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May 21, 2003 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, May 21, 2003 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Gregory called the meeting to order. Mrs. Belinski 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.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
President Gregory stated that the minutes of May 6, 2003 will be listed on the June 3, 2003 Agenda for approval.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Creating New Zoning District – RM Residential Overlay Zone; and Zoning Map Amendments – Easton Road and Cherry Lane – HI to RM Residential District Overlay and CG General Commercial District
Lou Pektor, of Ashley Development Corporation, reviewed the company and some of its current projects, including the former Union Station Plaza on Second Street, and previous projects, including Main Street Commons and the former Woolworth building on Main Street. Mr. Pektor affirmed that he is at the meeting this evening to address his proposal to rezone property bordered by I-78, Cherry Lane, and Easton Road from HI Heavy Industrial to RM Residential District Overlay. Mr. Pektor, affirming it is planned to build 198 apartment units on the property, explained the goal was to find a use for the Cherry Lane piece that would transition from the I-78 highway to the north and between the residential neighborhoods that borders to the south and to the east comprised of some multi-family and some single family. It was decided that, because of the highway, it would be best to consider an apartment complex type use. Market assessments indicated that a superior product needed to be created to overcome some of the hurdles of the site that has a favorable geographic location. It was concluded that a design firm had to be hired that had a lot more insight to generation of such a product than his company so that the product would not be a normal, cookie cutter, institutional type product that typically looks like some of the present apartment complexes throughout the Lehigh Valley. The firm chosen, nationally renown for such projects, was Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK) based in Memphis, Tennessee and with offices in Princeton, New Jersey, with which Ashley Development Corporation is working to come up with a design that mimics a main street type of revival style. The design also creates a lot of open space within the project area in addition to interaction with the surrounding community.
Jim Constantine, principal and director of planning for LRK, noted it is an architecture and planning firm with approximately 130 employees in five offices. A lot of the firm's work is in the realm of redeveloping brownfields and infill sites. The company completed a brownfields project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that reclaimed an old slag heap and turned it into a new neighborhood reflective of some of that city's older neighborhoods that appeared in a national publication. Focusing on the site in question, Mr. Constantine explained it was recognized that the property is situated at the edge of established neighborhoods located within three municipal jurisdictions. Affirming there are existing mature trees along Cherry Lane and Easton Road, Mr. Constantine advised the plans are to keep as many of those trees as possible. Mr. Constantine, highlighting the fact that the property is currently zoned HI Heavy Industrial, pointed out that zoning would permit uses that might more logically occur at a highway off ramp that would be much less compatible with the existing residential neighborhoods. Turning to the streetscape, Mr. Constantine informed the assembly that much attention was given to devising a series of buildings along with open spaces that would appear as small parks. A pattern of buildings and yards is proposed along the edges of the site to replicate those neighborhood area features. Mr. Constantine, confirming that the firm specializes in utilizing traditional neighborhood design, part of which includes architectural variety and a mix of different building types, noted that the apartment complex design features would not be repeated over and over again as with the usual apartment complex facades. Instead, there would be a series of different building types incorporated into a village streetscape with different materials, colors, architectural styles, and different exterior and interior configurations. Mr. Constantine communicated that, although the various aspects he noted are more challenging in terms of design and more costly to construct, the project reflects care for the character of the development and of zoning. He added there is an element of some mixed use amenities on the site, some of which it is hoped will provide for special convenience and lifestyle, that will encourage residents to use their cars less and at lower speeds. Mr. Constantine invited neighbors of the development to walk through it. Turning to pictures of three locations on the site, Mr. Constantine pointed to the mature trees on Cherry Lane that the developer will try to keep in the design. Mr. Constantine highlighted the fact that, under the current HI Heavy Industrial zoning of the site near the I-78 off-ramp, such uses as trucking depots and warehousing would be allowed that are not compatible with the neighborhood. Mr. Constantine showed a picture of one of the company's similar developments in Carmel, Indiana, and noted some of the amenities would include a pool area and perhaps some convenience commercial intended to make living on the site a different lifestyle alternative to living in an apartment complex. Mr. Constantine further noted that parking lots and areas would be shielded from view and many times would be behind buildings equivalent to an alley type pattern. Mr. Constantine, pointing to other pictures, advised they are illustrations from similar type communities that the firm has designed, built, and that have won awards and have been successfully received.
Patrick Herrity, 732 Hawthorne Road, asked whether there will be a sidewalk around the perimeter of the property.
Mr. Pektor replied yes.
Ms. Szabo queried how the noise from Interstate Route 78 will be addressed.
Mr. Pektor, advising that noise studies have been done, explained that designs have been done relative to the height of the berm and highway. The buildings closer to Cherry Lane will have two and a half stories maximum height so there will be a buffering effect from the buildings from the north to the south. The proposed development is designed to overcome the effect of noise.
President Gregory inquired about the project cost, and monthly rental rates.
Mr. Pektor responded that from a cost to build standpoint the amount is a little over $20 million, and rental rates are estimated to start at about $1,000 a month for about 1,000 to 1,100 square feet. Focusing on two nearby apartment complexes, Mr. Pektor advised that of a 191 unit complex, 95 are occupied by one person, and there are only 42 children living in the complex. Mr. Pektor, adding that the average income of renters in the complex built by J. B. Reilly is about $80,000, noted a lot of renters will be people coming in from I-78.
Mrs. Belinski recalled that Martin Ward and Joan Madzarac, residents on Easton Road near the proposed project in question, appeared at the Public Hearing on May 6, 2003 and expressed serious concerns about water run-off and traffic issues. Mrs. Belinski read some of the comments made by Mr. Ward and Ms. Madzarac about those issues at the Public Hearing. Mrs. Belinski asked what are the plans to alleviate the citizens' concerns.
Mr. Pektor advised that a wetlands study was done and there are no wetlands on the property. There is a drainage swale going through south to north, and a culvert underneath I-78 that takes care of the water flow underneath I-78 and takes it to the north side of I-78. Mr. Pektor, informing Mrs. Belinski that the land use plan will address these issues, said it is the intention to have underground detention under the parking areas so there will not be surface detention on the site. Mr. Pektor, affirming that a traffic study is required, highlighted the fact that hours have been spent with PennDot officials.
Mrs. Belinski wondered whether Mr. Pektor could send a letter to both Mr. Ward and Ms. Madzarac explaining the underground drainage plans to alleviate their concerns.
Mr. Pektor confirmed that the plans will be reviewed by various authorities, including the DEP, and indicated he would address the citizens' concerns.
Martin Ward, 2076 Easton Road, expressed he is thankful that much thought was given to the project. Mr. Ward, reiterating that prior to purchasing his property before I-78 was built he did speak with the chief engineer for that section of the highway, noted that he kept some of the drawings, and distributed them to the Members of Council. Mr. Ward, referring to 15 A that is the property in question, stated his reasoning for talking to PennDot officials was his concern that the property would be developed. Referring to the drawing, Mr. Ward said between the yellow highlight and edge of Easton Road was Bethlehem Steel Corporation property at the time I-78 was built. Mr. Ward remarked that varies a great deal from the drawings that have been seen so far. On the next page, Mr. Ward noted there is a more detailed drawing. Pointing to the yellow spot on that page, Mr. Ward said there is about a four acre piece of land that juts out from the section of the development. Mr. Ward continued on to note it says "area acquired for occasional flood easement". Mr. Ward, communicating that his question to the PennDot official was what exactly does that mean, advised that PennDot bought it because if they ever needed to access the property for flood easement they had to acquire that land. Turning to the first page, Mr. Ward stated that he looked into the setback requirements. Mr. Ward continued on to say from the property line indicated in yellow "…is 100 feet away from that. And then from State road if you have the setback plus the right of way which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 feet…So, if you take those two setbacks…there is…a very narrow slice of land goes through there." Mr. Ward stated he thinks that needs to be resolved. Mr. Ward advised in that area of Hellertown into Bethlehem all the water that drains from the mountain to the east must go through there. He added there is a 66 inch pipe underneath and another pipe up a little further. Highlighting the fact that site alone is twelve acres, Mr. Ward said "one inch of rain on one acre is 40,000 gallons of water. You multiply that just for that site alone is almost a half a million gallons of water." He further said on the other side of I-78 there is a retention pond of over ten acres with spillways to hold the water. Focusing on the twelve acres adjacent to the proposed development and the connecting land, Mr. Ward pointed out there are 26 single family homes and a few twins and communicated he does not know that is compatible with the proposed 198 units.
Jim Christman, of Lehigh Engineering, expressing his appreciation for Mr. Ward's comments about the stormwater, stated the company is aware of the current water that flows into the property. Mr. Christman, affirming there was an occasional flow easement during construction of I-78, notified the assembly that easement was since turned back to Bethlehem Steel Corporation and is no longer there. Mr. Christman explained that the water flows into the existing drainage channel along the bottom of the embankment at the ramp and out to the 56 inch pipe to which Mr. Ward referred. Mr. Christman, confirming that the stormwater coming in will be handled into underground detention basins, noted that stormwater will not be increasing.
Kevin Hill, 1674 Easton Road, Hellertown, questioned whether the water that would be stored in underground basins will be the water coming through the pipe or just the water on the property.
Mr. Christman replied that the additional amount of water created from parking lots and buildings would be detained. Mr. Christman explained that the water currently flowing through and going down through the property and flowing out to the 56 inch pipe will continue to flow at the same rate into the pipe.
Deborah Ross, Director of Community Development for Lower Saucon Township, confirmed that a meeting was held with representatives of Ashley Development and she has talked to some of the Township residents who live in the area. While advising that no position is being taken on the application at this time, Ms. Ross stated she has spoken with the Township Engineer and there are three issues about which the Township would like to be informed. Ms. Ross, noting the first issue is traffic, said if the applicant is meeting with PennDot the Township would like to be part of that. Turning to the second issue concerning drainage, Ms. Ross pointed out that the Township has the upstream watershed properties and would like to maintain its drainage rights through the property. Ms. Ross stated it is a question as to how the upstream runoff will be flowing through the property and the Township would not want to have any adverse impact as a result. Focusing on the third issue, Ms. Ross explained that the Township is always looking for the ability for certain utility access, specifically sanitary sewer. Accordingly, when the applicant gets to that point of the land development process, Ms. Ross said the Township would be interested to see how sanitary sewer will be brought to the property, and if at some time the Township would be able to have access through easement rights to be extended to Easton Road.
President Gregory suggested to Ms. Ross that further meetings be scheduled regarding the issues.
Joris Rosse, 1966 Creek Road, inquired whether the RM Residential Overlay plan relates to the Creek Road plan.
President Gregory responded no.
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. Assistant City Solicitor – Records Destruction – Police Department
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 25, 2003 from William Alexander Karras, Assistant City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution for Council’s consideration under the previously adopted Municipal Records Retention Act that contains a schedule for the destruction of records. The Department of Police requested to destroy the records listed on the attached exhibit. The Law Bureau reviewed the Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted. It was requested that Council pass the resolution so that the records can be destroyed.
President Gregory stated that authorizing Resolution 11 A is listed on the Agenda.
B. Police Department – Advanced Police Executive Development Course
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 6, 2003 from Gregory Solderitch, Captain, Community Services, Police Department, requesting consideration of a resolution required for the application process for the Police Department to host an Advanced Police Executive Development Course from November 3 to November 14, 2003. The Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission is conducting the training at the Bethlehem Police Department.
President Gregory stated that authorizing Resolution 11 C is listed on the Agenda.
C. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Bethlehem Christian Training Center – Honor Our Heroes Service
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 15, 2003 from Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Use Permit Agreement for Public Property between the Bethlehem Christian Training Center and the City of Bethlehem for use of the City Center Plaza on May 25, 2003 for the Honor Our Heroes Service.
President Gregory stated that authorizing Resolution 11 D is listed on the Agenda.
D. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Visual Impairment and Blindness Services of Northampton County, Inc.
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 15, 2003 from Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Use Permit Agreement for Public Property between the Visual Impairment and Blindness Services of Northampton County, Inc. and the City of Bethlehem for use of the Memorial Pool Building from September 24, 2003 to October 19, 2003 for the 2003 Fabric Sale.
President Gregory stated that the appropriate Resolution will be listed on the June 3, 2003 Agenda.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Mayor Delgrosso congratulated Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Mowrer on their Primary Election victories.
1. Administrative Order – Peter Stolvoort – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor James Delgrosso appointed Peter Stolvoort to the Fine Arts Commission, effective until April 2005. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 14,069 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. Finance Committee
Mr. Callahan, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held prior to the City Council Meeting this evening on the following subjects: Transfer of Funds – Police Department – Typewriter; Utilization of Savings – Water Capital Budget – Lockers; Amending Sewer Capital Budget – Repairs to North Secondary Digester; Transfer of Funds – Water Fund – Professional Services – Penn Forest Intake Building; Transfer of Funds – Public Works Department – Overtime; Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – Liquid Fuels Allocation; Transfer of Funds – Streets Bureau – Printer; Transfer of Funds – Non-Utility Capital Budget – Street Overlays; Transfer of Funds – Community Development Block Grant Budget – East Fifth Street Phase III – Curbs and Sidewalks; Transfer of Funds – Community Development Block Grant Budget – Street Landscaping; Transfer of Funds – Community Development Department – Temporary Help; Amending General Fund Budget – South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District – Design Guidelines; Transfer of Funds - Non-Utility Capital Budget – Monocacy Creek/Johnston Park Walls; Transfer of Funds – Non-Utility Capital Budget - Ambulance Purchase; and Transfer of Funds – City Council – Advertising and Printing Account.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 17 – 2003 – Amending Article 1301 – Titles, Purpose, and Interpretation
Tabling Bill No. 17 – 2003
President Gregory stated that, as a result of several minor wording changes that are being advertised, he would accept a motion to table Bill No. 17 - 2003.
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Callahan moved to table Bill No. 17 – 2003. Voting AYE on the motion: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed
B. Bill No. 18 – 2003 – Amending Article 1316 – LI Light Industrial District
The Clerk read Bill No. 18 – 2003, Amending Article 1316 – LI Light Industrial District, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 18 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4190, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 19 – 2003 – Amending Article 1317A – IR Industrial Redevelopment District
The Clerk read Bill No. 19 – 2003, Amending Article 1317A – IR Industrial Redevelopment District, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 19 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4191, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 20 – 2003 – Amending Article 1320 – Signs
The Clerk read Bill No. 20 – 2003, Amending Article 1320 – Signs, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 20 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4192, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 21 – 2003 – Amending Article 1326 – Amendments
The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2003, Amending Article 1326 – Amendments, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 21 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4193, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 22 – 2003 – Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment – Adding Section 1308.07 – R-M Residential Overlay Zone
The Clerk read Bill No. 22 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Callahan and Mr. Schweder, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1308
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED R-M RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 22 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 23 – 2003 – Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – Liquid Fuels Allocation
The Clerk read Bill No. 23 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE LIQUID FUELS FUND BUDGET FOR 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 23 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 24 – 2003 – Amending General Fund Budget – South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District – Design Guidelines
The Clerk read Bill No. 24 – 2003, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 24 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
D. Bill No. 25 – 2003 – Amending Sewer Capital Budget – Repairs to North Secondary Digester
The Clerk read Bill No. 25 – 2003, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2003 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR SEWER
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. Bill No. 25 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Authorizing Disposition of Records – Police Department
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,070 which authorized the disposition of records of the Police Department, listed in Exhibit A, in accordance with the schedules and procedures for disposition of records set forth in the Municipal Records Manual, in accordance with State Act 428, and Resolution 13,076.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Approving Intermunicipal Transfer of Retail Liquor License – 40 West Broad Street
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,071 which approved the application for the transfer of a Restaurant License from Edgemont Park Tavern, 4324 West Mountain View Drive, Walnutport, Pennsylvania to 40 West, Inc., 40 West Broad Street, Bethlehem.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Obtaining Reimbursement – Advanced Police Executive Development Course
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,072 which authorized obtaining reimbursement of monies for expenses incurred in connection with the Police Department hosting the Advanced Police Executive Development Course from November 3 to November 14, 2003 to be conducted by the Municipal Police Officers and Education and Training Commission at the Bethlehem Police Department, pursuant to the training provisions of the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Act, and agreeing that while receiving any funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pursuant to said Act, the City of Bethlehem shall adhere to the rules, regulations and training standards established by the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission.
D. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement – Bethlehem Christian Training Center – Honor Our Heroes Service
Mr. Schweder and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,073 which authorized the execution of a Use Permit Agreement for Public Property between the City of Bethlehem and Bethlehem Christian Training Center for use of the City Center Plaza on May 25, 2003 for the Honor Our Heroes Services, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
Ms. Szabo queried whether the plan is cleared of the regulations about State and religion.
Joseph Leeson Jr., City Solicitor, replying yes, advised it appears the event has a general civic nature. Although there may be a prayer element, it is something that occurs in other activities as well. Attorney Leeson confirmed he does not feel this particular use would in any way be violative of the separation of church and state concept.
E. Transfer of Funds – Police Department – Typewriter
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,074 which transferred $575 in the General Fund Budget from the Police Department – Other Expenses Account to the Police Department – Equipment Account for the purchase of a replacement typewriter.
F. Utilization of Savings – Water Capital Budget – Lockers
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,075 to utilize savings of $295 in the Water Capital Budget from the Equipment – Technical Support Account for the purchase of employee lockers.
G. Transfer of Funds – Water Fund – Professional Services – Penn Forest Intake Building
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,076 which transferred $20,000 in the Water Fund Budget from the Water General Expenses – Unforeseen Contingency Account to the Water General Expenses – Professional Services Account to pay for engineering services related to repair of the slope at the Penn Forest Intake Building.
H. Transfer of Funds – Public Works Department – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,077 which transferred $210 in the General Fund Budget from the Public Works Department – Office Supplies Account to the Public Works Department – Overtime Account to cover overtime cost for operation of the control center during the 2003 President’s Day snow storm.
I. Transfer of Funds – Streets Bureau – Printer
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,078 which transferred $220 in the Streets Bureau – Department Contracts Account to the Streets Bureau – Equipment Account for the purchase of a replacement printer.
J. Transfer of Funds – Non-Utility Capital Budget – Street Overlays
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,079 which transferred $83,000 in the Non-Utility Capital Budget from the Third Avenue Reconstruction Account to the Street Overlays Account to provide additional funding in the account.
K. Transfer of Funds – Community Development Department – Temporary Help
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,080 which transferred $2,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Health Bureau – Salaries Account to the Community Development Department – Administration – Temporary Help Account for conversion of Housing Inspection files.
L. Transfer of Funds – Non-Utility Capital Budget –
Monocacy Creek/Johnston Park Walls
After Resolution 11 L was considered, Mr. Reichard advised that a correction was necessary to reflect the intended transfer within the Non-Utility Capital Budget instead of the General Fund Budget.
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Callahan moved that the correction be made.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Gregory, 7. The motion passed.
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,081 which transferred $125,000 in the Non-Utility Capital Budget from the Other Account to the Federal and State Grants Account to accurately reflect receipt of the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Grant for restoration of Monocacy Creek/Johnston Park Walls.
M. Transfer of Funds – Non-Utility Capital Budget – Ambulance Purchase
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,082 which transferred $100,000 in the Non-Utility Capital Budget from the West Second Street Extension Account to the Ambulance Account to allow the City to purchase two new ambulances instead of the one originally budgeted.
N. Transfer of Funds – City Council – Advertising and Printing Account
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,083 which transferred $3,000 in the General Fund Budget from the City Council – Professional Services Account to the City Council – Advertising and Printing Account to provide funding towards current and future legal advertising/printing costs.
12. NEW BUSINESS
UGI Installations - East Fourth Street
Ms. Szabo advised she was informed by a letter from UGI that new meters and a pipeline would be installed on East Fourth Street. Ms. Szabo, noting that the work is currently being done in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of East Fourth Street, remarked that the installations are "ugly". Ms. Szabo explained that outside of the houses are pipes and related pieces approximately two feet high. Ms. Szabo confirmed that she has spoken to several people about the matter but no one seems to be taking it seriously and responding to her concern. Ms. Szabo affirmed that before the work started she spoke with a UGI representative and asked if the installations would look like the City's water meter installations, and she was told yes, she would not be disappointed, and the installation would not be large. Highlighting the fact that her house is up against the street, Ms. Szabo questioned where UGI would place their new installation. She noted if it is placed on the street it could be subject to vandalism. Ms. Szabo further expressed that the appearance of the installation could serve to depreciate people's properties. Stressing that the image of South Bethlehem is trying to be improved, Ms. Szabo asserted that the installations are disturbing.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, while commenting he is unsure from a regulation standpoint what the City can do, stated he would be happy to discuss the matter with UGI and determine whether something can be done about it.
Ms. Szabo advised that she contacted Mr. Alkhal two weeks ago about the matter, and has also tried without success to contact UGI by telephone.
Mr. Alkhal affirmed that he will go to the site tomorrow, will assign staff to follow-up on the matter, and will contact Ms. Szabo about the outcome.
Ms. Szabo asked if Mr. Alkhal will put a stop to what UGI is doing.
Mr. Alkhal responded "if we can, yes".
Ms. Szabo queried whether UGI sent notice to the City that UGI would be digging up the street and doing the work she described.
Mr. Alkhal, confirming that permits must be taken out, informed Ms. Szabo those do not describe the detail of how the installation would look. Mr. Alkhal added the City is well aware that the work is being done ahead of the reconstruction of Fourth Street that will be undertaken by PennDot next year.
Ms. Szabo inquired whether UGI will be installing the equipment throughout the City.
Mr. Alkhal noted that permits so far were taken out for the work on Fourth Street but he would find out if the installations are planned for the rest of the City.
Ms. Szabo encouraged the City to get involved in what the installations look like. Ms. Szabo wondered whether there are any ordinances that may address the matter. Ms. Szabo recalled a past incident where an even bigger pipe and meter were installed in the vicinity of Lynnfield.
Mayor Delgrosso, expressing that Ms. Szabo has raised a very good point, agreed that the UGI's installations could detract from the appearance of houses. Mayor Delgrosso noted that, if possible, perhaps it could be requested that UGI put the reader outside as was done for the City's water meter installations with the meters located inside the house.
Ms. Szabo pointed out that, as she has said repeatedly, it is not just her property that is of concern but rather the fact that such installations would be made City-wide.
President Gregory, communicating that the area is a gateway to the City, expressed the hope that the matter can be reviewed seriously.
Mr. Alkhal, affirming that the issue will be followed up, reiterated it is a matter that does not come under direct City regulations or control.
President of Council - Rescinding Vote to Elect
Mr. Schweder advised he would like to move that the vote by which this body elected James Gregory as President of City Council be rescinded.
Mrs. Belinski seconded the motion.
Motion to Table - Fails
President Gregory moved to table the motion. President Gregory explained his thought that the matter should be tabled and discussed in a different forum.
Mr. Callahan seconded the motion to table.
Voting AYE: Mr. Callahan, and Mr. Gregory, 2. Voting NAY: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, 5. The motion to table failed.
Mr. Schweder explained the decision that led him to make the motion tonight was not an easy or pleasant one. Recounting that the current President of Council had the support unanimously of the Council who elected him in January 2002, Mr. Schweder thought it had become evident from discussions of Members of Council over the last several months that the tenor and the tone of Council Meetings and hearings in this chamber have reached a low that has not been seen in the City before. Mr. Schweder, noting there have been comments from citizens who have attended City Council Meetings over a long period about what has occurred and lack of respect, stated it reaches the point of being unacceptable to him. Regrettably, Mr. Schweder communicated he reached the point over the last several days that he felt it was incumbent on Council to do this. Mr. Schweder commented he made a conscious decision to not do so prior to the election because he did not think anything that went on through the campaign was germane to the matter. Mr. Schweder said he finds no fault or has reached no conclusions on the behavior as candidates of anyone who ran for either Mayor or Council. Mr. Schweder expressed what it strictly comes down to is what has gone on in this Chamber. Mr. Schweder continued on to say, at the very least, for someone who is the head of a legislative body the first and foremost responsibility they have is impartiality in presiding over proceedings. Sadly, Mr. Schweder, commented, that has not taken place over the last several months. Through this period, Mr. Schweder observed what has been seen is a deterioration of that responsibility. Adding that he could go on with a list of issues, Mr. Schweder thought it was evident to most who are sitting at the meeting tonight that what needs to be done is restore the tenor and handling of public hearings and Council Meetings to what has been exhibited by Council Presidents going back over the last 60 or 70 years. Mr. Schweder stated, therefore, he found it necessary, if not regrettable in that sense, to take this, which is perhaps an unprecedented, motion.
President Gregory, expressing his personal opinion of Mr. Schweder's comments, recounted that, as Mr. Callahan stated at a previous meeting, City Council decided to appoint Mr. Delgrosso as interim Mayor. President Gregory, asserting that Mr. Schweder insisted on making Mr. Delgrosso the Mayor, remarked and now Mr. Schweder wants to remove President Gregory. While expressing he would be very disappointed, President Gregory acknowledged that certainly City Council has that right. However, President Gregory stated whether he sits at the President's seat or another Council seat he certainly will still be here. Saying, hopefully, Council will not follow what he characterized as a "vindictive mood", President Gregory commented if Council decides to do so, then so be it. President Gregory commented that he would ask Council to totally reject the motion.
Mr. Callahan, stating he would not support the motion this evening, said it would be his hope with the conclusion of the election yesterday that all could return to normalcy in the City and to get on with the issues that are important to the citizens of Bethlehem such as jobs, economic development, and delivery of City services. Mr. Callahan thought this kind of action only serves to perpetuate the tension and period of uncivil discourse that he was hoping could be put behind. Mr. Callahan expressed the hope that the Members of Council and the City could move forward over the next eight months. Observing there have been public disputes, Mr. Callahan restated his hope that everyone can let the past be the past and try to move forward for the good of the City. While expressing his agreement with Mr. Schweder that the tone and tenor of Council Meetings has deteriorated over the last three and four months, Mr. Callahan communicated he did not know that all of the blame can be laid entirely at the feet of Mr. Gregory because he thought part of it had to do with the tensions involved in the campaign and election that came to a conclusion yesterday. Mr. Callahan reiterated his hope that everyone can move forward as a City, a Council, and a government for the good of the citizens. Mr. Callahan said he would not support the motion this evening.
Mr. Arcelay said, as the newest Member of Council, he realized he would have to learn a lot, and stated he has learned a lot. Mr. Arcelay continued on to say one of the first and foremost things he realized was that the people who come to the podium deserve the utmost respect. Mr. Arcelay commented he has witnessed, unfortunately, outbursts and unfortunate treatment of people who have come to the podium. Mr. Arcelay did not think that citizens should in any way be intimidated by Council's reactions. Mr. Arcelay felt that Council has a duty to accept criticism from the floor.
President Gregory stressed that tonight was a very well run meeting. Communicating that, as Mr. Callahan said, there were many tensions during the campaign, President Gregory said the whole thing started once this Council decided to make Mr. Delgrosso interim Mayor. President Gregory commented it seems that everything is toned down tonight, and it looks like it would continue to be toned down. However, President Gregory stated he warned Council, and adding he was hoping the matter would be tabled, that he will still be on Council. President Gregory continued on to say so if Council thinks that moving him into another seat will make a difference he thinks "that would be the absolute worst mistake this Council could make". President Gregory, expressing his disappointment with Mr. Arcelay's comments, remarked that Mr. Schweder was chastised by Ms. Pongracz at a past meeting. President Gregory said "we can start on a good note, or we can finish it on a bad note. It's…Council's choice."
Mrs. Belinski, stating that President Gregory's remarks to Mr. Schweder were uncalled for, advised it was not orchestrated for Mr. Delgrosso to be voted by this Council as interim Mayor. Mrs. Belinski recounted that she remembers telling President Gregory when he asked there was no question in her mind, and there is no one else but Mr. Delgrosso who is as well-qualified with his experience, all his years in office, and her knowledge of him also through close association on the Finance Committee. Mrs. Belinski noted she has had many comments from people telling her what is the matter with Council that a President is allowed to act in that manner.
Kathy Ward, 2076 Easton Road, Lower Saucon Township, expressed that she was too humiliated and did not have enough guts to come to the podium and address City Council about the proposed project across the street from her home. Ms. Ward remarked that should not go on. Ms. Ward communicated she has a young family that she cares about and cares about their safety, and is concerned about the traffic in the neighborhood.
Mr. Donchez stated that he will support Mr. Schweder on the motion. Mr. Donchez commented this does not have anything to do with Mr. Delgrosso as interim Mayor, but it has everything to do with what he believes as someone who has attended City Council Meetings since he was in high school and with great respect for the people who sat in these chairs before this Council. Mr. Donchez continued on to say he believes many of President Gregory's recent comments the last few months have been unprofessional, insensitive, and have compromised the integrity of City Council. Mr. Donchez, noting that what people say in campaigns is different and people have the right to say anything, stated what goes on in this hall, the hall of the people, when Council has public hearings, people have the right to speak and to criticize Council. Mr. Donchez denoted that is why Members ran for this office and are elected officials. Mr. Donchez recounted that, at the Public Hearing dealing with the rezoning of the former Durkee's property, President Gregory made comment after comment after people spoke at the podium that in his opinion is not the function of a president of an elected body. Mr. Donchez, recalling that President Gregory asked two individual speakers a few meetings ago when they made some comments to please sit down, expressed that President Gregory's comments were inappropriate and people have the right to speak and to ask questions. Communicating that is what disturbs him, Mr. Donchez stressed he has tremendous respect for this institution and for the people who have served as President. Mr. Donchez, noting that he supported Mr. Gregory as President a year and a half ago, advised but the last two to three months he has been very disappointed with what has happened in this hall. Mr. Donchez expressed the belief that under the previous Presidents going back to when this form of government started Council has had many tremendous leaders who have sat in the President's chair and at this table. Mr. Donchez, remarking this is not easy, and reiterating he has tremendous respect for this institution, communicated that he thinks Mr. Gregory has compromised in many ways the integrity of this institution and of this body. Mr. Donchez pointed out that when someone has the title of President that individual speaks for the whole body of Council and the comments are a reflection of the whole body. Mr. Donchez added that comments of the leader and the President that reflect seven elected officials is demeaning to Council. Restating this is not easy, Mr. Donchez stated he believes that Mr. Gregory has compromised the integrity of this institution and of this City Council.
President Gregory, expressing he is amazed by this, commented that "we talk about dignity and compromising and I gave you the opportunity to table this so we didn't have to go through this tonight and you refused to table it. We could have discussed this behind closed doors. You wanted to discuss it open, and you're talking about dignity…".
Mr. Callahan, stating he would agree that some of Mr. Gregory's comments have been uncalled for and insensitive, and he thinks all are disappointed with what has occurred in this chamber at City Council Meetings over the last four months, said Mr. Gregory has contributed to that, without doubt. Mr. Callahan continued on to say that, despite the behavior, he does not think that President Gregory's behavior has risen to the level in his mind that requires Mr. Gregory's removal as President.
Ms. Szabo said this is the hardest thing she has had to talk about since she has been on Council. Ms. Szabo, denoting that she and Mr. Gregory have known each other for many years and have worked together, recalled there were times when she and Mr. Gregory strongly wanted something and worked together but failed, and sometimes won. However, Ms. Szabo stated she cannot overlook what has been happening. Ms. Szabo, commenting it was not Mr. Schweder who was pushing to get Mr. Delgrosso named as interim Mayor, said that Mr. Gregory "jumped the gun and went to the press and sa[id] it's definitely gonna be Delgrosso…everybody on Council wants him." Ms. Szabo communicated she has been concerned about the image that Council "has put through with so many people saying why are you allowing the meetings to go on like that. Why are you allowing politics, campaign issues, to be talked about…". Ms. Szabo said she feels that President Gregory should voluntarily step down.
President Gregory stated "well, that's not going to happen…As I said to Mr. Morganelli when this whole thing began, and that's exactly when it began over the interim Mayor's [matter], I said if you're going to do it, do it, you know they did it, and where we're at…". Restating he is not going to voluntarily step down, President Gregory reiterated that he did offer Council the opportunity to table the matter and it could have been discussed outside of this meeting, but Council chose not to. President Gregory said if Council is going to do it they are going to have to do it to his face. President Gregory, focusing on the Public Hearing that was the first meeting pertaining to the rezoning of the former Durkee property, stated he was chastised by Bill White about that. President Gregory continued on to recount that, at the second meeting pertaining to the rezoning of the former Durkee property, he had very little to say. At the third meeting, President Gregory stated he let everybody have their say. President Gregory, commenting he is "not sure where this is all coming from", said "it would seem to me it's somewhat orchestrated". President Gregory said "you keep focusing on the interim Mayor issue. However, that's not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is removing a Council President, and you're certainly welcome to do so. But the people in Bethlehem elected me a Councilman and, whether I'm sitting in this seat or sitting in another seat, I will still be here. But if you remove me from the Council Presidency I probably won't be here in the greatest of moods. So, again, it's your choice. I agree with Mr. Callahan…Council can certainly do this. But as Mr. Callahan has said…we are going to after the election get everything back to an even keel, hopefully. However, if you do this, I'm just telling you it’s not intimidation. It won't be back to an even keel. I would prefer that this not be done so we can get through the year without a problem, but you're certainly welcome to do it. But, I'm certainly not going to volunteer to step down."
Mr. Callahan, while expressing it is unfortunate that "we have to do this in this manner", commented he does not know what discussions have taken place outside of this chamber. Mr. Callahan stated, before the next step would be taken, he would like to offer a possible suggestion in a public setting although he would rather it be done differently, that if perhaps President Gregory could show some level of regret perhaps it would be enough for this Council to allow President Gregory to remain as President. Mr. Callahan, saying he thinks this is a rather unprecedented step and as much as he disagrees with President Gregory's behavior, stated sometimes things get lost in the moment and people get lost in the moment. Mr. Callahan, communicating it was his hope that "we could…let the past be past, and move on as a Council", said "I don't think this kind of action does that. I think it perpetuates problems."
President Gregory, turning again to the meeting on the rezoning of the Durkee's property, said because of the fact that he was in such disagreement with the No Mall people he was upset about some of the things that were said. President Gregory continued on to say he reacted as maybe he should not have done at that meeting. As far as Mr. Spagnola's comments, President Gregory said his response to that was just immediate because of a situation that was very touchy to him. President Gregory commented, other than that, since then and especially tonight, "things have gone extremely well and they will go extremely well if we continue along these lines. But again, it's Council's choice."
Mr. Schweder commented he thinks tonight’s discussion over the last ten minutes is an exhibit that makes Council's case. Mr. Schweder said, with the statements that President Gregory directed at Mr. Schweder in President Gregory's first statement during this part of the discussion, "any other presiding officer in any meeting would have gaveled you out of order, and would have stricken those statements from the record." Mr. Schweder communicated the fact of the matter is "to say that things were going to get back on an even keel now that election day is over misses the whole point. The point is nothing should have ever gotten out of balance. What I'm suggesting is that over a period of time what went on in campaigns overflowed into what went on here. And, it is the responsibility of the presiding officer to see that that does not happen. So, to turn around and say that we went through what most people in the City figure was a rather strange campaign over the four months, and now we should turn around and simply say okay that's over and done with and somehow or another we'll go back. And, the damage that has been done that Mr. Donchez talks about to us as a Council is not going to be reversed simply because someone who, when election day is over, determines that we go back to doing what we once did. And, so the only way that we do begin to make amends with that is what I think we are going to do this evening which, in a sense, is regrettable that it's come to this, but is a situation that we believe, and not speaking for my colleagues again, what I believe that changes have to be made. And, I have to say in all candor the discussion as you participated in it over the last fifteen or twenty minutes certainly I think makes the case for an affirmative vote, and that's voting aye on the motion to rescind the vote."
President Gregory queried whether, according to what Mr. Schweder just stated, President Gregory should have gaveled Mr. Schweder at the last Council Meeting when he was chastising Mr. Callahan after which Ms. Pongracz addressed City Council regarding the matter.
Mr. Schweder responded "no you would not have, because there was no personalization of anything that I said to Mr. Callahan. And, the entire colloquy that I had with him related to whether it was an Ordinance or a Resolution, and how we proceeded. And that is one of the shortcomings that I just mentioned a few minutes ago, is that it is the personal statement, the personal attack, and personalizing things that no presiding officer is ever permitted to allow happen in a legislative body." Mr. Schweder continued on to state that "referring to any of us by name is not even proper there when it is in an accusatory way because it is supposed to be done in parliamentary procedure by stating things within the third person."
President Gregory asserted that it was an attack on Mr. Callahan, and it was obvious to the audience. President Gregory, referring to Mr. Callahan's comments, said "this is unprecedented. If Council wishes to do it, they can do it…, but I think it would be a mistake, but you're certainly welcome to do it."
Reiterating that Council is not being coerced by Mr. Schweder or anybody else, nor has there been any secret backroom discussion, Ms. Szabo highlighted the fact that the Sunshine Law does not allow it. Ms. Szabo restated that Council was not coerced and was not lobbied to make Mr. Delgrosso the interim Mayor. Ms. Szabo stressed that the Members of Council should be given credit for being able to think for themselves, and felt it is an insult to the Members of Council to indicate that Council is being pushed into these things by one person.
President Gregory restated that discussion of this matter could have been outside these chambers, and discussed at another time and in another way had Council tabled this matter tonight. President Gregory remarked, however, that Council chose to discuss it openly which, he said "is fine with me".
Voting AYE on the motion: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, and Ms. Szabo, 5. Voting NAY: Mr. Callahan and Mr. Gregory, 2. The motion passed.
In response to Mr. Gregory, Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, commented he thinks it would be appropriate as Mr. Gregory was removed as City Council President by vote of Council that Attorney Spadoni proceed with the conclusion of the Agenda for this evening.
New City Council President - Nominations
Mrs. Belinski said she would like to make a motion to nominate J. Michael Schweder as the new Council President. Mrs. Belinski stated that, at this time especially, she feels Mr. Schweder has the necessary leadership qualities that he has certainly exhibited tonight.
Mr. Donchez seconded the motion.
Mr. Gregory said that "for something that was not orchestrated it certainly fell well into place…Mr. Gregory's removed, Mr. Schweder is put in his place…All in one night, not orchestrated, not discussed behind the scenes, just miraculously occurred tonight…".
Mrs. Belinski responded "this is absolutely, completely on my own initiative. I feel at this time Mr. Schweder is the Council President we need to lead us. I did not discuss this with anyone."
Mr. Schweder, raising a question of parliamentary inquiry, asked whether under Council's rules he is permitted or required to vote on the motion.
Attorney Spadoni expressed the belief, without the Resolution in front of him, there is a rule of this Council that all Members participate in the vote unless there is a clear conflict of interest.
Voting AYE on the motion: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Schweder, Ms. Szabo, 6. Voting NAY: Mr. Gregory, 1. The motion passed.
Attorney Spadoni stated he would turn the meeting over to Mr. Schweder.
Mr. Schweder asked if Attorney Spadoni would still serve as presiding officer for the remainder of this meeting.
Attorney Spadoni, noting he would accept that appointment, said if there is a consensus of Council he would proceed. Members of Council indicated their concurrence.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, said he "won't reprimand or chastise any of you. You know how and what you did tonight, and I think it is reprehensible. You can do what you wish because you have the power, but I'm wondering how many of you are going to turn Republican. You know what happened when you elected this man…and I told Jim [Delgrosso] in the beginning you shouldn't take it…this is trouble one spot…".
UGI Gas Company - Leak Testing
Mr. Bruch remarked that City officials should have the PUC investigate Hawthorne Road and Elmwood Park since it is being used as an experimental ground to check for leaks by UGI, the gas company. Mr. Bruch, noting that the road was just done, advised that he has heard the noise related to the leak checks about two or three times a month in front of his house. Mr. Bruch expressed his fear that one day there may be an explosion. Mr. Bruch, stressing he is putting the City on notice, stated if someone does not do something about it he will submit information to his lawyer.
Former Milham Car Lot - East Broad Street
Mr. Bruch stressed that the former Milham car lot on East Broad Street is getting to be a used car junk yard. Mr. Bruch advised that he asked people to look into the matter but no one seems to care. Mr. Bruch informed the Members of a further problem of a car with expired plates that has not been moved in a year and a half at the Sure Fit lot. Mr. Bruch notified the Members the response he received when he asked the lot manager about the vehicle was “you really don’t want to know anything about it.” Mr. Bruch urged that the car should be removed.
East Broad Street Vicinity - Stop Signs
Mr. Bruch, focusing on a stop sign that fell down in the vicinity of East Broad Street, said the Police Commissioner knows about it, and wondered whether the Police Commissioner could comment on it.
Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, affirmed that the Police Department does not repair or replace stop signs since that is a function of the Public Works Department.
Mr. Bruch remarked that when motorists drive on Hawthorne Road from Broad Street they are accustomed to traveling at speeds of 35 to 40 mph, make the turn, and do not stop. Mr. Bruch added there should be some control at Broad Street and the YMCA. Mr. Bruch expressed the hope that the situation will be addressed when lights are installed in the vicinity of East Broad Street.
Work on City Streets by Utilities
Patrick Herrity, 732 Hawthorne Road, recalled that last year the Administration created and City Council passed a rather creative and forward thinking Ordinance to encourage utilities to do work on streets before they are overlayed by the City. Mr. Herrity, informing the assembly he is here to say it is not working, suggested perhaps the fines should be increased. Mr. Herrity advised that on Hawthorne Road and Dellwood Avenue nineteen holes were dug in a newly overlayed street.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, confirming that the reason for the Ordinance is to encourage utilities to do their work ahead of any work the City might be doing on a street said, in addition, the City has taken steps to notify all utilities of the City’s planned overlay program for the next three to five years. Mr. Alkhal stated the City has done everything it could to impress upon utilities to do their work in advance of the City’s work to overlay the streets, and affirmed there are penalties for not doing so. Mr. Alkhal explained that, in the case of Hawthorne Road, companies have their own constraints involved in work schedules such as financial, or emergencies. Mr. Alkhal advised that on Hawthorne Road the utility is using a new method of repairing joints so they do not leak by which a hole is bored down to the joint, it is repaired, the material is put back, and the area is sealed. Although the method seems to work well, Mr. Alkhal remarked nevertheless it is not desired. While noting that perhaps further action by the City can be taken by increasing fines, Mr. Alkhal pointed out that if the utility is replacing lines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes the City’s fines may not be a factor. Mr. Alkhal, communicating he cannot conclude that the City’s Ordinance is not working, highlighted the fact that the fines do generate revenue for maintenance of City streets. Mr. Alkhal acknowledged it is still very regrettable when the City has just paved a street and a utility digs it up afterwards.
Mr. Herrity explained he does not think the patching and settling of the street is up to the standard that would be expected.
Mr. Alkhal, agreeing to check the Hawthorne Road location, added that the City seems to be getting cooperation from the utilities but sometimes undesirable outcomes result. Mr. Alkhal further informed Mr. Herrity that, as time and staffing levels permit, City employees periodically go back to check the status of various areas.
Method Of Choosing An Interim Mayor
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed his agreement
with Mr. Callahan on the desirability of changing the method
of choosing an interim Mayor.
Mr. Scheirer, focusing on the results of the yesterday’s Primary Election in which Mr. Callahan received 44% of the votes for Mayor, suggested an alternative called preferential balloting in which voters indicate their second choice. Mr. Scheirer enumerated some of the methods and equipment to institute the balloting including touch screen terminals. Mr. Scheirer urged City Council to give serious consideration to bringing about the necessary changes in law including State law and procedures.
Gas Meters – Outside of Houses
Dave Sanders, 69 E. Goepp Street, turning to Ms. Szabo’s
discussion about outside meters, asked why the meters are
being moved and questioned who will be responsible if he has
to bring meters from inside his house to the sidewalk. Mr.
Sanders observed that outside meters could be hit by a bicycle,
for example. Mr. Sanders further questioned how such gas utility
company installations are allowed to take place in the absence
of City permits when permits are required for numerous installations
such as fences, for example. Mr. Sanders expressed the hope
that the City seriously looks into the issue and stops it
before it gets out of hand.
Zoning Permits for Public Utility Meters
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, advising that tonight is the first time she has heard about the issue, said she does not know anything in the Zoning Ordinance that provides for issuance of permits for public utility meters. Ms. Heller noted that, if such public utility installations would be made in the Historic Districts, then the matter would be reviewed by the Historic Review Boards. Ms. Heller stated that she would look into the matter in conjunction with the Public Works Director.
Analogy Of This Evening’s Meeting
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noting he has lived in many communities over his 73 years and has attended many meetings of various municipalities, stated he would give an analogy of this evening’s meeting. Explaining the energy bell curve used in physics and noting that energy can become negative at its minimum level, sits at the very bottom of the curve, and has to either stay down or go up, Mr. Antalics expressed the feeling that citizens of Bethlehem and City officials are “at the bottom right now”. Expressing the hope that “we can’t go lower”, Mr. Antalics said he hopes that “we can obey the law of physics and go upward and out.”
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, focusing on preferential balloting, felt the problem results from having too many candidates of the same party, and there are just not enough votes to go around. Mr. Bruch expressed that the rules of election should not be changed because “it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.