out that the Historic Officer reviewed the request and concurred with the proposal. Mr. Hanna agreed to consult the file regarding the findings. G. Certificate of Appropriateness - 10 East Columbia Street Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,811 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to alter the exterior of the fa�ade of 10 East Columbia Street. H. Certificate of Appropriateness - 333 South New Street Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 13,812 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign at 333 South New Street. Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 E through 11H: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolutions passed. 12. NEW BUSINESS Rescheduling Second Meeting in May Mr. Donchez and Mr. Delgrosso moved to reschedule Council's second meeting in May from Tuesday, May 21, which is Primary Election Day, to Wednesday, May 22, 2002 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall. Voting AYE on the motion: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Delgrosso, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed. Sprinkler Plans Mr. Donchez requested an update on the requirement for submission of sprinkler plans for affected buildings. Kevin Moyzan, Fire Commissioner, advised there is one building, known as the Flat Iron Building, located at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway, for which sprinkler plans have not been submitted. Fire Commissioner Moyzan, confirming that citations have been issued, informed the Members that a hearing is expected to take place at the magistrate's office. Fire Commissioner Moyzan further informed Mr. Donchez that appeals have been filed. Proposed Offices at Broad and New Streets - Parking Spaces Mr. Donchez asked how many contract parking spaces are there at the Main and North Streets Parking Garage for the offices at Liberty Center and for the proposed offices at Broad and New Streets. Mayor Cunningham explained that people can pay a monthly contract parking rate at the Main and North Streets Parking Garage and at the Walnut Street Parking Garage. Other than the 80 contracted parking spaces as part of the commitments associated with building the Liberty Center and Main and North Streets Parking Garage, Mayor Cunningham advised that spaces are on a first come first served basis. Mayor Cunningham continued on to say there are roughly 350 monthly contract spaces sold, or about 50%, at the Main and North Streets Parking Garage. Consequently, when the developer of the proposed office building at Broad and New Streets asked whether there was availability if 200 employees wanted to buy monthly parking spaces, Mayor Cunningham affirmed there was. Mayor Cunningham further informed Mr. Donchez that although spaces cannot be reserved for businesses there is a lot of capacity left in the Main and North Streets Parking Garage. 13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on any subject) St. Joseph's Church - Sidewalk Replacement Joseph Bologitz, representing St. Joseph's Catholic Church, said he had spoken with Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, and Mr. Alkhal told Mr. Bologitz that the scheduled sidewalk replacement in the vicinity of E. Fifth Street will not interfere with the Church's activities for which Mr. Bologitz expressed his appreciation. Community Assets - Vicinity of City of Bethlehem and Lower Saucon Township Jim Brown, 1613 Creek Road, advising that he made a list of the assets in the vicinity of the City of Bethlehem and Lower Saucon Township, distributed the list to the Members of Council. Mr. Brown indicated that some of the residents of the area are getting a reputation as being too outspoken. Mr. Brown continued on to say "we've had to fight off Lehigh, we've had to fight off City Hall, and we've had to fight off developers." Mr. Brown, with reference to the list he made, remarked that is what people are fighting for and are trying to preserve. Mr. Brown, pointing out that some of the homes are very valuable, said his home was built originally in 1802. Mr. Brown remarked that he doubts whether the new construction in the area by Mr. Reilly will last a century or two which leads Mr. Brown to conclude that the old homes should be preserved, and he expressed the hope that Council would be of the same mind. In addition, Mr. Brown noted that the Saucon Creek is a Class A trout stream. Mr. Brown continued on to advise that the Black River floods Creek Road every time there is excessive rainfall. There is also a Saucon Creek greenbelt and parks. He pointed out that residents have taken the time to learn a great deal about the area and they like it there. Mr. Brown stressed for that reason residents get angry when a developer comes in and says they want a big change. Mr. Brown felt that Mr. Reilly would do well to build upon the idea of compromise, and stated that the residents would be willing to sit down and discuss what they think are the best possible solutions for this crisis. Should the residents appear again, Mr. Brown said he hopes that Council will not feel that they are so ornery but rather that the residents are merely trying to protect what they think is a valuable part of Bethlehem. Creek Road and Friedensville Road - Traffic, Rezoning Request, and Proposed Development Tim Reinhard, 1765 Creek Road, focusing on the issue of safety, explained that in the four years since he moved there, the traffic has increased tremendously. Mr. Reinhard, stressing that people are using Creek Road as a shortcut to avoid traveling on Route 412 through Hellertown, asserted that people speed on Creek Road continuously and nothing seems to be done about it. Mr. Reinhard, questioning how fire and police personnel would get to the opposite end of Creek Road because they cannot go through Hellertown as it would take too long, further queried how safety vehicles could get through in view of the narrowness of the road and the speed of the traffic. Commenting he is concerned about the safety of "what's going in down there", Mr. Reinhard also expressed concern about environmental issues and about flooding, and wondered what type of drainage and sewerage systems would be installed. Joris Rosse, 1966 Creek Road, asked what the procedure will be if Mr. Reilly may come forth with a proposal or a choice that either he would build on the 9 acres the number of units that would be permitted under the current zoning, or there could be a choice to go with Mr. Reilly's 90 unit apartment request. Mr. Rosse continued on to remark that if Mr. Reilly's 90 unit request is refused then it seems Mr. Reilly would cut down the trees. Mr. Rosse questioned is Mr. Reilly withdrawing the rezoning request as was read into the record earlier, or will there be a "new fangled procedure�". President Gregory, affirming that the letter was received withdrawing the rezoning request, explained at least for now the assumption is that the developer is not looking to build the apartments which were part of the rezoning request. President Gregory, confirming that the 9 acres is presently zoned RR Residential, advised that if the developer chooses to build houses that would not come before City Council but rather he assumes it would go before the Planning Bureau. In further response to Mr. Rosse, President Gregory communicated it would be his understanding from reading the article in the Morning Call that Mr. Reilly may plan to contact some of the residents in the vicinity of Creek Road. President Gregory reiterated that Council's only official notification is that the rezoning request has been withdrawn. Shelagh Maloney, 1919 Creek Road, advised "we did speak with J. B. Reilly this evening�and he's interested in meeting with the residents of Creek Road." With further reference to the article in the Morning Call, Ms. Maloney continued on to say "apparently he will have to, to make it economically feasible for him to build single family homes, because he says that there are developers lined up behind him who want to develop the property as well, and he was trying to work it into his current project, he'd have to take down the trees to widen the road�". Ms. Maloney thanked Mr. Donchez who, she said it is her understanding, made an offer to contact the Police Department about traffic in the area. Mr. Donchez affirmed that the Police Commissioner will receive a memorandum tomorrow. Ms. Maloney stated that, although Mr. Reilly presented a traffic study that said traffic has decreased, since the construction of the Giant food store that was built after the traffic study, the traffic has increased and the drivers traveling 50 miles per hour are virtually unchecked. Mr. Reinhard questioned if the matter would now go before the Planning Commission. President Gregory replied he does not know the situation with the 9 acre property in question and does not know if Mr. Reilly has purchased it. Mayor Cunningham advised that if plans were to be filed then they would go to the Planning Commission. Mr. Reinhard asked if there is any way for the citizens to find out what is happening when regarding the Planning Commission or City Council. President Gregory informed Mr. Reinhard that a letter of notification will be sent. 14. ADJOURNMENT