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September 16, 2003 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Reverend
Gilberto Garcia-Rodriguez, of First United Church of Christ,
offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to
the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, John
B. Callahan, Robert J. Donchez, James S. Gregory, Magdalena
F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 7.
Public Hearing – Miscellaneous Zoning Text Amendments
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Schweder called to order a Public Hearing to consider Miscellaneous Zoning Text Amendments, as follows: Section 1302.38 – Height of a Structure, Section 1309.02 – Use Regulations – Adding Arena, Section 1318.11 – Projections into Front Yards, Section 1318.17 – Rear Yard Requirements, Section 1320.09 – On-Premise Signs, Section 1322.04 – Distance Between Multi-Family Dwellings, and Section 1322.04 – Special Conditions for Conditional Uses – Adding Arenas.
A. Planning and Zoning Bureau – Miscellaneous Zoning Text Amendments
The Clerk read a memorandum from Tracy Samuelson, Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning, dated August 19, 2003 in which it was advised that, at the August 14, 2003 meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the miscellaneous zoning text amendments contained in a memorandum dated July 24, 2003, along with revisions contained in an August 21, 2003 memorandum.
B. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Miscellaneous Zoning Text Amendments
The Clerk read a letter dated August 29, 2003 from Frederic H. Brock, Assistant Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, in which it was stated that, at its meeting on August 28, 2003, the Commission reviewed the amendments, considers them to be a matter of local concern, and voted to offer no comment.
Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning Comments
Tracy Samuelson, Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning, explained that the proposed miscellaneous text amendments to the Zoning Ordinance constituted various "clean-up" items and responses to requests from some community members and applicants with which the Bureau agreed. Ms. Samuelson reviewed each of the Miscellaneous Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment requests, as follows: Section 1302.38 – Height of a Structure, Section 1309.02 – Use Regulations – Adding Arena, Section 1318.11 – Projections into Front Yards, Section 1318.17 – Rear Yard Requirements, Section 1320.09 – On-Premise Signs, Section 1322.04 – Distance Between Multi-Family Dwellings, and Section 1322.04 – Special Conditions for Conditional Uses – Adding Arenas.
Ms. Samuelson noted that the amendment to Section 1302.38 – Height of a Structure, dealt with measuring the height of a structure on the front facade of a building, and allowing for a steeper roof. The current height measurement from the ground to the peak of the roof did not allow for the present trend for more steeply sloped roofs. Ms. Samuelson continued on to point out that, if there is any habitation in the upper floor, then the measurement would be to the peak of the roof.
Ms. Samuelson advised that in Section 1309.02 – Use Regulations, the word Arena has been added for the use of an Arena in the Institutional Zoning District. She continued on to affirm that this takes care of the long-standing situation with Stabler Arena and Rauch Field House both located at Lehigh University's campus where various events are conducted. Confirming that the text amendment legitimizes these activities in the Zoning Ordinance, Ms. Samuelson informed the Members that no signs would be permitted, and the addition allows for the use of the arena in the Institutional Zoning District. She highlighted the fact that the other text amendment in Section 1322.04 – Special Conditions for Conditional Uses – Adding Arenas, qualifies the use by stating that arenas are only permitted in existing buildings containing at least 60,000 square feet of floor area, as is the case at Rauch Field House, or a minimum seating capacity of at least 6,000, as is the case at Stabler Arena.
Ms. Samuelson, turning to the amendment to Section 1318.11 – Projections into Front Yards, explained that currently porches can project five feet into the front yard and are allowed to be half the width of the front wall. The amendment legalizes more use of the front yard by allowing an open front porch up to one-third of the required front yard, and allowing it to go across the full width of the front of the home.
Ms. Samuelson, focusing on the amendment to Section 1318.17 – Rear Yard Requirements, noted that many zoning variance approvals have been given and the changes would alleviate these types of requests having to go before the Zoning Hearing Board. Affirming that the amendment will allow an open porch the full width of the back of the home, Ms. Samuelson highlighted the fact that the Zoning legislation pertains to ground story porches but not to second story porches.
Ms. Samuelson stated that the amendment to Section 1320.09
– On-Premise Signs deals with sign square footage situations
that arose. Ms. Samuelson commented that present regulations
for wall signs in Commercial Districts, regardless of the
number of stories or size of the building, allow for a total
of one hundred square feet of wall signs, and the sign cannot
cover more than twenty-five percent of one building face.
The amendment reduces the amount of coverage on any one building
face to twenty percent in order to protect a wall from being
cluttered. In addition, the total square footage for wall
signs has been increased to two hundred square feet to take
into account larger buildings.
Ms. Samuelson informed the assembly that the current provisions of Section 1322.04 – Distance Between Multi-Family Dwellings, requires a separation distance between a collection of multi-family buildings of fifty feet. Since many people had expressed that a fifty feet separation distance seemed excessive, Ms. Samuelson communicated that the Bureau's research revealed that separation distances in other communities averaged twenty to twenty-five feet. As a result, the proposal would reduce the separation distance between a collection of multi-family buildings from fifty feet to twenty-five feet that is more reasonable.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, exemplified that in some cases the conversion of a row home into apartments would allow four cars to be parked there. Mr. Antalics, noting it seems that some row homes could be converted into two apartments, questioned what is multi and whether it is more than one.
Ms. Samuelson, responding it would be three or more, affirmed that multi-family is defined in the Zoning Ordinance and read the pertinent Section 1302.29 (f) in which it is stated that Multi-Family is a building used for three or more dwelling units. In further response to Mr. Antalics, Ms. Samuelson informed him that the amendment deals with multi-family dwellings located on the same lot so it is generally for new construction.
Dave Sanders, 69 East Goepp Street, inquired whether the stated amendments relating to porches pertain to a single homes or a row home.
Ms. Samuelson replied it would pertain to any type of home. Continuing on to respond to Mr. Sanders' question, Ms. Samuelson affirmed that the amendment does not allow a neighbor to build up to the property line. She cited that, in the example of a thirty-five foot rear yard, the ground floor open porch could be up to one-third of the required rear yard or approximately eleven feet.
Mr. Sanders, turning to the amendment addressing On-Premise Signs, inquired about its applicability to a commercial building in a residential neighborhood.
Ms. Samuelson, pointing out that the situation cited by Mr. Sanders is in not a Commercial Zoning District, verified it is a non-conforming use.
Mr. Sanders contended that, while the owners of a commercial building in a residential neighborhood pay the same price for the same license and the same mercantile tax as would the Commercial District business owner, they cannot have the same size signs. Mr. Sanders said he would ask City Council to look into that particular part of the amendment because there are a lot of businesses in Residential neighborhoods who pay the same taxes and prices as those in Commercial Districts and could be afforded bigger signs.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Ordinances will be placed on the October 7, 2003 City Council Agenda for First Reading.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:50 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of September 2, 2003 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
6. OLD BUSINESS
C. Public Works Director – Lynn Avenue Bridge – Federal Aid Reimbursement Agreement
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 2, 2003 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached the proposed Federal Aid Bridge Project Agreement No. 050008 for the Lynn Avenue Bridge Replacement, Project No. BR-01-W02, providing for reimbursement to the City of funds for preliminary engineering costs for the project. Under the Agreement, the City will be reimbursed 95% of these costs up to $87,400, and execution of the required Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Resolution was requested.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 I is listed on this evening's Agenda.
D. Deputy Director of Community Development – Highway Safety Program – Highway Issues
The Clerk read a letter dated September 3, 2003 from Dana B. Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, to which was attached a proposed resolution to receive funding in the amount of $65,000 for Highway Safety Program Project No. CP 04-21-1 from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The funding will allow the Health Bureau to continue the program focused on public awareness and education to address highway safety issues including occupant protection, DUI awareness, pedestrian/bicycle/motorcycle/school bus safety, safe vehicle, driving, communities, and rail-highway crossing, and aggressive driving.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 A is listed on this evening's Agenda
E. Deputy Director of Community Development – Highway
Safety Program – Child Safety
The Clerk read a letter dated September 3, 2003 from Dana B. Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, to which was attached a proposed resolution to receive funding in the amount of $5,000 for Highway Safety Program Project No. J3 04-21-1 from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The funding will allow the Health Bureau to continue the program focused on public awareness and education to increase child passenger safety issues by conducting training and car seat clinics.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 B is listed on this evening's Agenda.
F. City Solicitor – Addendum No. 6 to Agreement between Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, Outdoor Marketing Systems, Inc. d/b/a Lamar Transit Allentown and City of Bethlehem - Additional Transit Shelter
President Schweder informed the assembly that Communication 7 F has been deleted from the Agenda.
G. Purchasing Director – Annual City Auction
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 11, 2003 from Mary Jo Reed, Director of Purchasing, requesting approval of an attached Vehicle List and Surplus Property List for the Annual City Auction to be held October 11, 2003.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 H is listed on this evening's Agenda.
H. Liquor License Transfer Request – Elliot’s American Grill
The Clerk read a letter dated September 11, 2003 from Attorney
F. Paul Laubner, representing Elliot Matos of Elliot’s
American Grill, requesting consideration of an Intermunicipal
Transfer of Liquor License R-16360 from Sportsman Bar &
Restaurant, Inc., 3-5 Messinger Street, Bangor, Pennsylvania
18013, to Hermanos Matos, Inc., 81 West Broad Street, Bethlehem,
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Gregory moved to schedule a Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 7, 2003 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
C. Community Development Committee
Magdalena Szabo, Chairwoman of the Community Development Committee, presented an oral a report of the Committee's meeting held on September 9, 2003 on the following subjects: Key-Bethlehem Rental Rehabilitation Program; and Proposed 2004 CDBG and HOME Programs.
D. Finance Committee
John Callahan, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee's meeting held prior to this evening's City Council Meeting of September 16 on the following subjects: Transfer of Funds – Parks Maintenance – Overtime; Utilization of Savings – Recycling Bureau – Purchase of Snow Blower Attachment; Non-Utility Capital Budget – Information Services – Purchase of Equipment; Transfer of Funds – EMS – Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Housing Inspections - Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Community Development Block Grant – Five Points Traffic Study and National Register Nomination; Transfer of Funds – Engineering Bureau – Overtime; Amending General Fund Budget – Streets Bureau – Overtime and Supplies; Utilization of Savings – Water Capital Budget – Field Test Equipment; Transfer of Funds – Sewer Capital Budget – Regional Act 537 Analysis; Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment – Electric; Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Insurance Reimbursement; Transfer of Funds – Contingency Account Adjustments – Union Contracts – SEIU, Police, and Fire; and Transfer of Funds – City Clerk’s Office – Legal Advertising.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 39 – 2003 – Amending Community Development Budget – 2003 CDBG Program
The Clerk read Bill No. 39 – 2003 – Amending Community Development Budget – 2003 CDBG Program, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 39 – 2003, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4212, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 40 – 2003 – Amending General Fund Budget – Streets Bureau - Overtime and Supplies
The Clerk read Bill No. 40 – 2003, Amending General Fund Budget – Streets Bureau - Overtime and Supplies, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Gregory, 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. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 40 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 41 – 2003 – Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Insurance Reimbursement
The Clerk read Bill No. 41 – 2003, Amending Sewer Fund Budget – Insurance Reimbursement, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Gregory, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE SEWER FUND BUDGET FOR 2003.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 41 – 2003 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Authorizing Execution of Highway Safety Program Grant – Project CP 04-21-1 – Highway Issues
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,165 which authorized the Mayor and Controller to sign the grant documents provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation under its Highway Safety Program No. CP 04-21-1.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Authorizing Execution of Highway Safety Program Grant – Project J3 04-21-1 – Child Safety Issues
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,166 which authorized the Mayor and Controller to sign the grant documents provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation under its Highway Safety Program No. J3 04-21-1.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Approving Participation in Key-Bethlehem Program – Rental Rehabilitation
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,167 approving the City's participation with Keystone Savings Bank in the Key-Bethlehem Rental Rehabilitation Program for certain qualifying properties within the City of Bethlehem, under which Keystone Savings Bank offered to lend up to $1,000,000 for the Program.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
Motion - Removing Resolution 11 D from the Table; and Considering Resolutions 11 D Through G As A Group
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez moved to take Resolution 11 D from the Table (Tabled at the September 2, 2003 City Council Meeting), and to consider Resolutions D through G as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 42 West Market Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,168 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install 5 storm windows on the front façade of 42 West Market Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 424 North New Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,169 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install courtyard and garden in front yard with fountain and bird bath at 424 North New Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 136 East Market Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,170 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct an addition at 136 East Market Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 472 Main Street
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,171 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a duct and exhaust fan at 472 Main Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 D through G: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
H. Authorizing Approval of Items – City Auction
Mr. Arcelay and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,172 which authorized the proper officials to conduct a public auction of the vehicles and equipment per the 2003 Surplus Items List.
I. Authorizing Federal Aid Reimbursement Agreement – Lynn Avenue Bridge
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,173 which authorized the Mayor and the Controller to execute a Federal Aid Bridge Project Agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acting through the Department of Transportation, and the City of Bethlehem, for the Lynn Avenue Bridge over the Norfolk Southern/PB&NE Railroad, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement.
J. Transfer of Funds – Parks Maintenance – Overtime
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,174 with transferred $7,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Parks Maintenance – Salaries Account to the Parks Maintenance – Overtime Account to provide additional funds required for overtime expenses.
K. Utilization of Savings – Recycling Bureau – Purchase of Snow Blower Attachment
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,175 which approved $818 in the General Fund Budget from the Recycling Bureau – Equipment Account to be used for the purchase of a snow blower attachment.
L. Non-Utility Capital Budget – Information Services – Purchase of Equipment
Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,176 which approved $22,000 in the Non-Utility Capital Budget from the Equipment – Information Services Account to be utilized for the purchase of a File Server instead of EMS Networking and related equipment.
M. Transfer of Funds – EMS – Overtime
Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,177 which transferred $15,000 in the General Fund Budget from the EMS – Temporary Help Account to the EMS – Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the account.
N. Transfer of Funds – Housing Inspections – Overtime
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,178 which transferred $2,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Health – Temporary Help Account to the Housing – Overtime Account to provide additional funds for inspectors to work overtime.
O. Transfer of Funds – Engineering Bureau – Overtime
Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,179 which transferred $8,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Engineering Bureau – Department Contracts Account to the Engineering Bureau – Overtime Account to cover overtime costs for inspections of projects.
P. Utilization of Savings – Water Capital Budget – Field Test Equipment
Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,180 which approved $900 in the Water Capital Budget from the Equipment-Technical Support Account to be utilized for the purchase of field test equipment for drinking water samples.
Q. Transfer of Funds – Sewer Capital Budget – Regional Act 537 Analysis
Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,181 which transferred $54,000 in the Sewer Capital Budget from the West Intermediate Clarifier Modifications Account to the Regional Act 537 Analysis Account to provide funding to pay for amendment to the consultant’s contract.
R. Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment – Electric
Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,182 which transferred $99,000 in the Sewer Capital Budget from the Wastewater Treatment – Chemicals Account to the Wastewater Treatment – Electric Account to provide sufficient funding in the Account.
S. Transfer of Funds – General Fund Budget – Salaries – Union Contracts – SEIU, Police, and Fire
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,183 which transferred $717,223 in the General Fund Budget from the Unforeseen Contingency Account to the listed 40001 Salaries Accounts to reflect salary increases in the SEIU, Police, and Fire Unions Contract Agreements for 2003 through 2006.
T. Transfer of Funds – Water Fund Budget – Salaries – SEIU Contract
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,184 which transferred $69,615 in the Water Fund Budget from the Unforeseen Contingency Account to the listed 40001 Salaries Accounts to reflect salary increases in the SEIU Agreement for 2003 through 2006.
U. Transfer of Funds – Sewer Fund Budget – Salaries – SEIU Contract
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,185 which transferred $60,905 in the Sewer Fund Budget from the Unforeseen Contingency Account to the listed 40001 Salaries Accounts to reflect salary increases in the SEIU Agreement for 2003 through 2006.
V. Transfer of Funds – Golf Course Enterprise Fund Budget – Salaries – SEIU Contract
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,186 which transferred $15,149 in the Golf Course Enterprise Fund Budget from the Unforeseen Contingency Account to the Golf Course – Salaries Account to reflect salary increases in the SEIU Agreement for 2003 through 2006.
W. Transfer of Funds – 911 Fund Budget – Salaries – SEIU Contract
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution 14,187 which transferred $18,657 in the 911 Fund Budget from the Unforeseen Contingency Account to the 911 System – Salaries Account to reflect salary increases in the SEIU Agreement for 2003 through 2006.
X. Transfer of Funds – City Clerk’s Office – Legal Advertising
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,188 which transferred $2,000 in the General Fund Budget from Unforeseen Contingency Account to the City Clerk – Advertising Account to provide additional funds to pay for required legal advertising.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Rescheduling Public Hearing - 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to reschedule the Public Hearing on the 2003 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant at the October 7, 2003 City Council Meeting at 7:30 PM in Town Hall.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Callahan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Gregory, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
Roach Problem - 903 North New Street
Ms. Szabo asserted that, in the current situation of roaches at 903 North New Street, there are no rights for the neighborhood property owners who are suffering as a result of roach infestation at their properties that began at 903 North New Street. Ms. Szabo queried whether there are Ordinances that cover such serious health conditions as those created by the roach infestation.
Dana Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, while affirming there are Ordinances that cover the situation, advised at issue is the fact that a certain amount of notice must be given to the residents who are renting the property where the infestation originated in order for them to remove their possessions and vacate the premises so that the extermination procedure can have a lasting effect. Mr. Grubb, acknowledging it certainly has not proven to be a satisfactory solution for the adjoining neighbors who have been affected by the roach infestation, advised they have expressed dissatisfaction to him personally on several occasions. Mr. Grubb, explaining that the property rights and the tenants of 903 North New Street must be protected, pointed out that if the situation were reversed other property owners would expect to have a certain level of property and tenancy rights protected as well. Communicating it is not a good answer to somebody who is suffering from roach infestation as a result of a neighboring property, Mr. Grubb affirmed it is a matter of due process.
Ms. Szabo, expressing her frustration in following the situation for many weeks at the request of a friend who has been suffering from the roach infestation, stressed it seems as though the situation is being taken care of but yet continues on and on. Ms. Szabo, noting it was indicated in the press that the Health Bureau did not put a deadline on cleanup when it came before District Justice Stocklas, questioned why.
Mr. Grubb, replying a notice was issued that gave the tenants fifteen days to vacate at which time the property would be declared uninhabitable, stated there is some flexibility with the amount of time and it was at his urging that the timeframe was shortened. Other circumstances involving the tenants included caseworkers to help them understand what would take place with the property and available housing options. While the tenants vacated within the requested timeframe, they unfortunately left most of their possessions behind that led to a question of what could be done with the possessions such as disposing them or whether the possessions could be reclaimed. Mr. Grubb confirmed that as of late this afternoon everything has been removed from the address and extermination treatments have begun. Mr. Grubb, expressing that he shares Ms. Szabo's frustration, informed her there is a similar problem at another property where there are seven rental units with one tenant being the source of the infestation. Mr. Grubb continued on to say that the learning experience from the 903 North Street situation is being applied to the second similar situation. Mr. Grubb, stressing that if it were his mother living next to the source of the infestation he would certainly be reacting a lot more aggressively, highlighted this is a fact that he has tried to impress upon the City's inspections staff.
Ms. Szabo, reiterating her frustration, communicated that over the years she has seen such things happen time and time again, and advised she knows people who have had to move because of intolerable situations and a lack of action. Ms. Szabo pointed out that the problem being faced now is to make sure that this very serious situation does not happen again in the future as it has in the past. Ms. Szabo expressed her understanding is that the situation has been ongoing for a couple of years, and added that the people who have moved out may be taking the roaches with them to their next residence and the jobsite. Ms. Szabo asked if the Ordinance can be changed in order to shorten the time required for action, and to protect the owners of the neighboring properties who are the innocent victims.
Joseph Leeson, Jr., City Solicitor, commenting that Mr. Grubb has given a fairly accurate description of the rights of property owners involved, stated it is his assessment that the best solution is prompt and immediate action by City personnel when a problem like this arises. Attorney Leeson noted he can review the matter of whether time frames can be shortened.
Ms. Szabo queried what dictates time limits.
Attorney Leeson explained that when a matter goes before a District Justice there must be compliance with timeframes set forth under City Ordinance and rules issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Grubb informed Ms. Szabo he could check which specific City Ordinances were applicable in the situation. In further response to Ms. Szabo, Mr. Grubb advised he was not aware whether the County was involved in the situation because there was endangerment to children.
Ms. Szabo asked Mr. Grubb to find out what existing Ordinances cover such a situation in order that they can be reviewed for possible amendment so that the situation does not occur in the future.
Mayoral Vacancy, Succession, and Terms
Mr. Gregory recalled that, during discussions at a past City Council Meeting, Mr. Donchez brought up the possibility of not limiting the terms of Mayors which issue was to be reviewed in the Human Resources and Environment Committee. Expressing that he thought there was agreement among the Members to look into the matter, Mr. Gregory wondered whether a meeting will be scheduled.
President Schweder commented it would be his position that it would be determined by Mr. Callahan, who originated the discussion, whether he wishes to proceed with the matter.
Mr. Gregory clarified he is not referring to the part of the discussion about succession in the event of a Mayoral vacancy that had been raised by Mr. Callahan but is referring to the matter brought up by Mr. Donchez about the term of office of the Mayor and to have that matter addressed by the Committee.
President Schweder noted that the record regarding the discussions can be checked.
Mr. Arcelay, Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, recalled there was uncertainty about the direction, and informed Mr. Gregory that he has since been reviewing related information. In recognition of the extent of the issue and the fact that Budget Hearings will soon start, Mr. Arcelay advised he has made the determination that the matter will be taken up at a later date.
President Schweder stated that the record with respect to
the matter will be checked, and acknowledged that the Chairman
will make a determination regarding the matter.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Encroaching of Shrubs - 422 East Market Street
Anthony Bubick, 434 Milton Street, informed the Members that 422 East Market Street is unoccupied, Edge Street which crosses Milton Street parallels the 422 East Market Street property, and from West Market Street to Milton Street the shrubs are encroaching into the alley. Mr. Bubick continued on to notify the Members that City employees trimmed a small amount of the bushes subsequent to an accident involving the Police and a bicyclist. Advising that the situation has been ongoing for approximately three years, Mr. Bubick stated that he spoke with a representative of the Health Bureau who directed him to the City Forester. Mr. Bubick asserted there is nothing being done about the matter that is a safety hazard.
Charles Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, affirming that Mr. Bubick talked to him today, agreed that the sidewalk is partially blocked by overgrown shrubbery that is also growing out towards the alley.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, stated that he will look into the matter and follow up on it, and notice will be given to the owner. In response to President Schweder, Mr. Alkhal explained that usually 30 days is given to take care of a problem after which the City would follow-up and do the work, and then bill the property owner.
Noise and Traffic Issues - Vicinity of Irene Street and Stefko Boulevard
Jeff Issa, 1985 Siegfried Street, distributed information from a meeting of SSI (Stanhope, Siegfried, and Irene Streets) block watch, formed in June 2003, to the Members of Council and the press. Mr. Issa related that at Irene Street, located next to Dunkin Donuts and the former Laneco store, where about 12-15 young children play, there have been nine accidents, and enumerated the accident dates. Mr. Issa advised that on June 10, 2003 the group asked for a stop sign to be placed there but nothing has yet been done. In addition, Mr. Issa stressed that speeding has occurred at the location and there are no speed limit signs, but noted he was informed that speed limit signs are on order. Mr. Issa continued on to advise that the group asked for a speed trap to be set up by the Police Department, but Officer Marshall informed him that the request needs to be further reviewed. Explaining his request to have Police Officers stationed at the nearby apartment complex to check for speeding, Mr. Issa said he and his neighbors have not seen a Police Officer stationed at the apartments for the past month. Mr. Issa further advised there are no watch children signs there where a bus drops off students.
Mr. Issa expressed his appreciation to Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner for taking care of locating a Police substation at the Texaco gas station on Stefko Boulevard. Mr. Issa continued on to explain the robberies that took place there.
Mr. Issa informed the Members that loud music at the Classic Car Wash has been a big problem for the neighbors. Confirming that he spoke with the father of the owner and told him about the September 30, 2003 SSI block watch meeting which the son was requested to attend, Mr. Issa stressed that the group has taken every step they can. Mr. Issa, asking that something be done about the problem, expressed he realizes that he cannot keep calling the Police and added that the noise abates when the Police arrive.
Mr. Issa related that the Atomic car stereo business on Stefko Boulevard just had a show, approved by Police Commissioner Donchez, and explained that his car was shaking from the music as he drove past. Mr. Issa communicated that the Police Officer at the area to whom he spoke at the time about the noise "kind of shrugged it off". When he arrived at home, Mr. Issa said he called the Police Department and explained the situation to Sgt. Brown, including the SSI block watch, and asked that a Police Officer visit the site but no one showed up. Mr. Issa, advising that he took a video of the scene, enumerated there was drag racing, spinning of wheels, smoke, and speeding. Mr. Issa informed the Members that the next day he had explained the situation to Captain Solderitch. Mr. Issa stated that the situation was a disturbance to the neighbors who want a little piece and quiet. Mr. Issa said he spoke to Rita Sparrow today.
Mr. Issa communicated that he does not want to go the route of having to request the tapes of his recorded messages with the Police Department. Mr. Issa, saying all he wants is zero tolerance of the noise situation, stressed that everyday he and his wife have to hear noise, their house vibrates, the noise has been going on in the neighborhood for years, and his daughter cannot even take a nap because the house windows shake. Mr. Issa said he would like to ask what could be done and what is being done.
Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, advising that he would have to look into some of the issues tomorrow, stated he would contact Frank Barron, City Traffic Coordinator, concerning the stop sign and speeding issues that come under the traffic engineering bureau in the Department of Public Works. Police Commissioner Donchez pointed out that, when there is a permit request, at times he is reluctant to deny it based on what could be or might be. Noting other situations where permits are granted and noise provisions might be exceeded, Police Commissioner Donchez communicated that, while he understands the concerns, he would not want to be arbitrary in denying permits. Police Commissioner Donchez stated that, based on Mr. Issa's comments tonight, if a permit application was made next year, it would have to be looked at. Police Commissioner Donchez advised that, upon reviewing the reports today, one other complaint call was received during that time frame about spinning of tires.
Mr. Issa explained the reason why other calls are not being made is because he is the captain of the block watch and speaks for the group. He added that others from the group were unable to attend this evening's meeting.
Mr. Issa advised that Senator Boscola's office will be sending a representative to the next block watch meeting regarding possibly obtaining funding for signs.
Mayor Delgrosso asked Mr. Issa to make an appointment with his office, noted that the tape will be reviewed, and that Police Commissioner Donchez will be present. Mayor Delgrosso added there are certain criteria for stop signs.
Unaccounted For Water
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, reported that he estimated the unaccounted for water as a percentage of total water put into the system at 22.5%. Mr. Scheirer added that he wanted to do more checking and perhaps supply a written report. Mr. Scheirer, stating that he used data from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for the most recent reports available for twenty-five municipalities, noted there were various interpretations of unaccounted for water. Mr. Scheirer, continuing on to explain that the percentage equates to approximately 3.5 million gallons per day, observed the actual amount reported for 2002 was roughly 4.3 million gallons. He said that means, in terms of gallons per day, an excess of 800,000 gallons a day above and beyond what one would expect based on the surrounding municipalities. Mr. Scheier pointed out that he did his analysis both with and without Allentown to make sure that municipality's numbers were not skewing the results. Mr. Scheier stated that, in terms of gallons, the unaccounted for water as defined by Bethlehem is 23% greater than one would expect based on the experience of surrounding municipalities, or 6.2 percentage points higher. He said the estimate for Bethlehem in 2002 was 28.7% and the percentage predicted by the analysis was 22.5%. While observing that 22.5% is above the PUC standard of 20%, Mr. Scheirer contended this either means that the Counties of Lehigh and Northampton as a group do not meet the PUC standard or maybe there is a reason for that which might be limestone.
Recovery and Removal of Cars - Hawthorne Road, East Broad Street, and Milham Lot
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, informed the Members that the Hawthorne Road area has become quiet following identification of the individual who stole a car and the recovery of the stolen car. Mr. Bruch also thanked those involved for removing the abandoned cars in the former Milham lot on East Broad Street.
Parking on Residential Streets - East Broad and Wood Streets Building
Mr. Bruch stated that the parking on the surrounding residential streets resulting from the East Broad and Wood Streets Building must be addressed. Mr. Bruch felt that someone should notify those who occupy the building that the residents of the area do not like their parking on the surrounding residential streets, particularly since most of the homes in the area do not have garages.
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, thanked City Council for restoring a sense of stability and decorum.
Ms. Pongracz expressed the hope that in the 2004 Budget at least five to seven new vehicles for the Police Department will be included. Ms. Pongracz stressed that the cars are important to health and safety of the citizens of the community. Ms. Pongracz communicated that she hopes the Police Department gets what is needed for its protection and hers.
Ms. Pongracz, with reference to the comments of Mr. Issa, observed that zero tolerance means different things to different people and thought that the Police and Fire Departments, City Administration and City Council try to do the best for all citizens.
Bethlehem Authority Replacement of Consulting Engineers
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noting that the Bethlehem Authority replaced its consulting engineers, Gannett Fleming, with Schoor DePalma, stated that the replacement caused some reaction unofficially. Advising that he talked to some professional engineers at the State level, Mr. Antalics said "they thought that the water systems in the community are three levels: dams, and watersheds, water treatment and water transmission and distribution." Mr. Antalics stated it is his understanding that the Bethlehem Authority is concerned with dams and the watershed. Mr. Antalics, informing the Members that he checked the websites of Schoor DePalma and Gannett Fleming, enumerated some of the listed services. Observing that since the Bethlehem Authority is concerned with dams and the watershed, and Gannett Fleming seems to have a very in-depth history as well as awards in that discipline, Mr. Antalics stated it raises a question in his mind "as to the intelligence of taking on somebody who has no official history in the area of earth sciences with dams and watersheds." Mr. Antalics commented that, in searching the internet, he found that the replacement firm did run into some problems in the City of Phillipsburg. Mr. Antalics expressed his concern about keeping public welfare above politics.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.