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July 6, 2004 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, July 6, 2004 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Heather Janules, Intern Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Robert J. Donchez, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, and J. Michael Schweder, 5. Ismael Arcelay and Magdalena F. Szabo were absent, 2.
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Schweder called to order three Public Hearings, as follows.
Public Hearing No. 1 – Amending 2004 CDBG Plan - ADA Improvements – Senior Centers of Bethlehem - $17,500
President Schweder called to order the First Public Hearing to consider an amendment to the City of Bethlehem’s 2004 Action Plan to reprogram $17,500 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from unexpended funds from activities funded in prior years (2002 and 2003) and to use the funds to create a new activity, ADA Improvements – Senior Centers of Bethlehem.
Dana Grubb, Deputy Director of Community Development, stated that the purpose of the Public Hearing is to recognize proposed amendments to the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and its Action Plan. Any time a specific activity is impacted by transferring funds of 25% or more, or creating a new activity, the City’s Community Participation Plan necessitates that a Public Hearing be held to afford opportunity for public comment. Mr. Grubb informed the assembly it is proposed that City Council approve a transfer from two prior year activities, as follows. The transfer of $4,955 from Consumer Credit Counseling Services, a 2003 activity, with which organization the City no longer contracts; and, the transfer of $12,545 from East Fifth Street – Phase I, a Public Works infrastructure project that has been completed, for a total of $17,500 into a new activity, ADA Improvements – Senior Centers of Bethlehem. Mr. Grubb explained that the Senior Centers of Bethlehem has requested assistance in accommodating improvements that are being made at a new facility located at 65 East Elizabeth Avenue. The organization has specifically requested that ADA improvements to the floor that the organization plans on occupying be made to the restroom facilities, and to all entranceways and doors so that anyone who is a disabled resident of the community can access the programs that will be provided by the organization at this address. Mr. Grubb confirmed that the City felt the request was in line with the types of activities that the City has funded in the past, and that making the facility accessible to all who want to use it was a worthwhile project.
President Schweder inquired how the Administration arrived at the determination to transfer funds from the stated two specific accounts.
Mr. Grubb, responding that he could have selected from several accounts, advised there are a number of Public Works infrastructure accounts where the projects have been completed and there are surplus funds available for new activities or to supplement existing activities if it were necessary. Mr. Grubb explained it was a matter of picking two accounts from which funds could be transferred.
President Schweder asked about the Consumer Credit Counseling account.
Mr. Grubb replied that for a number of years CDBG funding was provided to Consumer Credit Counseling for participants in the City’s affordable housing programs such as the First Time Homebuyers Program and the Housing Rehabilitation Program. When the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) conducted a program monitoring recently, it was found that some of the documentation that had been provided by the organization with whom the City had contracts had not met the requirements to HUD’s satisfaction. The City’s efforts to get the information sufficient to meet HUD’s requirements were not successful. Consumer Credit Counseling services with which the City had contracts in the past was bought out by a national organization. Through the transition, it was found that many of the records being requested by the City to document the qualifying criteria for the individuals who were participating in the counseling services were no longer available. The City felt that the future pledges of funding for the activity, and at HUD’s direction, should not be encumbered or contracted. Mr. Grubb further advised there are several affordable housing related organizations with which the City does have subrecipient agreements that have stepped in to fill the gap: Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley Neighborhood Housing Services, and Alliance for Building Communities. As part of the process through which individuals are qualified for affordable housing opportunities, the organizations are undertaking this type of counseling with the clientele. Mr. Grubb affirmed that the City is meeting the need but through different providers.
President Schweder queried whether it is a case of the information not being available or it is a long-standing matter in that the previous organization was not fulfilling the HUD requirements.
Mr. Grubb, replying he does not believe so, stated that the organization was providing documentation to the City, including survey sheets provided to them by the City. However, HUD wanted the organization to take it one step further, and when HUD looked at the files during their monitoring, it was found that many of the files did not have source documentation. Mr. Grubb exemplified that while documentation for Social Security was in the file, the documentation to support pension benefits was missing from the file. The fact that the clients had certified on the forms provided by the City, the City felt was sufficient, and for many years HUD had accepted that documentation. On this monitoring visit, HUD delved further into the source documentation that the subrecipient maintained and discovered that many of the files were incomplete. Mr. Grubb stated that he feels comfortable that the people who received assistance up to that point in time had met the program requirements in terms of income qualification, and had self-certified instead of in some cases having the Consumer Credit Counseling Services providing that source documentation.
Mr. Grubb confirmed to President Schweder that this line item will no longer appear in upcoming budgets. President Schweder asked if the City is paying anything additional to CACLV or any other organization to provide this service. Mr. Grubb, responding no, said the funding the City provided has more or less been in conjunction with some of the existing activities that have been in place for several years with various organizations. As part of the qualifying process, the organizations are providing the information for the City. In addition, the Department has incorporated that information into the requests that have come before City Council for funding. Mr. Grubb further replied to President Schweder that he does not anticipate City Council will see in the next budget any increase in contributions based on those organizations providing this additional service.
Mrs. Belinski stated she was given information that, at a recent meeting of the Senior Centers of Bethlehem Board of Directors, the Treasurer of the Board told a member of the Tenant Association that the $17,500 assumed to be going towards handicapped accessibility at East Elizabeth Avenue is going for state of the art computers. Mrs. Belinski stressed that the City should make sure where the money is going. Mrs. Belinski continued on to say she was assured that when construction is finished the City would have to see the invoice before a check is issued to prove that is where the money is going.
Mr. Grubb, responding in the affirmative, explained that the Department looked at the term of the lease between the Senior Centers of Bethlehem and the owner of the 65 East Elizabeth Avenue building. Mr. Grubb said, generally speaking, when Community Development Block Grant funding is provided to a subrecipient for leasehold improvements, the Department wants to see evidence that the lease is going to run at least for the term of the anticipated useful life of the improvements. Senior Centers of Bethlehem has a ten year lease with an option to renew for ten years. Mr. Grubb informed the Members that the Department, along with its consultants, researched the requirement and determined that in order to address that issue, the City would be best served to contract with the property owner, as is allowed under HUD regulations, for the improvements. The leasehold improvements, while benefiting the Senior Centers of Bethlehem organization, belong to the owner of the property. The property owner would have to bill the City to draw down the funds. Mr. Grubb, while expressing his assurance that the money will be used for ADA improvements, advised that, when the City is billed, supporting documentation will have to be evidenced to show that the improvements that were completed, and for which invoices are issued were entryways and accessible restrooms. Mr. Grubb affirmed if he sees computers on the invoice it is going to raise a red flag and that would be disallowed. Based on the estimates provided, the improvements for which money has been requested are well in excess of $35,000 so the City should not have a problem reimbursing for those costs up to the maximum of $17,500. Mr. Grubb exemplified that, if the cost of the improvements is $40,000 the City would be in a position to reimburse only up to $17,500.
Mrs. Belinski advised that members of the Tenants Association at the Moravian Building have called her to express they are distressed because the Senior Center has been at its current location for years, and they are questioning why there is so much interest in getting handicapped accessible facilities at East Elizabeth Avenue. Mrs. Belinski, confirming that she visited the present Moravian House site yesterday, explained there is a long ramp leading to the building that people have to walk up with grocery bags, for example, or with a walker, or a wheelchair. Then they have to go inside, pick up a cart into which to put their groceries, and take the cart back again. Mrs. Belinski stressed “they said if anyone needs more improved, better accessibility for handicapped, it’s down at the Moravian Building, and why wasn’t this brought up some time before…”. Mrs. Belinski, restating they are asking why is something not being done to help them, pointed out it is a long way to go when someone is handicapped.
Mr. Grubb noted, if the Senior Centers of Bethlehem or the Moravian Development Corporation that owns the building were to request assistance to make the property accessible, that is something that could be taken to the Mayor for consideration. Because these are the kinds of activities the City has endeavored to fund in the past in terms of making public facilities accessible, Mr. Grubb stated it would be the type of application the City would like to see and the type of activity that the City has been supportive of in the past.
Vicki Jackson, Executive Director of the Senior Centers of Bethlehem, said she has to agree that the ramp length at the Moravian Houses is really a burden. Ms. Jackson advised that when Moravian House III was in the planning stage, she had a meeting with David Roth, General Manager, and expressed her dismay at the way the building was being sited, the traffic patterns, and the length of the ramp. Ms. Jackson, noting that the Moravian House properties are handicapped accessible and meet ADA requirements, communicated that does not mean it is an easy walk. However, Ms. Jackson advised that building is not owned by the Senior Centers of Bethlehem and the organization is not in a position to make structural changes. Ms. Jackson commented that, if the owners would undertake that, the organization would be most supportive of having the ramp shortened or making appropriate adjustments. Ms. Jackson, observing there are a lot of accessibility issues, said “but they’re not really within the purview of this particular application for this particular site.” Ms. Jackson informed the Members that the organization is looking to add facilities, and to expand facilities for the City. She continued on to say there are several negatives associated with the current situation on Old York Road that it is hoped will be appropriately addressed at East Elizabeth Avenue. Ms. Jackson, turning to the issue of computers, clarified that the organization expects to receive a grant for computers that is a totally separate grant from a totally separate source, and has nothing to do with the CDBG dollars under consideration this evening.
Mrs. Belinski asked why the computers that the organization has are being sold for $10.
Ms. Jackson replied because they are old, donated computers that no longer can manage current software. Ms. Jackson, explaining that the computers have been used for classes at the site, said the students have gone beyond the capacity of the computers that are really obsolete. Ms. Jackson noted there is a discussion underway with Olympia cameras that would like to provide digital cameras and classes, and the computers could not support the software and memory. Ms. Jackson, stating that the organization would like to provide up to date, useful, usable, appropriate facilities and equipment, advised that computers offered for sale were purchased by individuals who just wanted to be able to e-mail or use them for simple games.
Mrs. Belinski asked why Ms. Jackson did not think to initiate handicapped accessible improvements after all this time. Mrs. Belinski, acknowledging that the Senior Centers of Bethlehem does not own the buildings on Old York Road, pointed out the organization does not own the building at East Elizabeth Avenue either.
Ms. Jackson responded that the building on Old York Road is handicapped accessible, and it meets all the criteria.
Mrs. Belinski, while agreeing it meets the criteria, pointed out it is not really user friendly for the seniors, and questioned why something was not done to improve the conditions.
Ms. Jackson explained it did not seem to be essential, or the best use of the resources at the time. Ms. Jackson added that is really a function of those who own the building and those who are inconvenienced by living in the building.
Mrs. Belinski, questioning what is the goal of moving to East Elizabeth Avenue, pointed out that the argument given in the newspaper that it is centrally located is the argument that was used to move out of the building on the South Side to Old York Road. Ms. Jackson advised they did not move from the South Side to Old York Road. Mrs. Belinski asked where people will park in order to use the facilities on East Elizabeth Avenue. Ms. Jackson felt that the parking on Old York Road is considerably less available, and said her understanding is that it will become less available in the coming year. Mrs. Belinski informed Ms. Jackson that she visited the Center four different times recently in the last two weeks and found no problems getting a parking space. Ms. Jackson pointed out that parking is available in the evening when the Senior Center has no programs.
Matt Dorman, Summit Management Realty, representing Diversified Capital, the property owner, advised he has been to the Old York Road site and has found problems parking. Mr. Dorman, turning to Mrs. Belinski’s comments that people who go to doctors offices on East Elizabeth Avenue have said it is difficult to find parking, informed her that “we are working on the parking situation. In fact, we are creating more handicapped accessible parking. We are also contacting several architects who are interested in donating their time for a restructuring of the rear of the property which would allow that handicapped accessible. As you know, the front of the building is accessible. The back of the building is not. That’s what we’re looking to do to create parking directly behind the building so people could get into the Center directly without having to go through the front of the building.” Mr. Dorman explained that employees are parking in the front lot but should be parking in the employee lot versus the visitor lot, and commented hopefully that will alleviate the problem.
Mrs. Belinski highlighted the fact that the new facilities on East Elizabeth Avenue will be located in the lower level. Mr. Dorman advised that far more money than is being asked of the City is being put into ADA compliance as well as parking and other HVAC units.
Beverly DiSanto, President of the Moravian Tenants Association, said on June 21 there was a meeting of the Senior Centers Board, and Board attendees included Tom Mazur, Tom Byrnes, Diane Effting, Bruce Davis, Michael Dunn, and George Kurtz. Ms. DiSanto went to the meeting along with the assistant superintendent of the building. A subject that came up was the $17,500 the City was going to give the Senior Centers, and it was supposed to be for handicapped people to get in and out of the new building. Ms. DiSanto said her “next sentence was why didn’t they do something about the handicapped getting in and out of the building where they’re at. And they said well we’re not going to use that money for [the] handicapped. We’re going to use it for state of the art computers.” Ms. DiSanto pointed out she does not have a state of the art computer and if someone is a beginner they do not need it. Ms. DiSanto explained she does not take computer classes at the Senior Center because they are $25 a lesson. Ms. DiSanto stressed, if the City is going to give the $17,500 for handicapped accessibility, “please make sure that that’s where it’s going, [and] that it’s not going for your so-called state of the art computers.”
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the July 20 City Council Agenda.
The First Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:59 p.m.
Public Hearing No. 2 – Rezoning Request – Portion
of Schoenersville Road –
PI – Planned Industrial District to CS – Shopping Center District
President Schweder called to order the Second Public Hearing to consider a request of a developer and of the City of Bethlehem to rezone from PI – Planned Industrial District to CS - Shopping Center District various tracts of land, as follows: developer request – bounded on the west by lands of Davis Realty and LCIDA, on the north by lands of LMK Manufacturing and Republic-Bethlehem LP, on the east by Schoenersville Road, LR 48049, and on the south by U.S. Route 22; City of Bethlehem request – bounded on the west by lands of Harvey Industries and Liberty Property Limited Partnership and City Line Place, on the north by Avenue C, on the east by Schoenersville Road, LR 48049, and on the south by lands of Ruth Marcon and Republic-Bethlehem LP.
A. Director of Planning and Zoning - Rezoning Request - Portion of Schoenersville Road – PI – Planned Industrial District to CS – Shopping Center District
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 14, 2004 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, which stated that at its May 13, 2004 meeting, the Planning Commission voted 4 to 0 to recommend approval of an expanded area of the rezoning request. The Planning and Zoning Office recommended that the Planning Commission act favorably upon the formal request submitted by Charles Gallub, developer, along with some abutting lots that the Office believed are also appropriate for rezoning from PI to CS. The Planning Commission’s recommendation for approval includes the area originally submitted by the developer and also the expanded area.
B. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Rezoning Request – Portion of Schoenersville Road – PI – Planned Industrial District to CS – Shopping Center District
The Clerk read a letter dated May 28, 2004 from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission which stated the following: “The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission considered the proposed rezoning at the May 27, 2004 meeting pursuant to the requirements of the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). The Commission voted to return the following comments for your use. In making a decision regarding the proposed rezoning, the City should consider traffic issues. Certain uses in the proposed Shopping Center zoning classification have the potential to create considerably more traffic than would be associated with uses allowed in the current Planned Industrial district. As such, we recommend that the City calculate the expected traffic impacts. The rezoning should only be enacted if the Schoenersville Road corridor can handle the expected traffic. Traffic issues aside, the choice between the two districts is a matter of local concern only. As development has taken place along the Schoenersville Road corridor, we have advocated the use of access management to promote traffic safety and preserve capacity. Should the rezoning be enacted, we recommend that the City limit the number of driveways onto Schoenersville Road, among other access management techniques.”
Planning and Zoning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, referring to a map of the area, noted it is a blow-up of the area proposed to be rezoned. Schoenersville Road, running north and south, is also the municipal boundary between the City and Hanover Township. She continued on to point out that to the south of the map is Route 22. The area originally proposed to be rezoned by the developer is about 32 acres, and runs from the northwest intersection of Schoenersville Road and Route 22, includes Industrial Drive, and goes a bit north of that to include what is now the Trans-Bridge bus lines property. There is a piece of land in the vicinity that is already zoned CS – Shopping Center that includes the Burger King restaurant and some vacant area behind it. Ms. Heller informed the assembly the Bureau is suggesting that some area to the north up to Avenue C and fronting on Schoenersville Road should be included in this proposal because it is very similar in nature to the properties proposed to be rezoned, and the corridor itself is commercial in nature over time. The PI – Planned Industrial zoning was originally created with Lehigh Valley Industrial Park in 1961 when the Park was created, has been a part of the Zoning Ordinance since 1971, and has not been amended since that time, to Ms. Heller’s knowledge. Ms. Heller, continuing on to state that LVIP I was created to add some diversity to the City’s industrial uses, observed those involved had a lot of foresight when that was created. However, the nature of the thoroughfare has changed over time. The photographs showed some of the commercial development that has been occurring on the east side of Schoenersville Road in Hanover Township. Referring again to the map, Ms. Heller noted that two parcels are within the City and are non-conforming uses in the PI zone; i.e., Dunkin Donuts and the Shell Gas Station. She continued on to point out that recent development in Hanover Township includes a Wawa, Bennigan’s, Hess Gas Station, a new hotel, and a new bank. Ms. Heller informed the assembly those are all uses that would be very similar in nature to what would be seen in the CS zone. Ms. Heller, turning to the photographs, explained there is vacant land behind the Burger King which is part of Trans Bridge Bus Lines, and shows that many of the lots are underutilized, and some are parking lots. Advising there are some vacant lots, Ms. Heller affirmed there are four vacant parcels in the area that the Planning Bureau is proposing could be added to the original developer’s proposal. Ms. Heller explained that the Bureau is suggesting that the rezoning go to Avenue C. She added that parcels to the west that are in the back are industrial in nature and are healthy, viable businesses that should remain zoned PI. There has been a lot of transition in the area. Ms. Heller stated that the letter from Lehigh Valley Planning Commission refers to some access management issues. Advising there is one developer proposing to redevelop these uses, Ms. Heller explained, at that time, it will considerably improve the access management. In the area, the City will be able to require that, as the lots are consolidated, there is no access onto Schoenersville Road. Two office buildings have been approved, one of which fronts on Schoenersville Road and the other along City Line Avenue, and the uses have been able to be combined so that the access would be along City Line Avenue. It has been required that for the parcels north of City Line Avenue the accesses be either from Avenue C or City Line Avenue. Ms. Heller confirmed that the City has been trying to address access management issues as it works with developers. Focusing on traffic, Ms. Heller stated that access is immediately abutting Route 22, and it is believed that the bulk of traffic will be accessing off Route 22. Immediately to the west at the Route 22 interchange is the Lehigh Valley International Airport. It is believed that much of the hotel traffic will be accessing either Route 22 or the Airport.
Attorney James Broughal stated he is at the meeting tonight representing the owners of real estate comprising approximately 32 acres who have filed the initial petition for the rezoning from the PI District to the CS District. Attorney Broughal, advising that 20 of the 32 acres is owned by Joseph Wesley, noted the property is commonly referred to as the old Am-Quip Crane property, as well as the property of Young Trucking. The remaining 12 acres is the Trans Bridge Bus Line site. Informing the Members that the 20 acres which represent the Am-Quip and Young Trucking sites were never part of the original LVIP I, Attorney Broughal said everything that lies to the north is included in LVIP and includes Trans Bridge. Attorney Broughal continued on to point out that the Am-Quip site, and especially the Young Trucking site, is underutilized and the majority is vacant. Attorney Broughal explained that is one of the reasons why the developer is seeking the rezoning because it is thought there is a better and more profitable use both for his client and the City of Bethlehem. Attorney Broughal affirmed that he is at the meeting tonight with Charles Gallub who is the development partner for the 20 acres owned by Mr. Wesley, and said, in addition, Matt Hammond, Executive Vice President with Traffic Planning and Design, is at the meeting.
Charles Gallub said he is a commercial real estate developer, presently doing 12 other developments, the nature of which is centered around industrial sites that have been identified as higher and better uses, and that have been taken through various stages of redevelopment. Mr. Gallub explained one of the things the company focuses on is to do what is called community friendly development which is identifying the use for a site that makes the most sense, which hopefully is profitable, but sometimes it is not the most profitable. Mr. Gallub continued on to inform the assembly that the company is doing a site in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania at Route 611 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, that sits directly in front of the Turnpike toll booths and on the Turnpike ramp. It was identified and rezoned for commercial purposes. The presumption of everyone in the community was that it would be a big box. The company did not develop it as a big box, and developed it as 7 restaurants and 2 hotels because that was the use that made the most sense for the area and had the minimal traffic impact. Mr. Gallub advised one of the things the company focuses on is not just how much traffic but when the traffic occurs, and what percent of the traffic going to the use would already be on the road. Mr. Gallub said “the focus of our development, both as a company and at this site, would be restaurants and hotels. We do do complimentary retail. In this case, we would focus on complimentary retail such as a health club facility, and some limited retail. At this point, we are looking at other options, but that is the plan that we’re going to present to you. And, obviously, when we do a rezoning we all understand that anything can go there. But I will tell you that, as we are looking at the site today, we would hope to develop it with theme restaurants, and we have expressed interest in writing by several theme restaurants, as well as some limited service restaurants, but the focus would be on the theme restaurants, hotel, and health club.” Mr. Gallub noted that, a health club, from a traffic point of view, peaks both before the AM peak and after the PM peak. While that would be a larger physical facility, the impact on peak hour traffic would be substantially limited as a result of when it peaks. Mr. Gallub, commenting that the restaurants are somewhat similar, stated that theme restaurants would typically not open until noon, so there would be no impact on the morning traffic, and there would be limited impact on the pm traffic because they would tend to peak from 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Mr. Gallub expressed he thinks it is important that when a development is considered the traffic impact is looked at up front as part of the plan. Mr. Gallub continued on to say that, “taking underused facilities such as industrial buildings that are vacant and turning them into amenities the community can use is obviously important to us, and that’s one of the things that we’re looking to do here.” Mr. Gallub informed the assembly that the company got to this site as a result of the fact that it is doing a smaller development in Hanover Township with two restaurants. When the initial solicitation was done for casual theme restaurants, the company received over a dozen letters of interest for two pad sites. It told the company that there is a substantial demand in the market for restaurant use. Mr. Gallub, enumerating that in the area is LVIP, hotels, the Airport, and a hospital, noted there are about 10,000 employees with fairly few restaurant options that got the company looking at other options and other pieces of property in the area. Mr. Gallub contacted Mr. Wesley and it was agreed they would develop the property together. They then spoke to the Community and Economic Development Director, and the Mayor. Observing it was agreed that if the company could do a development that made sense and was of high quality that would be something the City would look at seriously, Mr. Gallub said “obviously, we’re here today asking you to do that.” Mr. Gallub, communicating there are some things about the site that lend itself to rezoning and to a commercial use, pointed out the site has tremendous visibility. It is one of the few places in the Lehigh Valley from which the site can be seen from both directions of Route 22 and can be accessed. It also is at an intersection where PennDot has spent a tremendous amount of money in upgrading. There is substantial growth in the area of a complimentary nature both in the hospital and airport. It is felt that the development will be able to service and support both of those facilities without negatively affecting any of them. Mr. Gallub noted that, as part of any commercial development, residential impact is critical. Mr. Gallub observed he thinks there is a unique opportunity to do a commercial development and have a relatively nominal impact on residential. Mr. Gallub highlighted the fact that there is no residential bordering the property in any direction. Mr. Gallub restated that the company’s vision for the site is casual dining, hotel, health club, and light retail, not heavy retail which would be geared to supporting and supplying those businesses in the area. Mr. Gallub, turning to the benefits to the community, said it is an amenity to local workers in the area who have limited choices right now for where they would eat. It is felt that, as the airport and the hospital grows, the demand for hotel rooms would be substantial, and having a health club close to where someone works would be a benefit. Mr. Gallub thought it is very important as well to look at the economic impact of the development. Mr. Gallub, advising he prepared a handout, distributed it to the Members of Council. Noting it is pro forma and reasonably conservative, Mr. Gallub explained it summarizes and analyzes the tax as a redevelopment site, assuming an appraised value of $22,000,000. Based on the current calculation, that would provide an assessed value of $11,000,000. When one adds in the real estate and related taxes being gross receipts and employment taxes, there would be a net tax payable to the various entities of almost $646,000. Mr. Gallub, pointing out that is with a very limited use of services, said under his current plan there would be no use of schools. While observing there would be some use of Police and Fire services, Mr. Gallub said he thinks the City would be well compensated for it. Mr. Gallub stated that the $646,000 contrasts with current taxable income, based on 20 of the 32 acres, of $113,000 so the net difference to the City would be almost one-half million dollars a year in tax receipts. Mr. Gallub noted that, as part of the plan, it is hoped to relocate the existing industrial uses within the City, and the company has taken some efforts in that regard. Mr. Gallub thought it is important to understand that Am-Quip as a company has been in the City for a substantial amount of time and intends to be active and aggressively grow in this area. As well, Trans Bridge would only consider relocation as long as they could have a location that was proximate to its current location, and the company is working with the economic development staff on that process. Mr. Gallub summarized that he thinks the company is offering a high quality development with substantial benefits both to the citizens and to the community, and with positive economic results at the site that wants to be a commercial site based on the way that development and growth has occurred in the area.
Mr. Donchez asked what would be the estimated number of hotel rooms.
Mr. Gallub replied it would be a limited service hotel with
about 113 rooms. Mr. Gallub further informed Mr. Donchez it
would be a national chain, and a publicly traded company on
the New York Stock Exchange with an approximate $1 billion
Matt Hammond, a Traffic Engineer with Traffic Planning and Design, reviewed the type of traffic that currently utilizes the site versus what traffic would be anticipated if the rezoning were to occur. Affirming the site is currently zoned PI and has industrial type uses, Mr. Hammond said, as far as traffic is concerned, industrial type uses typically generate less traffic than commercial type uses. However, when comparing industrial type traffic to commercial type or retail traffic, Mr. Hammond noted one looks at the type of vehicles that are accessing the site. In industrial type uses, the majority of the traffic is truck traffic, while the majority of the traffic that would be generated by a commercial or retail type use would be cars. Mr. Hammond pointed out that a truck such as an 18 wheeler entering and exiting an industrial use has a significant effect on the roadway not only from the operation perspective of trucks entering and exiting the traffic flow and slowing traffic down but also the effect that such trucks have on the wear and tear of the roadway. He said a typical 18 wheel truck equals about 10,000 passenger vehicles in terms of wear and tear on the roadway. Mr. Hammond communicated that, while it is true a retail or commercial type establishment will generate more traffic than an industrial use, when comparing the type and amount of vehicles it has the same effect. Focusing on the types of proposed uses such as restaurants, hotel, small retail and a fitness center, Mr. Hammond said those uses are complementary in that their peak hour of traffic does not all occur at the same time, some of the restaurants do not open until 12:00 Noon, and their peak hours are more at 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The hotel would have one trip coming in or leaving in the morning, and vice versa in the evening. The majority of the traffic would be coming from Route 22. He observed that the plus from a commercial aspect is the location of the development in relation to Schoenersville Road and Route 22. It is anticipated that most of the vehicles would be entering and exiting the site from Route 22. Getting off and on Route 22 is basically traveling through one or two lights, and the traffic flow is not being extended up Schoenersville Road any more than it is today. Mr. Hammond noted there are some intersections, namely the Route 22 westbound ramp with Schoenersville Road that currently has some problems with respect to the operation. Mr. Hammond explained that, if the rezoning were to occur, he cannot say at this point what improvements would be proposed. However, Mr. Hammond said what he “can tell you is that the improvements that we would propose as part of the development…would leave the roadway if not the same but [in] better shape than it currently is today.” Mr. Hammond explained that, in the land development process, application will need to be made to PennDot, and PennDot will require the developer to mitigate its impact on the development no matter what it is. Once the improvements are identified, the City, PennDot, and other parties will have to be involved to come to some understanding of what improvements are necessary. Mr. Hammond restated “whatever improvements that are going to be required to mitigate the development we will need to provide.” Again expressing it is too early in the process to identify what improvements are necessary, Mr. Hammond said that is something the company will work towards in the future and involving all the parties that need to be involved. Mr. Hammond, adding that the company will be working with everyone with respect to the access as well, stated “we do not want to see a development where there’s three or four additional curb cuts on Schoenersville Road…”, and will try to determine what the best access management will be, and come to some agreement with all parties on the improvements as well as access.
President Schweder asked by whom is Mr. Hammond compensated.
Mr. Hammond replied he is compensated by Charles Gallub.
President Schweder recalled that over the last six years with major development programs that have come before City Council, he has suggested that the City look at a policy, instead of simply accepting traffic studies that come from developers, to have the City initiate an independent study done by traffic engineers, and the City would ask the developer to compensate the City. Mr. Schweder, recounting it seems the last time the issue was discussed was about two years ago, inquired about the status.
Ms. Heller, noting that fee changes for the Zoning and Subdivision and Development Ordinances were reviewed, said one of the ideas discussed was that the City would receive a traffic study from a developer and rather than the City hiring a traffic consultant to review the study at the City’s cost, the developer would reimburse the City for those expenses as is permitted under the Municipalities Planning Code. In further response to President Schweder’s suggestion that it be done through the whole process, Ms. Heller said it can be done. Ms. Heller, affirming the fees were not adopted last year, advised that the fees are being prepared again and the Bureau wants to have that provision included in the submission to City Council. Ms. Heller commented it is expected that the proposal would be prepared by the end of the summer. Ms. Heller further explained it could be structured to have the developer provide the money to the City to do an independent traffic study. She added, however, that the review of the study would be done independently.
President Schweder suggested that the City obtain competitive bids from companies that would do the traffic studies. Pointing out it is no reflection on this proposal, President Schweder observed that the City never got a traffic report that was not perfect for the development. President Schweder recalled that Members of Council have raised concerns about what happened in the proposed development at Eighth and Eaton Avenues, and expressed the hope that a proposal pertaining to traffic studies will be before City Council soon.
Mr. Hammond advised that what makes Mr. Gallub a little different from some of the other developers with whom the company works is Mr. Gallub’s philosophy when it comes to development is “let’s solve the traffic problems first…” Then, as long as the traffic and the improvements that are necessary can work, the parties involved see how everything else fits in. Mr. Hammond, pointing out that the City and PennDot will review the traffic study, noted those parties will offer whatever comments they have with respect to whether or not the traffic study is acceptable.
Joe Piperato, on behalf of Hanover Township-Northampton County, said Hanover Township has no opposition to the rezoning request. Mr. Piperato continued on to say its biggest concern is the traffic impact on the Schoenersville Road corridor. Mr. Piperato said the Township Engineer is here tonight to provide some testimony. Mr. Piperato said “we would echo LVIP’s request and that is that the detailed traffic analysis be completed before a vote on the rezoning take place. Using some of Matt’s own comments regarding the industrial use, as you know, that the impact from an industrial traffic standpoint is much less than that of a commercial nature, and so therefore we would request that Council have an opportunity to review all the traffic information before making a decision on the rezoning request.” Mr. Piperato stated that, in reviewing the text of the amendment that is proposed, “it did not appear that there were specific criteria in the Ordinance for the hotel or shopping center use. Your Section 1322.04 (i) has specific criteria for the developer to meet in a conditional use hearing setting but it is not available…in a permitted right setting. So we would ask that in considering the context of the content of the text of the Ordinance that the City also look at the specific criteria set forth in Section 1322.04 (i) to determine whether or not you think it would be appropriate to adopt those standards for the requested uses that are permitted by right. It would give you an opportunity to address things like buffer yards, outside storage, most importantly traffic circulation, utilities, and completion of improvements and staging which apparently is going to be the case in this development. So, again, the Township is not here to render any objection to the proposed development, it’s just to echo everything that’s been communicated to you this evening regarding the traffic concerns. It appears that your Planning Director has been taking a close look at that. Obviously, the developer has been doing so also.”
James Birdsall, Township Consulting Engineer, noted “our concerns are that the traffic considerations be taken into account prior to rezoning and, as part of that, that [the City] consider amending the text to limit access to the commercial property to the regulated intersection, possibly a back door approach rather than an approach right onto Schoenersville Road. It’s been successful in the past. I know you’re working on a hotel design that is coming in on Avenue C, and I think the design is appropriate. I think we’re all looking for improvements in the tax base of the City and the Township without degradation of the traffic, or creating additional congestion or safety problems.”
The appropriate Ordinance will be listed on the July 20, 2004 Agenda.
The Second Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Public Hearing No. 3 – Zoning Text Amendment – CS–Shopping Center District Regulations – Revisions
President Schweder called to order the Third Public Hearing to consider Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance regarding permitted use and height provisions in the CS – Shopping Center District.
C. Director of Planning and Zoning - Zoning Text Amendment – CS–Shopping Center District Regulations – Revisions
The Clerk read a memorandum dated May 14, 2004 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, which stated that the Planning Commission recommended approval of changes to the text of the CS Zoning District regarding permitted use and height provisions to: increase the permitted height of buildings in the CS District that are 10 acres or greater; permit hotels and motels; permit an increased height for hotels when an additional setback is provided from public streets and from residential lot lines; and allow one acre parcels within shopping centers where the lots do not have direct vehicular access to a public street. This provision allows for out parcels such as restaurants, banks, etc., in front of shopping center developments.
D. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Zoning Text Amendment – CS–Shopping Center District Regulations – Revisions
The Clerk read a letter dated June 25, 2004 from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission which stated that at its June 25, 2004 meeting, the Commission reviewed the matter, found the proposed amendments to be a matter of local choice, and voted to offer no comment.
Planning and Zoning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, explained that, as the Bureau reviewed the proposal for the change to the zoning map in connection with the rezoning of Schoenersville Road, it closely looked at the CS Section and what it currently allows. Ms. Heller noted it was felt there were some changes that were appropriate to the CS Section and that proposal is before City Council tonight. Ms. Heller advised that, currently in CS, in Section 1313.02 (a) (12) that reads any other use permitted by right in the CG General Commercial District, was felt to be too broad and too liberal for the CS zoning district. Ms. Heller explained that CG provides a wide variety of uses and for all the residential uses as well that are all not appropriate in CS. A comparison was done between CS and CG and it was decided it would be changed to allow business trade and dance school or similar use. That was the only use permitted in CG that was not permitted currently in CS that would be appropriate. Turning to Section (a) (13), Ms. Heller said there was some discrepancy as to how that should be interpreted. In order to be more clear, it was decided to delete that section and rewrite it to be specific about what should be permitted. It is proposed to be revised to allow hotels and motels within the Shopping Center District where the District is not less than 10 acres in size. Ms. Heller pointed out that would not be the property necessarily but the District itself, as long as it is a District 10 acres in size not separated by a public street. It should also be developed in a logical and harmonious plan with the uses around it. It is obligated to comply with the provisions of Chapters 1321 and 1322 of the Zoning Ordinance which address site plan review and conditional uses. The next proposed paragraph revision addresses height. Ms. Heller informed the Members it was felt an additional height was appropriate for a hotel as long as it had also an increased setback. The setbacks proposed are fairly restrictive. It is allowed to build a hotel up to 65 feet in height as long as the setback from a public street is at least 75 feet, and at least 500 feet from the nearest residential lot line. Ms. Heller noted these changes would apply not only to the present rezoning request but also to the other CS areas in the City. Although there are no residential uses in this area along Schoenersville Road, there are some residential uses that surround some of the other CS zoning districts. Ms. Heller said that is why the setback from residential properties was increased to 500 feet to insure some protection to those existing residential uses. Focusing on the section addressing multiple family dwellings, Ms. Heller highlighted the fact that they are currently allowed in CS zones and the Bureau did not feel that was appropriate. The proposal is more specific in allowing multiple family dwellings as a transitional use between existing and abutting residential zoning districts and the CS zone, and they may only be up to 10% of the total area of the Shopping Center District in which they are located. Turning to lot size, Ms. Heller noted the currently permitted lot size is 2 acres and it is felt to be appropriate, but in a shopping center there are often out parcels such as banks and restaurants in front. These are often smaller in size, and currently require several variances. It is proposed to add a footnote to allow smaller lots with a minimum lot area of 1 acre and a minimum lot width of 150 feet as long as the access to those lots is integrated into the access system for the shopping center in which they are located. They are not permitted to have direct access to a public street. Ms. Heller further advised it is proposed that the building height for any uses within CS zones would be permitted to be increased up to 45 feet as long as there is an increased setback. It would be required that if the height is greater than the 35 feet that is currently permitted, then the setback would be increased to 50 feet, and a 10 foot planting buffer and green space between the properties and the public streets would be required. Ms. Heller noted that the proposed zoning text amendments are improvements that make the some of the provisions more clear, and although they are more restrictive in some ways, they also offer more flexibility to a development.
President Schweder asked how long the proposed changes have been in process.
Ms. Heller responded that more than one revision was reviewed, the proposal went to the Planning Commission twice, and the text amendments were in process for several months.
President Schweder, focusing on Section 1313.02 (a) (13) (III) and (IV) asked if that language is being stricken or if the new language is being added.
Ms. Heller explained it is proposed to take out the entire Section (a) (13) and replace it with the two paragraphs on the next page that address hotel and motel. Ms. Heller highlighted the fact that since office buildings and medical offices are already permitted it seemed redundant to have them in this Section, and a separate Section was created for motel and hotel, and for multiple family dwelling. Ms. Heller clarified that CS currently allows a motel, but does not allow a hotel so that was added as well.
President Schweder inquired whether the hotel on Route 412 that he mentioned at the last City Council Meeting meets all the criteria established under the new Ordinance including setbacks and heights.
Ms. Heller advised that hotel is located in the CG Zoning District, and the developer did go before the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance on height. Otherwise, it met all the Zoning Ordinance provisions for the CG Zoning District.
President Schweder queried, if these changes are being made that have been in process for several months, why would the City not have sought to impose upon the hotel on Route 412 these new zoning regulations as opposed to the developer simply coming before the Zoning Hearing Board and getting a special exception.
Ms. Heller acknowledged to President Schweder that the hotel on Route 412 is currently a permitted use by special exception.
President Schweder highlighted the fact that City Council went through the process of rezoning the property where the hotel on Route 412 is now proposed, and City Council was told there were specific criteria to be adhered to with respect to the height and type of building. Then the usage changed in that a hotel was later proposed, and the developer simply gets a special exception to build whatever they felt like building. If the Bureau was working on requirements that were going to be in place for hotels and motels, President Schweder asked whose idea was it to proceed with that if the Zoning Text Amendments before City Council this evening were already in the works.
Ms. Heller explained the development on Route 412 was already in place before there were discussions about rezoning Schoenersville Road or making amendments to the CS District. Because the CG Zoning District allows most commercial uses, once the property was rezoned to CG, if a use is a permitted use or is permitted by special exception, then there is not much the City can do.
President Schweder stressed “except you could have prevented it.” President Schweder highlighted the fact that the hotel use was proposed several months after City Council was told what the property was going to be used for. President Schweder inquired if the process was in place to make regulations more stringent for hotels and motels, why would the City not have forced the same thing on that hotel developer.
Ms. Heller, communicating she really does not know what to say in that regard, advised that the developer went before the Zoning Hearing Board. She pointed out that a special exception use is a permitted use, and the developer did get the variance for increased height.
President Schweder asked if the Planning Bureau went before the Zoning Hearing Board and suggested that this was wrong.
Ms. Heller replied no.
President Schweder inquired if Ms. Heller had any inkling from the developer prior to the usage changing to a hotel, and observed that none of the Members of Council did.
Ms. Heller replied “before they submitted their plan, know that they were going to be putting a hotel in there and requesting a variance, no.”
President Schweder stated that is the point he is trying to make. President Schweder observed that City Council has been very receptive and has accepted things in good faith. President Schweder stressed if this was all in place those kinds of things should not be allowed. He expressed the hope that the City would develop some kind of policy going forward that would take that into consideration.
Mr. Leeson asked whether, under the proposed revisions, a medical or health center would still be allowed.
Ms. Heller responded that a medical office building would be allowed, but a medical center is not specifically listed, and office buildings are permitted.
Mr. Leeson inquired whether an office building is permitted under Section 1313.02 (a) (3).
Ms. Heller replied yes, an office building, but not specifically a medical center.
Mr. Leeson, focusing on Ms. Heller’s comments that there are some uses permitted by right in CG that were not appropriate for CS, expressed he did not understand what she meant.
Ms. Heller explained that CG allows almost any use, and it allows all of the residential uses. It was not felt that residential uses were appropriate in CS. She continued on to state that, under the permitted uses in CG, it lists any use not specified in this Section as long as it is approved as a special exception of the Zoning Hearing Board, so basically it allows any use in CG.
Mr. Leeson, advising he has not had a problem so far with this provision in the CS District, expressed perhaps something has happened in CS Districts that he is not recalling. Mr. Leeson communicated he is not sure on what basis Ms. Heller arrived at her conclusion about the CS zone.
Ms. Heller, stating she does not know of a prior problem or anything that has come before the City in the CS District that was not appropriate, pointed out that it certainly could be. She further pointed out that the first item number listed under permitted uses in CG is all residential uses, including apartments or dwellings above commercial uses. Consequently, Ms. Heller explained it does not seem to her that is appropriate. Restating that although it has never come up in the past, Ms. Heller stressed it certainly could, and it seemed this would eliminate the possibility that an inappropriate use could be proposed there.
Mr. Leeson asked if, prior to First Reading, Ms. Heller could compile all the CS Districts in the City that would be affected by this change. Mr. Leeson additionally asked if comments could be added to note whether the areas are fully built out or not.
Ms. Heller affirmed that can be done.
While confirming he is open to the changes that are being suggested, Mr. Leeson expressed that he is looking for flexibility, and added he thinks the flexibility that the City has had in the CS District has been good. Mr. Leeson, stating he is open to reconsidering the matter based on Ms. Heller’s observations, said he is reluctant to be more restrictive. Advising that although he likes the changes that Ms. Heller has suggested, Mr. Leeson said the changes that would make it more restrictive he is not thrilled about.
Ms. Heller commented that it takes away some of the “open-endedness” in that there could be an unknown use proposed that is not anticipated at the present time. In further response to Mr. Leeson, Ms. Heller exemplified that residential uses is the main one, other commercial uses, an auto body or auto repair shop, that might not be appropriate in CS. Ms. Heller observed the City does not know what would be proposed that might not be appropriate in that area.
Mr. Leeson, noting that the residential use speaks in terms of multiple family dwellings and is oriented towards apartment buildings, inquired whether that is Ms. Heller’s concern.
Ms. Heller, responding no, said as a transition use between existing residential districts and a shopping center it is felt that is appropriate as long as it is only up to 10% of the lot area. Ms. Heller stated other uses she does not feel would be appropriate in CS such as town homes, twins, singles.
Mr. Leeson, indicating that perhaps the proposal needs some fine tuning, asked Ms. Heller to think about the matter.
No one from the Public spoke to the matter of the Third
President Schweder stated the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the July 20, 2004 City Council Agenda for First Reading.
The Third Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:56 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of June 15, 2004 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Bond Issue – Purchase of Street Lights
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, remarked it is unfortunate that the City has to pay PPL much more for the street lights than the amount for which the City sold them years ago to the same company. Mr. Scheirer stated it is also unfortunate that the Bond Issue could not have been combined with this year’s earlier Bond Issue for equipment that he indicated would have saved the City almost $70,000 in issuance costs. Mr. Scheirer, turning to the 20 year length of the Bond Issue, noted that the remaining economic life of the assets to be purchased may be 40 years, after taking into account replacement of the components. Consequently, Mr. Scheirer questioned why the City should pay for the assets in 20 years and then have 20 years of no payments. He asserted this financial arrangement is at the expense of the City now when funds are very tight. Acknowledging that a longer Bond Issue means more total interest payments, Mr. Scheirer observed that the City cannot pay for everything now and a purpose of interest is to spread out payments over economic life, and added that interest rates are still relatively low. Mr. Scheirer commented that a 30 year mortgage is considerably less than the remaining economic lives of most homes, but not considerably less than the abilities of homeowners to make the payments. Informing the assembly he was told that the financial markets would accept a 30 year bond, Mr. Scheirer pointed out that the annual payments would be about $50,000 a year less than payments on a 20 year bond, and stated $50,000 would come in very handy right now.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, said he would like to comment on unexpended funds in accounts and the number of options to identify $17,500 in available funds. Mr. Crownfield, stressing that no Member of Council questioned the fact that there would be many options of accounts with unexpended funds available now that the need came up, remarked it suggests that there should be a list of all accounts with unexpended funds, why they are unexpended, any and anticipated expenditures. Otherwise, Mr. Crownfield asserted “this is like a slush fund that’s just sitting there waiting until someone needs money…”.
President Schweder informed Mr. Crownfield that two Members of Council have already asked for that information.
Mr. Crownfield expressed his hope that Council has thoroughly
analyzed the plan and is anticipating any unintended consequences,
and will present them rather than waiting for them to occur
and then trying to do something about them.
6. OLD BUSINESS
E. City Clerk – Repealing Codified Ordinances – Articles 709 and 1711
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 2, 2004 requesting
consideration of two proposed ordinances: (1) repealing Article
709 – Dogs, which has been superseded by Ordinance 4238
– Adopting New Article 1159 – Animals; and (2)
repealing Article 1711 – Swimming Pools, which has been
superseded by Ordinance 4254 – Adopting New Article
1701 - Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Ordinances will be placed on the July 20 Agenda for First Reading.
F. Police Commissioner - Reimbursement - Police Officers Training
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 30, 2004 from Francis R. Donchez, Jr., Police Commissioner, requesting consideration of a resolution necessary to receive reimbursement from the State for 60% of the salaries of Officers Michelle Kott, Michael J. Leaser and James P. Mungone for the 20 weeks they will be attending the Allentown Police Academy.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11
F is listed on the Agenda.
G. City Solicitor – Amendment to Use Permit Agreement - Musikfest
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 1, 2004 from John F. Spirk, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Amendment No. 2 to Use Permit Agreement for Public Property between Artsquest f/k/a/ Bethlehem Musikfest Association and the City of Bethlehem for use of festival sites for 2004 Musikfest, that amended Paragraph e to read Johnston Park, excluding the area shown on Exhibit A.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be placed on the July 20 Agenda.
H. City Solicitor – Lease Agreement – Adams Outdoor Advertising
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 1, 2004 from John F. Spirk, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Lease Agreement for Public Property between Adams Outdoor Advertising and the City of Bethlehem for property on the north side of Schoenersville Road, and on the west side of Monocacy Creek, for operating and maintaining five Outdoor Advertising Display Boards for the time period January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2006, and superceding the lease adopted under Resolution 13,990 since land no longer owned by the City is being removed from the lease agreement.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be placed on the July 20 Agenda.
I. Director of Planning and Zoning – License Agreement – Bethlehem Area School District – Grenadier Boulevard Right of Way
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 30, 2004 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a License Agreement between the City and the Bethlehem Area School District providing for the School District’s continued utilization of a portion of the Grenadier Boulevard right-of-way for parking by shifting the parking lot three feet resulting in approximately 9.5 feet of the parking lot in the right of way versus the current 6.5 feet.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution can be placed on the July 20 Agenda, unless the Public Works Committee wishes to review this matter.
J. Police Commissioner – Special Event Parking – Musikfest
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 1, 2004 from Francis R. Donchez, Jr., Police Commissioner, requesting consideration of a resolution declaring Special Event Parking and increased parking fines during Musikfest 2004 from 12:00 noon on August 6, 2004 through 12:00 midnight on August 15, 2004.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be placed on the July 20 Agenda
K. Director of Parks and Public Property – Norfolk Southern Railroad – Lease Agreement
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 2, 2004 from Charles A. Brown, Director of Parks and Public Property, to which was attached a proposed Agreement between the City and Norfolk Southern Railroad for lease by the City of approximately 1 mile (14 acres) of green space along the abandoned lines in South Bethlehem.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Parks and Public Property Committee.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held July 1, 2004 on the following subjects: Transfer of Funds – Tax Bureau – Temporary Help; Transfer of Funds – Water Filtration Plant – Departmental Contracts; Transfer of Funds – Health Bureau – Bioterrorism Program Grant; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Illick’s Mill; Amending General Fund Budget – Equitable Sharing; Transfer of Funds – Redevelopment Authority and Five Year Consolidated Plan; Amending General Fund Budget – Recycling Bureau – Equipment; Repairs – Fleet; and Bond Issue – Purchase of Street Lights.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 23 – 2004 - Rezoning Arden and Ravena Streets – I – Institutional to RG – Residential
The Clerk read Bill 23 – 2004, Rezoning Arden and Ravena Streets – I – Institutional to RG - Residential, sponsored by Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING PART 13 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES
OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA,
AS AMENDED, KNOWN AS THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE
CITY OF BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, BY AMENDING THE
CITY ZONING MAP.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Bill No. 23 – 2004 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 24 – 2004 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Illick’s Mill
The Clerk read Bill 24 – 2004, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Illick’s Mill, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2004 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Bill No. 24 – 2004 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 25 – 2004 – Amending General Fund Budget – Equitable Sharing and Recycling Bureau – Equipment Repairs – Fleet
The Clerk read Bill No. 25 – 2004, Amending General Fund Budget – Equitable Sharing and Recycling Bureau – Equipment Repairs – Fleet, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2004.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr.
Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Bill No. 25 – 2004 was
declared passed on First Reading.
D. Bill No. 26 – 2004 – Bond Issue – Purchase of Street Lights
The Clerk read Bill No. 26 – 2004, Bond Issue – Purchase of Street Lights, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON COUNTIES, PENNSYLVANIA (THE “CITY”), AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING ISSUANCE OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS, SERIES A OF 2004, IN THE AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF $5,125,000 (THE “BONDS”), AS PERMITTED BY AND PURSUANT TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT, 53 Pa. C.S. § 8001 ET SEQ., AS AMENDED AND SUPPLEMENTED, FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING FUNDS TO BE APPLIED FOR AND TOWARD (A) REFUNDING THE CITY’S OUTSTANDING GENERAL OBLIGATION NOTE, SERIES OF 2003 (THE “REFUNDING PROJECT”), (B) FUNDING CERTAIN CAPITAL PROJECTS OF THE CITY (THE “CAPITAL PROJECT”), AND (C) PAYING THE COSTS AND EXPENSES OF ISSUING THE BONDS; DETERMINING THAT THE BONDS SHALL BE SOLD AT PRIVATE SALE BY NEGOTIATION; DETERMINING THAT SUCH DEBT SHALL BE NONELECTORAL DEBT OF THE CITY; ACCEPTING A PROPOSAL FOR PURCHASE OF THE BONDS, AT PRIVATE SALE, AND AWARDING THE BONDS; PROVIDING FOR MATURITIES AND INTEREST RATES; APPOINTING A PAYING AGENT, REGISTRAR AND SINKING FUND DEPOSITORY; PROVIDING FOR THE TERMS OF THE BONDS INCLUDING DENOMINATIONS, DATE, INTEREST PAYMENT DATES AND RECORD DATES; PROVIDING FOR THE REGISTRATION AND TRANSFER OF THE BONDS; SETTING FORTH REDEMPTION FEATURES AND PROCEDURES; AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION AND AUTHENTICATION OF THE BONDS; COVENANTING TO PAY DEBT SERVICE AND PLEDGING THE FULL FAITH, CREDIT AND TAXING POWER FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE BONDS; CREATING SINKING FUNDS IN CONNECTION WITH THE BONDS AS REQUIRED BY SUCH ACT; APPROPRIATING PROCEEDS OF THE BONDS; DESCRIBING THE PROJECT FOR WHICH THE DEBT OF THIS CITY EVIDENCED BY SAID GENERAL OBLIGATION NOTE, SERIES OF 2003 WAS ORIGINALLY INCURRED AND REAFFIRMING THE ESTIMATED USEFUL LIFE OF SAID PROJECT; DESCRIBING THE CAPITAL PROJECT AND SPECIFYING THE ESTIMATED USEFUL LIFE OF THE CAPITAL PROJECT; SETTING FORTH CERTAIN COVENANTS RELATING TO THE NON-ARBITRAGE STATUS OF THE BONDS; RATIFYING PRIOR ADVERTISEMENT AND DIRECTING FURTHER ADVERTISEMENT; AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE PREPARATION, EXECUTION AND FILING OF A TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS, INCLUDING A DEBT STATEMENT AND BORROWING BASE CERTIFICATE, WITH THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE OFFICERS AND OFFICIALS OF THE CITY TO EXECUTE AND DELIVER DOCUMENTS AND TO TAKE ACTION AS MAY BE NECESSARY RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE BONDS; RATIFYING THE PRELIMINARY OFFICIAL STATEMENT AND THE DISTRIBUTION THEREOF AND AUTHORIZING THE APPROVAL AND DISTRIBUTION OF A FINAL OFFICIAL STATEMENT AND THE USE THEREOF IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF THE BONDS; CREATING A CLEARING ACCOUNT AND A PROJECT ACCOUNT; SETTING FORTH CERTAIN COVENANTS AND PROVISIONS FOR RETIREMENT OF SAID GENERAL OBLIGATION NOTE, SERIES OF 2003; AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES; PROVIDING GUIDELINES FOR PERMITTED INVESTMENTS; AUTHORIZING THE PURCHASE OF A POLICY OF MUNICIPAL BOND INSURANCE; PROVIDING FOR THE AUTHORIZATION OF OFFICERS; ADOPTING THE FORM OF BOND; COVENANTING TO PROVIDE CONTINUING DISCLOSURE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY OF PROVISIONS AND REPEALING INCONSISTENT ORDINANCES.
Mr. Donchez asked Bond Counsel whether they had the opportunity to review the matter and are comfortable with the Bond Issue as far as the City moving in this direction.
Attorney Peter Carlucci, Bond Counsel, from the firm Eckert, Seamans, Cherin and Mellott, said he has reviewed the proposed Debt Ordinance, and the anticipated financing structure has been reviewed, and is comfortable with it. Attorney Carlucci stated he believes it is consistent, and complies with all requirements of the law.
Mr. Leeson requested a copy of the amortization schedule before the next vote.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Bill No. 26 – 2004 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Approving Records Destruction – Tax Bureau
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,405 which authorized the disposition of records from the Tax Bureau listed on Exhibit A in accordance with the Municipal Records Manual.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. The Resolution passed.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 11 B through 11 E As A Group
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Donchez moved to consider Resolutions 11 B through 11 E as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. The motion passed.
B. Transfer of Funds – Tax Bureau – Temporary Help
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,406 which transferred $1,403 in the General Fund Budget from the Tax Bureau – Overtime Account to the Tax Bureau – Temporary Help Account to maintain the part-time Tax Clerk position through June.
C. Transfer of Funds – Water Filtration Plant – Departmental Contracts
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,407 which transferred $32,000 in the Water Fund Budget from the Water Filtration – Chemicals Account to the Water Filtration – Department Contracts Account to pay the unencumbered balance of the 2003 contract and encumber the 2004 contract for Water Treatment Plant residuals, and to encumber the 2004 Emergency Generator Maintenance Contract.
D. Transfer of Funds – Health Bureau – Bioterrorism Program Grant
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,408 which
transferred $15,491 in the General Fund Budget from the Health
Bureau – Temporary Help Account to Health Bureau –
Bioterrorism Account - $9,372, and Health Bureau – Equipment
– Bioterrorism Account - $6,119, to reflect the Bioterrorism
Program grant budget as recently amended by the Pennsylvania
Department of Health.
E. Transfer of Funds – Redevelopment Authority and Five Year Consolidated Plan
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,409 which
transferred $17,500 in the Community Development Budget from
the East 9th Street Account to the Redevelopment Authority
Account - $5,000, and Program Administration Account - $12,500,
for Bethlehem Works HUD 10 Loan/TIF related program costs,
and consulting costs for preparation of the Consolidated Plan.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 B through 11 E: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. The Resolutions passed.
F. Requesting Reimbursement – Police Officers Training
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,410 which authorized the City to obtain reimbursement of monies for expenses incurred for Officers Michelle Kott, Michael J. Leaser and James P. Mungone pursuant to the training provisions of the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Act, and agreeing that while receiving funds from the Commonwealth pursuant to said Act, the City shall adhere to the rules established by the Commission.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. The Resolution passed.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 316 South New Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,411 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign at 316 South New Street.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. The Resolution passed.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 24 West Third Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,412 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install banners at the City owned lot at 24 West Third Street.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Zoning Hearing Board - Steep Slope Ordinance – Variance
Mrs. Belinski, advised that she attended the Zoning Hearing Board meeting on June 23, 2004, and stated she was extremely upset to hear one of the decisions pertaining to an appeal to construct a single family dwelling at East Ninth Street and Mountain Drive. Mrs. Belinski related that several of the neighbors who would be directly affected by the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board were very upset and said so. Mrs. Belinski advised that, after the meeting concluded, she was approached by a couple who are neighbors, and whose home was built 13-14 years ago. When it was built, they were told in October when the City was running out of funds that a drain would be needed for runoff from the mountains and the City would get back to the couple later. Mrs. Belinski stressed that, 13 years later, every time there is a heavy rain or snow there are sometimes 6 inches of water, or melted snow in the winter and it freezes over, leaving the driveway and the road like a sheet of ice. Mrs. Belinski advised the people are questioning when the City will get around to having a drain installed. Mrs. Belinski, noting that she visited the site Sunday afternoon, wanted to know where it is planned to build a house. Mrs. Belinski explained that the people lobbied for a long time for a Steep Slope Ordinance so there would not be any homes built across the road from them. Mrs. Belinski stressed, just like that, a variance was granted last Wednesday, despite the fact that there is a Steep Slope Ordinance. One winter, the snow was so bad that a person who worked for the City had to get the landfill bulldozer and bring it up East Ninth Street to open the road for the residents. With a home being built there as approved by the Zoning Hearing Board, Mrs. Belinski asserted that the builder will make a quick buck and does not have to live there. She added that the surveyors had to be told by one of the neighbors that the markers were put over a main sewer drain coming down the mountain. Mrs. Belinski continued on to state that the road was supposed to be originally 40 feet wide but is 20 feet wide. During the winter when the conditions are treacherous, the residents on East Ninth Street cannot get up their steep driveways and must park in a small area. The driveway of the house allowed to be built there will take away some of the space that is needed for parking in the winter. Mrs. Belinski asked whether the Zoning Hearing Board members conduct an on-site inspection.
Mayor Callahan noted he is not exactly sure what process is followed by the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mrs. Belinski continued on to question how the Zoning Hearing Board can look at a piece of paper and make a decision like that. Mrs. Belinski highlighted the fact that she visited the site and questioned how a house could be built there. In addition, Mrs. Belinski stressed that because of the house being built it will cause more soil erosion and there could be a sheet of ice on Mountain Road. Mrs. Belinski said she would like Mayor Callahan and Tony Hanna, Director of Community and Economic Development, to go to the site and take a personal look at it.
Mayor Callahan responded he would do so.
Mr. Leeson noted that, historically, during the Budget process, there is a generation of data that shows by line item the unexpended funds in each account, and added that information was always very useful in terms of the Budget process. Mr. Leeson, expressing he thinks that would be worthwhile to have this year, said he would join that request.
Linnea Lazarchak, Financial Services Director, stated that a list will be provided as of June 30, and as the time comes closer to the Budget review period an updated list of account balances will be submitted.
Gift – Recycling Bureau
Mr. Leeson advised that he received a gift on his City Council desk a few weeks ago. Showing the gift to the assembly, Mr. Leeson noted it is a piece of 24% lead crystal, and further read from the enclosed card. Mr. Leeson, commenting he is not sure who to thank, stated he really did not want it. Mr. Leeson said his question is where did the gift come from and who paid for it. In response to Mayor Callahan, Mr. Leeson read from the card which stated “Theis-Cornfeld Recycling Center, 15th Anniversary, 1989-2004.” Mr. Leeson asked how many were given out.
Ms. Lazarchak advised she can submit a copy of the invoices.
Mr. Leeson, while observing it is very nice, stressed it is not the kind of thing that the City should be spending money on. Mr. Leeson pointed out that a wonderful job was done at the Recycling Center to commemorate the late Mr. Cornfeld and Mr. Theis who deserve that commemoration, he noted it was a tragic event, and he complimented the Administration on the commemoration activities. Mr. Leeson restated this is not the kind of thing the City should be spending City money on.
Mrs. Belinski advised she was informed by a resident who called the Communications Center about a complaint concerning Classic Car Wash that a very surly response was received from the dispatcher. Mrs. Belinski felt there should be an attitude adjustment.
Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, stated as he has told the Block Watches and has stated at Council Meetings, when there are such occurrences he should be called right away and given the specifics rather than waiting until the next City Council Meeting. Police Commissioner Donchez commented that is one of the easiest things to rectify since all telephone calls are recorded. Police Commissioner Donchez informed Mrs. Belinski he will follow up on the matter.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Addison Bross, 258 E. Market Street, said he is at the Meeting to request that City Council reconsider its earlier decision and entertain the proposal to pass a Resolution concerning the Patriot Act that was offered to City Council some months ago. Mr. Bross recounted that the Resolution was the one that would protect Bethlehem citizens against Federal agents who, with very little judicial review, empowered by the misnamed Patriot Act, have the power now to search homes, offices, businesses, library records, medical records, and financial records of Bethlehem’s citizens. Mr. Bross, noting he is not here this evening to repeat the list of dangers enumerated at the June 15, 2004 City Council Meeting, said he is here for a somewhat different reason that is in explaining the Council’s justification for refusing to entertain the Resolution, Council offered in effect a kind of alternative means of protecting Bethlehem citizens against the ravages of the Patriot Act. Mr. Bross recalled that President Schweder presented this plan in his final remarks of the last City Council meeting. Mr. Bross said it seems to him that the remarks fail to deal with the actual dangers posed to Bethlehem citizens by the Patriot Act apparently because of an incomplete understanding of one provision of the Patriot Act. Mr. Bross stated he wants to try to make that provision clear, and express why he believes Council’s alternative plan fails to take that provision into account. Mr. Bross commented he admits it is difficult to grasp what the actual provisions of the Patriot Act are doing. He said the reason it is difficult is that it is hard to understand how a sober group of legislators in Washington could make into a law something that so thoroughly ravages the liberties of America’s citizens. Mr. Bross, with reference to the minutes, commented that the explanation of Council’s alternative plan is that Council has chosen to wait until some crises arises brought on when some Federal agent attempts to perform such a search on one of Bethlehem’s citizens, or attempts to enlist the help of Bethlehem law enforcement in conducting that search. These Federal agents command, under threat of prosecution in the Patriot Act, the law enforcement officer to keep secret the fact that an investigation is contemplated or an investigation is moving forward. Mr. Bross, stressing that is, in fact, one of the provisions of the Patriot Act, informed the assembly that Federal agents acting under the Patriot Act are enjoined to forbid anyone who knows that an investigation is going forward to divulge the fact that the investigation is happening. Mr. Bross, quoting from the minutes, read Council’s remarks at the end of the June 15 City Council meeting. Mr. Bross reiterated that if Council directs a Police Officer to notify Council that something of this sort has arisen, then Council has placed that Police Officer in a dilemma. Mr. Bross stressed that the Police Officer must decide to risk prosecution and notify Council, or the Police Officer must refuse to notify Council, keep the actions secret from Council, and cooperate with the Federal agent, threatening a Bethlehem citizen with undue search. Mr. Bross said he would be grateful for hearing from Council Members whether they were aware that this provision requires secrecy, and forbids a Police Officer from following the directive that Council explained would be put in force if some such situation arises. By requiring a Police Officer to do this, Mr. Bross pointed out that Council would already be in violation of the Patriot Act. Mr. Bross communicated that “if we Bethlehem citizens already have chosen to violate the Patriot Act, let’s put it in the form of a Resolution…-- be prepared.” Mr. Bross commented he does not believe that Council Members want to impose a moral dilemma upon one of the City’s employees. Mr. Bross said he is curious whether Council was aware of that provision of the Patriot Act.
President Schweder replied he is. President Schweder observed what was proposed to Council by the advocates of those wanting a Resolution to be passed was to put Police Officers in a different dilemma. President Schweder commented that was to force them to either accept a Resolution and uphold that or uphold the Federal law.
Mr. Bross, commenting that a Resolution could be discussed
and debated, said it seems to him that under the political
structure it would be better carried on in a public forum.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, expressed that City Council should take note of what Mr. Bross has said. Mr. Antalics, stating he was in contact with the ACLU concerning the matter and they expressed deep interest, noted the organization advised to say they could not become involved until there was a legal decision made. Mr. Antalics communicated that the legal decision he is talking about is a decision being made by the President of Council in soliciting opinions of individuals by private telephone calls as opposed to an open forum to at least discuss the issue at a Council Meeting and say yes or no to the citizens. Mr. Antalics said “we would like to know what each individual Council Member felt, what they told the President of the Council to say that he had a consensus that it was not their wish to have it as a Resolution.” Mr. Antalics questioned can either the City Council Solicitor or City Solicitor state that the procedure by which a Resolution was not placed on the Agenda violated the Sunshine Law.
President Schweder explained the situation is, in the statements Mr. Antalics made, Mr. Antalics acts as if President Schweder has polled the Members of Council with respect to their position on this particular issue, and President Schweder informed Mr. Antalics he never did that. President Schweder explained what he is allowed to do as part of parliamentary procedure in running City Council is to talk with Committee Chairpersons or individual Members of Council to determine what they believe should go on an Agenda and what is appropriate to be placed on an Agenda. President Schweder pointed out if there was not the ability to do that, then Council would have the inability to function as a Council. President Schweder noted that every Council President has done that. President Schweder informed Mr. Antalics the only thing that was asked of individuals is whether they thought this was an appropriate issue to be placed on the Agenda.
Mr. Antalics questioned, when President Schweder said there was a consensus of Council Members to not place it on the Agenda, how did President Schweder arrive at that specific consensus. Mr. Antalics wondered whether the Members wrote the President a letter, did he call them, or did Council call him.
President Schweder explained to Mr. Antalics that, looking at the matter from a parliamentary proceeding perspective, during the same time Council was asked to take up the proposal on the Patriot Act, the City Clerk received two proposals pertaining to the State’s Growing Greener initiative and Slot Machines in Pennsylvania which Council was asked to consider. President Schweder advised what was decided was that either Council do what it is charged with doing which is to pass on matters that pertain to City business, or it could turn meetings into a debating society. President Schweder pointed out that he, Mr. Antalics, and others here know that the Patriot Act is probably a lot more significant than slots at the race track. However, President Schweder highlighted the fact that not everyone in the City feels that way. President Schweder expressed that what he and Members of Council are faced with is people who wish to have Council take up Ordinances or Resolutions to debate issues that are before the Federal government or the State government, and to pass on those. President Schweder remarked if Council did that then that would be all Council would do. Since this is not the forum for that, President Schweder advised the decision was made based on the fact that, as was done with hundreds of other issues, Council did not believe it was appropriate for a discussion or a Resolution on that issue. President Schweder recounted that, in looking back on the records, there was one Resolution that was passed thirty-five years ago, and every Council prior to this one has been asked to do the same thing countless times.
Mr. Antalics, referring to President Schweder’s comments contained in the minutes of the last Meeting, said “we heard over the last number of months, people like Mr. Bross and others coming and making a case for at least a Resolution.” Mr. Antalics, pointing out that a Resolution was drawn up, said all he is asking is that it simply be put on the Agenda, and that there be a discussion by the seven Members of Council to see how they feel. Mr. Antalics continued on to say, if it were voted down, then the matter would be back where it was but at least the citizens would be informed due to the fact, he stressed, that this Council chamber is the most fundamental form of American government. Mr. Antalics, stating that Council Members ask the public to vote for them to take care of the citizens, said the people at the podium have expressed in the majority a very deep concern about the Patriot Act, and he only heard one person express a negative opinion. Mr. Antalics questioned why the Resolution was not put on the Agenda in view of all the concerns of citizens expressed at the podium. Mr. Antalics asked can Council put it on the Agenda at another time, at the next meeting.
President Schweder commented he does not believe Council will.
Mr. Antalics, stating he is asking for any Member of Council to make a motion to put the Resolution on the Agenda, said “and let them vote against it so we can hear.”
Watershed Investigation – Illegal Timbering
Mr. Antalics asked has anyone in the City approached the District Attorney in Monroe County as to what is happening with the investigation requested by the City concerning illegal timbering.
John Spirk, City Solicitor, advised it is not in the hands of the District Attorney and is in the hands of the State Police.
Mr. Antalics queried if Attorney Spirk was in touch with anybody since a month ago when Mr. Antalics brought up the question of the status.
Attorney Spirk advised he was in touch with Corporal Noonan a month ago, and was told that the Trooper assigned to the investigation was in process of completing his interview.
Mr. Antalics inquired if Attorney Spirk thought about taking the issue before the State in terms of a grand jury.
Attorney Spirk stated he is personally confident in the Pennsylvania State Police, and is awaiting their completing the investigation.
Mr. Antalics said it was told to him by a number of people that Monroe County is like the Hatfield and the McCoys, “and don’t expect anything unless you’re a member of the family.”
Mrs. Belinski recounted she was the one who was contacted by the whistleblower who told her what was going on at the Watershed pertaining to illegal activities. Mrs. Belinski, with reference to Mr. Antalics’ remark that it has taken three years, noted that is partly because someone from Bethlehem told the Pocono Mountain Regional Chief of Police that the City did not want this investigation to go any further. Mrs. Belinski, noting that a report was written by the Deputy Police Commissioner who ran the investigation, stated she was told the report was filed with the Carbon and Monroe County District Attorneys but there is no evidence that happened. Mrs. Belinski said she talked to Shawn Noonan, State Police Detective, last week and she pointed him in the right direction as to from whom he could probably get some vital information.
Definitions of Single Family Versus Unrelated Persons
Mr. Antalics stated he has been badgering City Council over the last number of years about definitions of single family versus unrelated persons. Mr. Antalics commented he heard rumors recently that the Department of Community and Economic Development is considering looking into what he proposed in terms of changes of definition. Mr. Antalics queried if anyone from City Council or the Administration has anything to say regarding the matter.
Mayor Callahan noted he is aware of the situation since he was a former Member of Council over the past several years. Ms. Heller stated she is not aware of the matter. Mayor Callahan suggested that Mr. Antalics call Mr. Hanna’s office tomorrow.
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, communicated that, contrary to President Schweder’s statement, nothing in the Resolution pertaining to the Patriot Act that was proposed would require any Bethlehem employee to violate the USA Patriot Act or any other Federal law. Mr. Crownfield said, “as you already know, the Resolution was reviewed by Police Commissioner Donchez,…[and] I’ve also gone over it with District Attorney Morganelli who basically said that in reference to all those provisions regarding City employees they should already be doing all those things…That is the principal effect of this Resolution. It is not a debate about the value of the Federal law, or what the Congress should do. That’s one provision out of three pages refers to what Congress should do. You can take that provision out if you want to. This Resolution deals with how the employees of the City of Bethlehem and other institutions within the City of Bethlehem should conduct themselves.” Stressing that is not a question about whether it is or is not City business, Mr. Crownfield further stated it is a matter of what the employees of Bethlehem do, and it must be City business. Mr. Crownfield, referring to a letter concerning the Patriot Act, asked if a letter has been sent.
President Schweder, affirming that a letter has been drafted by the City Council Solicitor, noted that Ms. Szabo has been ill and has not had the opportunity to look at it.
Mr. Crownfield, restating this is strictly City business, commented he thinks that was clear in the way the Resolution was worded.
Senior Centers of Bethlehem
Beverly DiSanto advised there are 12 tenants of the Moravian House at the meeting this evening, and introduced the officers. Stating “we have a lot of concerns”, Ms. DiSanto related that the tenant organization read an article in the newspaper in which Ms. Jackson said the tenants association was interfering with the Senior Center activities. Ms. DiSanto said she challenges anyone to walk through their any day, morning or afternoon, and see the limited activities that are there. Ms. DiSanto informed the Members “we don’t disturb Ms. Jackson. We’re not allowed in there until after 4:00 [pm].” Ms. DiSanto, stressing that Ms. Jackson “has been nickel and dime-ing our tenants…”, exemplified it costs $2.50 to go to Bible study, people have to pay money to play cards, and one person was to be charged for playing shuffleboard. Ms. DiSanto continued on to say Ms. Jackson stole the sticks to the pool table, and took the piano out and said it was broken. A few weeks later the piano was fixed and Ms. Jackson was going to sell it back to the group. Ms. DiSanto, stating “we want a little bit of cooperation”, advised that the group wants City Council and others to stop giving out money until it is investigated where the money is going, what it is going for, and who is spending it. Ms. DiSanto communicated that the tenants association can account for every penny. Ms. DiSanto restated that, before money is given to the seniors, it should be checked out first. Ms. DiSanto said “what has been going on at the Senior Citizens is a disgrace”, and added that these horror stories are true. Ms. DiSanto asserted that the story about the computers is true. Ms. DiSanto stressed that she cannot impress upon City Council enough that what has been going on there should be checked out, and where all the money is going should be investigated.
City Employees – Residency and Loss of Taxes
Alan Hoppey, 1303 Beverly Avenue, referring to an Ordinance that repealed the residency requirement for City employees in 1988, said he was strongly against it then and is still strongly against it. Mr. Hoppey expressed the wish that Council would do something to make employees of the City become residents or be residents when they are hired. Mr. Hoppey noted that over 60% of the employees of the Fire and Police Departments live outside of the City. Stressing these are emergency services, Mr. Hoppey stated that people live as far as Lehighton and at least an hour away. Mr. Hoppey questioned how they can be called for an emergency. Mr. Hoppey felt it is to a point where the matter is hurting the City, and it is picking the pockets of senior citizens. Mr. Hoppey exemplified that in 2000, City employees paid wage taxes totaling $286,695. Of that money, according to his report, Mr. Hoppey said only $138,000 of that amount stayed in the City and $148,000 went to other municipalities. In 2002, Mr. Hoppey stressed that the City sent checks to 73 municipalities and some were out of state. In 2003, Mr. Hoppey related that employees contributed $301,000 and of that money only $140,000 stayed in the City. Mr. Hoppey pointed out that in two years $309,000 of taxpayers money that pays City employee wages, benefits, prescription plan, and dental plan went to municipalities in the surrounding area. Mr. Hoppey insisted it is time Council takes action, and reinstitutes an Ordinance requiring that City employees shall be residents of the City.
Mr. Hoppey remarked that picking Fire Inspectors out of the ranks, or giving them promotions to Lieutenants is wasting the City’s money. Mr. Hoppey communicated that, out of 33 years, for the first 18 years there was a working system. Mr. Hoppey explained there were Firefighters that worked shifts; i.e., two Firefighters on day shift, and two Firefighters on night shift. There was 24 hour coverage 7 days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays. However, Mr. Hoppey communicated that problems started when the Fire Marshall was made a Deputy Commissioner. He explained an Assistant Chief was taken away from the Fire Department and that started creating overtime. Mr. Hoppey recounted that, starting three Fire Commissioners back, it was decided to have people work straight day shifts, five days a week, eight hour shifts. Mr. Hoppey questioned what happens to Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays, and evenings. Mr. Hoppey, advising that fire inspectors are needed in the evenings when clubs are open and functions are going on, said “you don’t have them, because now you have to pay them overtime.” Mr. Hoppey continued on to relate that fire inspectors were given a 3% increase, and were put on 10 hour shifts four days a week. Mr. Hoppey pointed out this created less coverage. Mr. Hoppey, noting it has been proposed through the Fire Commissioner that the fire inspector position be made a Lieutenant, asserted it will be a revolving door just like the Captains positions. Mr. Hoppey, highlighting the fact that the Fire Department has a training officer, stressed yet the City pays thousands of dollars to the City of Allentown, and prior to that the City of Harrisburg, to conduct training. Mr. Hoppey further pointed out that it has been tried to lower the standards for a fire inspector. Mr. Hoppey said why he knows so much is because he was Union President of Local 735 for over 6 years, negotiated contracts, and advised it was never intended to be used the way it was. Mr. Hoppey stated that the only working solution the Department has is shift inspectors which is the way it was started years ago so there is coverage.
Police Employees - Residency
Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, said as long as he can remember since the residency requirement was lifted, he knows of no circumstance where the Police Department had a problem getting people out for emergency situations. Police Commissioner Donchez recalled that included several train derailments, and callouts for the SWAT team. Police Commissioner Donchez said he wants to reassure everybody it is not a panic situation, and it has not been a problem getting people out and having emergency situations rectified.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.