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May 6, 2003 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, May 6, 2003 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Gregory called the meeting to order. Mr. Schweder offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, John B. Callahan, Robert J. Donchez, J. Michael Schweder, Magdalena F. Szabo, and James S. Gregory, 7.
Historic Preservation Awards - Central and South Bethlehem Historic Districts
Chris Ussler, City Historic Preservation Officer, affirming that this is Preservation Week, noted it was thought this would be an ideal time to draw attention to the importance of historic preservation to the City of Bethlehem. Highlighting the fact that Bethlehem's Central National Register Historic District is the oldest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, dating back to 1961, Ms. Ussler stressed it is an excellent example of how historic preservation can help save cities and maintain property value. Ms. Ussler expressed that Bethlehem is fortunate to have had people with such vision to establish the first historic district and those that followed. She enumerated that Bethlehem has five National Register Historic Districts: the Bethlehem Central District, the Fountain Hill Historic District, Mt. Airy Historic District in West Bethlehem, Pembroke Village Historic District that is 20th Century, 1918 Federally subsidized housing built for Steelworkers, and Elmwood Park Historic District that is a private development of Steelworkers housing. In addition, the City of Bethlehem has one local historic district that was recently created in the South Bethlehem Commercial Area and is administered along with the Bethlehem Central District by the City with a Historic Commission and Historic Review Board, respectively. While affirming that the awards to be presented this evening are for projects located in both the South Bethlehem and Central Bethlehem Historic Districts, Ms. Ussler acknowledged there are many excellent historic preservation efforts that have occurred outside of these areas. Focusing on the fact that one of the projects to be recognized tonight is a Federal tax credit project, Ms. Ussler explained that the Federal Government has a program that assists commercial renovations under Department of the Interior standards which, she asserted, is a tremendous carrot in the effort to preserve buildings and strengthen downtowns. She expressed the hope that eventually the South Bethlehem historic district will become a National Register District along with those available incentives. Recounting that she has been Bethlehem's preservation consultant for approximately 15 years, Ms. Ussler advised that instituting an awards program has been talked about for many years. Ms. Ussler communicated she is pleased that the Historic and Architectural Review Board and the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation Commission have been able to initiate the awards program. Ms. Ussler thanked City Council for its many years of strong support, the many Board and Commission Members for their dedication and hours of volunteer efforts, and countless property owners who have invested such time and effort in their historic properties.
Fred Bonsall, Chairman of the Central Bethlehem Historic and Architectural Review Board, presented historic preservation awards to the following: James Lutz and Petrina Calantoni for their residence at 4 West Church Street, and Lou Pektor for the commercial project of Main Street Commons at Broad and Main Streets.
Beth Starbuck, Chairman of the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation Commission, presented historic preservation awards to the following commercial projects: Michael Kohn for Patti's Petals at 216 E. Third Street, Mark Maynard for Orchard Knoll at 127 W. Third Street, and Fourth and Brodhead Corporation for Tally Ho Tavern at 205 W. Fourth Street.
President Gregory announced that, prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, City Council will conduct two Public Hearings.
First Public Hearing - Intermunicipal Transfer of Retail
Restaurant Liquor License –
Edgemont Park Tavern - Walnutport, Pennsylvania to 40 West Broad Street
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Gregory called to order the first Public Hearing to consider a request for an Intermunicipal Transfer of Retail Restaurant Liquor License from Edgemont Park Tavern, 4324 West Mountain View Drive, Walnutport, Pennsylvania, to 40 West, Inc., 40 West Broad Street, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as required under the Pennsylvania Liquor Code.
Attorney Stacy Caiazzo, 4480 William Penn Highway, Easton, Pennsylvania, stated she is at the meeting on behalf of her husband, Ralph Caiazzo, Dennis Douvanis, and 40 West, Inc. Attorney Caiazzo, affirming that permission is being sought to have a restaurant liquor license transferred from Walnutport to the City of Bethlehem, advised that the request is the result of the unavailability of restaurant liquor licenses in Bethlehem. Attorney Caiazzo, informing the assembly that five restaurant liquor licenses were available for purchase, stated that as of the end of March three of those were sold and two were under contract awaiting final approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Attorney Caiazzo explained that the current liquor license used at 40 West was always intended to be a temporary license until another license was able to be acquired. Unfortunately, she noted, they were unable to acquire a license within the City of Bethlehem. Attorney Caiazzo continued on to explain that, upon Council's approval, as well as approval by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the current license will be put in escrow. Several attempts were made to purchase the current license from the current owner who has refused to sell. Consequently, there was no alternative but to purchase a license outside the City of Bethlehem and ask for approval to bring it to Bethlehem. Noting that 40 West has been operating for nine months and is doing extremely well, Attorney Caiazzo stated it has tried to be a welcome and positive addition to restaurant row and to the City of Bethlehem and she believes it has accomplished its goal. Therefore, Attorney Caiazzo respectfully requested that City Council allow the transfer of the liquor license from Walnutport to Bethlehem.
Attorney Caiazzo, confirming to Ms. Szabo that 40 West is a nightclub, informed her that most of the patrons range in age from 25 to 35.
No one from the Public spoke to the matter of the first Public Hearing.
President Gregory stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the May 21, 2003 Council Agenda.
The first Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:50 p.m.
Second Public Hearing - Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment - Creating new RM Residential District Overlay; and, Zoning Map Amendments - Bethlehem Commerce Center Vicinity of Easton Road and Cherry Lane - From HI – Heavy Industrial District To RM Residential District Overlay and CG General Commercial District
President Gregory called to order the second Public Hearing to consider a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to create a new Zoning District, RM Residential District Overlay Zone; and Zoning Map Amendments at the Bethlehem Commerce Center in the vicinity of Easton Road and Cherry Lane to effect the rezoning of the Ashley Development Corporation tract from HI – Heavy Industrial District to RM Residential District Overlay and CG General Commercial District.
7 A. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Zoning Text Amendment – RM Residential District Overlay Zone
(1) The Clerk read a letter dated March 28, 2003 from Frederic H. Brock, Assistant Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, which stated that the proposed Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to create an RM Residential Overlay District was considered at the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s Meeting of March 27, 2003. The Commission voted to return the following comments: “The proposed amendment is a matter of local concern only. Given the proximity of the area affected by the overlay district to Hellertown, we recommend that the City coordinate with the borough to maximize compatibility.”
7 A. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission - Zoning Map Amendment
– Bethlehem Commerce Center in the vicinity of Easton
Road and Cherry Lane from HI to RM Overlay
(2) The Clerk read a letter dated March 28, 2003 from Frederic Brock, Assistant Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, in which it was advised that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission considered the Zoning Map Amendment to rezone land in the vicinity of Easton Road and Cherry Lane and at the March 27, 2003 meeting pursuant to the requirements of the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). The Commission voted to return the following comments: “Development to the south of Interstate 78 will abut residential areas in Hellertown. The proposed rezoning of the property from Heavy Industrial to a combination of General Commercial and RM Residential increases the compatibility of development in this area with neighboring land uses. We recommend that the City coordinate with Hellertown to provide land uses that are both viable for the area and compatible with adjacent land uses.”
7 B. Director of Planning and Zoning – Zoning Text
Amendment – RM Residential District
(1) The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 14, 2003 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, which stated that at its March 13, 2003 meeting, the Planning Commission voted by a vote of 3-0 to approve a revision to the previously submitted RM-Residential Overlay proposal. The revision continues to limit the height of the buildings to 2-1/2 stories along Cherry Lane but increases the height limitation to 3-1/2 stories to the rear of the lot where the elevations of the land are lower.
7 B. Director of Planning and Zoning – Zoning Map Amendment – Bethlehem Commerce Center in the vicinity of Easton Road and Cherry Lane HI to RM Overlay and CG
(2) The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 10, 2003 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, stating that the proposal to rezone property at the Bethlehem Commerce Center in the vicinity of Easton Road and Cherry Lane was reviewed by the Planning Commission at their February 13, 2003 and March 13, 2003 meetings. In both cases, the Planning Commission recommended that City Council approve the proposals as submitted.
Planning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, referring to a map, showed the area of the Bethlehem Commerce Center located in the vicinity of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property in South Bethlehem. Ms. Heller, noting the location of Applebutter Road on the map, continued on to note that Route 412 is to the west of the property, Interstate 78 cuts through the south of the property, and south of that is the portion being discussed this evening. The portion is abutted on the south and east by Hellertown Borough and Route 412 to the west. It is also cut off from other Bethlehem Steel property by the Interstate 78 interchange. Affirming that the Planning Commission and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission both have recommended that the proposal be approved, Ms. Heller continued on to point out that the land is undeveloped and gently slopes towards the Interstate 78 piece. Ms. Heller confirmed it is believed to be appropriate to rezone the approximate four and a half acre portion along Route 412 from HI – Heavy Industrial to CG -General Commercial because it is located along the Route 412 corridor where commercial or office development is appropriate. Ms. Heller continued on to advise it is believed to be more appropriate to rezone the rear piece of about twelve acres, because it abuts Hellertown Borough, as Residential. Ms. Heller, while affirming RM zoning for that area is recommended, pointed out that the buildings in Hellertown are mostly 2-1/2 to 3 stories in height. Consequently, an Overlay zone is recommended, as a Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment, that would limit the height to 2-1/2 stories along the front of Cherry Lane. To the back of that, because the land slopes down towards I-78, the developer also requested that a greater height be permitted. As a result, from Cherry Lane the height would look about the same but the text amendment would allow buildings of 3-1/2 stories to the rear. Ms. Heller showed the illustration and concept drawing of the buildings proposed by the developer. Ms. Heller noted that the area in yellow on the map is not yet ready to be presented to City Council. Ms. Heller, stating it is believed that the two proposed zoning districts create zones that are more compatible with Hellertown Borough, confirmed that discussions were held with Hellertown Borough officials who also attended the Planning Commission meeting. They appear to be pleased, especially with the overlay zone that would limit the height of the properties.
Mr. Schweder asked the distance between the intersection of Cherry Lane and the current Route 412 with this development.
Ms. Heller, replying it goes to Route 412, referred to the area on the map. She noted that the requested CG zoning that would comprise about 4-1/2 acres is at the corner of Route 412 and Easton Road.
Mr. Schweder, turning to the proposed total reconstruction of Route 412, observed it is likely it would come to Cherry Lane before it enters into Hellertown. Mr. Schweder continued on to state he would hope that during the planning stages it is understood that road may well be widened from its current location.
Ms. Heller, affirming that the developer has talked to City representatives, added their schedule for development precedes the schedule for the Route 412 project and they understand they need to do whatever traffic improvements are required at the intersection.
President Gregory, expressing that he has some of the same concerns, wondered why some of these project would move ahead in advance of finalization of the Route 412 project.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, advised that the developers were asked to consider improvements that would dovetail into the Route 412 project. He added that the City is working closely with the developers.
Jim Christman, Lehigh Engineering, 453 Main Street, Walnutport, Pennsylvania, stated that the company will be doing an independent traffic study to determine the impact of the proposed development. Mr. Christman informed the Members that the company will also be coordinating its study with that of the Gannett Fleming engineering firm that is working with PennDot on the Route 412 project to make sure the developer’s improvements do not conflict with any of the Route 412 improvements.
Martin Ward, 2076 Easton Road, Lower Saucon Township, affirmed that a good deal of the property in question borders on Lower Saucon Township, in addition to Hellertown Borough and Interstate 78. Prior to his purchase of his property before Route 78 was built, Mr. Ward advised that he met with a PennDot engineer because he was concerned about development. Focusing on the portion of the property described as gently sloping, Mr. Ward said he “would describe it as something much more than that.” Mr. Ward explained that in the middle of the property underneath I-78 there is a drainage ditch about five or six feet deep. Mr. Ward affirmed he has seen two or three feet of water in the field as recently as this winter’s snowstorm. Mr. Ward expressed as far as he knows none of the residents who abut that land have been involved in the Planning Commission meetings. Mr. Ward stated “that no Bethlehem residents are directly affected by that because that slice of land is completely isolated.” Mr. Ward, focusing on setbacks, remarked there is “a very thin slice of land through there that would even be allowed to be developed.” In addition, Mr. Ward noted it was mentioned that water was an issue. Mr. Ward, noting there are no three and a half story buildings that abut up to the property in question, pointed out that all the homes that abut the property are single family homes. Suggesting that a 24 hour traffic study be conducted, Mr. Ward advised that at 5:00 AM at his property which abuts the intersection Cherry Lane and Easton Road he has seen traffic back up the entire length of the road, and stressed that any development will further affect the situation. He also noted it is a half a mile from Cherry Lane to Easton Road.
Ms. Heller restated that the proposal is for a limit of two and a half stories height along the front of the property along Cherry Lane. Along the rear of the property, the buildings would be permitted up to three and a half stories. Confirming they are not single family homes that are proposed, Ms. Heller informed the assembly they are apartments. She continued on to advise that along Cherry Lane and Easton Road they are largely singles or twin and are two and a half stories. Ms. Heller affirmed that the RM zone as it is written now does permit greater heights than two and a half stories and is why it is proposed to be limited for compatibility.
In response to President Gregory, Ms. Heller advised that the buildings proposed along Cherry Lane are garden apartments. She added that no other provisions in the text are proposed to be revised other than the height.
Joan Madzarac, 2074 Easton Road, Lower Saucon Township, stating that her house is on the intersection, stressed “there is so much traffic there”. Ms. Madzarac, questioning how many buildings will be put there and where will people go in and out, advised that she has had to wait 20 minutes to leave her driveway due to the heavy amount of traffic, especially in the morning and between 5:00 and 6:00 PM at night. Focusing on the water situation, Ms. Madzarac explained that her property comes down hill and there is almost a little creek that comes down her driveway when it rains. Advising she has been living there for 62 years, Ms. Madzarac stressed the water is very deep.
President Gregory, advising there are two City Council meetings to follow the public hearing at which the proposal will be considered, confirmed that those who have spoken are welcome to come back and be heard.
Mr. Ward asked if people would be given specific information.
President Gregory notified Mr. Ward if he needs any information he can come to the City’s Planning Bureau at any time.
Ms. Heller, affirming the property is now zoned Heavy Industrial, explained it is felt that rezoning to Commercial and Residential is more appropriate. Acknowledging that it is a more dense proposal than what exists in Hellertown Borough and Lower Saucon Township, Ms. Heller restated the height limitation was added so it would have a similar look and the developer is trying to mimic the style of homes along the roads. Ms. Heller added the proposed development is estimated to have 198 units on about twelve and a half acres.
President Gregory asked where the parking will be located.
Ms. Heller, replying it is scattered parking, explained some of it is within the building, some in carports, and some would be open parking spaces throughout the development. Affirming that the parking will be on the development lot, Ms. Heller stated that the developer must meet the number of required parking spaces for the development.
President Gregory inquired about the water issue.
Ms. Heller explained that quite a bit of land to the rear is still PennDot property and there is a large swale along there. However, Ms. Heller advised that property would not be part of this development and is not proposed to be rezoned. The water on the private property would be addressed at land development review.
Mr. Ward, referring to the drawing, said there is not a lot of land that is part of it. Mr. Ward noted that, heading west on I-78 and looking to the right, there is a swale on the other side that is meant to hold the water, and added there is no where else for the water to come from rather than through the drainage in the middle of I-78 from that property. Remarking it is a six foot pipe, Mr. Ward said "they didn't put it there because they didn’t think they needed it."
Kevin Hill, 1674 Easton Road, Hellertown, advised he lives off Cherry Lane. Mr. Hill, saying he is opposed not to the rezoning for Residential, expressed his opposition is to high density apartments. Mr. Hill thought that single family homes or townhouses would be more appropriate along Cherry Lane and would match what is there. Mr. Hill continued on to say he does not think the traffic patterns in the area are conducive to that type of residential environment. Mr. Hill thought that adding apartments will lower home values in the area. Mr. Hill commented that wetlands studies should be done, and pointed out that springs push up even when it is dry. Mr. Hill said he is opposed to the proposed three and a half story height and stated there are no three and a half story buildings along the entire street.
President Gregory suggested that the residents of Lower Saucon Township and Hellertown Borough contact their officials to have some traffic and engineering studies done to determine impacts on their localities.
President Gregory stated that the appropriate Ordinance for the Zoning Text Amendment will be placed on the May 21, 2003 Council Agenda for First Reading; and, the appropriate Ordinance for the Zoning Map Amendment will be placed on the July 1, 2003 Council Agenda for First Reading.
The Second Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of April 1, 2003 were approved.
Citizen Use of City Hall Garage
President Gregory confirmed he had requested that citizens be allowed to use the City Hall Garage now that the national alert level has been reduced by President Bush, and had requested that a Police Officer be stationed at the entrance to the Garage so that citizens coming to the Council Meeting tonight could park in the Garage. President Gregory read the Administration’s response, as follows: "Your request to open the gates was discussed at our meeting on Tuesday with all Department Heads and it was decided that it was not proper to do so."
Time Limits for Speakers
President Gregory, referring to discussions about time limits for speakers at City Council Meetings, commented that people have asked him about the matter. President Gregory, reading a passage from the Bible, communicated the meaning is that speakers should try to keep their comments to the point.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Resolution - Golf Fees
President Gregory, advising that a Resolution would be added later in the Agenda to consider golf fees, informed the public they could speak to the matter under the First Courtesy of the Floor.
Bill No. 15 - 2003 - Rezoning Former Durkee Property - Eighth Avenue - LI to IR and RT
Bob Kilpatrick, 2136 Aster Road, said he is a lifelong City
resident and stands in support of the rezoning of the former
Durkee Property on Eighth Avenue and construction of the proposed
Lowe's home improvement store. Mr. Kilpatrick further advised
he also stands as a representative of the Lehigh Valley building
trades and the local skilled labor who would build the site,
who stand ready to build the site, as well as patronize it
after its completion.
Rick Loomis, Program Director for Lehigh Valley Northeast Pennsylvania Office of Clean Water Action, 1124 Tilghman Street, Allentown, Pennsylvania, noted that Clean Water Action is a State-wide non-profit environmental organization with over 60,000 members in Pennsylvania including over 1,000 in the City of Bethlehem. He advised the organization works for clean water, clean air, safe and affordable drinking water, and for healthy communities. Mr. Loomis continued on to communicate that among the requirements for healthy communities are cohesive and supportive neighborhoods. Mr. Loomis said the addition of a new shopping center in West Bethlehem where there are already two major shopping complexes and a restored downtown retail area within one and a quarter miles seems redundant at the least. Mr. Loomis stated the unused and underused retail space already available in the west end of the City should be rehabilitated before approval is given for additional new retail space. Mr. Loomis commented that development of the former Durkee site as a residential area can contribute to the sense of neighborhood in West Bethlehem. Developed appropriately, Mr. Loomis stressed such a project could also reduce the amount of impervious surfaces versus development of a large retail operation that can contribute to a huge amount of stormwater runoff, large amounts of traffic, and little green area. Instead, he stated that Council and developers should look towards the unused portions of the Lehigh Shopping Center if retail space is a priority for this portion of the City, rather than eroding the character of the neighborhood surrounding the Durkee site. Mr. Loomis advised that Clean Water Action urges City Council to vote down the project and work instead to extend the neighborhood to the west end.
Al Wurth, 525 Sixth Avenue, said he is at the meeting to speak against the rezoning of the former Durkee site. Mr. Wurth expressed his disappointment with Council's vote on First Reading of the Ordinance at its April 15, 2003 Meeting. Mr. Wurth affirmed that today he provided the Members of Council with correspondence regarding the issue. Mr. Wurth explained what he is asking is that the "big picture" be considered as opposed to all the details that have been presented and discussed. Reading from his correspondence, Mr. Wurth posed a series of questions about the rezoning along with possible answers of (a) and (b) and asserted that the obvious question is why local leaders have avoided the common sense (a) answers in favor of the curious and wrong-headed (b) responses. Among the points raised by his questions follow. If current zoning law prohibited a property owner from building an inappropriate use on a site that would have negative impacts on the surrounding properties, the transportation system, nearby neighborhoods, and the community, then the City should enforce the law. A large, traffic-generating retail store should be located at one of several empty or underutilized sites already zoned for retail operations such as the Lehigh Shopping Center. A good reason to change the zoning would be to promote a mix of uses that improves qualify of life for everyone in the City. If there were concern about the limits placed on legal uses of a property that is critical to the development of the City and binding all future owners to those limits, then the strictest zoning category should be placed on the property that is in keeping with the City's Comprehensive Plan. The development patterns of the downtown, historic areas, and traditional neighborhoods are the ones that should be replicated for the future of the City instead of commercial/retail type strips and suburban big-box developments. Concern was expressed about the site plans being withdrawn and sale of the rezoned tracts by the current owner to out-of-state companies after the rezoning would be approved. Rather than generic retail chain outlets and high-density apartments, distinctive landmark development that would complement nearby uses and the historic tradition of the City should be utilized at this entrance to Bethlehem given its 250 year old history and architectural landmarks. It was brought out that the downsized proposal trades some retail area for high-density residential and changes the zone in the zoning in the remaining area to permit higher density of use, allowing more retail in a smaller space. The type of development that should be planned at one of the major traffic routes in the City should be uses with low traffic generation rates, predictable, scheduled traffic patterns, and high public transportation compatibility, such as light industrial employment uses. Mixed use development should be a mix of commercial, residential, office and light industrial uses as in a traditional urban development as opposed to an apartment complex use with parking lots next to a shopping center use with parking lots typical of single-use suburban areas. A responsible property owner committed to top-flight development of the property would want to upgrade the site, and have open discussion with citizens to find the best development solution that is in keeping with the City's historical character and economic needs. City planning professionals should recommend a zoning change at the site that would be compatible with the City's Comprehensive Plan, designed to protect City property values and quality of life. Mr. Wurth, stating that a year ago City Council vote to oppose zoning changes that could have harmed the surrounding neighborhoods, stressed that the currently proposed zoning to IR is much more open ended, has many less restrictive controls than the proposal that came before City Council last year and was defeated, and carries all the same negative impacts. Mr. Wurth remarked that Council has changed their positions except for the courageous and intrepid Jean Belinski. Mr. Wurth asserted that Bethlehem deserves better than this, particularly at a site at the entrance to the City. Expressing he still cannot believe that Council has changed "for this same old stuff in a new package" and does not see how Council can consider this kind of proposal, Mr. Wurth stressed that development of the site could be done right and in keeping with the historic prominence of the community.
John Ladics, 1527 Kaywin Avenue, with reference to comments made by an earlier speaker, stated he does not think it is the job of City Council to be concerned about empty buildings unless they are the owners of the buildings, and added it is up to the owners of the buildings to fill vacant stores. Mr. Ladics stressed that City Council is here to protect the interests of the entire City of Bethlehem, and must look forward to the progress of the City. Mr. Ladics noted that Townships have a lot of places to shop, eat, and for people to enjoy themselves. Pointing out no one has ever come forward to fix Eighth Avenue and Union Boulevard except Mr. Petrucci, the developer, Mr. Ladics thought that some would try to make Mr. Petrucci into a person who cannot be believed. Mr. Ladics expressed he is happy that City Council voted to approve the rezoning on First Reading of the Ordinance at its April 15, 2003 Meeting. Mr. Ladics commented that many people travel the Eighth Avenue route to go to Schoenersville Road and proceed to Route 22 east and west to do their shopping in areas outside of the City. Mr. Ladics remarked that traffic will never be able to be stopped. Mr. Ladics highlighted the fact that several projects will be built in nearby Hanover Township that will create traffic. Mr. Ladics did not believe that 28,000 cars a day will travel in the Eighth Avenue corridor. Mr. Ladics stressed that the Durkee property has been vacant since 1996 and is an eyesore. Mr. Ladics stated that he would put up with a little extra traffic in order to improve the City's tax base, have some people employed, and so that people can dine at a reasonable cost since there are no family restaurants in the vicinity. Exemplifying that he had to drive in traffic to Bethlehem Township in order to buy an electrical outlet, Mr. Ladics stressed that he wants something for the City of Bethlehem and all its residents. Mr. Ladics, stating he is strongly in favor of the proposal, reiterated that he appreciates Council's vote in the matter.
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, noted he has lived there three weeks but was born and raised in Bethlehem. Mr. Scheirer said he fails to understand how the benefits to the City match the severe and negative impacts that a Lowe's home improvement warehouse will have on the residential areas that almost surround the site and on Nitschmann School. Mr. Scheirer stated that, in spite of Route 378, the area in question that is presently zoned Light Industrial is an enclave in what is essentially a large residential area in West Behtlehem. Mr. Scheirer questioned why such permissive zoning as IR would be used outside of the Bethlehem Works site. Remarking that while a Lowe's at this site would give Home Depot some competition, and would provide some jobs, Mr. Scheirer asserted those jobs would largely be at the expense of unemployment elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Scheirer queried whether Bethlehem really wants to get into a competition with other local jurisdictions to see which can reduce their quality of life the most in order to get temporary and illusory job gains. Mr. Scheirer expressed the opinion that the alleged tax benefits are also partly illusory because they fail to include the negative tax impacts on the surround residential areas. He continued on to say that traffic makes residential property worth less, reducing the assessed value and tax revenues. Questioning why Lowe's is not being located at the Bethlehem Works site, Mr. Scheirer wondered whether it is because the developer feels there will be more customers at the Durkee site and does not want to lower Lowe's profits. Mr. Scheirer felt that the City is accommodating and subsidizing the developer at the expense of the residents of West Bethlehem. Noting it has been said that if the rezoning is not approved then nothing will happen on the site. Mr. Scheirer commented this may be so but only if the price of the property is too high. Mr. Scheirer thought that perhaps the reason why the price of the property is high is because the owner would be gambling that the property would be rezoned. By the City going along with this, Mr. Scheirer felt that City Council would be turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Saying it is quite common for local governments to lower the quality of life in pursuit of temporary and illusory tax revenues, Mr. Scheirer stated that, instead, they should be focused on good planning to enhance the quality of life so that people want to live there and, in turn, businesses will want to locate there. Mr. Scheirer, communicating that Bethlehem has a lot going for it and has a real chance to be a gem of a City, said this development would be a significant step in the opposite direction. Mr. Scheirer said he would like his statement to be made part of the official record of the Public Hearing that began April 8, 2003.
Eileen Fritz, Eighth Avenue, noted she has been a resident for 29 years. Ms. Fritz asked the Members of Council to ask themselves if they are voting for their own self-interests or for the whole City of Bethlehem. Ms. Fritz highlighted the fact that in Allentown stores were built where homes used to stand. Ms. Fritz, stating that the issue is not bringing in a Lowe's, said the issue is the rezoning first since the other things will follow. Quoting from her grandmother that "haste makes waste", Ms. Fritz communicated that society seems to have an instantaneous nature. Ms. Fritz further paralleled the proposal to instant mashed potatoes versus homemade mashed potatoes and how lack of proper nutrition now can lead to doctors bills later.
Jim Petrucci, developer, focusing on comments about illusions, expressed that when he drives past the Durkee site he sees a property that has gone to waste for a long period of time and with current zoning that can accommodate "vastly worse uses than what we've discussed". Mr. Petrucci saying he "really stand[s] on everything that we have presented to date", continued on to say he feels great about the process and the City. Mr. Petrucci felt that the City is a gem already. Restating that he thinks the project should go forth and will not compromise the soul of the City, Mr. Petrucci communicated "it will be another piece of your puzzle and I think it will be an important piece of the puzzle as you go forth." Mr. Petrucci, continuing on to say there have been discussions about proposed changes from what is in front of Council, stated "we have no interest…in any changes to what we have proposed, we're comfortable with the representations we've made, and we've basically provided a good, balanced plan." Mr. Petrucci thanked Council for all their time.
Wayne Maura, 826 W. Union Boulevard, focusing on the length of time the former Durkee spice plant property was vacant and undeveloped, said "we know why it was vacant. It was overpriced." Mr. Maura continued on to recount that when the price was reduced, Mr. Petrucci bought it within about two months of Council's vote in April 2002 to turn down a request to rezone the property from LI Light Industrial to CS Shopping Center zoning district. Mr. Maura, expressing "we think the City of Bethlehem is a gem as well", stated "we'd like to keep it that way. We think the luster can be worn off this City." Mr. Maura cited as an example the McDonald's restaurant as the first thing people see when they enter the City coming north on Route 378. Mr. Maura pointed out how as a child he could tell when he reached New Jersey via Route 22 because he saw so many commercial buildings and shopping malls. Mr. Maura stressed "there are a lot of us here who feel that's not what we would like to have here in Bethlehem, and we feel that going that way is going to turn the tide and make a big difference. There are a lot of things that are wrong with this proposal, not just traffic, not just commerce. It's not just aesthetics, it's a lot of things, and it's got to do with some of the way that things have been done. People know the truth about this site and we know what's happened here." Turning again to the length of time that the property was vacant, Mr. Maura reiterated the reason it was vacant was the asking price and continued on to say "the proof of the pudding is as soon as the vote was taken last year and the vote was no, and the price came down, that place went very quickly."
Rhonda Hauze, 1022 Monocacy Street, expressed she is tired of hearing the same rhetoric over and over again. Ms. Hauze, focusing on increases in school taxes, stressed that as a property owner she is tired of having to keep paying higher and higher taxes because nobody wants to do any development in the City and everything goes out to the Townships. Ms. Hauze communicated that, being a senior citizen and having a fixed income, increases in taxes are of no help to senior citizens. Pointing out that the building has been vacant for nine and half years and remarking she does not care why, Ms. Hauze asserted that "this gentleman is ready to take it on and do it right, and I think we should do it, and give the City a chance to get something that we can get some tax money."
Jo Horning, 532 Third Avenue, related a story about development of the former Groman's Bakery building located behind her house. She explained that no one wanted to buy it and use it again as a bakery, the building was vacant, eventually it was purchased and will be turned into apartments. While enumerating that it is unknown at this time whether the neighbors will like the building, that the project will bring an increase in traffic, and that people will be in very close proximity to her home unlike before when the bakery was there, Ms. Horning stressed however that the apartments are a viable alternative to an empty building. Comparing the situation in her neighborhood to that of the neighborhood at the former Durkee plant, Ms. Horning thought it is time for the No Mall group "to gracefully give in the way we did and allow the project to continue…".
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, noted he is a lifetime resident. Mr. Bruch expressed that tonight is a great time "to put the stamp of approval on this thing and get it out of the way. Get the taxes that are required of the people to pay and have someone else pay it." Expressing that Mr. Petrucci was good enough to get involved in this project, Mr. Bruch stressed that a businessman has to make a profit. Mr. Bruch, explaining that the American dollar was a blessing to the Australian company that owned the Durkee plant previously, said whatever price they received was a bonanza given the value of their currency. Stressing that he wants to see something done to the property, Mr. Bruch pointed out that Mr. Petrucci offered to do something and he or another person will be responsible to pay the taxes. Expressing his appreciation to Council, Mr. Bruch communicated that Council will do its job, the situation will be resolved, and "get it on its way like it should be".
David Korner, representative of Lowe's Home Centers, 927 Wakefield Drive, Maryland, said he wants "to let Council know that Lowe's is 100% committed to this site." Mr. Korner affirmed that the company has worked through the Mayor's office and Mr. Petrucci, the developer, to upgrade the building and make the façade aesthetically pleasing at an entranceway to Bethlehem. Advising he has personally worked on hundreds of Lowe's projects throughout this region, Mr. Korner said "this is the only brick-faced store that we are putting in this area…". Mr. Korner thanked Council for its consideration and added he assures everyone this will be an aesthetically pleasing facility.
Mr. Callahan asked if a site plan or any plan has been submitted for the project.
Ms. Heller, advising there was a plan submitted, stated it was requested to be reduced to a sketch plan, and it is not being reviewed at this time. Ms. Heller further confirmed to Mr. Callahan, that a plan was submitted and was not withdrawn; rather, it was requested to be reduced to a sketch plan. Ms. Heller continued on to explain there are three types of plans: sketch, preliminary, and final. A sketch plan is submitted as a concept drawing, is for discussion purposes, and is not voted on by the Planning Commission.
Mr. Callahan inquired whether there is currently a preliminary plan submitted for this project.
Replying no, Ms. Heller informed Mr. Callahan the petitioner requested that the plans be reduced to a sketch plan at the prior Planning Commission meeting when the rezoning was discussed, and at which meeting the plans were reviewed as a sketch plan. There was no vote taken on the plan. Ms. Heller affirmed to Mr. Callahan there is no preliminary plan at this time.
President Gregory recounted one of his concerns at last year's consideration of a rezoning proposal for the site was the use of local labor. President Gregory communicated he felt it was important because that money then stays in the local economy. Advising the issue of use of local labor has been discussed with Lowe's, President Gregory pointed out that, although costs are higher for local labor as opposed to outside the area labor, Lowe's has agreed to local labor.
6. OLD BUSINESS
C. Bethlehem Authority – Gift of Land – Tunkhannock Township and Volunteer Fire Company
The Clerk read a letter received April 14, 2003 from Stephen R. Salvesen, Executive Director, Bethlehem Authority, which stated that at the Bethlehem Authority’s meeting of April 11, 2003, the Board voted unanimously to gift a portion of land presently leased to Tunkhannock Township and Tunkhannock Volunteer Fire Company. The property is 5.5 acres and is used by the municipality as home for the Volunteer Fire Company. The Bethlehem Authority is requesting the approval of City Council to complete the transaction.
President Gregory referred the request to the Parks and Public Property Committee.
D. Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development – Amending Article 150 – Codes Board of Appeals
The Clerk read a letter dated May 2, 2003 from Dana B. Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, to which was attached a proposed amendment to Article 150 – Codes Board of Appeals to bring the City into compliance with the State-wide proposed building code. The amendment reduces the Board of Appeals from nine to five members, with two alternates, and incorporates the exact requirements for members of the Board.
President Gregory referred the proposal to the Community Development Committee.
E. Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development – Amending Article 1120 – Emergency Medical Services – Fees
The Clerk read a letter dated May 2, 2003 from Dana B. Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, to which was attached a proposed amendment to Article 1120 – Emergency Medical Services to bring the City into compliance with Federal Laws and Regulations governing the operation of EMS services. The amended ordinance addresses the level of services provided, the EMS billing policy, procedures for billing, and a revised fee schedule.
President Gregory referred the matter to the Community Development Committee.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – David T. DiGiacinto – Bethlehem Authority
Mayor James Delgrosso appointed David T. DiGiacinto to the Bethlehem Authority, effective until January 2007. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,058 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay. Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Parks and Public Property Committee
Mrs. Belinski, Chairwoman of the Parks and Public Property Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held prior to the City Council Meeting on the following subject: Golf Fee Revisions.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 14 – 2003 – Zoning Text Amendment – Creating Industrial Redevelopment-Flexible (IR-F) Zoning District
The Clerk read Bill No. 14 – 2003, Zoning Text Amendment – Creating Industrial Redevelopment-Flexible (IR-F) Zoning District, on Final Reading.
Amendment to Bill No. 14 – 2004
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Arcelay sponsored the following Amendment:
That the following in Section 1317B.05 which reads as follows:
1317B.05 Off-Street Parking and Loading Regulations
Off street parking and loading regulations shall be governed
by Article 1319, Off-Street Parking and Loading, except as
modified by this section.
(f) The width of entrance and exit drives shall be:
(1) A maximum of [forty-five (45)] feet at the curb line for one-way use only.
(2) For two-way use, a maximum of [sixty-five (65)] feet measured along the curb line between the points of intersection of the two opposing driveway curb returns. Depressed curb driveway aprons shall not be required.
shall be amended to read as follows:
(f) The width of entrance and exit drives shall be:
(1) A maximum of one hundred fifteen (115) feet at the curb line for one-way use only.
(2) For two-way use, a maximum of one hundred thirty (130) feet measured along the curb line between the points of intersection of the two opposing driveway curb returns. Depressed curb driveway aprons shall not be required.
Voting AYE on the Amendment: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Amendment passed.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 14 – 2003, as Amended: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 14 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4187, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 15 – 2003 – Rezoning Former Durkee Property – Eighth Avenue - LI to IR and RT
The Clerk read Bill No. 15 – 2003, Rezoning Former Durkee Property – Eighth Avenue – LI to IR and RT, on Final Reading.
Mrs. Belinski, recounting that she had forwarded questions about the proposal to the Planning Bureau, noted she had not received all the answers and would pose some questions this evening. Mrs. Belinski, reading comments contained in a memorandum from Frank Barron, the City's traffic coordinator, about the revised traffic study, noted it states the City of Bethlehem would request the developer to resolve the question of the bridge widening sooner rather than later. Mrs. Belinski inquired whether the developer will be asked to widen the bridge if the project comes to fruition.
Frank Barron, City Traffic Coordinator, affirmed the comment is not a recommendation but it is a question. Mr. Barron continued on to explain it was a question that always existed that the railroad bridge would be the width of the roadway between curb to curb. Mr. Barron stated the developer is aware of the possibility that may have to be done. Mr. Barron continued on to comment that Traffic Planning and Design would be able to show that the driveway entrance could be moved into the site as far north as possible and there would then not be the necessity to widen the bridge. Mr. Barron communicated that the comment in the memorandum was to get the issue resolved.
Mrs. Belinski, with reference to a printout containing tax information, highlighted the fact that the assessment on the property was lowered soon after Mr. Petrucci acquired it, but the School District tax remained the same.
Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, replying he does not know why it is listed that way on the printout, affirmed that if the assessment is reduced, it is reduced for the School District, the City, and the County.
Mrs. Belinski asked what was the time frame during which the former Durkee plant site was available for potential development under its current LI Light Industrial zoning.
Ms. Heller, commenting that is a question the developer could answer, advised she does not know how long the property was on the market but it is known how long it was vacant.
Mrs. Belinski, stressing she was told the window of opportunity was about six weeks, remarked roadblocks were put up, and Burns Philp, the former owner, wanted the highest price they could get for the property. When the former owner realized the previously requested rezoning to Shopping Center was not passed, then they lowered the property price to $3 million. Mrs. Belinski added that people are under the mistaken impression that the property was laying undeveloped for over ten years. Ms. Heller observed that the building was vacant during that time.
Mrs. Belinski inquired why the property is being requested to be rezoned from LI to IR - Industrial Redevelopment, instead of CS - Shopping Center.
Ms. Heller, noting that again is a question for the developer, recounted that a request to rezone the property from LI to CS was presented to City Council a year ago and it was denied.
Mrs. Belinski pointed out the response she received to one of her questions submitted previously was that the maximum build-out under IR zoning is larger than that under CS zoning for the same acreage. Mrs. Belinski continued on to elucidate that under IR zoning building coverage up to 65% would be permitted as opposed to 35% building coverage under the previously proposed CS zoning. Mrs. Belinski also highlighted the fact that the residential component of the project proposed by the developer is for high density apartments that will bring extra vehicles. Mrs. Belinski asserted that, by subdividing a portion of the 33 acre property into IR zoning, the developer "is going to be allowed to do just about anything he wants or whoever he sells it to." Mrs. Belinski read the only things that would not be allowed under IR zoning are prison facilities, trash or waste incinerator facilities, storage of motor vehicle tires, junkyard, landfill, cement manufacturing plant, manufactured asphalt, manufactured paint, petroleum refining, storage, or distribution. Ms. Heller, affirming those are uses specifically prohibited, clarified it does not mean those are the only ones not permitted. She added that any of the uses in the HI zone are not permitted in the IR zone. Ms. Heller acknowledged that the IR zone is more flexible.
Mrs. Belinski read from the minutes of the March 19, 2003 Planning Commission that Mrs. Black, a member of the Planning Commission, said she has no problem with rezoning the property to IR but does have a problem with part of it being rezoned to RT because she thought that RT is imposing itself on the LI district. Mrs. Belinski pointed out that, in the minutes, Mrs. Black said this is not a good spot for residential to be put in between Light Industrial and Commercial uses, is a situation where RT is sandwiched between LI and Commercial, and would not be a good place to live. Mrs. Black pointed out that to the west is LI zoning that was initiated when Luria Steel was in operation. Mrs. Black and other neighbors at the time had the owner of Luria Steel stop operating at night, and stop so many trucks coming in and out of the company. Mrs. Black stated that LI is not compatible with the residents, and residents would not be compatible with LI as a neighbor. She also stated that neither LI or IR is compatible with RT. Mrs. Belinski further noted that in the minutes Mr. Harris, a member of the Planning Commission, stated he would not want to live in an apartment complex with a loading dock that could be seen from the back yard. Mr. Harris stated he does not believe the IR district is the right zoning for the parcel because he does not consider it abandoned. Mrs. Belinski, highlighting the fact that Mr. Harris held to his convictions and voted against rezoning the property, pointed out that Mrs. Black, in spite of her convictions, voted in favor of the rezoning.
Mrs. Belinski inquired whether a precedent will be set if the property was to be rezoned to IR Industrial Redevelopment.
Ms. Heller replied that any rezoning application is reviewed on its own merit, and case by case. Stating she does not believe there is any precedence to be set, Ms. Heller restated that any other rezoning application would be reviewed on its own merit.
Mrs. Belinski observed that, according to the Zoning Ordinance, any abutting property would have the right to apply for IR zoning. Consequently, Mrs. Belinski restated her question is whether rezoning the former Durkee property to IR creates a situation under which it would be difficult to deny requests to rezone Apollo Metals, Synthetic Thread or other properties to IR that directly abut the 33 acre Durkee property.
Ms. Heller, commenting she does not believe those properties directly abut the area that is proposed to be rezoned to IR, explained that each applicant would need to show for its own individual property that IR zoning would be appropriate, and each application would be reviewed case by case.
Mrs. Belinski queried at which other sites in the City could the proposed development be built including at any of the following: Bob Young Trucking and the former Triangle Lumber company both of which are on Schoenersville Road; or the former Ames store on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ms. Heller informed Mrs. Belinski that to her knowledge Bob Young Trucking and the former Triangle Lumber company sites are not available. Turning to the former Ames store, Ms. Heller commented that, while she is sure they are looking for a tenant in that space, in comparing lot sizes and space it is not comparable to the Durkee site.
Mrs. Belinski asked does Mr. Petrucci in fact have a signed agreement with Lowe’s to confirm that the Lowe’s home improvement store will be built. Mrs. Belinski observed that Mr. Petrucci is shaking his head no.
Mrs. Belinski inquired whether there is a guarantee that, after the rezoning, the proposal that has been discussed is the only one that can take place.
Mr. Petrucci responded “we have no comment on the contractual status.”
Mrs. Belinski asked is it true that Mr. Petrucci or whoever he sells the property to can put anything on the property with the exception of the nine uses she enumerated previously that are not permitted in IR.
Ms. Heller replied that the land development is reviewed after the rezoning, it would have to be a use permitted under the IR zoning district, and it would have to conform to all the other requirements in the Zoning Ordinance.
Mrs. Belinski queried if Mr. Petrucci sells off the parcels of land who will pay for the roadway improvements necessary.
Ms. Heller, explaining that a traffic study would be required for any land development proposal for the parcel, affirmed the developer would be responsible.
Attorney Fitzpatrick, representing Mr. Petrucci and Tiger Den, replied “this project is no different than any other land development you see in the City or any other municipality in Pennsylvania. The developer has to enter into a land development improvements and maintenance agreement with the City, as prepared by your Solicitor to the satisfaction of your engineer, with regard to the spec[ification]s and time table. And, Mr. Petrucci, like any other developer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has to post financial security in a form acceptable to the City and your Solicitor in accordance with the MPC [Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code].”
Mrs. Belinski, wondering what position would the City be in if Mr. Petrucci sells the land, asked could Mr. Petrucci back out and not follow through on the infrastructure improvements.
Joseph Leeson, City Solicitor, explained if the rezoning
is approved, and the plans follow, the City would enter into
a developer’s agreement, and the developer would be
bound. However, if the rezoning is approved and it is not
moving in the direction of a plan and the developer’s
agreement, the property could be resold and something different
could be placed there. Attorney Leeson informed Mrs. Belinski,
in that case, it does not necessarily mean that the infrastructure
improvement would not take place because the Administration
is well aware of the details of the need for infrastructure
improvements. As a result, anyone who would come forward and
submit development plans for the property would not get anywhere
unless infrastructure improvements are made.
Mrs. Belinski, focusing on the pedestrian study submitted that she said was unacceptable, stressed that she asked for a complete pedestrian study. Remarking that the pedestrian study submitted was not independent, Mrs. Belinski asserted that more discretion is being given to the developer and there is less protection for the City and its residents.
Mrs. Belinski communicated that, if the development goes through, it could give the School District a reason to demolish Nitschmann Middle School due to an impossible traffic situation in which case it may be decided to build a new school with a resulting increase in taxes. Mrs. Belinski continued on to express that the proposed development could serve to devalue neighborhood houses leading to homeowners requesting reassessments. Consequently, Mrs. Belinski stressed what taxes would be gained from the proposed development of the site would be more than offset by the tax losses that would be sustained as a result of lowered property assessments in addition to an increase in school taxes.
Motion – Rezoning Portion of Property to RG Residential Instead of RT Residential
Mrs. Belinski moved to change the requested RT zoning to RG zoning in order to make the residential component of the proposed development less dense.
There was no second to the motion, and the motion died.
Motion – Rezoning Portion of Property to CS Shopping Center Instead of IR Industrial Redevelopment
Mrs. Belinski moved to change the requested IR zoning to CS Shopping Center zoning which, she pointed out, was requested a year ago. Mr. Callahan seconded the motion.
President Gregory asked if such an amendment would require the process to start all over again.
Attorney Leeson replied he would want to check the statute before responding.
In response to President Gregory, Ms. Heller explained her understanding of the MPC is that if a zoning change request is revised it needs to be readvertised so the public is aware of the change and has the opportunity to come to a meeting and make comments.
Attorney Leeson, upon returning to the meeting after having checked the State statute, replied: “if the amendment under consideration is passed, we start all over again with the reopening of the public hearing, there would be a need to readvertise, there would be a need to schedule two more votes [;i.e., First and Final Reading of the Ordinance].” Attorney Leeson continued on to advise the reason is because under Article 6 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code this would be a substantial change initiated by City Council. Attorney Leeson confirmed to President Gregory that the motion can be discussed and voted on.
Mr. Callahan stated he wanted to second the motion in order to open up the matter for discussion. Mr. Callahan asked if Ms. Heller agrees that IR allows for far greater uses than CS.
Ms. Heller replied it is more flexible and is intended to be as stated in the description of the IR district. In further response to Mr. Callahan, Ms. Heller advised she would not say that under IR zoning the City would loose control but rather that there are advantages to the IR zoning. Ms. Heller, recounting that when the previous request to rezone the property to CS was before City Council last year some of the concerns from the residents was that the land was still appropriate for Light Industrial uses, highlighted the fact that IR still allows for Light Industrial uses and there is the opportunity for Light Industrial uses in the future. Ms. Heller commented that it does improve the rezoning proposal. Acknowledging that while IR does allow for more flexibility about which there may be concern because it is more open ended, Ms. Heller pointed out it allows for more opportunities for the City in the future as well.
Mr. Callahan contrasted the development of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property for which the IR zoning was created with development of the Durkee property that he stressed is not a difficult to develop property.
Ms. Heller, turning to another concern expressed about what would occur in the event Lowe’s overbuilds and the Lowe’s store at the site in question would become vacant, highlighted the fact that IR allows more flexibility in that instance as well in that the property could be reused for a Light Industrial use at that time.
In further response to Mr. Callahan, Ms. Heller explained that residential uses were not permitted in the IR zone as originally adopted because the condition of the land was unknown and it was not known if residential uses would be appropriate at the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation properties. At this point, Ms. Heller confirmed there is some interest in residential uses at the two former Bethlehem Steel Corporation offices on Third Street at the Bethlehem Works site, and is believed to be an appropriate reuse of the two buildings. Accordingly, the amendment to allow residential uses in IR was brought before City Council. Ms. Heller clarified, however, that residential uses are not permitted throughout IR. Ms. Heller confirmed that residential uses would not be permitted in the portion of the Durkee property proposed if it were to be rezoned to IR. Ms. Heller informed Mr. Callahan that the reason is because of environmental cleanup concerns if it is an industrial site to be reused.
Mr. Callahan pointed out that he had similar issues with the IR versus CS zones, as well as the density of the project. Recounting that the original plans called for ten acres of open space and far greater buffer areas, Mr. Callahan continued on to say that in light of the fact that he thinks the City has already waited a year too long to complete the project he would not want to derail it at this point.
Mr. Callahan withdrew his second to the motion.
Mr. Callahan said he has been the most consistent and vocal supporter of the commercial redevelopment of the site. Continuing on to say he thought that rezoning of the site for a Lowe’s home improvement store was a good idea the first time, Mr. Callahan affirmed that he supported the rezoning the first time and he will support it the second time. Mr. Callahan thought that a mistake was made a year ago and there is the opportunity now to correct it. Mr. Callahan remarked “we missed that opportunity last April to bring hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to the City, to bring a million dollars of road improvements to Eighth Avenue, and to bring more than five hundred jobs to the City of Bethlehem, as well meeting an unmet need in the City. You still can’t buy a piece of two by four or plywood in the City of Bethlehem.” Focusing on the quality of the plan, Mr. Callahan said he does not believe this plan is better than the first plan. While affirming he will support this second plan, Mr. Callahan communicated he thinks that Mr. Petrucci put together a plan that this Council will approve. Turning to the increased density of the site, decreased buffer zone, and less open space, as well as the quality of the apartments, Mr. Callahan reiterated there was the opportunity last April “to do the right thing for this City and to do the right thing for the greater good of the City, not to bow to the vocal minority, but to speak for the silent majority.” Mr. Callahan stated he is happy that the majority came out again tonight to speak for themselves, and added he is glad the other Members of Council have heard them as well.
President Gregory stated he decided not to introduce an amendment tonight since doing so would take the process back to the beginning. President Gregory inquired if it is correct that if Lowe’s were built at the Bethlehem Works site the City probably would not get the full amount of taxes as it would from the Durkee site.
Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, confirmed that the Bethlehem Works site is in a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district. The taxes would not be abated there, but rather would contribute to public improvements. Mr. Hanna advised it was not part of the master plan for Bethlehem Works to put big box retail there, although it might be reconsidered under phase two with new ownership. Mr. Hanna informed Mr. Callahan that the TIF is in effect for twenty years.
President Gregory felt that the overall impact of the proposal is positive. Turning to jobs for seniors, President Gregory observed that seniors who have retired from Bethlehem Steel now face having no health benefits and may be seeking part time jobs that would be possible under the project. President Gregory, focusing on taxes, stressed that $800,000 has already been lost and he would not want to see that happen again. President Gregory remarked that intrusive traffic and major harm was illusory. President Gregory thought that protecting the interests of the entire City of Bethlehem would be done by supporting the proposal. President Gregory expressed the opinion that the apartment proposal was probably done as a result of a compromise, and stated he would have liked to see IR throughout the site. President Gregory stressed that jobs are needed in Bethlehem. President Gregory observed that if Mr. Petrucci were looking for “big bucks” he would have made the entire parcel IR but instead Mr. Petrucci stayed consistent. President Gregory, while expressing he disagrees with the apartments contained in the plan, applauded Mr. Petrucci for his stance. President Gregory, communicating that although he tends to agree with Mrs. Black, member of the Planning Commission, that RT is imposing itself on IR and LI, said despite that fact he thinks “this project is still a good project” and that is why in the end he will support the project. President Gregory pointed out that IR still gives the opportunity to include LI uses. Consequently, if the apartments do not work out, there is the opportunity to make that portion of the parcel IR at a later date. President Gregory, recalling that the No Mall group at one point argued for residential and on the other hand argued for LI, thought that is why Mr. Petrucci included both in the proposal although he said it seems that the No Mall group is still not pleased with the proposal. President Gregory stressed that, without question, he is voting for the citizens of Bethlehem. President Gregory, with reference to the comment made by a speaker, Mr. Scheirer, this evening about “severe to negative impact” remarked “that’s insane”. Focusing on a comment that it would be “largely at the expense of unemployment elsewhere”, President Gregory pointed out that, in addition to Bethlehem Steel Corporation retirees who do not have health benefits, there are other citizens who do not have health care and need a job with health care that Lowe’s could provide.
Ms. Szabo, focusing on the apartments, did not think any developer would be foolish enough to invest money if the project were going to be a failure.
President Gregory explained his thought was if a great deal of money were going to be invested it should be invested in IR that would bring jobs into the City.
Ms. Szabo inquired whether the City would be liable to be sued by the previous developer whose request to rezone the property to CS was not approved if the presently requested IR zoning is approved in that it allows CS as well as other uses.
Attorney Spadoni, responding no, stated that Council has acted prudently in the consideration of both requests.
President Gregory, wondering who would pay $1,000 a month to rent apartments located behind a Lowe’s, expressed he does not think the apartment proposal makes sense. However, President Gregory stressed that the project as a whole must be considered.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 6. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, 1. Bill No. 15 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4188, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 16 – 2003 – PMRS Ordinance Amendment – Retirement Age and Percentage
The Clerk read Bill No. 16 – 2003, PMRS Ordinance Amendment – Retirement Age and Percentage, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 16 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4189, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 17 – 2003 – Amending Article 1301 – Zoning Ordinance - Titles, Purpose, and Interpretation
The Clerk read Bill No. 17 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Callahan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1301
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED TITLES, PURPOSE AND INTERPRETATION.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 17 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 18 – 2003 – Amending Article 1316 – Zoning Ordinance - LI Light Industrial District
The Clerk read Bill No. 18 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1316
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED L-I LIGHT INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 18 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 19 – 2003 – Amending Article 1317A
– Zoning Ordinance - IR Industrial
The Clerk read Bill No. 19 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Schweder and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1317A
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED I-R INDUSTRIAL REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 19 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
D. Bill No. 20 – 2003 – Amending Article 1320 – Zoning Ordinance - Signs
The Clerk read Bill No. 20 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Schweder and Mr. Arcelay, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1320
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 20 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
E. Bill No. 21 – 2003 – Amending Article 1326 – Zoning Ordinance - Amendments
The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Callahan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1326
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY
OF BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS
AMENDED, ENTITLED AMENDMENTS.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 21 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Adopting South Side Vision Plan 2012 – Comprehensive Plan
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Callahan sponsored Resolution 14,059 which adopted the South Side Vision Plan – 2012 and incorporated the South Side Vision Plan – 2012 into the Master (Comprehensive) Plan for the City of Bethlehem, known as the Bethlehem Vision Plan approved by the Council of the City of Bethlehem on July 16, 1991 (Resolution 11,490), and the South Side Bethlehem Master Plan approved by the Council of the City of Bethlehem on November 7, 2001 (Resolution 13,696).
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Adopting City of Bethlehem Policy – Right to Know Law Requests
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Callahan sponsored Resolution 14,060 which adopted the City of Bethlehem Policy for Right to Know Law Requests in compliance with the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law, as amended, which became effective December 2002, to provide access to public records of the City of Bethlehem, to preserve the integrity of City of Bethlehem records, and to minimize the financial impact to the residents of the City of Bethlehem regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, 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 to consider Resolutions 11 C through I as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 416 East Fourth Street
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,061 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the existing exterior concrete steps with wood steps at 416 East Fourth Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 313 South New Street
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,062 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install two wall signs at 313 South New Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 2 West Third Street
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,063 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to alter the exterior of 2 West Third Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 402 East Fourth Street
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,064 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install projecting and wall signs at 402 East Fourth Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 25-27 East Third Street
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,065 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to extend the rear roof 6” and paint the terra cotta façade at 25-27 East Third Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 11 East Third Street
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,066 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the tinted glass and install a sign in the cornice at 11 East Third Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 301 Broadway
Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,067 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install new signs at 301 Broadway.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolutions passed.
Motion – Adding Resolution 11 J
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to add Resolution 11 J to the Agenda. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed.
J. Golf Fee Revisions
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,068 which revised the Golf Fees to establish Resident and Non-Resident Fees for Junior Season Pass, Monday Special, and Weekday Season Pass, effective May 7, 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Rescheduling Second Council Meeting in May – May 20
to May 21, 2003
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder moved to reschedule City Council’s second meeting in May from Tuesday, May 20 which is Primary Election Day to Wednesday, May 21, 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed.
Rescheduling Public Hearing – RR Overlay Text Amendment – May 21 to July 1, 2003
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Callahan moved to reschedule the Public Hearing on the RR Overlay Text Amendment from Wednesday, May 21 to Tuesday, July 1, 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed.
Purchase of Bethlehem Steel Corporation Property – Lehigh Valley Industrial Park
Mr. Callahan asked Mr. Hanna about the purchase of former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property by Lehigh Valley Industrial Park (LVIP).
Mr. Hanna responded he was not a participant in those discussions, and added he is not on the LVIP Board.
Mr. Callahan asked Mayor Delgrosso about the meeting.
Mayor Delgrosso replied he was at the meeting and there was discussion about LVIP buying property, how the property would be purchased, the amount of money, and all the specifics about buying the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property from ISG company.
Mr. Callahan, inquiring whether Mayor Delgrosso felt it necessary to inform the Members of Council about the meeting, pointed out that Northampton County’s Director of Community and Economic Development felt it was important to inform Northampton County Council. Mr. Callahan recalled that Mr. Delgrosso, as a Member of Council, often expressed concern about the fact that Members of Council often read about issues in the newspaper, and wondered why the Members of Council were not informed about the situation.
Mayor Delgrosso responded that everyone at the table was asked to keep it confidential because of the negotiations with ISG and Majestic, and they did not want the information out until everything was solidified. Mayor Delgrosso, advising that the matter is still under negotiation, expressed it is important that there be some confidentiality when dealing with developers. In response to Mr. Callahan’s comment that he was disappointed that Council had to read about the matter in the newspaper, Mayor Delgrosso advised he was disappointed that it appeared in the newspapers.
Mr. Schweder, noting that negotiations have been going on for the past seven or eight weeks, pointed out none of those have come to fruition. Mr. Schweder explained that Mayor Delgrosso, Representative T. J. Rooney and Mr. Schweder have spent countless hours negotiating and trying to assure that the plan for redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property on the South Side that has been in place for years is carried out. Mr. Schweder advised that in negotiations like these, Mayor Delgrosso has a different way of functioning than his predecessor. Mr. Schweder stressed the bottom line is to see that the property is sold and developed, and that the commitment that City Council voted on in conjunction with Delaware Valley Real Estate Investment company also comes to fruition. Mr. Schweder remarked that “grandstanding in the newspapers through this process serves no good end to this process”. Mr. Schweder pointed out that the appropriate time for discussion would be when the issue is complete. Mr. Schweder offered to provide Mr. Callahan with a full account of the proceedings when they are finalized.
Planning Commission Member – Commendations
Ms. Szabo highlighted the fact that Mark Harris, a member of the Planning Commission has attended 99% of the meetings and commended Mr. Harris for his diligence, interest, and the time he spends as a member of the Planning Commission.
Citations – Members of Boards, Authorities, and Commissions
Ms. Szabo suggested that members of Boards, Authorities, and Commissions be recognized with Citations when they leave. President Gregory noted that Members of Council have indicated their agreement.
Succession Plan for Mayoral Vacancies
Mr. Callahan, saying that tonight he wanted to introduce an ordinance that would create a succession plan for the Mayor, pointed out that the last three Mayors have left before their terms were completed. Mr. Callahan stated that if the City is going to continue to impose a two term limit he thinks it is likely that the issue of a Mayor leaving is likely to arise again. Mr. Callahan said he is proposing that in the future the City’s Business Administrator should be chosen interim Mayor if the Mayor chooses to leave before completing the term. Mr. Callahan further said the Business Administrator would continue in the job of the Mayor until the next Mayor is chosen by the electorate. Mr. Callahan stated that his proposal would “put this Council on the record that the choice of Mayor should be left out of the politicians hands…”.
Mr. Schweder, asking what is before Council, inquired if Mr. Callahan is going to offer this amendment, Ordinance, or Resolution this evening.
Mr. Callahan replied he thought he was clear in saying he was proposing an Ordinance this evening.
Mr. Schweder, observing that the Agenda is past the point where that can be done, commented he would be willing to waive that.
Mr. Callahan said he was instructed by Attorney Spadoni this would be the proper point in the meeting.
Mr. Callahan restated it was his hope that this proposal would put Council on record that choosing a Mayor in the case of a vacancy in that office should be left out of the politicians hands and put where it belongs which is in the hands of the voters. Mr. Callahan communicated that the day to day operations of the six or seventh largest City in Pennsylvania would be run by an experienced and competent manager, a person who regularly fills the role of acting Mayor while the Mayor is out of town. Mr. Callahan stated it is his hope that his colleagues on Council will view his proposal with an open mind and without cynicism. Mr. Callahan added it is his goal in presenting the Ordinance to put a mechanism in place to ensure an orderly succession, and to ensure that the City does not have to go through what, in his mind, was a great deal of turmoil over the last several months. Mr. Callahan read the Ordinance, as follows: “whereas, State law authorizes City Council to select a Mayor in the event a vacancy occurs in that office; and whereas, it is has been a long-standing tradition in Bethlehem to choose an interim Mayor taking the process out of political influence; and, whereas the tradition has in the past preserved stability, and ensured an orderly transition to an elected administration; now, therefore, be it resolved that it is the sense of City Council that, in the event that it should again become City Council’s duty to fill a vacancy in the office of Mayor, Council will name the City Business Administrator as Interim Mayor.”
President Gregory seconded the motion for discussion purposes.
Mr. Schweder noted proper procedure is the motion should have been made and seconded before there was any speech given as to the reason why Council is doing this because there was nothing before City Council under its rules or Robert’s Rules to be under discussion then. Mr. Schweder asked if this is a proposed Resolution or Ordinance.
Mr. Callahan, saying he is proposing it as an Ordinance, stated if there is some legal issue as to why that cannot be done then he would consider it as a Resolution.
Mr. Schweder inquired what part of the Codified Ordinances is Mr. Callahan amending.
Mr. Callahan, referencing the section of the Optional Third Class City Charter Law that addresses the matter, inquired of Attorney Spadoni whether there is a section of the City’s Ordinances that deals with this issue.
Attorney Spadoni, noting that Bethlehem follows the Optional Third Class City Charter Law in the process, affirmed that State legislation cannot be amended. Attorney Spadoni communicated that, as he had indicated to Mr. Callahan prior to the meeting, he does not think all of the questions have been answered, and pointed out that Council is aware of his memorandum in that regard.
In response to Mr. Callahan, Attorney Spadoni confirmed where the State law addresses a matter that takes precedence over local regulations.
Mr. Schweder, referring to Council’s rules, highlighted the fact that Members of Council have not seen the proposal in writing on which they are being asked to vote. Mr. Schweder further pointed out that the matter is being proposed as an Ordinance but reads as a Resolution. Restating his question is what part of the City’s Ordinances is proposed to be amended, Mr. Schweder pointed out that has to be part of the written document.
President Gregory stated that he withdraws his second if it appears an Ordinance is not the way to address the issue.
Mr. Schweder, commenting it does not appear to be a well thought out idea, confirmed there are a lot of questions that have been raised by Council’s Solicitor.
Mr. Schweder moved to refer the proposal to the Human Resources and Environment Committee for further study.
Mr. Callahan withdrew his motion. President Gregory withdrew his second. The motion was declared no longer valid.
Mr. Callahan, stating he has thought this out, remarked that nobody objectively can look back at what has occurred in the City over the last several months and be happy with the result. Mr. Callahan, reiterating it is obvious that the situation is likely to occur again, asserted the issue of succession in general is one that should be looked at by this Council so long as there is a two term limit for the Mayor of the City of Bethlehem. Whether it be done by Resolution or Ordinance, Mr. Callahan again said it is an issue that should be looked at by this Council. Mr. Callahan stated he would like this Council to go on record and talk about a succession plan for the good of the City, and put a mechanism in place to ensure that this City does not have to be put through what it has been put through over the last three to four months. Mr. Callahan expressed he thinks it is an issue that can be handled better than it has been in the past, and is one on which he would welcome further discussion in Committee.
Mr. Callahan moved that the creation of a succession plan to fill vacancies in the Office of Mayor be brought as an item to be discussed in the Human Resources and Environment Committee.
President Gregory seconded the motion.
Mr. Schweder thought it was clear through the debate over the last several months that the procedure in place is the best one. Mr. Schweder questioned how something could come before City Council tonight in this form that is entirely incorrect under Council’s rules, and it is not known what is being amended, and whether it should be an Ordinance or a Resolution. Mr. Schweder stressed those things should be done in advance, and everyone should understand the rules and procedures for Council’s functions. Mr. Schweder, stating what was presented is something that Council could not legally have voted on, pointed out there is a requirement to cite the Ordinance Section that is being amended.
Mr. Callahan, noting that Resolutions or Ordinances have been introduced at Council Meetings that have not been seen by other Members of Council, thought Mr. Schweder has done so in the past. Mr. Callahan explained he made his best attempt to open the conversation and introduce the issue, whether it needs to be in Ordinance or Resolution form. Mr. Callahan added this is not the first and will not be the last time that something is changed on the floor.
Mr. Schweder, agreeing there have been several examples of when items have been introduced by Council, stated it has always been done in the proper form.
Mr. Callahan, in response to Mr. Schweder, highlighted the fact that his second motion was to bring the matter to Committee. Mr. Callahan, reiterating that his ultimate goal was to get the discussion started to create a mechanism for succession, asserted the issue was dealt with correctly by past Councils in that they did not pick a person as interim Mayor who was running for Mayor.
Mr. Schweder, stressing there is a procedure to be followed, said he would hope that would be done and strictly adhered to. Mr. Schweder communicated there is a political forum for certain matters.
Mr. Callahan, commenting that addressing the matter in an appropriate manner can be done, stressed what is more important is to start the process and put a mechanism in place to handle the situation in the future and that Council do the right thing.
President Gregory expressed that he thinks Mr. Callahan has a point in that appointing an interim Mayor who is running for Mayor is something that has ripped the City and this Council apart. President Gregory thought that past Councils have been astute in not appointing someone who is running for Mayor as interim Mayor. President Gregory agreed with Mr. Callahan that the matter needs to be reviewed and discussed. President Gregory, expressing that he thought Mr. Callahan’s intent tonight was just to bring the issue to the forefront, communicated he is glad Mr. Callahan did so. President Gregory stated he would hope in the future that Council looks seriously at never appointing someone as interim Mayor who is running for Mayor.
Mr. Donchez suggested that, if the matter is reviewed in Committee, there be a complete and thorough debate on the issue. Mr. Donchez thought there is the opportunity to invite former Mayors, former Business Administrators, former Members of City Council, and ask for their opinions. Mr. Donchez recounted that in 1973 City Council voted to have a two term limit for Mayor to prevent Mayor Mowrer at the time from having a third or fourth term. Mr. Donchez, highlighting the fact that City Council did follow the Optional Third Class City Charter Law, observed that some may not like the outcome of Council’s decision but Council did follow the law. Mr. Donchez commented it may not be a bad idea to review the two term limit issue.
Attorney Spadoni affirmed there is no question that the requirement of the Optional Third Class City Charter Law was followed by City Council in choosing the interim Mayor.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr.
Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, noted that Roberts Rules of Order prohibit personal remarks. Mr. Scheirer stated that a particular point of his testimony this evening was described as insane.
President Gregory apologized for the description and noted he could have probably used a better adjective.
Mr. Scheirer urged that personal remarks be ruled out of order when they happen.
Succession Plan for Mayoral Vacancies
Joseph Maura, Sr., referring to the discussion about interim Mayor, expressed his feeling that an elected official should serve the entire term. Mr. Maura felt that the two past Mayors were looking for the “big bucks”. Mr. Maura related that he was elected six terms as a District Justice and could have retired in his sixth term only serving three years but he was not going to betray the voters and he served out his whole term. Mr. Maura pointed out that the Business Administrator would have had to take a $7,000 pay cut if he would have been named interim Mayor. Mr. Maura felt that Council should devote themselves to things that are more important for the citizens of the community than the matter of succession in cases of a Mayoral vacancy.
Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, expressed there should be a line of succession for Mayor in that someone could die in office, for example. Ms. Pongracz felt the discussion was not about the merits of whether or not there should be a line of succession but rather a personal rivalry. Ms. Pongracz, stressing she is not pleased with the lack of civility, asserted that instead Council should be worried about the health and welfare of the citizens of the community.
House Fire and Saving the Family’s Dog
Dave Sanders, 69 E. Goepp Street, related that there was a fire at his house and thanked everyone who responded from the bottom of his heart. Mr. Sanders, commending the Firefighters for going above and beyond the call of duty, explained how they saved the life of his dog and how happy his three grandchildren were. Mr. Sanders asked Kevin Moyzan, Fire Commissioner, and Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, to convey his heartfelt thanks to the Police Officers and Firefighters.
Bethlehem Housing Authority and Other Matters
Anthony Spagnola, 325 Spring Street, asked whether Mayor Delgrosso, has had any discussions yet about the Bethlehem Housing Authority with the HUD representative.
Mayor Delgrosso informed Mr. Spagnola that a meeting has been scheduled on May 29, 2003.
Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, in response to Mr. Spagnola, affirmed that Lehigh County does receive money from the Bethlehem Housing Authority. Mr. Reichard further informed Mr. Spagnola that the amount is based on millage and a formula.
Mr. Spagnola questioned how the Forte Building could be provided with $100,000 by the Bethlehem Housing Authority.
Mr. Spagnola, noting that over 1,200 students from the Bethlehem Housing Authority residences attend the Bethlehem Area Schools, communicated the payment amounts to only $90 per child.
Mr. Spagnola advised that the bocce court in the vicinity of Stefko Boulevard needs to be fixed.
Mr. Spagnola, stating he was informed that Lehigh Little League had been located at the current Spur Route and had to move when the roadway was built, highlighted the fact that everything changes in time. Mr. Spagnola said the busiest area in Bethlehem is the vicinity of Lehigh University’s Rausch field house and Stabler arena, homes in the area are expensive, but no tax money comes to the City from that area.
Mr. Schweder, in response to Mr. Spagnola, explained that he has discussions with many people about various issues that are appropriate to be discussed when they come to fruition.
Mr. Schweder, in further response to Mr. Spagnola, recounted that Mr. Spagnola believed there had been decisions by Bethlehem Housing Authority board members prior to their taking official action that would be a violation of the Sunshine law.
Mr. Spagnola noted that the Bethlehem Housing Authority is going to build more low income homes and is going to establish a day care.
Mr. Donchez, Council’s liaison to the Bethlehem Housing Authority, informed Mr. Spagnola that his work schedule does not permit him to attend all of the Bethlehem Housing Authority meetings. However, Mr. Donchez advised that he does speak with Board members frequently. Mr. Donchez pointed out that the City has received more money from the Housing Authority than it has in the past. Mr. Donchez added there will soon be a new Executive Director with the retirement of Frank Loretti, and the relationship between the City and the Housing Authority will be entering a new era. Mr. Donchez told Mr. Spagnola to feel free to call him at home.
Mr. Spagnola recalled that in 1997 Mr. Delgrosso said that an interim Mayor should not be a candidate for Mayor.
Mayor Delgrosso informed Mr. Spagnola it was a different situation at that time which he has explained.
Mr. Spagnola noted that Agere built a facility and will try to sell it or lease it out. Mr. Schweder affirmed that is located in Allentown.
Housing on the South Side – Crime, Density, and Definition of Family
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, commenting he had suggested that possibly houses vacated by students might be inhabited by groups or gangs, noted that type of situation has occurred on Fifth Street. Mr. Antalics noted that according to police reports the number of students who have been assaulted or robbed on the streets has increased threefold. Mr. Antalics felt that landlords might rather want to rent to five individuals rather than a family because they could receive more rental income per person. Mr. Antalics asserted that the City’s Zoning Ordinance needs to be seriously looked at. Mr. Antalics, querying what response is there to the possible prediction of an increase in crime as students move out of rental housing, pointed out that a density clause could preclude this kind of thing from happening. Mr. Antalics, stressing that seven other college communities with a similar problem have amended their zoning codes pertaining to the definition of family by blood, requested that the City do the same.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:25 p.m.