The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
May 2, 2006 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street - Town Hall
Tuesday, May 2, 2006 – 7:30 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Reverend Gilberto Garcia-Rodriguez, First United Church of Christ, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, and J. Michael Schweder, 6. Magdalena F. Szabo was absent, 1.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of April 18, 2006 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
A. Tax Administrator – Amending EIT Rules and Regulations
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 26, 2006 from William Alexander Karras, Tax Administrator, to which was attached a proposed Resolution to amend Section 201 of the Rules and Regulations for Tax on Earned Income and Net Profits. The change was made in conjunction with the Solicitor's Office to more clearly define which employees are subject to the Earned Income Tax.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be placed on the May 17, 2006 Agenda, unless the Finance Committee wishes to review this matter.
B. Assistant City Solicitor – Records Destruction Resolution
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 27, 2006 from Timothy P. Brennan, Assistant City Solicitor, in which it was requested that City Council authorize the destruction of records for the City Solicitor's Office as listed in the attached Exhibit under the provisions of the Municipal Records Retention Act that was adopted by City Council.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing Resolution will be placed on the May 17, 2006 Agenda.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Architectural Model of BethWorks Master Plan
Mayor Callahan noted there was a tremendous amount of interest in the open house to view the newly released architectural model of the BethWorks Master Plan that was held this evening between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the lobby of City Hall. Mayor Callahan added there will be another open house tomorrow evening. The greater than 6 ft. by 16 ft. model built in Chicago, originally constructed for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board hearings, depicts the entire BethWorks project. The model includes the casino, retail, commercial, arts and educational components of the project, as well as all of the community partners who will also be on the site: National Museum of Industrial History, SteelStax, Lehigh Valley PBS, and Northampton Community College, as well as the iconic blast furnaces.
C. Public Safety Committee
Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held on Thursday, April 27, 2006 on the following subjects: Police Department – Goals – 2006, Staffing Levels and Vacancies; Manpower Projections: 2007-2009, Recruitment, Equipment Updates (A.) QED, (B.) Nextel, (C.) Radios, (D.) Computers, Updates (A.) CALEA, (B.) Gangs, (C.) Terrorism Task Force, (D.) Crisis Negotiation Team, (E.) McLaughlin Incident, Goals – 2007; Fire Department - Goals – 2006, Staffing Levels and Vacancies, Manpower Projections: 2007-2009, Recruitment, Equipment Updates (A.) Pumpers, (B) Aerials, Training (A.) CPR – Certification, (B.) EMT – Certification, (C.) Training Facilities, Overtime, Goals – 2007; EMS Bureau - Goals – 2006, Staffing Levels and Vacancies, Manpower Projections: 2007-2009, Recruitment, Updates (A.) Ambulances, (B.) Building Renovations, Responses By (A.) Bethlehem EMS (B.) Outside EMS Agencies, Overtime, Goals – 2007.
D. Public Works Committee
Mr. Mower, Chairman of the Public Works Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee's meeting held on May 2, 2006 prior to this evening's City Council Meeting on the following subject: Bethlehem Authority - Sale of Land in Salisbury Township to Lehigh County.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 16 – 2006 – Amending Non-Utility
Capital Budget – LED Traffic Signals Project
The Clerk read Bill No. 16 – 2006 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 16 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4381, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 17 – 2006 – Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – 2006 Allocation
The Clerk read Bill No. 17 – 2006 – Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – 2006 Allocation, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 17 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4382, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 18 – 2006 – Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Operating Supplies and Equipment
The Clerk read Bill No. 18 – 2006 – Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Operating Supplies and Equipment, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 18 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4383, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 19 – 2006 – Amending Article 1120 – Emergency Medical Services – EMS Fees
The Clerk read Bill No. 19 – 2006 – Amending Article 1120 – Emergency Medical Services – EMS Fees, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 19 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4384, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Approving Application for Northampton County Grant Funds – South Bethlehem Greenway
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,833 that approved the filing of an application for a grant under the Municipal Park Acquisition and Development Program in the amount of $800,000 through Northampton County to be utilized for both acquisition and development of the South Bethlehem Greenway. The City's required match is $80,000.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolution passed.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 827 East Fourth Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,834 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install window signage at 827 East Fourth Street.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolution passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 310 East Third Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 14,835 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signage and lighting at 310 East Third Street.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolution passed.
Removing Resolution 11 M from the Table - Certificate of Appropriateness – 574 Main Street
Ms. Dolan and Mrs. Belinski moved to take from the Table Resolution 11 M. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
M. Certificate of Appropriateness – 574 Main Street
Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 14,836
(11 M) that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to reconstruct
the fire damaged building at 574 Main Street.
Mrs. Belinski questioned how can City Council approve the Certificate of Appropriateness with the building changes at 574 Main Street that will seriously affect the building next door at 99 West Broad Street and close off two windows. Mrs. Belinski highlighted the fact that another person came before City Council at the last Meeting to request that a vinyl window be installed but the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB) said no and recommended a wood framed window. Mrs. Belinski queried what happens to the integrity of Historic and Architectural Review Board by approving the Certificate of Appropriateness to reconstruct the fire damaged building at 574 Main Street that is a major reconstruction of a historic building but yet not allowing the installation of a vinyl window. Mrs. Belinski expressed the belief that this is setting an unfortunate precedent.
Ms. Dolan, noting there has been a lot of activity regarding the matter over the past two weeks, affirmed she had several discussions with Chris Ussler, Historic Officer, as well as Michele LeFevre at the State level. Ms. Dolan explained it is her understanding that the issue has been resolved and an agreement has been reached between Art Schmidt, the owner of the adjoining property at 99 West Broad Street, and Ashley Development, the owner of 574 Main Street, that improvements will be made. Ms. Dolan affirmed that an e-mail was received from Ms. Ussler stating everyone is happy and Council should approve the Certificate of Appropriateness because the neighbor has had his problems addressed.
Mrs. Belinski insisted that, even though they came to an agreement and Ashley Development will pay for a dormer so that the bedroom at 99 West Broad Street will not be completely shut out with no windows or form of egress, “it’s still destroying that historic integrity of that building to make this accommodation just to accommodate Mr. Pektor.”
Ms. Dolan noted that, Michele LeFevre, of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, advised HARB that would not be the case. It would be the case if the windows were not restored to dormers. Ms. Dolan, pointing out she was ready to lead the charge to turn the Resolution down, affirmed that notification regarding resolving the matter was received from HARB, the State, and the citizens who worked it out. Communicating she wanted to make sure the laws were being followed, Ms. Dolan confirmed that the laws are being followed, and observed that City Council is supposed to intervene when the neighbors cannot come to an agreement.
Mrs. Belinski, stressing this is amenable to Mr. Pektor and it invalidates the historic guidelines, said “they’re not supposed to take out the two windows and replace it with a dormer.” Mrs. Belinski wondered “how do you justify this to the other people.”
President Schweder, focusing on Mrs. Belinski’s comments, observed it would have to be a decision that Members of Council would make. President Schweder suggested that the written agreement received by the Members of Council that was signed by both Ashley Development and Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt be incorporated as part of the Certificate of Appropriateness which would guarantee that work would then have to be done in order for the project to move forward. President Schweder, commenting that both Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan raise interesting points, communicated what needs to be looked at is the relationship of one historic building to the other, and added that the responsibilities of HARB up to this point have probably been silent on the matter. Noting that this unique situation has not been faced until now, President Schweder stated it is something that HARB needs to consider.
Amending Resolution 11 M - Certificate of Appropriateness – 574 Main Street
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Donchez moved the following amendment:
That Resolution 11 M be amended by addition of the following paragraph:
WHEREAS, the agreement signed April 21, 2006 between Ashley Development and Arthur T. Schmidt and Tammy Y. Schmidt according to the terms and conditions indicated therein is made a part hereof.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, 1. The Amendment passed.
Mrs. Belinski advised she received a telephone call from a resident of Wall Street who is very much interested in keeping intact the historic nature of the buildings on the street. Mrs. Belinski related the resident advised that someone who moved to the neighborhood from out of State changed the door, the hardware, and shutters. Mrs. Belinski stated that she notified Chris Ussler, Historic Officer, of the changes reported by the resident that were made by the new neighbor who was then sent a letter. Mrs. Belinski pointed out that the new neighbor could very well come forward and say that accommodations were made for Mr. Pektor. Mrs. Belinski asserted it destroys the integrity of the HARB by accommodating Mr. Pektor’s changes. Mrs. Belinski added if Mr. Pektor was going to restore the building to get the tax break for a historical restoration to how the building once was then he is not doing that.
Voting AYE on Resolution No. 14,836 (11 M), as Amended: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, 1. The Resolution passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Rescheduling Second Meeting in May to Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Dolan moved to reschedule Council’s Second Meeting in May from Tuesday, May 16 which is Primary Election Day to Wednesday, May 17, 2006.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
No Smoking Rally in Harrisburg
Mr. Mowrer asked for an update on the rally in Harrisburg concerning a smoking ban at which students presented shoes to symbolize deaths from smoking.
Mr. Hanna, noting a report will be issued, said it went very well, over 2,000 shoes were presented, the City’s Health Bureau joined a number of other health organizations, and it was a successful event.
Mr. Mowrer, focusing on the opening of Starter’s Riverport Restaurant on the South Side, pointed out that the owner said the no smoking policy for the restaurant is working out fantastic. Mr. Mowrer expressed the hope that the City continues the effort.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Government Actions – McLaughlin Incident
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, felt that decisions by
government officials on all levels are no longer being made
to reflect the admirable qualities of open, honest, and ethical
government, and integrity is lacking more than it is displayed
in many cases. Mr. Grubb expressed the opinion that issues
surrounding the McLaughlin incident in the Police Department
fall into the category of questionable and irresponsible actions
and motivations whether intended or not. Mr. Grubb, stating
that City Council should have been notified in Executive Session
by the Mayor, remarked that since Council was not notified
it gives rise to the perception that the Administration's
actions were self-serving, given the fact that the General
Election was right around the corner. He said this revelation
could not be exposed to the legislative arm by a standing
executive official seeking re-election, particularly given
the executive's overt efforts to influence the election of
the legislative body. He added that the perception might be
what did the Mayor have to hide. Stating that the Administration
is extremely adept at trying to use the press for its self
promotion, Mr. Grubb said many in the community are questioning
how the Administration could suddenly became so naive so as
to not even think of notifying the District Attorney or City
Council. He added that another problem with the perception
of a cover-up is the question of deception or manipulation
on other occasions, when it may also have been self-serving
to keep City Council and/or the public uninformed or ill-informed
on matters involving local government. Mr. Grubb communicated
that when an atmosphere of mistrust and deception is created,
any opportunity to work cooperatively for the benefit of the
community is eroded and compromises the political process.
He asserted that the Administration must begin to show consistency
in the way it deals with personnel matters. Mr. Grubb said
he personally finds it ironic and contradictory how some personnel
matters can be open fodder for the press with the Administration
complicit in that release, and others claimed to be confidential.
He felt it is hypocritical and exhibits a tendency of double
standards. Mr. Grubb stated one must wonder why a member of
the Police force would not feel comfortable going through
the chain of command to deal with this matter, rather than
going directly to the press. He remarked there is an air of
mistrust internally, and that systematic deficiency is currently
flagrant in City Hall.
Courtesy of the Floor - 5 Minute Time Limit
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, asked whether Ms. Dolan has decided to take action on his request and her suggestion made at the December 6, 2005 City Council Meeting regarding time limits for speakers. Mr. Antalics, reading a definition of the word draconian that was used by Ms. Dolan at the December 6 Meeting, expressed his opinion that the word was well chosen to describe the 5 minute time limit. Mr. Antalics asked if Ms. Dolan has come to a decision to change the 5 minute time limit to 8 minutes.
Ms. Dolan, responding she thought long and deeply about Mr. Antalics’ question that is a good one, stated for two reasons she is going to decline to revise her suggestion for a compromise time limit of 8 minutes. Ms. Dolan advised her suggestion was made before anyone knew how effective a 5 minute rule would be. Ms. Dolan felt that the 5 minute rule is working very well, points are made concisely, and sometimes prepared in advance in writing and made available to the Members of Council. Ms. Dolan communicated that she looks forward to, enjoys, and learns from the comments spoken at Courtesy of the Floor. Recounting she was proud at the last Meeting that the Boy Scouts who attended witnessed a civil and interesting Meeting, Ms. Dolan pointed out what a difference it was from a Meeting she had attended with her students a few years ago when citizens spoke mostly for more than 10 minutes each at the start of the Meeting, and the actual business part of the Council Meeting did not start until 8:45 p.m. Ms. Dolan said she does not plan to introduce change to the 5 minute rule any time in the near future. Ms. Dolan added she feels that time spent answering a citizen’s question should not be counted against the 5 minute time limit for citizens to speak. Communicating there is flexibility given by the President of Council, Ms. Dolan said for now she feels the 5 minute time limit is sufficient.
Edwin Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, said he owes President Schweder an apology and is doing so publicly tonight. Mr. Rodriquez complimented the Police Department, starting with Police Commissioner Donchez, that he said is doing a fantastic job. He noted there has been a rash of murders, burglaries, robberies, and car thefts. Mr. Rodriquez, recounting he has come to City Council Meetings to alert City officials, said that is exactly what he is doing. Asserting it is going to get worse, Mr. Rodriquez said “we’re here now.” Mr. Rodriquez remarked that the City needs to look at what is happening with the proposed casino, and felt the City is up for a lot of trouble. Mr. Rodriquez pointed out he picks up garbage in the City. Mr. Rodriquez asked that the City Departments be supported as much as possible.
Certificate of Appropriateness – 56-B East Market Street
Jim Wright, 56 East Market Street, addressed Resolution 11 F, Certificate of Appropriateness – 56-B East Market Street, that remained Tabled this evening. Mr. Wright, advising he had a discussion with Chris Ussler, Historic Officer, pointed out that when the contractor was contacted to install the window it was before he knew the installation had to be approved by HARB. Mr. Wright, informing the Members that the window is in place, explained the finishing around the window was not completed because it was discovered that was a requirement while it was being installed, and that is when he immediately went to HARB to address the topic. Mr. Wright pointed out that HARB has granted previous exceptions for vinyl windows in Historic Bethlehem. Mr. Wright said the limitations on them recently have been partially based upon the original nature of vinyl windows that were prone to sagging, warping, failing, and looking bad. Mr. Wright notified the Members the window that was installed is a top of the line window and comes with a guarantee not to discolor, not to sag, not to deform, and should never change its outward appearance. Mr. Wright explained that Ms. Ussler pointed out to him this morning that the structure in question is a circa 1950-early 1960’s apartment that is sided and is a non-contributing resource in the Historic Bethlehem area, and is not one of the historic buildings that are there. Mr. Wright advised if one walks down School Street, New Street, Center Street, Wall Street, Market Street, and Church Street, on every one of those streets one will find multiple houses that have vinyl windows, vinyl clad windows, aluminum replacement windows, or other exceptions that have either been granted by the HARB or were possibly done without the HARB’s knowledge. Mr. Wright highlighted the fact that he is attempting to clean up, take care of, and preserve the area, and keep the appearance consistent with what would appear to be as historically correct as possible. Mr. Wright informed the Members that the house next door is a historical house and it has siding. He added that two doors down is the Trinity Church and they have installed vinyl windows on two sides of the building that are not even of the same type or consistency with the rest of the structure.
President Schweder, stating that Mr. Wright’s points are very well taken, thought that Members of Council need to look at the issue in terms of the HARB on which there have been different members with different philosophies.
Mr. Wright emphasized that, whether it is a wood window or a vinyl window, 50 feet from the window in any direction it is non-visible. He pointed out that, as a result, even if it did appear different it would not be noticeable except in that very small circle, but in this case it is not different.
Sharing Casino Host Fees
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, focusing on the issue of sharing casino host fees, expressed his concern about the process to achieve the formula. Mr. Pfenning noted that, if Bethlehem should receive a casino license and $1.4 million were to be eliminated from the City’s host fee, it would equate to about 1 mill of lost tax revenue. Mr. Pfenning, stating there was no public discussion of this matter, commented that Northampton County Council discussed it at their last meeting, raised concern that they were not consulted, and passed a Resolution. Mr. Pfenning, observing it was pointed out at the Northampton County Council meeting that the County Executive is entitled to make contracts, expressed the assumption that probably the same thing is true in the City. Mr. Pfenning further expressed his concern that City Council did not publicly get involved, and there was no public examination of the issue.
President Schweder, advising that City Council could have probably engaged in the same discussion as Northampton County Council, pointed out it would have the same meaning as their resolution which is nothing. President Schweder informed Mr. Pfenning that, although the Mayor endorsed it, he does not have standing in the debate either since it is ultimately the Pennsylvania General Assembly that makes the determination. President Schweder noted the questions would be more adequately raised with the elected representatives. President Schweder stated that City Council and the City Administration have no standing in the debate.
Mr. Pfenning, stating he would have rather seen a discussion in public about whether or not it is a good idea, said this seemed to all occur in a smoke-filled room behind closed doors. Mr. Pfenning added it is troubling.
Dean Bruch, 555 Spring Street, asked if the City gets a lot of money from the warehouses for the trains that continually go up and down and if it is equitable for the disturbance that is caused by blowing the train whistle day and night.
President Schweder advised that train whistle regulations are established by the Federal government and the City has no jurisdiction over it.
Mr. Bruch thanked the City for assistance with the annual Boutique at the Rink, and expressed the hope that it will continue in the future.
Mr. Bruch asked if the Police Department has received its accreditation.
Francis Donchez, Police Commissioner, advised the Police Department is on schedule and the process takes several years.
Mr. Bruch commended the Fire Department for the job they did in response to recent fires.
Mr. Bruch queried what is the percentage of minority students in the Bethlehem Area School District.
Ms. Dolan commented it is about half of the Allentown percentage that is approximately 60%.
Mr. Bruch, wondering what will happen to the success of the Pennsylvania lottery if the City has a slots casino, felt the Pennsylvania lottery could be hurt. Mr. Bruch added the State is not meeting their obligation and is not giving enough money to the districts.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.