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October 4, 2005 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, October 4, 2005 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Reverend Doctor Donald Esslinger, of St. Thomas United Church of Christ, 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 consideration of the regular Agenda items, City Council conducted two Public Hearings.
PUBLIC HEARING - Intermunicipal Transfer of Restaurant Liquor
R-18827 from K & R Burns, Inc. 658 Point Phillips Road, Moore Township, Bath PA 18014 to Lehigh No. 1 LLC, Firehouse Bar and Grill, 217 Broadway, Northampton County, Bethlehem PA 18015
President Schweder called to order the first Public Hearing to consider a request for an intermunicipal transfer of a liquor license from K & R Burns, Inc., 658 Point Phillips Road, Moore Township, Bath, Pennsylvania to Firehouse Bar and Grill, 217 Broadway, Northampton County, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Attorney George Baurkot advised that his client is requesting the intermunicipal transfer of a liquor license from K & R Burns, Inc., 658 Point Phillips Road, Moore Township, Bath, Pennsylvania to Firehouse Bar and Grill, 217 Broadway, Northampton County, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Attorney Baurkot explained that the location is an abandoned fire house, and his client intends to open a restaurant. Attorney Baurkot affirmed to President Schweder that the building is the former Lincoln Fire House.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, asked if anyone in City government keeps track of the number of active liquor licenses currently within the City, and, if so, how does that compare to the cap that is put in by the municipality.
Attorney Joseph Kelly, Assistant City Solicitor, replied
that the Law Bureau does not keep a running number. Tony Hanna,
Director of Community and Economic Development, added he could
get the information, and noted he has not checked it against
any State Liquor
Control Board cap.
Mr. Pfenning, recalling about two months ago there was an intermunicipal liquor license transfer request, said he was curious how many were being added. Mr. Pfenning observed the City has relatively little control over liquor licenses since the State chooses to protect its revenue steam by not giving much local control. Mr. Pfenning further noted a municipality can declare a bar a nuisance bar, and can either approve or not approve an intermunicipal liquor license transfer request. Mr. Pfenning commented that the licensee is dispensing an addictive product, and noted there has been much discussion about the social costs of addiction. Mr. Pfenning made reference to a document provided to Council on September 19, 2005, table 4.3, page 4.7 of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report showing a table dealing with alcohol versus gambling addictions. It points out that alcohol addiction is over three times higher, on a year to year basis, than gambling addiction, and four times higher on a lifetime basis. Mr. Pfenning stated that clearly alcohol is much more addictive than gambling. Mr. Pfenning added that, whether a liquor license is approved or not, the addict will find a place. Mr. Pfenning said he wanted to point out the similarities to other issues City Council has been dealing with. Mr. Pfenning, referring to past discussions about the image of Bethlehem and how it looks to prospective customers such as those coming to Lehigh University for education, pointed out that adding a South Side liquor license in close proximity to Lehigh University is currently under contemplation.
President Schweder stated that authorizing Resolution 11 A is listed on the Agenda this evening.
The first Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
PUBLIC HEARING – Zoning Map Amendment - Rezoning 2.102 acres at Intersection of Linden Street and Oakland Road - RR – Residential District to CG – General Commercial District
President Schweder called to order the second Public Hearing to consider a request to rezone from RR – Residential District to CG – General Commercial District a tract of land approximately 2.102 acres in the City of Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Tax Map Parcel M6-8-1, in the 14th Ward, at the intersection of Linden Street and Oakland Road.
7 A. Director of Planning and Zoning – Rezoning Linden Street and Oakland Road – RR – Residential District to CG – General Commercial District
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 19, 2005 from Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, in which it was advised that at their July 14, 2005 meeting, the Planning Commission voted 3 to 2 to recommend that the rezoning proposal along Linden Street should not be approved.
7 B. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Rezoning Linden
Street and Oakland Road – RR – Residential District
to CG – General Commercial District
The Clerk read a letter dated July 1, 2005 from Frederic Brock, Assistant Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, in which it was stated that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission reviewed the proposed rezoning amendment at its meeting n June 30, 2005. The Commission considers the selection of zoning districts to be a matter of local choice. However, the Commission noted the proposed rezoning is a single property in the RR district. This raises issues connected with spot zoning. The Commission recommended that the advice of the City Solicitor be sought about this issue.
Planning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, handed a map to the Members of Council on which was highlighted the area requested to be rezoned. Ms. Heller advised the piece of land requested to be rezoned abuts the northern municipal boundary of Bethlehem Township. The entire parcel is about 26 acres, and about 11 acres of that is in the City of Bethlehem. The parcel is located at the corner of Santee Mill Road and Linden Street, and the entire parcel is currently zoned RR – Residential in both the City and in Bethlehem Township. The applicant has an agreement of sale for the front portion of the lot in both the City and in Bethlehem Township. The rear portion of the lot abutting Santee Mill Road currently contains a single family home and some out buildings. All of the areas surrounding the parcel are zoned RR – Residential. Referring to the map, Ms. Heller noted that in the City to quite a distance South there are no Commercial Zoning Districts. On the West side of Linden Street, the land is all zoned RR – Rural Residential, and on the East side it is zoned RS which is another low density Residential Zoning District in the City. To the North, on the West side of Linden Street, the Bethlehem Township zoning is also RR. Across Linden Street on the Northeast section of the map, located Northeast of Linden Street and Oakland Road, there is some CG General Commercial Zoning, with a Stop and Shop, and Josh Early Candies located there. Ms. Heller commented all are familiar with the abutting roads off Linden Street such as Santee Mill Road and other roads that are very rural, and not really equipped to take additional traffic. Ms. Heller stated that the Planning Bureau notes that the two Zoning Districts, RR and CG, are quite different in their purpose and in their density. Ms. Heller observed there is no transition proposed between the two Zoning Districts, and continued on to say if one looks at the Zoning Map there are no areas that she knows of where RR and a Zoning District as dense as CG currently abut each other. Ms. Heller explained that, in the Comprehensive Plan, the area is recognized to be for neighborhood conservation and new residential development. In the Comprehensive Plan, no new Commercial areas are recommended anywhere near this parcel that is proposed to be rezoned. Ms. Heller informed the Members there was also a concern with spot zoning since there are no Commercial parcels that abut the parcel. Since the difference between the RR and CG Zoning Districts are so extreme, spot zoning was also a concern, as was mentioned, in the LVPC letter. Ms. Heller confirmed that the Planning Bureau’s recommendation to the Planning Commission was that the rezoning not be approved, and the Planning Commission voted in favor of that by a vote of 3 to 2.
President Schweder, noting that the definitions within Zoning Ordinances vary from municipality to municipality, asked are the definitions in Bethlehem Township the same as the City’s for both RR and CG.
Ms. Heller, replying they are not exactly the same but they are very similar, advised the intent is the same in that RR is Bethlehem Township’s lowest density Residential Zoning District. In further response to President Schweder, Ms. Heller affirmed that CG is very similar in the densities and permitted uses.
President Schweder inquired whether the Planning Commission’s major concern was that the request would be of such high density in the middle of what would be the City’s lowest density Zoning District more so than any other reason.
Ms. Heller, responding yes, explained there is no transition
between the two Zoning
Districts, and it does not seem to be a logical transition. She stated that, although there is greater density Commercial uses to the North in Bethlehem Township, it is not consistent at all with the Zoning in the City of Bethlehem.
Ms. Szabo asked where is the Bethlehem boundary on the eastern side of Linden Street traveling North.
Ms. Heller replied the municipal line runs down the center of Oakland Road, and it dead ends. Ms. Heller further informed Ms. Szabo that all of the CG zoning is in Bethlehem Township, and on the corner is a Stop and Shop, and just North of that is Josh Early, then there is some vacant land, and then there is more dense commercial uses.
Mr. Donchez, noting that Route 191 is a State road and there is a traffic bottleneck now, asked are there are plans to make an extra lane on Linden Street at the traffic light to make a right turn onto Oakland Road.
Ms. Heller advised there is nothing in the Capital Plan right now. Ms. Heller informed the Members that the City did get a contribution from the developer on the Southeast corner when that development was built which is in escrow, but the City needs additional funds before a lane could be built. In addition, the right of way for that was dedicated to the City. Ms. Heller affirmed there are no immediate plans for the project.
Mr. Donchez inquired whether a complete traffic study was done.
Ms. Heller stated there is no traffic study for the proposal.
Attorney Erich Schock, from Fitzpatrick Lentz and Bubba, advised that he represents Commerce Bank who is the applicant. Attorney Schock informed the Members that the traffic engineer who is in attendance can make a presentation.
Mr. Leeson stated he wants to disclose that he is the co-executor of an estate that is an adjoining property owner, and noted the other co-executor is also at the meeting this evening and is likely to speak in opposition to the proposal. Mr. Leeson said he wants to make the Solicitor aware of the fact so that if it disqualifies him he will be guided by the Solicitor’s opinion.
Attorney Schock affirmed that with him tonight are the site
engineer who does Commerce
Bank’s work, their traffic engineer, and their land use planner. Attorney Schock stated he would like to present some testimony from them which he thinks will address most of the questions. Preliminarily, Attorney Schock stated he wanted to respond to the legal issue of spot zoning. Attorney Schock said “our position is that under the law spot zoning requires that you treat disparately like land. And I think what we’re going to present through out witnesses is that our position is that because of this portion of the property’s location along Route 191, Linden Street, on that corridor, and our proposal to only rezone I think it’s roughly 450 feet off of the right of way, we feel that land is different than the interior portion of that 26 acres because of its proximity to a major commercial corridor through the City and through Bethlehem Township…I just wanted to put that in Council’s mind before we started this as why we don’t believe this is spot zoning.”
Attorney Schock marked and put into evidence Exhibit A-1, the proposed agreement of sale to show that Commerce Bank is the equitable owner.
Nicholas Antanavicka, of Boller Engineering, responded to questions posed by Attorney Schock. Mr. Antanavicka confirmed that Boller Engineering does engineering and site work for Commerce Bank, and he is involved in the project under discussion this evening. This involves a roughly 26 acre parcel located in part in the City of Bethlehem and in part in Bethlehem Township. Commerce Bank is looking to purchase 5.38 acres of which about 2 acres is in the City of Bethlehem with the balance of 3 plus acres in Bethlehem Township. The parcel is currently zoned RR. The plan on the easel, A-2, depicts the property that is the subject of the rezoning request. It shows along Route 191 an area that has been demarcated as the 5.38 acres. Mr. Antanavicka described the property, pointing to an aerial map identified as A-3, and said the property in question is relatively in the center of the plan. In the bottom corner there is a pump station, adjacent to which is a wooded area where the proposed development would occur. It is on the opposite side of Linden Street where Oakland Road would meet Linden Street. Mr. Antanavicka explained that, with regard to commercial development of the parcel, because of the residential uses in the area and also the commercial uses that are across the street, it is a main corridor where there is a lot of pass-by traffic, and a good area for the bank as far as location. The plan requests about a 450 foot depth. In terms of commercial development, particularly for small retail or financial institutions, that is a typical depth off a major corridor. Mr. Antanavicka continued on to say in order to create a proper design and to meet all of the Ordinance specifications that is a typical depth used. Mr. Antanavicka, acknowledging to Attorney Schock the belief that the portion of the land along the corridor is different than, for example, the 20 or so acres of farm land that exists to the rear, said after visiting the site and looking at the land “we made the determination…that a commercial use seemed proper for this area…[A]lso in that area, [there is] a residential use off of Linden [Street] where Oakland Road meets [that]…is a tough spot for residential use to possibly make what is access ways onto that road.” It seemed unlikely, for example, that someone would construct new residences right at the intersection of Oakland Road and [Route] 191. That is something that made it attractive for a rezoning, potentially for use as commercial. Attorney Schock, affirming the Planning Commission vote was 3 to 2 against the rezoning request, inquired of Mr. Antanavicka was one of the items that was discussed the idea of a boulevard concept. Responding yes, Mr. Antanavicka explained the plan that was presented at the Planning Commission meeting showed a retail use and the bank use on the site, and showed one drive-by split off into two. He continued on to say “we didn’t have any consideration for what was going to be used in the back. At the Planning Commission, they discussed possibly boulevard use, and then possibly transitioning it into a residential area, providing an intersection and to help alleviate the traffic concerns…”. Mr. Antanavicka put the plan on the display board. Mr. Antanavicka advised that, taking into consideration the Planning Commission’s comments, “we showed road improvements for that intersection, signalizing it, widening it greatly...We showed the bank in there, we showed the boulevard coming up to and back and it’s showing a transition from the GC zoning to a medium density residential, and in back into the back property to the RR Residential.” Mr. Antanavicka confirmed nothing has been filed with Bethlehem Township at this point, although there has been a meeting with the Township to get some concepts of what they would like to see in that area. The Township staff and manager would not be opposed to potentially something as is being proposed here, and there was no opposition. Potentially, a second commercial lot would be created in the Township for neighborhood commercial type uses; for example, a CVS or a financial institution. In Mr. Antanavicka’s experience in preparing plans for Commerce Bank and other developers, that is a common scenario to have a neighborhood commercial type use along a highway, and into the rear there would be residential use. Potential traffic improvements and upgrades that would go in if Commerce Bank were to utilize the lot have been shown. Attorney Schock stated he marked the plan on the easel as A-4 that is a blow-up of the area, the intersection, and the type of improvements proposed. Mr. Antanavicka described the existing conditions that are two lanes, one going South and one going North, and the proposed improvements would be to increase the lane widths, do some road widening, increase the traffic signals, and also create a boulevard turn into the proposed site. Mr. Antanavicka explained the small commercial impacts on utilities in the area would be minimal compared to developing a residential area. Mr. Antanavicka expressed he does not believe there is any impediment to commercial development such as would be proposed.
Craig Paragoy, of Atlantic Traffic and Design Engineers, responded to Attorney Schock’s questions. He affirmed the company is the traffic consultants for Commerce Bank. Mr. Paragoy advised that a traffic impact analysis has begun to be compiled that will be required by PennDot since it is a State roadway. Mr. Paragoy advised the amount of traffic generate by the bank and a potential retail development on the Bethlehem Township side has been taken into account. During the busiest hour at evening rush time, when the adjacent road would be the busiest as well as the site, there would be 125 vehicles entering and 125 vehicles exiting the site. During the Saturday peak period that is mid-day, there would 120 vehicles entering and 120 vehicles exiting the site. Mr. Paragoy said it is important to note with a retail commercial development a lot of the traffic that is pulling into and out of the site already is passing the site on the adjacent roadway, and would be drawn in as a one stop shop on the way to some place else which is called pass-by activity. As far as new traffic generated by the site, it is projected there would be 70 new vehicles in and 70 out during evening peak, and 98 in and 98 out on Saturday. Based on those projections, the firm has looked at the existing traffic volumes and projected future traffic volumes and tried to come up with a solution to a problem which really exists with cueing at the intersection. There is only one lane in each direction at present that extends the cueing well beyond the intersection and beyond Santee Mill Road to the South of the site. Mr. Paragoy continued on to say the best thing to do is to provide an additional third lane in each direction as one approaches the intersection that would double the ability to stack and would double the number of vehicles that can get through the signal. In response to Attorney Schock, Mr. Paragoy confirmed there are some existing issues with the traffic in the vicinity, and if this were a commercial development and these traffic improvements were put in it would be a significant benefit to the traffic. In Mr. Paragoy’s opinion, the improvements shown by Boller Engineering as potential or concept are typically associated with commercial development, and would not typically be expected with residential development. Mr. Paragoy explained that, without any additional improvements, any additional traffic would increase through the length of the cues that are extending beyond Santee Mill Road and other roadways and driveways along Route 191. Residential traffic is all new to the area by every new residential development. To the extent that some of the land is no longer available for residential but would be commercial it would be beneficial with the traffic improvements.
Creigh Rahenkamp, professional planner and owner of his
own consulting firm, said he has been a consulting planner
for Commerce Bank on a number of their applications. Mr. Rahenkamp
responded to Attorney Schock’s various questions. Mr.
Rahenkamp stated he has been in the field for 25 years, and
has served on the Pennsylvania state land use advisory panel
under former Governor Ridge’s Administration, and has
been qualified as an expert in planning in trial courts in
three states and two federal districts, works in Pennsylvania,
and has worked in the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Rahenkamp explained,
from a land use perspective, the exhibit that was handed to
the Members of Council showing the zoning designations “is
very much not reflective of the evidence that you see of the
land use pattern that exists out there with the area.”
Mr. Rahenkamp put the aerial exhibit on the easel, and turned
it so that North is in the up direction. Mr. Rahenkamp said
“while on the 8-1/2 and 11 [sheet] that was handed to
you across the street appears to be a white vacant area, in
fact this happens to be a piece of property that is substantially
surrounded by existing developments of relatively higher intensity.
On the western side of the road going from Oakland [Road]
which is essentially the mid-point coming into the property
to the North basically on the Bethlehem Township side moving
from the North you have the one stop shop as was described,
Leiser’s tool rental, Josh Early Candies, …[a]
shop which is the longer rectangle that you see in the upper
right, then there’s some smaller converted single family
homes to businesses, that ultimately you see…in the
upper right hand corner is the roof of Home Depot at Bethlehem
Square. So essentially from Route 22 all the way down to this
intersection at Oakland [Road] in Bethlehem Township on that
side of the road is all retail. On the other side of the road
further to the North on that aerial you start with Sear’s
and some other business uses, and then there’s a break
on that side of the road. The commercial does not continue
all the way down on that side of the road…Directly across
the street coming out Oakland [Road] South, the area that
was vacant on the zoning map that was presented to you, you
have immediately across the street at that corner the Alexandria
Manor, an age-restricted, assisted living complex currently
under construction on the corner, a multi-storied structure.
And while certainly residential in terms of its use…is
of a size and intensity that is certainly out of character
with a single family neighborhood, and not surprising given
its context. Immediately South there are a few single family
homes that have been converted to businesses,… [a] consulting
[company]…which is both a home and a business, and Nationwide
Mortgage that appears to be a single family house converted
completely for business uses. Last in that corner is Greenscapes
and Gargoyles, a larger structure, certainly retail in nature,
size, scope, and scale. There is a loop road that connects
from Oakland [Road] and then comes down around the South you
can barely see on that particular aerial, and within that
is essentially a series of townhome developments. There is
a mix of some single family in the middle of that loop, but
basically as you come out to the front there’s townhouses
throughout that area. So, essentially everything across the
street from us both within the City and in the Township are
developed at substantially higher intensities than rural would
suggest to you as a describer. On our particular corridor
you have coming from Santee Mill Road to the North…a
pump station immediately on the corner…and then the
vacant property that is the subject of this zoning request,
and the balance of that property that is not part of the zoning
request but would certainly be part of any future development
that would be done in conjunction between a commercial and
residential development on the site. The question that I ask
myself first as a planner in looking at this is whether the
existing zoning actually makes any sense. Would it be in fact
appropriate for you to encourage the matter of public policy
the single family homes of approximately 15,000 square feet
would in fact be developed in this area between the pump station
across the street from the Alexandria Manor and at a very
intense intersection along a major arterial. I would suggest
to you that that’s not a legitimate description of an
area where single family homes should be constructed new.
If this area were in fact to be developed according to your
existing zoning…[Mr. Rahenkamp pointed to another exhibit],
what is depicted on the easel is a conceptual plan showing
a boulevard entrance coming from the major arterial, the bank
would be to the lower portion below that arterial, and showing
how that accesses the rear of the property. What’s shown
on this particular plan are twins, whether that’s appropriate
based on Bethlehem Township zoning or whatever else ultimately
happens is certainly a question to be asked in the future,
but certainly whatever residential development would occur
on that tract would be provided with primary access through
this commercial zone that’s been requested of you through
this developed boulevard. The advantage that that creates
is that we don’t have a situation where, developed under
existing zoning, you’d have five or six single family
homes and the only reasonable place you would take access
is directly from Santee Mill [Road]. So, rather than having
single family development accessing that particular road with
all of its issues, circulation problems, the absolute quality
of the homes that are along it, you have the opportunity to
completely deflect and to redirect the traffic and impacts
of the development of this property directly out to a major
arterial. And, it’s this rezoning application that allows
that to occur. So, I would suggest that that is a substantial
improvement over the policies that would be implemented through
the zoning as it exists today.
Now, the traffic engineer talked to you about traffic improvements, and talked to you about the improvements that would occur as a result of the widening of the road that would occur here through a land development approval for a commercial use. What he didn’t talk to you about in great detail is sort of the planner’s perspective on traffic…In general, traffic engineers deal with trip [numbers] and they talk about particularly pass-by traffic as a deduction for how much new traffic is generated by a use. When a planner is looking City-wide, or Township-wide, and doing master plans, the one thing that we’ve known for years and years and years is that providing convenience uses for people reduces vehicle miles traveled, not increasing them…Does putting a bank on this tract mean that there are more paychecks to be deposited in this region on a Friday. Does it mean that there are more people who are going to need traveler’s checks for their trips, or their vacations. Of course not. Providing more banks in more locations throughout an area that already has some banking institutions simply shortens the distances that people have to travel when they have those needs. So, providing neighborhood commercial, neighborhood banking, is the kind of thing that you recognize is occurring in and part of and approximate to residential uses. The MPC and the planned residential development code particularly allows for this kind of neighborhood, non-residential use to occur within what is essentially a residential oriented development process for exactly that reason. In terms of the scale of the structure, the setbacks from this, the uses that will occur behind it are very appropriate site planning response to this land between the pump station and the arterial [that] can be done for a commercial use…that is going to be very compatible with that neighborhood and with the uses that would occur behind it.
Lastly, I would address the spot zoning question from a planning perspective. Our counsel identified that one of the aspects of that is treating similar land differently. The [object] of that that I tend to focus on is that spot zoning is essentially done for private purposes. It is the primary purpose of the zoning change to simply benefit a land owner. That’s not a good enough reason for a City to consider a change in zoning. What I would suggest to you here though it that’s in fact not the issue. That’s certainly what brings an applicant to you, but that’s not why you would be making a decision in this manner. Here you have a situation where the existing zoning would lead to a grossly inappropriate planning outcome as constructed under existing zoning. Single family [housing] between the pump station and the arterial with all of this commercial activity occurring directly across the street is not a good planning outcome. It’s something to be avoided, and taking this step is something that I think advances good public policy, rather than frustrating the policy as it exists currently in your zoning code.
So, for those reasons I think that the zoning application that’s before you to change the frontage of this piece to commercial to allow an integrated development plan to be developed between the land here in the City and in the Township, with the front that’s being developed commercially, a separate access being provided to the property away from Santee Mill [Road] providing access to the residential end to tie it in is an entirely appropriate thing for you to do to support it.”
Attorney Schock inquired, with regard to development along corridors such as this, whether in Mr. Rahenkamp’s experience this is a typical path to growth or transition that occurs along roads of this type where uses change from a home turning into a home business, for example. Mr. Rahenkamp, replying sure, said certainly over time quiet country roads with single family homes on them have developed into regional arterials. There have been periods in which there has been change of use from residential to non-residential uses along those arterials. Immediately adjacent to Bethlehem Township on Easton Avenue and a few of the other major East-West corridors exactly that has been recognized, identifying each of the major intersections, and having commercial zoning on the four corners of those intersections along those arterials is an example. Mr. Rahenkamp further said, in his experience, that transition from rural road to a major arterial always comes along with a change of use ultimately in that corridor, and almost always starting with the intersection.
Attorney Schock marked as Exhibit A-5 the Bethlehem Township Zoning Map with the examples just cited. He handed out copies to the Members of Council with the areas that Mr. Rahenkamp referred to highlighted.
President Schweder, noting that a parcel of land was discussed of approximately 2.1 acres, pointed out what is being shown is a development of far more than 2.1 acres. President Schweder asked is this conceptual or inevitable.
Attorney Schock replied it was a concept based upon comments from the Planning Commission that perhaps it would develop into some transition. As it is now zoned, the rear portion over which Commerce Bank has no control and would remain with the existing owner would need to be upgraded and would be a higher residential zone than RR. Attorney Schock, restating it was just a concept, explained that came about at the Planning Commission meeting, observing it would be a nice idea for the boulevard concept. In doing that, Attorney Schock said “we thought it might be appropriate to show what theoretically, again, based upon our land use consultant’s ideas, concepts, happens in areas like this when you get a commercial along the heavily traveled [Route] 191. What might be natural at some point would be maybe a change to zoning on the rear portion to allow slightly higher density and do something like that concept.”
President Schweder inquired what part of that concept is in the City of Bethlehem.
Mr. Rahenkamp, turning to the map, showed the City boundary line and the split through the property, starting at the intersection with Oakland Road and going diagonally across the property. Mr. Rahenkamp pointed out that the actual portion on which the application for rezoning is located is the rectangular area he indicated.
Attorney Schock advised it is 11.22 acres of the 26 or so acres that is in the City.
Mr. Rahenkamp commented “we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves by suggesting what the City might consider is appropriate for the residential land behind the…piece.”
President Schweder observed the City would not be ahead of itself but rather the proposal would be done by Bethlehem Township.
Mr. Rahenkamp, again pointing to the map and the City boundary line, said it comes through that property so about three-quarters is in the Township and approximately one-third is in the City. Mr. Rahenkamp continued on to say “if we were going to develop it in the City under the current zoning…basically you could have five or six single family homes, 15,000 square foot lots, in this area logically connected to Santee [Mill Road]…”.
President Schweder, referring to earlier comments, noted it was explained that the transition of the rural road to whatever is the next generation of development would be commercial on the road and then evolving into something less restrictive than currently. President Schweder, asking how far up the rural road would it be envisioned doing so, queried whether it would be a logical progression to go back to Barnsdale Road or where would it end.
Mr. Rahenkamp, responding there are three levels of answers to the question, stated the first related to this particular application is that regarding the intersection, Santee Mill Road, and the pump station, the multi-family uses in commercial on the other side provide a sufficient place to draw the line. Mr. Rahenkamp explained it would not necessarily have to go further South simply because of this particular rezoning application.
President Schweder inquired is it not the basis of the argument that the reason to move it this far South is because it has been done North of this piece of property.
Mr. Rahenkamp, replying no, said the suggestion is what is North of here being Commercial has been committed in terms of development, other than immediately North of this.
President Schweder wondered would the argument be able to be made that once this rezoning took place then it would be logical to change the next parcel of land from RR because the next parcel North of that is already Commercial.
Mr. Rahenkamp, stating no, explained while “the argument is that we certainly presented that to you as one of the factors for your consideration, we have never said that that is the sole factor. What matters here is that you have a relatively small piece of ground between the pump station and arterial directly across the street from multi-family and non-residential uses. That particular story doesn’t get told as you move further South in the corridor. South of Santee Mill [Road] the western side of the road has become very residential until you get to the church. You don’t have that pattern of mixed uses South of Santee Mill [Road] on that side of the road. On this side of the road there are some mixtures of former single family houses that have converted to offices, and what many municipalities will have is an overlay district that permits professional offices in those kinds of homes, not leading to commercial, but leading to real estate offices or that sort of thing, and that’s already happening. That’s not something that this application either starts or ends.”
President Schweder communicated what he has trouble with is the argument that Bethlehem Township has done this already, and questioned why the City would want to do anything that Bethlehem Township did to Linden Street.
Attorney Schock, commenting he does not think reference was made to Linden Street, said he thinks the point was made that there are other similar roads where four corners which are part commercial have been made commercial on all four corners.
President Schweder, advising he understands that and is very familiar with the land in question, noted the argument is being made that it is a small parcel of land that would be changed, but pointed out that is a decision that the bank and its representatives have made. President Schweder highlighted the fact that it is part of a much bigger piece of property currently.
Attorney Schock responded yes. Mr. Rahenkamp commented “our suggestion to you is that the entirety of the property should not be developed commercially but that there should be a transition to the arterial from the residential by a lower density commercial use such as a bank.”
President Schweder added “and a further reduction in the zoning in the residential behind that.”
Attorney Schock stated not necessarily. Mr. Rahenkamp observed whether what is built behind the parcel is 15,000 square foot single family lots or twins really has nothing to do with the rezoning application. Mr. Rahenkamp advised all that the plan was meant to do was show how access would work so that the City could permit residential development to occur, whether under existing zoning or some other change that might be considered in the future, without permitting direct access to Santee Mill Road. Mr. Rahenkamp continued on to note there would be a boulevard in place providing sufficient access to that property that the City would be within its rights to simply say this property will access the exterior world through this boulevard, and not provide access to Santee Mill Road. Mr. Rahenkamp added that is the only purpose of that exhibit.
President Schweder, noting there is no request by anyone to do anything like this, queried why would one be concerned about an artery coming back through this property.
Mr. Rahenkamp explained the simple answer is there is now a plan for purchase of a portion of the property that clearly indicates the landowner is going to do something with the property somehow whether it is developed under existing or future zoning, and “it’s time for the City to participate in figuring out what that should be.”
Mr. Donchez, stating he shares many of the concerns mentioned by President Schweder, observed that, hypothetically, there could be a situation of another Easton Avenue that was addressed a few months ago. Mr. Donchez asked what is the daily traffic flow on Route 191 today on weekdays and weekends.
Mr. Paragoy replied it is about 1,500 vehicles two way on weekends, and about 1,800 on Saturday two way.
Mr. Donchez, referring to earlier comments that there was no opposition from Bethlehem Township, asked if the applicant needs the approval of any board in the Township.
Attorney Schock, replying yes, noted approval would be needed from the Board of Commissioners. Attorney Schock, explaining that the application needed to start somewhere to see how things would go, commented that theoretically both could have been filed simultaneously but in some respects that did not make sense. Since Commerce Bank was going to be on the portion of land in the City, Attorney Schock communicated that in all fairness it was probably appropriate to start with the City.
Mr. Donchez inquired would the project call for any additional traffic lights, specifically coming out of the strip mall where the bagel shop and paint store are located.
Mr. Paragoy, replying no, further responded to Mr. Donchez there is a left turn lane proposed onto Oakland Road.
Mrs. Belinski, noting that she travels often on the roadway, exclaimed that motorists must wait a long time before there is a break in the traffic so they can pull out safely. Mrs. Belinski expressed her concern is that the project will increase the traffic.
Attorney Schock explained that part of the presentation was to point out that additional pass-through lanes would be provided, and it is hoped that a project of this type would improve the traffic conditions.
Mr. Paragoy stated that part of the problem about which Mrs. Belinski is speaking is because there is only one lane at the signal, and although the roadway has enough capacity to carry traffic in one lane, when one approaches the signal it does not. By providing two through lanes at the signal the number of gaps available will be increased, making it easier for motorists to get in and out.
In response to Ms. Szabo, Mr. Antanavicka stated he does the layout and design for the engineering. Ms. Szabo approached the map with Mr. Antanavicka. Ms. Szabo pointed out one of the problems right now is the fact that the Members of Council were not given information before tonight, but went to their offices tonight to find maps each looking a little different and yet similar. Ms. Szabo said “you did not give us time to really look at any of this information, and the last speaker it would have been nice if he would have talked in a way that we could understand…My question is point out the exact location of what you are proposing.” Mr. Antanavicka, pointing out the location, said this area is the pump station, this is the Commerce Bank proposed addition, and this is Oakland Road. Mr. Antanavicka confirmed to Ms. Szabo that the farmer’s field is not in the proposal. Mr. Antanavicka showed Ms. Szabo the property that is owned. Mr. Antanavicka confirmed that Oakland Road runs into the bank’s property. Mr. Hanna affirmed to Ms. Szabo that Oakland Road is the City boundary. Mr. Antanavicka, stating the dash line shown down the middle of the plan is the City-Township boundary line, informed Ms. Szabo it is not running with the trees but rather comes down the center of Oakland Road and as it crosses into the site it starts to angle back.
Ms. Szabo, inquiring what is the zoning of the farmer’s fields in Bethlehem Township, was informed by Ms. Heller that in Bethlehem Township there is a CR conservation zone and it includes the field. Ms. Szabo asked what is to the West of the site. Ms. Heller replied it is RR zoning in the City, and further informed Ms. Szabo it is all single family housing along the corridor. Ms. Szabo queried what is the distance from the site to the homes. Ms. Heller, advising she does not know exactly, explained there is some distance until the homes. In further response to Ms. Szabo’s question, Mr. Antanavicka clarified that the first single family home is the home on the 26 acre lot. Mr. Antanavicka added “we do not go West of this area.”
Janet Hanninen, 1338 Santee Mill Road, said in 1986 her late husband and she purchased a home on Santee Mill Road and have looked on with great delight at the undeveloped tract of the neighbors’ across the street, Bill and Joan Leckonby. Advising she is speaking on behalf of conservation, Ms. Hanninen said there are muskrats, deer, fox, it is a wildlife area, and it is the only cultivated land in Bethlehem. Ms. Hanninen stated she does not see why certain people are opposed to opening rural farmland. She reminded the assembly that the whole Johnston conservancy borders on the property. Ms. Hanninen remarked it is a lovely area with old trees, and is quite a pristine area. Ms. Hanninen continued on to say “the idea of taking the 450 feet corridor along [Route] 191 and putting yet another bank, how many banks do we have on 191 in Bethlehem.” Ms. Hanninen further pointed out that one-quarter mile down the road is the former K-Mart mall that is a dying mall. Ms. Hanninen questioned “why doesn’t the development concentrate on revitalizing an asphalt, dying area, and please leave the wonderful farmland alone.” Ms. Hanninen, communicating it is a unique little area, noted she has talked to people who say “I love Santee Mill Road, the trees are ancient, the road is beautiful, but it’s so dangerous. You should cut down the trees and widen the road which completely defeats the beauty of everything.” Ms. Hanninen stressed, in spite what the Supreme Court has said about eminent domain, small communities like Bethlehem deserve to have open spaces and beautiful places. While stating she is not going to profit from the sale of the land, Ms. Hanninen said she knows her “dear neighbors, the Leckonby’s across the street, are very interested in preserving the natural aspect of that area.” Acknowledging she does not know what will happen in twenty years, Ms. Hanninen pointed out it is a small, natural sanctuary, and queried again “why must we put yet another bank, yet another boulevard in this area.”
Tim Brady said he is the co-executor of the estate of Janice Johnston Housenick who was the adjacent landowner to the property in question. Mr. Brady advised Mrs. Housenick was one of the granddaughters of the first Mayor of the City, Archibald Johnston, in 1917-1921. Mr. Brady continued on to say it was during that time Mr. Johnston had acquired all of the land that is being discussed this evening and created a large personal estate. Mr. Brady expressed his belief that, from the history he has read and from what the family members have told him, Mr. Johnston was very interested about the conservation of natural lands. Mr. Brady stated Mr. Johnston “left that land in like tenancy for his children and passed it through his grandchildren. In the early 1980’s when his son passed, the land was subdivided amongst his granddaughters, Mrs. Leckonby, Mrs. Housenick, and Mrs. Prime. Mrs. Housenick passed very unfortunately…on August the 2nd when her home burned to the ground and she died in that fire. This matter had been before the Zoning Board prior to that, and she was very outraged to think that this land would be converted from its current zoning that at least protected it as rural residential to something that would become commercial. The development of Nazareth Pike, Linden Street, was something that was of great concern to her. She felt that as citizens of Bethlehem and Bethlehem Township we needed to preserve open space. In the early 1980’s, she and her husband gave 36 acres of land along the Monocacy Creek as a conservation area of Northampton County. She held 56 acres which will be disposed of at a later time under her last will and testament. However, she was extremely concerned this land should not be developed for commercial reasons. And, as her personal representative, as her dearest friend, I ask you tonight to not consider any changes to the zoning of that land that abuts this very sensitive area.”
Attorney Michael Corriere, 433 East Broad Street, advised he represents Elizabeth Prime who asked him to say a few words on her behalf. Attorney Corriere stated “she is opposed to the proposed zoning change…She concurs with Ms. Heller’s report and the Planning Commission’s denial based on the…factual reasons set forth by the Planning Commission and by Ms. Heller…On just some of the…legal issues why we think it was spot zoning, I did prepare a memo back in August, and I submitted it to Attorney Spirk’s office, and I was told by his office that that actually was sent to your clerk so you should have a copy…I tried to research cases where you have attractive land that is zoned one way, and a small portion was then changed, the zoning in that portion would be changed, and where there was a spattering of commercial…uses that were close by but not directly within that zoning district. So I tried to find cases that were as similar as I could to this case. And, I just wanted to go through a couple of those with you just to support our position that we do, in fact, believe that it is spot zoning. The first case that I found was Shubach versus Zoning Board of Adjustments, in 270 Atlantic 2nd 397 and that was where the Supreme Court invalidated a situation where there was a two acre commercial zone that was created that was surrounded by a residential zone. And, the court also noted that there was large commercial zone that was located a few hundred feet away from the proposed change, and they held that that was not persuasive to say that well it’s sort of in the area so therefore it’s not going to be spot zoning. Another case that I found was Salvitti 240 Atlantic 2nd 534 Where there was a proposed…200 square foot change that went from…a residential area, and they made that commercial. And the court also pointed out that it was mainly single family residence, but there was a small gas station located in the adjacent township. And, they said that still constituted spot zoning even though there was a small gas station in the adjacent township. You were creating a…200 square foot block…within that residential zone which made it spot zoning. I think that case is kind of similar to the situation here where you hear there’s Josh Early across the street or in Bethlehem Township. Also, I found a case called Knight versus Lynn Township, 568 Atlantic 2nd 1372 where there was a 10 acre tract of land where it was agriculture and they…changed the zone from agriculture to rural center, and…they put up 8,000 square foot lots for dwellings. And, of course, what they really do is they create a narrow peninsula in that portion of the property that previously had been zoned agricultural and made it rural…and they invalidated that as spot zoning. Another case I found that I thought was kind of similar was O’Malia versus the Council of Wilkes-Barre, 392 Atlantic 2nd 885. There was a 1.3 acre tract which was a neighborhood business district and it had been part of an industrial zone, and they cut out 1.3 acres and put in a neighborhood business district, and…that in the very sense is what we’re doing here is creating a small area, like this case, approximately the same amount of area, even though there was a general business district located similarly in the area. So, I think based on those cases, if you compare those, and you’ll have the memo, and your Solicitor can review those, I think those cases kind of stand for the proposition that if you take a small chunk of land, rezone that on the basis that well in the surrounding close…[to] the land that we’re changing there’s areas there that were already commercial, so there’s commercial close by that we can now change, take a small piece out of a rural area. I think the courts have come down for the most part that those are the kinds of things where they’re going to look very closely as being spot zoning. I understand that there is certainly an exception if you can justify it, and say, well, even though it might be spot zoning there’s a good reason why we’re doing it. Certainly, I respect what the applicants have said here today, but I have seen some case law, and while I didn’t brief those cases, I think transitions, at least my interpretation of the law is when there’s a transition you would see in the area that you’re changing…where over time whether by variance or whether there was a change in zoning to include a lot of…legal non-conforming uses that the area, while it may have been zoned rural, there may have been other aspects of commercial development that existed there previously so that that would justify doing the transitional type of a situation where you could justify taking another piece of that, and even though maybe it would be spot zoning you could argue that it would be transitional. So, I think that based on the cases that I found…there is…[an] argument that this does, in fact, constitute spot zoning, and I do have…just in case it wasn’t actually submitted to you, I’d like to give to Attorney Spadoni a copy of the memo that I provided to Attorney Spirk’s office.” President Schweder affirmed that Attorney Spadoni has a copy.
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said he is speaking because he has an interest in good planning. Mr. Scheirer, with reference to President Schweder’s comments, stated it is extremely unlikely that the matter would be discussed this evening if the Township zoning on the northeast corner of Oakland Road and Linden Street were RR. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say “we’re only here tonight because that is CG.” Mr. Scheirer stated that zoning along a municipal boundary should not necessarily entirely ignore the zoning across the street, but it should not necessarily totally acquiesce either. Mr. Scheirer, observing the proposed rezoning of a parcel on the boundary from RR to CG would match the zoning across the street on the northeast side, said in his view that is total acquiescence. Mr. Scheirer thought there were about six other zones in between RR and CG that are less intensive commercial zones and more intensive residential zones. Mr. Scheirer felt “if one were to say let’s recognize what’s across the street but not totally acquiesce, there’s about six other options in between, although a case has been made tonight for keeping it RR.”
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, advised in his younger years he lived on Santee Mill Road when there were very few automobiles. Now, Mr. Bruch highlighted the fact that when one goes shopping along Route 191 “you better be laid off and go when the other people are working because that traffic there is so humongously terrible.” Mr. Bruch stressed something is wrong in view of the fact that traffic is backed up to Johnston Drive. Mr. Bruch did not think that Mr. Johnston, the first Mayor of Bethlehem, would want to see this happen to this piece of property. Mr. Bruch thought that the property should stay residential.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, said he has lived in the neighborhood for 36 years. Mr. Pfenning related that on Saturday mornings it is not uncommon for the cue to back up southbound on Linden Street almost to Johnston Drive. Mr. Pfenning communicated he would love to have the traffic engineer join him on a Saturday morning and drive down Santee Mill Road and try to make a left hand turn. Mr. Pfenning stated “we just don’t need any more traffic out there…On Saturdays especially it’s a horrible, horrible intersection to get through.” Mr. Pfenning added one could check with the Police Department to see the number of accidents that occur just South of that intersection. Mr. Pfenning expressed the hope that the traffic study would prove that this is going to enhance the flow which is horrible, especially on Saturdays, and many other times.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the October 18, 2005 Agenda.
The second Public Hearing was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of September 6, 2005 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
Time Limits for Speakers
Mr. Mowrer stated he wanted to make note of the fact that he was greatly impressed with the way the Public Hearing on September 19, 2005 on the gambling issue was handled, and the time set of five minutes that appeared to be quite adequate for almost everybody who spoke. Mr. Mowrer said he would like to make a motion to continue that successful practice in the future at the City Council Meetings. Ms. Szabo seconded the motion.
President Schweder explained that the motion would amend the Rules of Council so that under both the first and second Courtesy of the Floor there would be a 5 minute time limit for speakers as opposed to the current 12 minutes.
Mr. Arcelay advised he would be voting against that time limit. Mr. Arcelay highlighted the fact that time limits have recently gone from no time limits to 12 minutes. Mr. Arcelay pointed out that the 5 minute time limitation was for a specific case and that should be considered. Mr. Arcelay reiterated he would ask Council to recognize that the situation has gone from an unlimited time for speakers to great debate about a 12 minute time limit, and now it would be considered cutting down the time limit to 5 minutes.
Mrs. Belinski, commenting she agrees with Mr. Arcelay, noted that before she was elected to City Council, she sat in the audience for eight years and spoke before the Members of Council many times. Remarking she had very important things to say, Mrs. Belinski stressed she could not have done it in five minutes. Mrs. Belinski said she would vote against it.
Mr. Donchez, communicating he thinks his position is well
known on the issue, stated he will not support it and will
President Schweder explained that, under the Rules of Council, the amendment would be placed on Council’s Agenda for a vote at the October 18 or November 1, 2005 City Council Meeting.
Northampton County Advisory Board to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission – Request for Meeting; Community Policing Task Force - Recommendations
Mr. Arcelay, announcing that members of the Northampton County Advisory Board to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission are present, noted he invited them to attend tonight’s Meeting. Mr. Arcelay advised the members have tried to schedule a meeting with the Administration. Mr. Arcelay, explaining that he brought up the issue with Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, affirmed he had asked that the Administration try to meet with the Board. Mr. Arcelay continued on to say that earlier this week when he spoke with the chair of the Advisory Board, the chair said that he had still not received an appointment to speak with the Mayor. Mr. Arcelay, asking what can be reasonably expected as a time within which to schedule a meeting when it is requested, felt that waiting six or seven months is a delay. Mr. Arcelay said he would ask the Administration to please give an opportunity for a meeting within the next couple of days if not the next week.
Mr. Arcelay expressed the reason he brings up the matter
is that he would like to inquire about the Task Force that
was formed on the issue of Community Policing. Mr. Arcelay
recalled the Task Force was formed with participation from
Block Watches, and was formed to try to resolve problems about
complaints. Mr. Arcelay said he had unsuccessfully been pushing
for a platform where citizens can come forward and feel comfortable
with dealing with complaints. Mr. Arcelay, confirming that
the platform does not exist within the City, advised he feels
it should exist. Mr. Arcelay confirmed that the Pennsylvania
Regional Community Policing Institute had given the training
and were highly praised. Mr. Arcelay recalled that in September,
the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee requested the
status of a promise that was made in June that the Mayor and
the Administration would come back with a recommendation before
the end of September. Stressing it is now October, Mr. Arcelay
recounted when the matter was brought up in September there
was no timeline or target deadlines given. Mr. Arcelay inquired
what rationale did the Administration or the Task Force use
to assess the recommendations.
Mayor John Callahan responded that many of the recommendations of the Mayor’s Community Policing Task Force were implemented before the Task Force recommendations were even finalized. Since that point, others have been implemented.
Mr. Arcelay, referring to the booklet of recommendations, asked whether any agency asked for concurrence on those recommendations, and inquired, in others words, “did you present them to some other agencies as to can we get some kind of concurrence on these recommendations, are they on target.”
Mayor Callahan explained when the Administration set out on the Community Policing Task Force the whole idea was that the concept around Community Policing was it is all about what the community would like to see. Mayor Callahan communicated that in the recommendations a very broad base Task Force was created with multiple representation of many individuals throughout the community, block watch captains from all corners of the city, and individual community leaders, all in an attempt to work with the Police Department to make those recommendations. Mayor Callahan, affirming that Mr. Arcelay and Mr. Donchez were members of the Task Force, noted he attended many of the meetings as well. Adding that, as Mr. Arcelay had stated, Al Dean is certainly a recognized expert in the field of community policing and runs the regional institute, Mayor Callahan affirmed there were professionals within the Task Force helping to guide the recommendations. Mayor Callahan pointed out that each was mostly unanimous but certainly overwhelmingly recommendations that came out of the Task Force. Mayor Callahan stated he thinks they are individual to the needs of the City of Bethlehem and he is confident they are the right ones for the City, for the Police Department, and for the community. Mayor Callahan commented he did not go to an outside agency and say “could you look at our recommendations. I think they’re good for Bethlehem.”
Mr. Arcelay, saying he agrees with the Mayor, further inquired about going to the Pennsylvania Regional Community Policing agency and asking whether they would sign off on the recommendations.
Mayor Callahan replied “they indeed did. They were a member of the Task Force.”
Mr. Arcelay said he would like to see that because that is not what he remembers directly.
Restating that Al Dean was a participant in all of the meetings, or one of his representatives, Mayor Callahan advised that Mr. Dean has never expressed to him any concern about the recommendations not being good. Mayor Callahan informed Mr. Arcelay that Mr. Dean has been in consultation with him from the very beginning. Mayor Callahan, explaining that the matter was never approached from the standpoint of a one size fits all, noted that Mr. Dean very much wanted the Task Force to determine what the recommendations were.
Mr. Arcelay noted he “will be following up with them because they led me to believe otherwise. They led me to believe that they refused to sign off on them.” Mr. Arcelay explained the reason he adamantly has been bringing up the matter is because he has been getting many requests from citizens inquiring when is the City going to move forward with these recommendations. Mr. Arcelay said he would like to recommend that the Pennsylvania Regional Community Policing Institute come before Council and report on the recommendations. Mr. Arcelay further communicated that, if the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee concurs, he would like the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee to request that the Institute come before Council to read the recommendations with which they agree.
Mayor Callahan commented that, to him, the most important endorsement in terms of the recommendations of the Task Force is the Task Force themselves. Mayor Callahan pointed out these recommendations received overwhelming support on the part of the Task Force which represented a very broad-based group of community leaders, elected officials, and professionals within the City’s Police Department. Mayor Callahan said he is quite confident that these are the right recommendations for the City of Bethlehem as it moves forward in supporting the Community Policing effort.
Mr. Leeson inquired about the status of the advisory panel.
Mayor Callahan, replying he met with the Police Commissioner the latter part of last week and looked at the members of the Task Force, observed that certain individuals embraced the concept and others fade off as meetings and time goes on. Because this would be a rather permanent and much more ongoing situation, Mayor Callahan explained they wanted to identify Task Force members that they felt could sustain the effort, and talked about who would be a good fit for the Advisory Board. Mayor Callahan advised that a number of block watch participants from the North Side, West Side, and South Side have been identified, and a number of elected officials. Mayor Callahan affirmed that he asked Councilman Donchez on Sunday night if he would be a member of the Advisory Board and he agreed to do so. Mayor Callahan, noting he has a few more calls to make, said then the first meeting of the Advisory Board will be convened. Mayor Callahan advised the goal would be a couple of meetings a year to check in on the recommendations, to make assessments, identify what ideas can be brought to the matter, and where efforts can be improved. Mayor Callahan continued on to say then the group would meet on an as-needed basis. Mayor Callahan added there are five or six community members that are very excited about it, there are a few more to name, then the members will be announced and the matter will move forward.
Mr. Leeson commented it seems if anyone is interested they should submit their name as soon as possible. Mayor Callahan replied absolutely. Mr. Leeson, with reference to Mr. Arcelay’s asking if he had any objection to inviting a gentleman to come and speak to Council that he would presume would be under Courtesy of the Floor, said he has no objection.
Mr. Arcelay, with reference to forming the task force the Mayor just mentioned, said he had requested to be a member. Mr. Arcelay asked if the Mayor was planning to call him, as he had called Mr. Donchez. Mr. Arcelay continued on to advise that he did express that he wanted to continue on the force. Mr. Arcelay communicated that, when people fade off the committee, there are a lot of background reasons why they fade off. Mr. Arcelay noted if one recalls when the Task Force was first formed he had to challenge the Mayor and ask the Mayor to make it a diverse sector of the community which it was not. Mr. Arcelay continued on to say “as we move forward, I would like to ensure that this…task force fully represents the City, not a select few. If you are asking people…there is no reason why it shouldn’t be put forth in the newspaper so that everybody has an opportunity, so that not a chosen select few are selected on this task force, and we’re back to square one in a couple of months or a year from now with recommendations that don’t represent the entire community.” Mr. Arcelay, saying he would like to be asked to be on the task force, restated he expressed interest earlier and he still does.
C. Street Vacation – Leonard Street
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 15, 2005 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, stating that at their September 8, 2005 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed street vacation of Leonard Street with the following conditions: (1) access shall continue to be provided for the existing housing units to the south of Leonard Street; (2) the existing number of off street parking spaces accessed via Leonard Street shall be retained or relocated in close proximity to the existing dwelling units; (3) a legal description of the area shall be submitted to the City for review and approval; (4) the Public Works Department shall review and approve the street vacation; and (5) if any utilities are identified in the area to be vacated, then a formal survey shall be completed and any critical points shall be marked in the field.
President Schweder requested that the Law Bureau draft the Ordinance to be placed on Council’s Agenda at a future meeting.
D. Act 537 Plan
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 20, 2005 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, requesting that a Public Works Committee meeting be scheduled to present the Act 537 plan which is an evaluation of the City’s sewer collection and treatment systems, and the capability to meet current and future sewerage needs of the City and the surrounding served municipalities.
President Schweder referred the request to the Public Works
E. South Bethlehem Greenway Grant Resolution
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 27, 2005 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a resolution in support of a grant application in the amount of $800,000 to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for Phase I implementation of the South Bethlehem Greenway for regrading, greening, building the basic path, and improving grade crossings along the greenway. It is proposed to match the grant with an additional grant request to PennDOT for a transportation enhancements grant.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the October 18 Council Agenda, unless the Finance Committee wishes to review this matter.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 44 – 2005 – Amending Article 921 – Instituting Sewer Tapping Fee
The Clerk read Bill No. 44 – 2005, Amending Article 921 – Instituting Sewer Tapping Fee, on Final Reading.
Mr. Leeson asked the Administration to forward to City Council
the Ordinance updating the open space and recreation fees.
In addition, as part of that process, Mr. Leeson thought that
a transportation impact fee is authorized by State law on
developers. Mr. Leeson, affirming the matter was discussed
earlier in the year but further study was required, commented
the City would not want to put it off too much longer since
as development starts to occur the City would want to charge
the fees to which it is entitled for the benefit of the community.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 44 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4342, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 45 – 2005 – Rezoning East Fourth Street/Route 412 Vicinity – HI - Heavy Industrial District to IR - Industrial Redevelopment District
The Clerk read Bill No. 45 – 2005, Rezoning East Fourth Street/Route 412 Vicinity – HI to IR, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer, 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: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 45 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 46 – 2005 – Amending Article 1317 – HI District – Adding Permitted Uses
The Clerk read Bill No. 46 – 2005, Amending Article 1317 – HI District – Adding Permitted Uses, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1317
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED H-I HEAVY INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 46 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 47 – 2005 – Amending Article 1317A – IR District – Adding Permitted Uses
The Clerk read Bill No. 47 – 2005, Amending Article 1317A – IR District – Adding Permitted Uses, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE 1317A
OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED,
ENTITLED I-R INDUSTRIAL REDEVELOPMENT
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 47 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Liquor License Transfer – Lehigh No. 1 LLC, Firehouse Bar and Grill
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,697 that transferred a Restaurant Liquor License from K & R Burns, Inc., Bath, Pennsylvania, to Lehigh No. 1, LLC, Firehouse Bar and Grill, 217 Broadway, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 821 East Fourth Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,698 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install vinyl window signage in the storefront window and front door of 821 East Fourth Street.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 746 East Fourth Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,699 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install vinyl window signage in the storefront window at 746 East Fourth Street.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Committee Meeting Announcement
Chairman Donchez announced a Finance Committee Meeting for October 13, 2005 to deal with transfers of funds and other budget adjustments.
Pedestrian Accident and Police Officer
Mrs. Belinski recounted that some time ago there was an unfortunate accident when one of the Police Officers was traveling South off the Fahy Bridge, and made a left turn at Third Street. Mrs. Belinski, communicating it is a bad intersection, noted she travels that way many times. Mrs. Belinski continued on to say that, unfortunately, a woman pedestrian was hit. The matter went to the District Magistrate, and at that meeting no testimony was given, and the Magistrate dismissed it. Mrs. Belinski said now she finds that John Spirk, City Solicitor, who is the legal representative of the Bethlehem Police Department and is supposed to be their defendant, took it upon himself to refile criminal charges against the Officer. Mrs. Belinski asked why Attorney Spirk would turn around and refile charges that had been dismissed.
Attorney Spirk advised that, regrettably, Mrs. Belinski’s information is incorrect. Attorney Spirk said no one testified at the hearing in front of the Magistrate, and added that Mrs. Belinski is right that there was no testimony. Attorney Spirk explained that defense counsel, who represented the woman who was injured who was going to sue the City, made a motion before the case was ever heard by the Magistrate to dismiss it because he said the Bethlehem Police deliberately delayed filing those charges to beyond the deadline for filing those charges. Attorney Spirk continued on to relate “he said this was another example of the thin blue line of the Bethlehem Police covering for their own. And so the charges were dismissed. He was wrong. The Bethlehem Police didn’t dump this case by deliberating waiting to file the charges. So, I filed an appeal to Judge Giordano down at the Northampton County Court House to prove that Lieutenant Kravatz of the Bethlehem Police didn’t dump these cases by deliberating filing late. Rather, what he did was his investigation, and he filed them on the last possible day. The Magistrate miscounted the deadline. Judge Giordano ruled that the Bethlehem Police didn’t protect their own, that Lieutenant Kravatz of the Bethlehem Police, whom I represent along with all the other Police Officers, did his job, and he determined that there was enough evidence to charge both the pedestrian who was struck, Mr. Karoly’s client, and the Police Officer…Now that Judge Giordano has made his ruling, the case can be heard by the Magistrate, and the Magistrate can decide, after hearing evidence this time, whether Lieutenant Kravatz’s charges against both his fellow Police Officer and his charges against Mr. Karoly’s client should be upheld or not. I consider my actions to have been defending the honor and the integrity of the Bethlehem Police Officers, Bethlehem Police Department, Lieutenant Kravatz, and the charges that he brought.”
Mrs. Belinski asked how can Mr. Spirk say that. Mrs. Belinski continued on to say “you and you alone filed those criminal charges against the Officer.” Attorney Spirk, advising that Lieutenant Kravatz did, stated he does not file traffic citations. Mrs. Belinski, saying she spoke to Northampton County District Attorney Morganelli this morning, related “he said if you hadn’t filed those charges, he would not have, and the case would have been over.” Mr. Spirk “said that’s true, and the accusations by Mr. Karoly of the thin blue line of the Bethlehem Police deliberately waiting until the 31st day so as to cover one of their fellow Officers, that accusation would stand unrebutted. I just wasn’t going to let that happen. When Lieutenant Kravatz signed the complaint and determined that there was enough evidence to bring both those individuals up before the Magistrate on charges, I was not about to let the allegation stand that he somehow deliberately waited until the 31st day, because he didn’t. He did a thorough investigation. He filed them on the last possible day. Now the case can go to where it was supposed to go originally, to the Magistrate, so the Magistrate can decide if Lieutenant Kravatz and our department was right, and these people did violate the rules of the Motor Vehicle Code…”. Mrs. Belinski said “if you hadn’t filed those charges, the case was over. I heard that personally this morning from Mr. Morganelli.” Attorney Spirk stated “and Mr. Karoly’s lawsuit, you would have heard him stand up and say ladies and gentlemen of the jury these charges got thrown out because Lieutenant Kravatz there waited until the 31st day and the Magistrate threw them out. Now, Mr. Karoly can’t say that in his lawsuit because Judge Giordano determined that the Magistrate was wrong and determined that…Lieutenant Kravatz didn’t wait till the 31st day. So when that lawsuit comes, Lieutenant Kravatz will get to defend himself and waive Judge Giordano’s decision in Attorney Karoly’s face when he tells Attorney Karoly that he’s dead wrong that he waits too long to file the charges.” Mrs. Belinski said that Attorney Spirk told her that Lieutenant Kravatz acted incorrectly. Attorney Spirk, replying “no I didn’t”, continued on to advise “Judge Giordano and I agreed. He acted perfectly correctly. He filed on the 31st day, and because the deadline day was a Saturday, he had till Monday to do it. He did everything right.” Mrs. Belinski questioned why then would one be afraid in going up against Mr. Karoly in a lawsuit. Attorney Spirk explained he was not about to allow Mr. Karoly stand up in front of a jury in a lawsuit that he is bringing against the City and say that the Magistrate threw these charges out because they were filed too late. Attorney Spirk, continuing on to say he wanted a Judge’s opinion and he received one, pointed out it was opposed by Mr. Karoly all the way but Mr. Karoly lost and Attorney Spirk won. Attorney Spirk informed Mrs. Belinski that Lieutenant Kravatz filed the charges and signed the citation. Mrs. Belinski stated that Mr. Morganelli said that Attorney Spirk personally came to him and asked him. Advising that he cannot file motor vehicle charges, Attorney Spirk explained he went to Mr. Morganelli and got his permission since he is the chief law enforcement of the County. Attorney Spirk further explained “he filed the appeal of the Magistrate’s erroneous decision that [Lieutenant] Kravatz blew the statute of limitations, and to rebut Mr. Karoly’s erroneous assertion that he did it on purpose to protect the thin blue line of the bad cop. They’re not bad cops, there’s not a thin blue line, they didn’t cover for their own. Kravatz did an investigation right down the line…He determined that he thought the Officer involved had broken a Motor Vehicle violation…Kravatz also determined that…the woman crossing the street was wrong, too. He cited them both…And now we’ll see what the Magistrate says at the trial.” Mrs. Belinski noted if Attorney Spirk has thoroughly covered it then Lieutenant Kravatz acted in a very proper manner.
Planning Conference – Schwabisch Gmund, Germany
Ms. Szabo noted that Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, had just returned from a trip to one of Bethlehem’s Sister Cities, Schwabisch Gmund, Germany, where an international municipal planning conference was held. Ms. Szabo asked Ms. Heller to talk about her experience.
Ms. Heller, commenting it was a wonderful opportunity, advised it was a three day conference to which all of Schwabisch Gmund’s Sister Cities were invited and included representatives from France, Italy, Hungary, and England. Each of the communities presented their redevelopment programs and projected future developments. Ms. Heller, advising that she spoke about Bethlehem’s master planning in South Bethlehem, noted many attendees were familiar with Bethlehem Steel and some of the situation. Ms. Heller said she was surprised to learn that Bethlehem has much in common with European cities in that there are struggles with suburban sprawl, issues with regional planning, and parochialism in planning and development. Ms. Heller noted the European cities are well advanced in environmental planning, green building, and transportation planning mostly because of their limited resources. Ms. Heller confirmed it was a wonderful experience, and a lot of good ideas were exchanged. Ms. Szabo affirmed that the trip did not cost the taxpayers any money.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Time Limits for Speakers; Traffic; Garbage; Crime; and Other Matters
Eddie Rodriquez, 436 Pawnee Street, said he does not approve of a 5 minute time limit, explained he needs to come to Council Meetings, as do other citizens, and City Council needs to know what is happening in the City. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that 5 minutes is not enough. Mr. Rodriquez suggested that projecting screens be erected so that meeting attendees can see what is being presented. Mr. Rodriquez, pointing out that traffic in the Santee Mill Road area is very bad, wondered why anyone would want to bring another development to that area, and expressed the hope that Council votes no. Mr. Rodriquez commented he would like to find out where the proposed widening of Route 412 starts and ends. Mr. Rodriquez expressed the opinion that traffic congestion problems lie in the proper synchronization of lights, and asserted that is the problem on Third Street. Mr. Rodriquez, requesting that there be more garbage containers in the City, asked that one be placed in the Family Dollar Store area and one near the Getty gas station. Mr. Rodriquez informed the assembly that he took pictures to depict the degree of sloppiness in the City, and the fact that some individuals do not want to clean up. Mr. Rodriquez distributed pictures of the Five Points area showing the amount of trash, and advised that he picked up trash. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that crime in the City has increased. Mr. Rodriquez stated that some of the task force members have abandoned their positions as block watch captains. Mr. Rodriquez advised he has asked to be placed somewhere to be most useful in the community but has been rejected in spite of the fact that he voluntarily contributes his time to the City, and can be a useful tool in the City.
South Bethlehem Buildings - Preservation
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, handed a picture to the Members of Council and noted it shows the old market place and police headquarters in South Bethlehem. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that a strip mall is there now. He later noted it was built at the same time as the Reading Market in Philadelphia that is an international institution. Mr. Antalics explained that, in researching the issue, the Broad Street and Main Street business district contributed to the demise of South Bethlehem. Mr. Antalics advised that, when he presented the same picture to the Bethlehem Area School Board, no one recognized it and one member said it was Broughal Middle School, and yet the Board is deliberating the demise of Broughal Middle School. Referring to a newspaper article in which it was reported that the City held meetings to discuss placing the South Side area on the National Register of Historic Places, Mr. Antalics remarked after so many years historic South Bethlehem is being reviewed, and further pointed out that a representative from the preservation group said that Broughal Middle School fits that criteria. Mr. Antalics recounted that he undertook an extensive project to present to the State details of Broughal Middle School that was the work of a famous architect and the State felt it was eligible for the National Register. However, Mr. Antalics stressed that Broughal Middle School is going to be taken away. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that for three years in a row Broughal Middle School is the only middle school in the City that met the Annual Yearly Performance Record under the President’s guidelines. However, he observed it is being said that the structure is outdated and does not serve the needs of the community. Mr. Antalics wondered how all the various authorities, boards, and City government departments that represent the City of Bethlehem can talk to each other and look at the welfare of Bethlehem as a composite image, rather than independently. He questioned who is going to take charge. Mr. Antalics suggested using money from gambling to make Third Street in South Bethlehem what it was at one time. Mr. Antalics remarked that the Administration and City Council should be very upset that such buildings on the South Side are going by the wayside.
President Schweder recalled that, at the behest of Mr. Antalics and others, City Council is on record as sending a letter stating that the Broughal Middle School building should be retained.
Time Limits for Speakers
Mr. Antalics, turning to the proposal to reduce the limit the time for speakers from 12 minutes to 5 minutes, said he does not understand the penchant of one Member of Council to restrict public input.
Parking Requirements for Developers
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, referring to an article in the August 18, 2005 Morning Call about a parking deal in South Bethlehem to benefit development at Bethlehem Works, asked if City Council is involved in those leases. President Schweder informed Mr. Pfenning that Council would not be involved. Referring to the Zoning Ordinance, Mr. Pfenning noted that developers are supposed to provide a certain number of parking spaces and said he does not like to see the City spending money for parking when the developer should be providing sufficient parking. Mr. Pfenning thought that, as part of the upcoming zoning study, the requirement for parking has to be increased.
Honoring Bethlehem Paramedics - Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts
Dr. Everett Binns, Executive Director of the Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council, noted it oversees emergency medical services in six counties, 2 million citizens, including the City of Bethlehem. Dr. Binns advised he is at the meeting this evening to say congratulations to City Council, the Mayor, and citizens of Bethlehem for the response they received through the City’s EMS Bureau as well as four Paramedics who responded to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Dr. Binns asked Howard Schwartz and Greg Heimbach to stand up. Dr. Binns pointed out there were two other Paramedics who responded, Barry Arnold and Kevin Johnson. Dr. Binns advised on September 1, 2005 the State of Louisiana asked FEMA and President Bush to have additional EMS resources for the response to Hurricane Katrina. FEMA asked Pennsylvania because the Commonwealth has developed a strike team concept which is the only one in the United States. The City of Bethlehem, that has participated in the strike team response, received $5,000 from the Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council last year and will receive $5,000 this year for specialized training. Dr. Binns explained he was asked to be the incident commander in response to New Orleans. Explaining that the eight day mission included many things to help many people, young children, infants, and dogs, Dr. Binns thanked the Mayor for authorizing the mission. Dr. Binns noted the City will be reimbursed for wages and equipment. However, he continued on to remark that these hometown heroes provided assistance for citizens in the area in their greatest time of need. Dr. Binns recognized the Paramedics, presented certificates to them, and thanked the City for its participation.
President Schweder communicated that everyone shares great pride in the employees.
Police and Community Relations
Tom Smith, 4050 Ross Road, stated he is the chair of the Northampton County Advisory Council to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Mr. Smith said he comes forth to inform the Members that the Northampton County Advisory Council to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is alive and well. Mr. Smith noted he is a graduate of the citizens police academy in Bethlehem Township, and served on former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge’s police community task force. Mr. Smith advised that the Advisory Council attempted several times to have the Mayor come to one of the group’s sessions to talk on the issue of police-community relations. Mr. Smith stated on August 29, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission came to Easton for their monthly meeting. Mr. Smith pointed out he is the only African American at the meeting tonight and said it shows the kind of divide that exists in Bethlehem. Mr. Smith, communicating he does not want that to happen again, thought that relations with the diverse community need to be improved. Observing that both the cities of Easton and Bethlehem are being subjected to lawsuits and in some cases are not successful in overcoming the lawsuits, Mr. Smith stressed that people need to sit down as far as police-community relations and find out what is going on in the police department and in the community. Mr. Smith said he is addressing this to the Mayor because a letter was sent to him in the spring of this year inviting him to come and address the group. Mr. Smith stated there are a lot of young people in the minority community that will not come forward because of fear of retaliation. Mr. Smith, explaining the group is trying to address issues, remarked if not there will continue to be a large divide between the majority and minority community. Mr. Smith noted he is bringing the matter to the attention of the Mayor and City Council. Mr. Smith asked how many minority citizens serve on the City’s Task Force. Mr. Smith advised that the Advisory Council’s role is to resolve or minimize the racial tension in Northampton County, and report incidents. Mr. Smith commented he will give his card to the Mayor so that the Mayor can contact him to have a dialogue or have a police liaison person talk to the group.
Sis-Obed Torres Cordero, Executive Director of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, located at 520 East Fourth Street, said he resides at 612 Prospect Avenue. Mr. Torres Cordero, noting that perhaps he was one of the people who phased out on the Task Force, commented that, as Mr. Arcelay said, sometimes people fade out for different reasons. Mr. Torres Cordero advised that the Northampton County Advisory Board has been meeting with the Spanish Council for about a year. He continued on to say that, over his ten year tenure as Executive Director, people have come to complain about police issues. Observing it could be asked why he did not come forward before, Mr. Torres Cordero said what Mr. Arcelay is saying is true in that people have a fear of retaliation from the Police Department and refuse to come forward. Referring to Mr. Smith’s comments, Mr. Torres Cordero said it is true that most police officers are good officers but it only takes a few to set the tone. Mr. Torres Cordero related the story of what happened when his 14 year old son who was going home from the haunted house event at Illick’s Mill was searched by a police officer but his son’s friend who is Caucasian was not, advised that afterwards the officer apologized, but his son was afraid of the police from the ages of 14 through 21. Mr. Torres Cordero said he has seen police officers approach primarily Hispanics and yell at them if they are double-parked. Mr. Torres Cordero stated there is a pervasive problem on the South Side and in different parts of the City. Mr. Torres Cordero, commenting that more responsibility has to be taken as a City, highlighted the fact that more people are coming to the country from different parts of the world for the same reasons our forefathers came. Mr. Torres Cordero informed the assembly “our ‘people’ want the same things that your people want – an opportunity to grow a family, have a job, live in relative peace and safety and security.” Expressing he does not want to paint the picture “that we’re all going down the toilet with a flush”, Mr. Torres Cordero observed there is room for improvement and urged City officials to take the matter seriously. Mr. Torres Cordero said perhaps Mr. Arcelay deserves the opportunity to proceed with what he is requesting, and perhaps all have to do a better job of communicating.
Time Limit for Speakers; Zoning Map; Gambling as a Permitted Use
Roy Gruver, 415 New Street, said only in extenuating circumstances such as the testimony on the issue of gaming at Bethlehem Works and the Mowrer-Leeson proposal does he think that limiting public discourse to 5 minutes is appropriate.
Mr. Gruver expressed he does not see any reason why the zoning map on the website cannot be the official quality map.
Ms. Heller advised that the matter will be addressed.
Mr. Gruver questioned what is the process and when will gambling as a permitted use in the Zoning Code begin to be discussed.
President Schweder, noting there is no set time frame, explained that something needs to be forwarded in order to initiate sending the matter to the Planning Commission.
Traffic Improvements; Improvements and Tax Exemptions – South Bethlehem
Terry Meixell, 56 E. Goepp Street, while observing that the idea of street improvements in the vicinity of Linden Street and Santee Mill Road is a great idea, pointed out there is a vacant bank building where the Sear’s store is located on Linden Street. Mr. Meixell said, since Linden Street is a State highway, if City Council could contact the State about street improvements it would be greatly appreciated in the neighborhood.
Mr. Meixell expressed he would like to see put in writing the various improvements that would be made for the City as a result of the Bethlehem Works development such as extra Police and Fire Department equipment. In addition, Mr. Meixell wondered whether City Council has any input into where a new fire or police station would be located. Mr. Meixell added he does not think it would be appropriate to place a fire station in the vicinity of the proposed casino that is close to the fire station located on the South Side, and explained it would be better to locate it in the area off Interstate 78.
Mr. Meixell wondered whether a proposed performance center requested by ArtsQuest at the Bethlehem Works site would be tax-exempt. Mr. Meixell felt the City does not need any more tax exempt businesses, and enumerated that the Banana Factory and Lehigh University are located on the South Side and do not pay taxes. Mr. Meixell questioned why the City responds to emergency calls from St. Luke’s Hospital, and asked does the City receive any monetary value for going there which is outside the City limits.
Time Limits for Speakers; Cleanliness of City
Dave Sanders, 69 E. Goepp Street, expressed that he has a problem with limiting the time for speaking to 5 minutes. Mr. Sanders stressed one of the most important parts of City Council Meetings happens at the end when the residents are heard.
Mr. Sanders stated he thinks “we have great, clean City.” Mr. Sanders related that Josephine Barrows, who grew up in public housing, wanted to do something and started to clean up the neighborhood, and later became a paid employee. He added that an award is given in her name for people who pick up trash and help to make the City a better place. Mr. Sanders thanked the City administration and staff for doing a nice job cleaning the City.
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, said discrimination does not have a cause or an address, and remarked she is a minority as an old, white lady. Ms. Pongracz, commenting “we are all a minority of one”, continued on to say “all of us are the victims of discrimination. All of us are what we are.” Ms. Pongracz stressed she is tired of people talking about the South Side who do not live there, and stated the South Side is no different than the rest of the City of Bethlehem.
Diversity; Broughal Middle School; Time Limits for Speakers
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, commented he read that the United States is the first country of the world because it has so many nationalities, races, religions, etc., and thought that is something to be proud of.
Mr. Scheirer notified the assembly that he talked to the consulting engineer for the Bethlehem Area School District about the cost estimates for various options for Broughal Middle School. Mr. Scheirer said the cost of saving the school and building an addition is roughly the same as the cost of building an entirely new school. The biggest difference between the two options is the terrific inconvenience of building an addition and at the same time preserving the old school. Noting the question is whether or not preserving the school is worth that inconvenience, Mr. Scheirer said he thinks that it is.
Mr. Scheirer, expressing that the hearings on the proposed casino in South Bethlehem were almost a model of civility, commented this civility comes in part from the 12 minute time limit because it exemplifies the respect that City Council has for its citizens. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say, because of that respect, the citizens feel appreciated and are understanding of the 5 minute time limit for those hearings. Mr. Scheirer explained he would feel constrained by a 5 minute time limit, and expressed the hope that it would be kept at 12 minutes.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.