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December 7, 2004 Meeting Minutes
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order.
Pastor Richard Viel, of Bethlehem Baptist Church, offered
the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag.
Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, Robert J. Donchez,
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, Magdalena F. Szabo,
and J. Michael Schweder, 7.
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, City Council conducted two Public Hearings, as follows.
Intermunicipal Liquor License Transfer Request – Tatamy Hotel to 102 W. Fourth Street
President Schweder called to order the first Public Hearing
to consider a request for an Intermunicipal Liquor License
Transfer, License No. R-19528, from the Tatamy Hotel, 200
Main Street, Tatamy, Pennsylvania 18085 to LAJJ Restaurant
Group, LLC, 102 West Fourth Street, Second Floor, Bethlehem,
Attorney Theodore Zeller introduced Frank Slutsky and Carlos Silva of LAJJ Restaurant Group, an acronym for the names of their children, residents of Macungie, who requested approval of the transfer of the Restaurant Liquor License from the Tatamy Hotel that was located at 200 Main Street in Tatamy to the facility located at 102 West Fourth Street, Second Floor, that is upstairs from the Goosey Gander Restaurant. The owners of the building are Anthony and Deborah Silvoy. Anthony Silvoy is the operator of the Goosey Gander Restaurant and had put a catering facility upstairs. Attorney Zeller explained that the facility will be an upscale American cuisine, with German and Portuguese specials. He further explained it will not be a place where there will be dancing or bands. It is going to be purely a restaurant facility, will have approximately 140 seats, and about 25 seats at the bar. Alcohol sales are projected to be as little as 25% to 30%, and the focus will be on food and fine dining. Although it will have an amusement permit, the type of music anticipated is a solo pianist or guitarist. Attorney Zeller informed the assembly that it will be a seven days a week operation, with lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and the restaurant and bar facility will be open from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. with the bar closing by 2:00 a.m. Attorney Zeller, affirming that it is not a nightclub, restated that his clients’ business plan is to present a fine American cuisine type facility. The name will be South Side Steel Bar and Restaurant to reflect some of the heritage of South Bethlehem.
Mrs. Belinski queried whether the facility will replace Goosey Gander. Attorney Zeller replied no and advised the facility is located upstairs, above the ground floor, and handed photographs to the Members of Council.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the December 21, 2004 Council Agenda.
The first Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:42 p.m.
Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment – Establishing Article
1304.08 – RR Overlay
Zone – Township Line Road
7 A. Planning and Zoning Director – Zoning Ordinance
Text Amendment – RR Overlay – Township Line Road
The Clerk read a memorandum dated November 15, 2004 from Darlene Heller, Director of
Planning and Zoning, in which it was stated that, at its November 11, 2004 meeting, the Planning Commission voted 5 to 0 to recommend approval of the Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to create an RR Overlay for an age restricted development along Township Line Road.
7 B. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission - Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment – RR Overlay – Township Line Road
The Clerk read a letter dated October 29, 2004 from Frederic Brock, Assistant Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC), in which it was advised that the LVPC considered the proposed Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment at the October 29, 2004 meeting and voted to return the following comments: “The creation of the proposed overlay district and the rezoning of a tract on the west side of Township Line Road are a matter of local concern only. We offer no comments about these proposals. The application of the overlay district to a single property creates the appearance of spot zoning. We recommend that the City consult its solicitor about this issue.”
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, pointing to a map of the area, advised that the RR Overlay is proposed for a parcel just under 10 acres at the intersection of Route 22 and Township Line Road that abuts the northern municipal boundary of the City. It is surrounded on each side by either single family homes or other undeveloped properties. Ms. Heller explained that the RR Overlay is for age restricted development. The proposed Ordinance was reviewed by the Planning Commission at their November meeting and they recommended approval of the proposal. Ms. Heller affirmed that the parcel is presently zoned RR – Residential which allows about 3 units per acre. Observing that the proposal requests 5 units per acre which is a greater density, Ms. Heller noted that the proposed Ordinance allows for greater building coverage. The setbacks remain about the same, except along Route 22 where a 100 foot buffer is required that is included within the proposal. Ms. Heller, confirming that the roads in the area are not built to City standards, pointed out they are older, in poor condition, and have poor site distance at several areas. Ms. Heller commented that is a concern as far as additional traffic. Ms. Heller explained one of the benefits in the age restricted proposal is that less traffic is generated. Advising that the Comprehensive Plan was reviewed to determine whether it would support the proposed Overlay, Ms. Heller pointed out the Plan does site this area as an area that has an opportunity for infill, new growth, and new development potential. Also reviewed was the creation of an opportunity for a variety of housing types throughout the City. The Comprehensive Plan notes that this area currently has several underutilized parcels with land that has great potential for development. Ms. Heller stated it is felt that the proposal is in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan. The other factor reviewed was the nearby location of the Monocacy Creek, and the Bureau wanted to be sensitive as development is reviewed so that there is some distance from the Monocacy Creek. Overall, Ms. Heller confirmed the Bureau is supportive of the proposal, and it is thought the proposal has less impact on the area than a typical RR development could have. Turning to the letter from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, Ms. Heller affirmed that the issue of spot zoning was discussed at the Planning Commission meeting at which a representative from the Law Bureau was present. Ms. Heller advised it was not felt that spot zoning was an issue since it is a 10 acre parcel, and it is actually an Overlay as opposed to a zoning district in and of itself. The fact that it is an Overlay does take into consideration that there are some unique circumstances and that is why creation of an Overlay is proposed.
President Schweder inquired whether the proposed development wraps around the properties where there are houses.
Ms. Heller replied there are some single family homes between Township Line Road and the back of the proposed development, and they are rear property lines.
President Schweder queried whether it would come close to the Monocacy Creek.
Ms. Heller, confirming there would be homes in between, added the City would be sensitive to the way it is laid out pertaining to storm water, for example, which is reviewed through the development process. Pointing to the map, Ms. Heller continued on to note the areas that are presently undeveloped and added that the area along Route 22 is for the most part undeveloped as well.
Mr. Donchez inquired if the undeveloped areas are within the City limits, and questioned where the City limit ends.
Ms. Heller replied that the City’s limit ends at the southern boundary of the Route 22 border. Stating that many years ago there was a subdivision that showed the boundary elsewhere, Ms. Heller advised that the Engineering Bureau is in agreement that it runs along the southern border of the Route 22 right of way, and confirmed the red line designates the end of the City limits. The northern property line of the parcel is also the northern municipal boundary.
Ms. Heller affirmed to Ms. Szabo that the area is currently zoned RR – Residential. Ms. Szabo asked Ms. Heller to describe what is meant by Overlay zoning.
Ms. Heller, confirming that Overlays have been created in other areas of the City, recounted that an Overlay was created at Creek Road and Friedensville Road although the area is still zoned RR – Residential. The Overlay allowed for twin home development. In addition, Overlays were created at Cherry Lane, and Campus Square near Lehigh University. In areas where there are specific or unique circumstances, an Overlay can be created. Ms. Heller advised that, at this point, the City was not comfortable with allowing age restricted development throughout the RR – Residential Districts but did feel there were specific circumstances on this piece of land that made it appropriate. Rather than add age restricted developments as a permitted use in RR – Residential zoning districts, an Overlay would be created that is specific to this site.
Ms. Szabo observed the proposal is to put something in the RR – Residential zoning district that is not allowed. Confirming that age restricted development is not allowed right now, Ms. Heller denoted that only single family homes are allowed in RR – Residential. Ms. Szabo queried, other than the fact that the developer wants to build a lot more units in the zoning district than is presently permitted, would special zoning be required for age restricted housing. Ms. Heller commented she did not think that age restricted housing is provided for anywhere in the Zoning Ordinance. Ms. Heller continued on to explain that, in other zoning districts, housing types other than single family homes are provided for, but no where else in the Zoning Ordinance does it talk about an age restricted development like this. Ms. Heller noted the age restricted development proposal is the type that has been reviewed and approved in other municipalities, and other communities are considering very similar proposals. She added that they do allow greater density but with lesser impact to the surrounding area, such as less traffic. Ms. Szabo observed that the purpose of the Overlay is simply to build more buildings on land that is now restricted as to the number of buildings. Ms. Heller added that it does it in a way that creates a specific type of development.
Ms. Szabo stressed that this zoning proposal bothers her very much because of the fact that there are so few RR – Residential areas in the City and the proposal is an attempt to break that zoning regardless of what it is called. Ms. Szabo continued on to state that she rejects the idea of specifying any area in any part of Bethlehem for restricted age groups. Noting it was said this is creating the opportunity to offer this type of development in other areas, Ms. Szabo remarked that is what bothers her because she feels it is discriminating in two ways. It is trying to break a zoning code, and it allows senior citizen housing developments with restrictions as to age as far as purchase or rental. Ms. Szabo asserted this opens the door to other types of restricted housing, and to lawsuits as far as discrimination is concerned. She pointed out that the development would require someone to be a certain age and in a certain economic status to live there because the houses are going to be expensive. Ms. Szabo, acknowledging that the Moravian housing development at East Broad and Wood Streets has the same restrictions, highlighted the fact that the development did not need special zoning changes to do it. Ms. Heller pointed out in that case a separate zoning district was created, R-RC – Residential Retirement Complex. Ms. Szabo noted, however, that the land there was not previously zoned RR – Residential. Ms. Szabo thought it was a bad idea to allow such types of zoning because sooner or later a headache will be faced as far as legality is concerned, and other requests would likely follow that may not be as desirable in which case the requesters would point to this Overlay and say “but you did it for them. You must do it for us.” Ms. Szabo stated she is not in favor of the change.
Mr. Mowrer asked the advantages and disadvantages of leaving the parcel zoned RR – Residential and the advantages and disadvantages of changing the parcel to an RR – Overlay.
Ms. Heller, responding that leaving the parcel RR allows strictly single family development, explained in view of the fact that Route 22 is located there it was felt there would be some difficulty in developing the parcel with single family homes. Ms. Heller continued on to respond that traffic generation would be a concern because of the quality of the roads and the poor sight distance. Ms. Heller advised that the proposed development would generate less traffic, and the development would be somewhat clustered to keep it away from Route 22. The homes would not be as large and would be a lower market rate than if it were single family homes. Ms. Heller commented it is thought that makes this development more reasonable for the site than the single family homes that are permitted in RR.
Mr. Mowrer inquired about the taxes generated from RR versus an RR Overlay. Ms. Heller replied the difference with taxes is that with an age restricted development there is no impact on the School District, and the real estate taxes from the two zones are the same. Ms. Heller further responded to Mr. Mowrer that in an age restricted development there would be no children, so there would be no students in the School District and no additional impact on the School District.
Mrs. Belinski, commenting that she agrees with Ms. Szabo, affirmed that the City just passed an Ordinance to restrict building on South Mountain, and wondered whether someone would request similar consideration there.
Ms. Heller, advising that the proposal was first introduced as a change to the RR District, explained the Bureau was not comfortable with that because it was not known how many lots would be affected even with a minimum lot size. Ms. Heller pointed out that, with an Overlay, each proposal is reviewed by the Planning Bureau, and forwarded to the Planning Commission and City Council, as is done with a rezoning proposal. Consequently, there is much more ability for review of Overlay proposals, each is reviewed on a case by case basis, and the requester needs to show what are the unique circumstances for a particular lot. Mrs. Belinski observed that developers who wish to build on South Mountain might come up with unique circumstances so they could get an exception. Ms. Heller pointed out it is believed that the location of Route 22 relative to the parcel in question does have an impact.
President Schweder, noting there is significant land to the east of the parcel that is similarly situated as one moves back along Santee Mill Road, asked is there open space available behind that area which is within the City limits.
Ms. Heller, replying there is some land to the east, advised that the Bethlehem Township line is not too far from that location. Ms. Heller recounted there was a sketch plan proposal for the parcel on the east side of Township Line Road, there were a lot of development constraints, and the proposal was withdrawn. Ms. Heller acknowledged there are other opportunities for development.
President Schweder inquired whether the proposal was looked at in the sense that it is probably what the area could handle, but perhaps not more beyond this.
Ms. Heller, reaffirming that each proposal would have to be reviewed on a case by case basis, informed President Schweder there were other issues on the eastern side of Township Line Road as far as access to the lot, the railroad, Monocacy Creek, wetlands, and other things that impact development of the parcel. Ms. Heller, noting that each parcel is unique, advised that all of the characteristics would be reviewed for each parcel.
President Schweder asked is there a way for that to be done now. President Schweder, while stating he is not opposed to the revision, said he would like to know going forward what the Department thinks is the feasibility of additional development.
Ms. Heller, explaining that a report was done on how many parcels in the RR zone actually would be greater than the 10 acres required and that would be undeveloped, said there were not that many parcels left. Ms. Heller denoted that the Bureau felt this was the most conservative way to move this project forward and not open the City up to development on other parcels where it might not be appropriate.
President Schweder requested that the information be shared with Council.
Mr. Mowrer observed that Ms. Heller and the Department strongly recommend the proposal. Ms. Heller replied yes.
Ms. Szabo, noting that Ms. Heller mentioned that other parcels are available, asked if some parcels have already been sold.
Ms. Heller, responding no, explained she meant parcels in the RR zone that would meet the same criteria for development. Ms. Heller, adding it would be dependent on lot size, noted that the minimum lot size in the proposed development is 9 acres. She continued on to explain that the report was done on all the undeveloped parcels in the RR zone that are 9 acres or greater.
Ms. Heller confirmed to Ms. Szabo that the parcel in question is vacant.
Ms. Szabo inquired how close the proposed development is to the Monocacy Creek.
Ms. Heller, turning to the map, pointed to the Monocacy Creek. To the south and east there are single family homes, so there would be 2 or 3 single family homes between the Creek and the proposed site development.
Ms. Szabo advised that, after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, some of the houses in the section were so flooded that it was not possible to drive to the homes.
Ms. Heller confirmed that the parcel in question is not in the flood plain. Ms. Szabo highlighted the fact that Hurricane “Ivan did not obey the flood plain”.
Mr. Arcelay thought that the area would be out of character for single family homes given the fact that the Route 22 highway is located there. Mr. Arcelay asked whether there have been past requests from developers to build single family homes.
Ms. Heller replied not to her knowledge since the time she has been employed by the City. Ms. Heller, affirming that the proposal for the parcel on the east side of Township Line Road for some clustered townhouse development was withdrawn, noted that the developer was looking for some relief for clustered development.
Mr. Arcelay was informed by Ms. Heller that the Zoning Ordinance requires a 100 foot buffer from the Route 22 right of way. Ms. Heller advised that the developer is proposing buffering with landscaping between the development and the highway.
Mr. Leeson, referring to the conditions of Altonah Road from Biery’s Bridge Road to Township Line Road, pointed out it is very narrow, and vehicles traveling in the opposite direction must be accommodated. Mr. Leeson queried, if the proposal is approved, are the prospects for development to the west of the tract increased, perhaps because roads might go through the middle of this development and open up the area to the west for further development. Mr. Leeson continued on to inquire, if that happens, is there planning for what might need to be done to Altonah Road.
Ms. Heller, agreeing that the roads are difficult, confirmed
that the Bureau has thought about what might happen to the
piece to the west. She continued on to say that was one of
the reasons why the Bureau wanted it to be an overlay and
not be something that would be permitted throughout the RR
Zone because the Bureau does need to look at such proposals
on an individual basis. Ms. Heller, confirming the proposal
would not allow access to that piece from the west, said at
this point that is preferred so that when and if the parcel
to the west is developed the City can take a closer look at
what needs to be done. Ms. Heller acknowledged that long range
she is not sure what the solutions are for a roadway like
Altonah Road. She pointed out there are the same concerns
with some of the roads on South Mountain that are country
roads in an urban area, and it is difficult to find solutions.
Some of the things talked about for South Mountain are installation
of traffic calming and better signage to slow traffic, but
there is not really an overall solution for the roadway itself.
Mr. Leeson said he would submit that, if the City is encouraging and supporting development like this, the development cannot be supported without having studied and planned for the future the relevance of inadequate roadways. Although the proposed development will not bring significant increase in traffic, Mr. Leeson pointed out there will be some increase in traffic. Mr. Leeson, stating that the cost factor of dealing with Santee Mill Road is too high because the roadway is too long, stated that means the City has to deal with Altonah Road. Mr. Leeson, continuing on to say the economics of unintended consequences may come to apply in the future on the road situation, encouraged Ms. Heller and the Department to think long term with respect to Altonah Road.
Attorney James Broughal, representing Nic Zawarski and Sons Developers, Inc., said they are the entity that filed the request for the Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment for an RR Overlay Zone for Township Line Road. Attorney Broughal advised that Terry Zawarski, President, is in attendance and will explain what he proposes for the site. In addition, Attorney Broughal notified the Members that Larry Turosy, principal in Lehigh Engineering, a professional traffic engineer, is present also and will provide a traffic report about the site. Attorney Broughal remarked that over the last 3 or 4 years he thinks all can agree that there has been a tremendous amount of development in the Lehigh Valley. He continued on to say most of that development probably is in the form of residential development. Where ever that residential development has occurred in the Lehigh Valley, Attorney Broughal noted two problems have occurred. One and foremost is increased traffic, and the second is a significant impact on the school systems that really were not able to handle the new number of children as a result of all the residential development. Attorney Broughal pointed out that meant new schools had to be built and paid for, and citizens ended up with additional real estate taxes. Attorney Broughal, advising what is proposed tonight is not to change the RR Residential zoning restrictions, affirmed that the RR zoning will remain exactly the way it is. Attorney Broughal confirmed this is not a map change so it cannot be a spot zoning issue. Attorney Broughal informed the Members what is being proposed is a simple Zoning Ordinance text change to provide for an Overlay District that allows the developer to build age restricted housing at a greater density. The reason for the greater density is that age restricted housing has significantly less traffic than a by right plan would. Focusing on the advantages that many municipalities throughout the Lehigh Valley are seeing with age restricted housing, Attorney Broughal said first of all there is less traffic. Second, there is less impact on the school system because there are no children. Third, there is less impact on recreational facilities because for the most part active recreational facilities would not be needed for this type of development. Fourth, there is less demand on water and sewer. Fifth, there is less of a problem with parking. Attorney Broughal stated that “all of these things add up to a win-win situation for a municipality that provides for age restricted housing which…is provided for under the Federal Fair Housing Act as a way to legally discriminate with respect to age. Older persons are those persons classified under the Act as people 55 and older.”
Terry Zawarski, President of Nic Zawarski and Sons, pointing to drawings, confirmed that the board identifies where the site is located along Route 22 and Township Line Road. Turning to the second drawing, Mr. Zawarski noted it is a blow-up identifying the adjoining property owners, Route 22, and Township Line Road. The next board showed a community plan that he developed with the entranceway system, the units, the existing landscaping buffer along the property lines, and a storm water management facility that will become an architectural feature of the plan. The next board showed the addition of the landscaping that would be completed throughout the community, including the walking pathway that meanders through, comprising nearly one mile. In the center is a small park-like system that will have two gazebos. Mr. Zawarski next showed photographs of a community he is currently developing that are units very similar to what he would be proposing to build at Township Line Road. He said they are designed with the master bedroom suite on the first floor, two car attached garage, full basement, living room, dining room, kitchen, optional sun room, optional loft on the second floor. The last display was an actual photograph of the interior of an identical community showing the breakfast area, kitchen, living room, and loft. Mr. Zawarski said the pricing structure of this particular community will be starting in the $240,000 range for the basic unit, a loft would add approximately $25,000 to the price, and a sunroom would bring the price range to nearly $300,000. Mr. Zawarski said the tax revenues that the City would be achieving through the proposed development would be significantly higher than if he were to build it as a traditional single family home development because the unit is more upscale and he is asking for a higher density than would be allowed with single family homes.
Mr. Mowrer communicated he is comfortable with the builder from Bethlehem who built his last house so he knows the quality of what would be built. Adding that is important to him, Mr. Mowrer said a lot of times he would not know the developer and does not know what the developer has done elsewhere.
Ms. Szabo, commenting that the plan is very attractive, pointed out the question is not the attractiveness of the proposal but the zoning.
Attorney Broughal, denoting one other issue comes up in other municipalities about the development, said there are many people at an older age who do not want to have the problem of taking care of a large home and want to leave their large home. However, because of an extended family they do want to stay somewhere close by. Attorney Broughal observed, unfortunately, in the City of Bethlehem there is not really anything like that, other than Moravian Village. Attorney Broughal pointed out this particular proposal gives them the option of moving into an age restricted development where everything is taken care of, and they are condominium units. Attorney Broughal continued on to highlight the fact that the roads will not be given over to the City so that is another municipal service that will not have to be performed.
Larry Turosy, director of engineering for Lehigh Engineering Associates that has been located in the Lehigh Valley for 60 years, said this is his 39th year with the firm. Mr. Turosy advised he was asked to do a traffic comparison which is what is usually done on these projects at the zoning request stage. He notified the Members that the company has a lot of experience in these types of developments, not only from a traffic standpoint but also from doing the developments. The company has been involved with probably over 1,500 units in Lower Macungie Township, Forks Township, Palmer Township, Allen Township, Hanover Township, Mount Pocono in Monroe County, and Maiden Creek Township near Reading. Mr. Turosy, communicating he is a candidate for this type of housing, explained the appeal for people who want to go into these type of units. Mr. Turosy informed the Members that the Palmer Township project the company did was so successful that a third of the units were sold before there was a shovel in the ground because people get tired of taking care of a single family detached home but want to stay in the community near their children and grandchildren, and like the idea of being able to come and go, in addition to the fact that there is security and it is private. Mr. Turosy, advising that the first such development the company did was in Lower Macungie, said the Lower Macungie Supervisors had the same apprehension, and wondered if such a development would work, and who would live there. Mr. Turosy enumerated it has been seen that the developments become very successful because of the taxes, no children, and low impact on municipal facilities, including private streets, so that the community gets the taxes without having to do snow plowing or taking care of the streets. Mr. Turosy stated that the biggest issue is traffic. He explained that if most of the people in these developments are retired they are not going to go out at the 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. peak period in the morning and mix in with all that traffic going to work and school. He continued on to point out that in the afternoon the residents are also not going to mix in the peak hours from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. when the reverse is occurring. Consequently, Mr. Turosy observed that, although there might be the same overall traffic during the day as a similar single family detached home, during the peak periods when there are traffic problems with a greater amount of traffic making turns, for example, this community is very much lower in terms of traffic. Mr. Turosy explained what developers try to do is to ascertain the traffic generated by a certain number of homes in a development under the current single family zoning and the number of senior community homes that matches that so that the traffic is the same as or less than what would occur under the normal zoning. Mr. Turosy advised that some follow-up studies have been done to find out what really happens, and noted that most of the information comes from the ITE, Institute of Transportation Engineering, book which has traffic generation rates for almost every type of facility. Mr. Turosy informed the assembly that age restricted developments are so new that until just this year there was not a 55 year and older community listed in the ITE book, and in 7th edition generation rates were added that are being used tonight for this project and for comparison rates. Mr. Turosy pointed out that he prepared a delta study, or a different study, that shows what would happen if there were the same amount of homes that could be built under the permitted zoning versus an equivalent traffic number for senior housing. Mr. Turosy, turning to the study which he handed to the Members of Council, thought the most important part of the study is on the table on page 2 that lists traffic generation rates by weekday period, by peak hour, and by Saturday and peak hour so that by right single family detached housing can be compared versus a proposed equivalent traffic number which would equate to the number of units that could be built to have the same traffic for an age restricted development. Mr. Turosy pointed out the chart would allow 17 single family detached houses to be built that would produce 163 trips over a 24 hour period in the morning, in the evening it would be a little higher, on a Saturday there would be 172 trips but the peak is spread out over the whole day. Turning to category 252 in ITE, under 46 age restricted units either attached or detached, the number is very low at 2 or 3. For age restricted detached dwellings, the peak hour traffic in the morning and afternoon is 6 and 7, and is still lower or about the same as 17 single family detached homes. Mr. Turosy pointed out it has been discovered that the residents of age restricted communities do not go out during the peak hours and want to avoid the morning and afternoon problem traffic. Mr. Turosy stated he “can honestly say in looking at ITE, looking at what we’ve done over the 5 years, 46 units, although that sounds high from 17, will produce probably about the same amount or less during the critical peak times of the day as a equivalent 17 unit single family detached allowed by right by your zoning.”
Ken Zimmerman, owner of property adjoining the property in question, said he wanted to voice his concern about the traffic impact. Mr. Zimmerman, stating this is not elderly housing, remarked these individuals would be purchasing homes with two car garages in a location that is not very accessible to anything, and added one has to drive to get to anything. Mr. Zimmerman said he is concerned because of the narrow roads in the vicinity, the industrial park is pouring traffic down Township Line Road, to Altonah Road, to Santee Mill Road, and to Biery’s Bridge Road. Mr. Zimmerman stated he is the one who voiced the issue about the credibility of the traffic study. Advising he was told that the average age of the study was 65, Mr. Zimmerman observed roughly half of the people in the proposed development would be 55 to 65. Mr. Zimmerman continued on to say that tells him “half the 47 dwellings have one or two working people…who have to go to work, and it’s going to be more than either 6 or 7 joining the rush hour traffic in the morning and in the end of the day.” Mr. Zimmerman, asserting this is setting a precedent, expressed he is concerned about the development across the street also that is 60 acres on the east side where the developer wanted to put multi-family development, and he is glad it was turned down by both the City and the Township. Mr. Zimmerman expressed the hope that the City will study the traffic impact more closely, and look at the demographics of the residents of this type of development. He continued on to say these are grandparents who are taking their grandchildren to day care, or taking care of them, or taking them to sports events at the school, are on the road all day, and are active. Remarking there is going to be a lot activity on the roads, Mr. Zimmerman said he is concerned about also their safety because of the people pouring down from the Industrial Park at lunchtime and going to and coming home from work.
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, stated he is not against the project. Mr. Bruch said a lot of people 55 and older who retired thought they were going to be able to make it but they cannot, and commented he agrees with the previous speaker. Mr. Bruch questioned whether there is a restriction that would not allow an older child who has fallen on hard times to live in the house. Attorney Broughal replied that the restriction applies to 18 years and under. Mr. Bruch, asking how close is the property to Route 22, observed that Route 22 might be moved north and one should think about the fact that there may be two more lanes on either side of the highway, or have the Federal government and the City buy the houses. Mr. Bruch expressed that the City should not step into something that will cause problems later.
Dave Sanders, 69 East Goepp Street, questioned what happens to water as it comes down the creek. Mr. Sanders, asking can the Monocacy Creek handle any more water runoff, suggested that if the development moves forward the detention ponds should not be smaller but larger. Mr. Sanders, affirming that the water has to go somewhere, highlighted the fact that one can see what happened recently where Consilio concrete company is located and water runoff traveled down Laurel Street from Moravian College. Mr. Sanders pointed out that the people below the creek will experience the after effects of water runoff. Expressing that Mr. Zimmerman is right, Mr. Sanders said it is obvious there will be 92 cars in the two car garages rather than the 46 mentioned.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, said he has been in the Palmer Township development and it is very impressive. Mr. Grubb, expressing his agreement with Mr. Leeson, felt that the Altonah Road situation has to be very seriously considered not just in conjunction with what is being proposed but also in view of the fact that there is still undeveloped land at the Industrial Park. Mr. Grubb said a lot of people use the area as a short cut to get back and forth to the Industrial Park and other places. Mr. Grubb, asking how far is the barrier from Route 22, thought it is very important for the development to be buffered from the highway. Mr. Grubb pointed out there is a single family dwelling development further west along Route 22 at Jacksonville Road where it seems to have been successful and has a landscaped earth mound. Mr. Grubb queried what is the timetable for completion. Mr. Zawarski replied it is anticipated to start in April 2005 with a 24 months build-out.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the December 21, 2004 Council Agenda for First Reading.
The public hearing was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of November 16, 2004 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
6. OLD BUSINESS
Sinkhole – Lafayette Avenue
Mrs. Belinski recounted that a few years ago a very large sinkhole developed on property owned by two people who are now 86 and 88 years old that the City said was an act of God, and the owners had to spend $30,000 from their life savings to take care of the problem. Repair work was done on the part in the street for which the City had responsibility, but it was brought up that the street was only repaired on a third or a portion of it and it was very noticeable. Mrs. Belinski, advising that she personally inspected it, said there were three depressions going down the rest of the street on the block. Mrs. Belinski, relating that the concrete contractor was worried since it had not been taken care of, and stating she does not fault the Public Works Department, noted the work that was supposed to be done on the street was not finished. Mrs. Belinski continued on to relate that because of Hurricane Ivan, even though the original sinkholes were taken care of, two more sinkholes have developed. Mrs. Belinski said where one of the depressions was in the street that the City did not get around to fixing on the other side on the property owners’ lawn there are two cement sections of pavement perfectly level. The contractor asked her to personally look at it which she did. There is a plug of cement that the contractor put under those two new sections of pavement. The water could not go around the plug from the depression in the street. Consequently, when Hurricane Ivan occurred the water went around the cement and caused the sinkhole on their lawn. Mrs. Belinski asserted that sinkhole was the City’s responsibility because it was not taken care of in a timely manner to fix the street. Mrs. Belinski remarked now one can see where the street was patched and fixed, and it is right on the other side of the pavement. Mrs. Belinski expressed the hope that the City’s insurance company will take care of the situation and not say again it is an act of God. Mrs. Belinski said she wanted to publicly bring the matter to the Administration’s attention again that the City should take responsibility for filling in the sinkhole so that the property owners “aren’t gouged again.”
C. Assistant City Solicitor – Amending Article 339 – Occupation Privilege Tax to Emergency and Municipal Services Tax
The Clerk read a memorandum dated December 3, 2004 from
William Alexander Karras, Assistant City Solicitor, to which
was attached a proposed ordinance to amend Article 339 of
the Codified Ordinances as a result of HB 197 signed into
law by the Governor on December 1, 2004, replacing the Occupational
Privilege Tax with the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax.
In the memorandum it was further advised that, since the School District is not changing their ordinance to increase the exemption amount from $1,000 at this time, in order to avoid a conflict, the City will also retain the $1,000 exemption at this time.
President Schweder stated that, if necessary, the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the December 21, 2004 Council Agenda for First Reading.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
President Schweder announced the schedules and associated dates for the Fourth Budget Hearing and Final Budget Meeting on the Proposed 2005 Budget.
1. Administrative Order – Ellen Cary Bearn – Sister City Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Ellen Cary Bearn to the Sister City Commission effective until October 2007. Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,528 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Joan Lardner Paul – Sister City Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Joan Lardner Paul to the Sister City Commission effective until October 2007. Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,529 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
3. Administrative Order – Beth Starbuck – Sister City Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Beth Starbuck to the Sister City Commission effective until October 2007. Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,530 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
4. Administrative Order – Steven Glickman – Fine
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Steven Glickman to the Fine Arts Commission effective until November 2007. Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,531 to confirm the appointment.
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held November 23, 2004 on the following subjects: Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment – Overtime; and Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment – Departmental Contracts.
D. Parks and Public Property Committee
Mrs. Belinski, Chairwoman of the Parks and Public Property Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held November 30, 2004 on the following subjects: Illick’s Mill Project – Update; and Golf Course Property – Private Retention Pond.
E. Human Resources and Environment Committee
Mr. Arcelay, Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held December 1, 2004 on the following subject: Establishing New Article 1113 – Food Code Regulation.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 50 – 2004 – Amending Community Development Budget – South Side Greenway
The Clerk read Bill No. 50 – 2004, Amending Community Development Budget – South Side Greenway, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 50 – 2004, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4288, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 62 – 2004 – Establishing New Article 1113 – Food Code Regulation
The Clerk read Bill No. 62 – 2004, sponsored by Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Leeson, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, COUNTIES
OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, REPEALING EXISTING ARTICLE 1113 OF
THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES, FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS, EXISTING ARTICLE 1114 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES
ENTITLED RETAIL FOOD STORE SANITATION CODE, EXISTING ARTICLE 1115 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES ENTITLED FOOD HANDLERS AND EXISTING ARTICLE 1117 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES ENTITLED FOOD VENDING MACHINES, AND ESTABLISHING A NEW ARTICLE 1113 OF THE CODIFIED
ORDINANCES ENTITLED FOOD CODE REGULATION.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr.
Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No.
62 – 2004 passed on First Reading.
Considering Resolutions As A Group
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 11 A through 11 D as a group.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
A. Certificate of Appropriateness – 77 West Broad Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,532 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install window signage and an awning at 77 West Broad Street.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 77 West Broad Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,533 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a new projecting sign and window signage at 77 West Broad Street (Unit 8C).
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 517 First Avenue
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,534 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace garage doors at 517 First Avenue.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 211 East Third Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,535 which granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the façade at 211 East Third Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 A through 11 D: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
E. Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment Plant – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,536 which transferred $25,000 in the Sewer Fund Budget from the Sewer Maintenance – Salaries Account to the Wastewater Treatment – Overtime Account to provide funds needed for overtime until the end of the year.
F. Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment Plant – Department Contracts
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,537 which transferred $31,889 in the Sewer Fund Budget from the following accounts: $9,000 – Sewer Maintenance – Salaries, $4,000 – WWT – Salaries, $8,889 – Sewer General Expenses – Unforeseen Contingency, and $10,000 – Sewer Maintenance – Equipment Maintenance, to WWT – Departmental Contracts, to provide funds needed for contract payments until the end of the year.
12. NEW BUSINESS
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Addison Bross, 258 East Market Street, said he is at the meeting to offer a friendly reminder that Bethlehem should join some 362 other communities around the nation that have passed Resolutions to protect their citizens from the ravages of what has been misnamed the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Mr. Bross stated that he comes forward at this time because of an important celebration that is now approaching that bears directly on the question of the Patriot Act. On December 15, 2004 around the nation will be celebrated the Bill of Rights Day. Mr. Bross stated that the Bill of Rights provides valuable liberties to citizens all across the nation. Mr. Bross remarked that no one can honorably, genuinely, honestly celebrate the Bill of Rights without addressing the Patriot Act. Mr. Bross communicated that many of the provisions of the Patriot Act violate, annul, and cancel “the liberties that we hold dear and that we honor in the Bill of Rights.” He exemplified that the Bill of Rights provides for peaceful assembly for citizens. Mr. Bross referred to a report on national public radio that using provisions in the Patriot Act agents have infiltrated groups around the nation committed to finding ways for peace. Reminding the assembly that Bethlehem is the home of one of the oldest peace and justice groups in the United States called Lepoco, Lehigh Pocono Committee of Concern, Mr. Bross informed the assembly that next year Lepoco will celebrate its 40th anniversary. If peace and justice groups have been infiltrated by federal agents in other municipalities, Mr. Bross queried whether this institution in Bethlehem is safe from such infiltration, and said he has his doubts. Stressing that by using the Patriot Act agents can discover what people read in the library and can examine medical records without normal judicial procedure, Mr. Bross stated this violation of the Bill of Rights is a strong possibility. Mr. Bross recounted that, at a City Council Meeting last summer, an explanation was offered to those who asked for a Resolution as to why Council has rejected even entertaining a Resolution in an open forum. Mr. Bross, recalling the explanation was that it is best to wait until the crisis occurs, said “we were told that if agents do attempt to use Bethlehem’s law enforcement to search our homes, to go through our records, to detain us without charging us with a crime, then local Police will come to Council and explain that this is about to happen.” Mr. Bross, stressing this is an inadequate plan, advised that such notification to Council by a Police Officer who has been attempted to be enlisted by a federal agent to implement the Patriot Act is illegal under the Patriot Act. Mr. Bross said this is why he wants to remind City Council why he is taking up their time this evening that this explanation is not an explanation, and this plan is not a plan. Mr. Bross stated that if Council, in cooperation with citizens, can at least put on an agenda the discussion of a Resolution then Bethlehem will solve this problem up front, and “we won’t wait for the crisis.” Mr. Bross communicated that “many of us are willing, in fact, eager, to discuss with you setting up such a meeting at which experts could share information about this crisis. I’m here once again, then, to invite you to such a dialogue.”
Diana Pazetti, 621 Fourth Avenue, said she is at the meeting to speak about her concerns regarding the Patriot Act and to urge the passing of a Resolution assuring that in Bethlehem, if no where else in America, the Constitutional rights of citizens will not be violated. Ms. Pazetti, commenting the tacit implication is that if one objects to the Patriot Act then one is not a patriot, stated that she comes from patriots. She related that her father in law lost an arm and her uncle a leg in Korea, and her father was awarded the bronze Star, silver Star, and the legion of merit. Ms. Pazetti communicated that, because she has been raised conservatively in middle America, “it feels pretty terrible to be standing up and saying that I’m against something that my government tells me is good.” Expressing that, as people who read literature know, “when we have excesses…we all suffer,” Ms. Pazetti said anyone knows how much America regrets the excesses of McCarthyism. She continued on to say that, any time the people stand back and agree that someone else’s civil rights do not merit the same concern as their own because of the greater good, there is a terrible cost to pay. Relating she has worked on cases with a Japanese American who grew up in an interment camp in California, Ms. Pazetti stressed “this is real to me.” Continuing on to relate she has done family therapy with immigrants or met them in the hallways, Ms. Pazetti remarked that some of the ways their rights are impacted by the Patriot Act are very frightening. Ms. Pazetti expressed the feeling that “if we fail to look cautiously at the rights on which this Act encroaches we will leave a legacy of shame for our sons and daughters twenty years from now when injustices committed in the name of patriotism come to light.”
Ziona Brotleit, 408 Second Avenue, pointed out the Patriot Act was passed by Congress just 45 days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ms. Brotleit said the rapidity makes it impossible for Congress to have debated the issue sufficiently and for there to be any public hearings. She stressed it is a sweeping piece of legislation that eliminates and weakens many of the checks and balances that have been built into the system of government, law enforcement, and justice. Ms. Brotleit, stating these checks and balances are the things that make the U.S. Constitution the strong document that it is, said the Constitution is something that the country and its citizens deserve. Ms. Brotleit continued on to say that the Constitution deserves the appropriate time, effort, and consideration before such sweeping changes are made to it. Ms. Brotleit exemplified that, under the Patriot Act, private medical records, student records, library records, choice of and visits to church can be accessed without a warrant, without probable cause, and without informing the subject that it was done. While expressing her understanding that citizens need to be protected and safe, Ms. Brotleit asserted that eliminating citizens’ rights and the checks and balances needs to be scrutinized much more carefully than it has been. Ms. Brotleit informed the Members she agrees with the ACLU that before giving law enforcement such new powers Congress must very carefully consider those changes. Ms. Brotleit expressed her belief that Congress now must reexamine the provisions of the Patriot Act and make the corrections that will ensure that it is in alignment with key Constitutional protections. Ms. Brotleit highlighted the fact that in 362 communities that are in 43 States, and 4 State-wide situations, Resolutions have been passed that represent 55.2 million people who oppose parts of the Patriot Act, and noted the names of some of the communities, as follows: Philadelphia, New York City, and Palo Alto. Ms. Brotleit said she respectfully requests that the local Resolution proposed some time ago to protect civil liberties be put back on the agenda to be considered in the very near future so that Bethlehem may join communities in the United States that have Resolutions in place, and so that Bethlehem is one of the communities that recognizes its own diverse population and the contributions to the community of these people that are vital to the culture, character, and economy. Ms. Brotleit advised that at Northampton County Area Community College where she is employed people work very hard to help students learn about inclusion and empower them to contribute to the community. Ms. Brotleit communicated that she has difficulty standing before students with a law like the Patriot Act in effect, and has difficulty supporting the country to them with a law like the Patriot Act in place. Ms. Brotleit said she would be prouder, it would be easier, it would be more consistent with the kinds of things that students are taught about rights, liberties, and respect for one another if the City of Bethlehem was one of the 362 communities that had a Resolution in place to protect the civil liberties and the rights of its local residents. Ms. Brotleit further said she would feel more comfortable if Bethlehem were one of the communities that recognized that a threat to any one person’s constitutional rights is a threat to the rights of all, and that the preservation of civil rights and liberties is essential to the well-being of any democratic society. Ms. Brotleit stated she would like to see the Resolution put on the agenda so that people can see Bethlehem is committed to the protection and defense of the Constitution and the fundamental rights and liberties that all residents are entitled to.
Barbara Diamond, 425 Center Street, recounted that a group of citizens approached City Council last spring seeking a Resolution to create a Bill of Rights safe zone. Ms. Diamond explained that the Resolution would respect civil rights, and guarantee that Police and other City employees will uphold the Constitutional rights should Federal law enforcement request cooperation in an investigation. Ms. Diamond continued on to say, in other words, local Police will insist on complying with Federal orders only in ways that do not violate someone’s rights. Ms. Diamond, stressing “we need this Resolution now more than ever,” advised she is at the meeting to ask City Council once again to put a Resolution on the agenda. Advising that the Patriot Act is being expanded, Ms. Diamond notified the assembly that even today provisions of Patriot Act II were passed piecemeal in the Intelligence Reform legislation. She noted that President Bush has said many times that he intends to make the Patriot Act permanent rather than allow the provisions to sunset in December 2005. Ms. Diamond explained that provisions of the Patriot Act and related Executive Orders have been found to be unconstitutional when they finally reach the higher courts. Ms. Diamond, informing the Members that in September Section 505 of the Patriot Act was struck down on Fourth and Fifth Amendment grounds, advised that Section 505 allowed the F.B.I. to obtain vast amounts of very personal information simply by issuing themselves a national security letter and thereby avoiding even getting any kind of judicial approval. Pointing out that is no consolation to the people who have been victimized by the assault on their rights, Ms. Diamond exemplified that almost 800 Arab and South Asian individuals were summarily detained and held in prison in brutal conditions, most of whom were never even charged with a crime. Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon attorney, was put in jail, mostly in solitary confinement, falsely charged with being part of a terrorist attack in Spain based on mistaken fingerprint identification. There was an individual from Detroit whose prosecution was abandoned when Attorney General Ashcroft admitted prosecutorial misconduct. Ms. Diamond explained the point is that, no matter how well intentioned, the Patriot Act arose for protections against the abuse of power “and threatens all of us.” Ms. Diamond said a Resolution is important City business because it provides guidelines to Police should they be asked to work with Federal law enforcement. Ms. Diamond recalled that Police Commissioner Donchez has stated he is in favor of the Resolution. Ms. Diamond communicated that she calls on the Members of Council in light of the Bill of Rights Day on December 15 to support and protect the Constitutional rights of the community as they are sworn to do by their Oath of Office by putting the Resolution on the agenda and passing it like the other 361 cities and four States that have already done so.
Steve Diamond, 425 Center Street, recounted that the last time the group was before City Council it was stated that considering a Resolution on the Patriot Act was not really the business of Council. Mr. Diamond, communicating he has spent some time thinking about that, said as a taxpayer Council has fiduciary responsibilities with budgets. Continuing on to say that as time goes on the Federal government has bigger budget deficits, Mr. Diamond stressed he is sure that if the Patriot Act were implemented here “we would end up eating up a fair amount of the tab on any type of surveillance or any of the actions.” Mr. Diamond expressed he would like to see a Resolution at least stating that Bethlehem will spend no monies in supporting the actions that will encroach upon citizens rights. Mr. Diamond explained that, as a voter, he would like to know where each Member of Council stands in supporting the Patriot Act, and which Members would be willing to see their neighbors rights encroached upon “in this Kafka-esque type of environment that we live in.”
Roy Gruver, 415 North New Street, confirmed that over 350
communities and 4 States have passed Resolutions questioning
certain portions of the Patriot Act, and encouraging their
employees to carry out their official duties in ways that
would support and preserve individual civil rights. Mr. Gruver
added there are also dozens of colleges and universities across
the nation that have adopted Resolutions, including Muhlenberg
College in Allentown and Lehigh University in Bethlehem. Mr.
Gruver, reading from Lehigh University’s Resolution,
advised that the faculty called upon the administration, elected
officials in Bethlehem and other municipalities, the elected
representatives in the Federal government, and other institutions
of higher learning in the Lehigh Valley to work together to
ensure that governmental actions against terrorism do not
violate the Constitution and do not compromise individual
liberties, research, education, and academic freedom. Mr.
Gruver, explaining that he advises his students to think globally
and act locally, said he believes it is time to act and this
is the appropriate place to do so. Mr. Gruver said he strongly
encourages Council’s future action.
Retirement and City Issues
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, stated for the record that he is not frustrated by the situation surrounding his recent early retirement from the City workforce, as the Mayor was quoted in a recent newspaper story. Mr. Grubb said he is feeling rested, and is enjoying retirement status. Mr. Grubb stated that he did not discuss his personal feelings concerning this or anything else with the Mayor, and wondered why the Mayor felt qualified to interpret his feelings for the press. Mr. Grubb said, now that he is unencumbered by City employment, he will not go quietly into the night, because there is much to address and change in City government. Mr. Grubb asserted that over the past seven years a policy of double standards has been the normal way of operations inside City Hall. Mr. Grubb further stated that he personally witnessed the worst of what a very few individuals have brought into government in the City such as deceit, lack of integrity and leadership, personal gain over community benefit, repeated and defiant policy violations. He remarked that vindictive behaviors have become the norm, rather than the exception. Mr. Grubb expressed that his personal beliefs and sense of good versus evil have been tremendously challenged under the last two elected administrations. Mr. Grubb, expressing the feeling that morale has never been lower in the City workforce, said “and why not. Those same employees who care watch as a select few are given carte blanche to do whatever they want to do. You can't operate an organization by allowing these kinds of double standards to exist. That's the quickest way to create resentment and destroy morale. This City workforce is the single most important asset that any elected official has at his/her disposal while they are serving our City of Bethlehem. You must also lead by example. You must be willing to be held accountable so that you can hold others responsible. You earn respect by respecting others. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty along with everyone else, and not just for a publicity photo. And, acting in a deceitful way will only bring mistrust. I've been waiting for a responsible and integrous work atmosphere to become evident for nearly seven years. Those who could have done something met attempts I made to bring these issues to light with inaction. You would be quite surprised at the number of City employees who have quietly encouraged me to take up this cause, and to continue exposing those who take advantage of their status as City officials. I am here tonight to assure you that I will do this. And, I will continue trying to represent a fair, logical and concerned viewpoint on the many legitimate issues on which our City government must act. Our residents deserve this and more.”
Christmas Lights - 700 and 800 block of East Fourth Street
Santiago Rivera, 1349 Lynn Avenue, noted he is also the
owner of 807 East Fourth Street, and advised he saw a report
last night on WFMZ Channel 69 news about the lack of Christmas
lights in the 700 and 800 block of East Fourth Street. Mr.
Rivera, noting that he purchased the building at 807 East
Fourth Street in 2001, said at that time several of the buildings
in the block were abandoned and the block looked like a tough
area. Mr. Rivera explained that by 2002 he started to see
some changes, in 2003 the Alliance for Building Communities
had rehabilitated buildings 813 through 817 East Fourth Street,
a small business owner purchased and rehabilitated 740 East
Fourth Street, and 738 East Fourth Street has a restaurant.
Mr. Rivera informed the assembly that it has been brought
to his attention that several business owners have complained
about the lack of Christmas lights and trees in an area that
is considered a commercial zone just like the other commercial
zones in Bethlehem. Mr. Rivera, advising that he signed a
petition last year asking for those types of services to be
brought to that section, noted there was a lack of budget
funding for the request. Mr. Rivera stated that according
to the newscast it is the same reason this year that there
is a lack of budget funding to cover all of Bethlehem. Mr.
Rivera communicated that, as taxpayers, he would think there
would be equal treatment and distribution of funds for Christmas
lighting to the various neighborhoods. Mr. Rivera stated that,
as a commercial zone, he would like to see the lights there
as in other parts of the City. Mr. Rivera queried is there
a special treatment that occurs. Acknowledging that the areas
at Broad and New Street, and Fourth Street get a lot of attention
and they probably generate more business privilege taxes than
the 700 and 800 block of East Fourth Street, Mr. Rivera thought
if the City wants to see other commercial zones prosper then
those services should be brought there also. Mr. Rivera expressed
that, if there is no special treatment and a lack of funds
and of lights, he would like to see the program rotated through
the City so that if there is not a possibility of covering
all the commercial zones then lighting in the commercial zones
could be rotated “so that everyone gets a fair chance.”
Mr. Rivera stated if there is special treatment he would ask
for some special treatment for the 700 and 800 block of East
Fourth Street if not for this year then for next year.
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, informed the assembly that he spoke with employees of the information bureau of the Bethlehem Area Public Library who told him there is no record kept of what internet sites are visited on the Library’s computers. They also told him that no record is kept on books that are borrowed unless they are overdue.
FAA Tower – South Mountain Near Star of Bethlehem
Mr. Scheirer, with reference to the proposed radar tower on the top of South Mountain, notified the Members that he and Mrs. Belinski met with eight representatives of the FAA last Thursday. Mr. Scheirer advised there is some new information, and stated that he forwarded a three page memorandum to Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning. Mr. Scheirer confirmed that the FAA held a workshop today in the afternoon and evening at which people stood around and asked questions. Mr. Scheirer informed the assembly that Jim Linney, national project manager for the FAA, said he was told by Lehigh University that there would be no problem with local government. Mr. Scheirer continued on to advise that the president of Lower Saucon Township Council told Mr. Linney tonight there is a problem with zoning. Notifying the Members that the comment period has been extended once again from December 22, 2004 to February 1, 2005, Mr. Scheirer pointed out the FAA still did not have the site evaluations today that will include a rationale and written commitment that no lights will be required at night. Mr. Scheirer related that some individuals told the FAA that today’s function was worthwhile but they would still like a public hearing to be held, especially because no one has seen the summaries of the site evaluations.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, said that City Council took time to discuss and put on the Agenda a Resolution to limit speakers to 12 minutes that seemed important. He continued on to say Council also felt it important and necessary to discuss and put on the Agenda the renaming of City Center Plaza. Mr. Antalics asked the Members of Council to search in their hearts, and based upon the two Resolutions, whether they can in conscience ignore the very serious pleas of people who tonight and over the last year have asked Council to consider a Resolution concerning the Patriot Act.
Mr. Antalics asked why is the City of Bethlehem in the water business. Mr. Antalics related that at a residence in Wayne, Pennsylvania his water bill is .0053 cents per gallon, and in Bethlehem he is paying .0046 cents per gallon but in addition is getting charged to facilitate the water. Mr. Antalics noted that City Council, the Administration, and the Bethlehem Authority are all involved in the water situation. Mr. Antalics related that he asked the Bethlehem Authority what is the value of the watershed and they did not know what it was worth, and he asked David Brong, Director of Water and Sewer Resources, what is the value of the water system including the watershed. Mr. Antalics, remarking there is a resource but there is no idea of the value, asserted it is known this resource is costing the taxpayers many dollars. Mr. Antalics advised that he explained to other municipalities how Bethlehem’s water system is handled and the consensus was “what?” Mr. Antalics said “the differential between Delaware County and Bethlehem is so minute why don’t we sell off the whole water system. We’ll get a lot of money, reduce taxes, and still get quality water at the same price.” Mr. Antalics asserted that if the water system were privatized he “would guarantee we would not have lost one tree in the watershed. We would not have lost one gallon of water in the City because a private corporation would take responsibility for oversight of timber and water.” Mr. Antalics expressed the opinion that there is so much politics that no one is really paying attention, and the citizens of Bethlehem are paying not only for water but also for all the overage and poor management. Mr. Antalics thought that the City should either get rid of the Bethlehem Authority or give the water to the Authority, but have someone responsible and get rid of the politics. Mr. Antalics, questioning whether the City is running the citizens’ business when the water is comparable to that of other communities but the customers are paying excessive amounts through tax elevations, stressed that water and timber is being lost but no one has a reason why. Mr. Antalics, expressing that the water system should be privatized, asserted if the system were privatized this would not happen. He added that if the system were privatized and thousands of dollars or timber and water were lost “heads would roll.” Mr. Antalics said “but no one here, whether it be Council, the Administration, or Authority takes responsibility for mismanagement.”
Fire Department - Overtime
Alan Hoppe, 1303 Beverly Avenue, noting that he served the City for 33 years in the Fire Department, pointed out that as of November 11, 2004 the overtime budget for 112 firefighters was $210,355. Mr. Hoppe further pointed out it was estimated that to the end of the year it would be over $222,000. Informing the assembly that as of last Friday $234,868 was spent in overtime, Mr. Hoppe highlighted the fact that in the 22 days from November 11 to December 3 $24,500 was spent in overtime. Remarking that is over $1,000 a day, Mr. Hoppe questioned what is going on. Mr. Hoppe, stressing “this spending is just continuously going, and going, and going,” said every year the overtime budget goes up.
Attendance at Convention - Fire Commissioner and Deputy Fire Commissioner
Mr. Hoppe asserted that Council, the Finance Committee, Public Safety Committee, or somebody should line by line start asking questions. Mr. Hoppe, highlighting the fact that in the budget was included $2,500 for the Fire Commissioner and Deputy Fire Commissioner to attend a convention, remarked while they are gone the City will pay their wages for the week and chances are somebody has to fill their spots so the City will pay those people. Mr. Hoppe said he wishes somebody would pay closer attention to the budget.
Christmas Lights - 700 and 800 block of East Fourth Street
Ms. Szabo, affirming that she saw the television program to which Mr. Rivera referred, said what bothers her about that and other reports is it makes it sound as if the City is discriminating against the businesses because of where they are located and who the owners are. Ms. Szabo asked if anyone has explained to Mr. Rivera about the Christmas lighting system. Mr. Rivera, replying no, said he knows what the local business owners have shared with him as far as their concerns and impressions. Ms. Szabo explained they are not aware of the fact that local businesses on Third Street and Fourth Street contribute towards the lights, they belong to the Chamber of Commerce which costs money, and they belong to the Downtown Bethlehem Association which costs money so they have quite a bit of their business money going into it. Ms. Szabo further informed Mr. Rivera there is a Christmas lighting committee, and the City contributes labor to put up the Christmas trees and lights. Ms. Szabo notified Mr. Rivera that the decision of where it goes is made by the Christmas City committee and the Director of Public Works. Ms. Szabo inquired who is the proper person to talk to.
Mayor Callahan responded that, in terms of the location of the Christmas lights, there are many more commercial districts in the City that do not have lights than do have lights including Linden Street, West Market Street, West Broad Street, Stefko Boulevard, Westgate corridor, and Eighth Avenue. Consequently, Mayor Callahan communicated that to say an area is being ignored is inaccurate, and it is not anything specific to the 700 or 800 block of East Fourth Street. Mayor Callahan, stating he would like to have many more Christmas lights in the City, explained it comes down to manpower and advised that work on placing trees and lights on poles starts almost three months prior to the lighting ceremony. Mayor Callahan further pointed out that the Christmas lights in South Bethlehem have been expanded to the area of Broadway, etc. In addition, Mayor Callahan highlighted the fact that it is also a matter of dollars, and the City has to use its limited resources as efficiently as possible. Turning to the Alliance for Building Communities project, Mayor Callahan advised there is a tremendous amount of City dollars in that project. Mayor Callahan continued on to enumerate that, through funding from the City’s façade program and redevelopment dollars, there has been a tremendous amount of focus on the City’s part in the 500 to 800 block of Fourth Street, and confirmed that the street lights presently in place were put there by the City. Mayor Callahan affirmed there has been a tremendous investment of resources, time, and dollars into that three block area of Fourth Street relative to any other three block area in the City. While expressing he would like to be in a position at some point to extend the Christmas lights to that corridor, Mayor Callahan reiterated there has been and continues to be a tremendous amount of focus on the 500 to 800 block of Fourth Street as a key eastern gateway to the City, and a documented tremendous amount of progress over the last three years in that area.
Mr. Rivera said he would be happy to go back to the community businessmen and share with them the process.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, explained that the Christmas lighting is a joint effort between the City and the Christmas City Committee and the funding is roughly 50/50 in terms of contributions. Mr. Alkhal noted the lighting in the City started out with concentrating on the downtown business areas on the North Side and South Side of the City, and the City tried to expand it to the extent possible with the resources that the City has had. Mr. Alkhal informed the assembly that initially some of the constraints was the source of electricity to do decorations. Mr. Alkhal affirmed that a lot of improvements have been made including installing decorative lighting along Third and Fourth Streets. Last year, lighting was extended at least three blocks eastward, and this year in the area on Fourth Street from Broadway to Wyandotte, on Broadway from Fourth Street to Wyandotte were added. Mr. Alkhal, expressing the City is stretched for resources, advised it takes a full six to seven weeks to put up all the Christmas decorations, and work is sometimes completed after the tree lighting ceremony. The City alone spends almost $50,000 on the effort. Mr. Alkhal additionally pointed out that the City has decorated intersections a lot farther east than where most of the lighting stops. Mr. Alkhal noted if more resources become available then the City can consider expanding the lighting further.
Mr. Rivera observed it may be a perception issue, and he would be happy to go back to individuals who have spoken to him and share with them what he has been told today. Mr. Rivera stated he would like to find out more information as to who is the group that should be contacted so that if the business owners want to donate money or time they can participate in the program.
Mr. Alkhal informed Mr. Rivera he will speak to him after the meeting.
President Schweder, noting that he represents City Council on the Bethlehem Marketing Council of the Chamber of Commerce, advised at a meeting several months ago he was told there were thousands of dollars of unspent money for Christmas lights. President Schweder, recalling that last year Mayor Delgrosso asked for a donation in order to put a large tree on the City Center Plaza and put lights on it, confirmed he obtained a donation from the ATT Foundation in the amount of $10,000 and most of the money was not spent due to timing. President Schweder, expressing the belief there are thousands of dollars available in an account, requested that the City Clerk look into the matter.
Mr. Antalics said he failed to mention that the water supplied in Delaware County that he referenced earlier is from Philadelphia Suburban Water company which is a private corporation.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.