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September 19, 2006 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Town Hall – 10 East Church Street
Tuesday, September 19, 2006 – 9:00 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order.
The Reverend Laura Howell, of Trinity Episcopal Church, 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, Magdalena F. Szabo
and J. Michael Schweder, 7.
Bill No. 23 – 2006 and Bill No. 33 – 2006
President Schweder announced that, under Agenda Item 10, New Ordinances, the following will not be considered this evening: 10 F - Bill No. 33 – 2006 – Amending Article 1159 – Animals, and 10 G - Bill No. 23 – 2006 – Amending Community Development Budget – Comprehensive Plan.
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, two
Public Hearings were
conducted, as follows:
First Public Hearing - The purpose of the 1st Public Hearing was to consider Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to add the definition of Licensed Gaming Facility, to add Licensed Gaming Facilities as a use permitted by right in the IR – Industrial Redevelopment District, to add Shopping Centers as a use permitted by right in the IR – Industrial Redevelopment District, to add a provision to determine the area, yard and building regulations for a Licensed Gaming Facility according to the C-B Commercial Business District criteria set forth in Article 1318.01 and Appendix A, to include Shopping Centers as a use permitted by right in the CS – Shopping Center District, and, to add parking space requirements for Licensed Gaming Facilities in Article 1319 – Off-Street Parking and Loading.
Second Public Hearing - The purpose of the 2nd Public Hearing was to consider the preceding Amendments, in addition to design provisions for a Licensed Gaming Facility, and other definitions and provisions for adult oriented entertainment, pawn shops, massage parlors, Bring Your Own Bottle Clubs, and check cashing operations.
President Schweder called the Public Hearings to order.
Communication 7 A - Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Zoning Ordinance Amendments – Licensed Gaming Facility and Shopping Centers in IR District
The Clerk read a letter dated September 1, 2006 from Olev Taremae, Chief Planner, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC), in which it was stated that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission considered the proposed zoning ordinance amendments at the August 31, 2006 meeting pursuant to the requirements of the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). The Commission voted to return the following comments. The LVPC offers no comments about the proposed zoning ordinance amendments. Licensed gaming facilities and shopping centers greater than 200,000 square feet are land uses of regional significance. Should such facilities be proposed, the LVPC will act in accord with the policies for land uses of regional significance found in the county comprehensive plan.
Mayor John B. Callahan delivered the following comments:
“Tonight, we have to make an important decision. The future of one of the country’s largest brownfield redevelopment tracts is in your hands. The choice you make tonight will affect not only the 124 acres of the BethWorks site, but also will affect the whole of South Bethlehem and the economic fortunes of our entire city.
Our community has had a vigorous and open debate over the last year and three months, a public discourse that is fitting with our community’s deep tradition of dialogue and discussion on important issues. We should all be proud that instead of deeply dividing our community, this issue has brought out the best in our City. People have seen that both sides can passionately debate the issue of gaming and express their views with respect and civility. It makes me proud as a resident and the Mayor of our City to watch our democratic process work. The long-standing tradition of civil discourse is alive and well in Bethlehem, and I want to commend Council President Schweder for the fine job he did last year in conducting the meetings and no doubt will do a great job tonight in conducting this evening’s public hearing.
I have had the fortune and the wonderful opportunity to serve on City Council and know that everyone of you considers this issue very seriously, weighing the pros and the cons before you came to your final decision on how to vote this evening. After all, you all have the very same deep roots in this community that I do.
I speak before you tonight to urge each of you to support this Administration’s and the City of Bethlehem’s Planning Commission recommendations to approve the Ordinances that are before you for First Reading.
It is my strong belief that gaming is the demand generator that can bring to life the comprehensive vision for redevelopment of the old Bethlehem Steel Plant, a bipartisan redevelopment plan that has been shared by the last three Administrations.
My Administration, like the Smith Administration and the Cunningham Administration before me, strongly supports redevelopment and reuse plans for this land. That plan includes multi-use, commercial, office, entertainment, residential and retail uses that preserve and strengthen the historic nature of the site, while making it a regional if not national destination. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has labeled this site one of the 11 most endangered historic sites in the country, and we, too, are concerned about the deteriorating physical structures and the threat to their continued existence absent further redevelopment.
The City of Bethlehem, over three Administrations, has spent more than ten years working with noted developers to try to redevelop and market the land as an historical, multi-use development. The City has put in place significant incentives, both financial and zoning, to lure development and nothing substantial has happened on the site.
I believe that the best way, and probably the only way, to achieve our goals and to turn the BethWorks site into a successful redevelopment that preserves and celebrates the history of the location is to use the economic power of legalized gaming as the catalyst for a new development. Gaming has the ability to generate the economic activity that will provide capital and resources to save the blast furnaces, restore the historic buildings, and secure the integrity of a community vision that was launched more than ten years ago.
Preserving these important historical treasures costs money. There is no other realistic development plan that could generate the investment that would pay to restore and maintain this important part of America’s history. We need to face the fact that historic preservation is costly and it needs a unique development to fund it.
People cannot fathom the enormity of the task in rebuilding and restoring the buildings on the site. The resources and the financial support just don’t exist in this community and will not be subsidized by the state or federal governments or foundations, and without that massive support, certainly Bethlehem Steel tried and failed, it will be impossible.
The BethWorks site is the best location in the City and the Lehigh Valley to accommodate gaming. It is part of the largest brownfield redevelopment project in the country, and not in the middle of suburban greenfields. It is very close to Interstate 78, along a major state highway Route 412 that will soon receive a $70 million up grade, and it is a comfortable distance from any residential housing developments. In addition, the great degree of flexibility afforded under the IR zone makes it the only zoning in Bethlehem that could reasonably support this use.
I like all of you am deeply passionate about making the old Bethlehem Steel Plant a productive part of our community again. It once was home to thousands of workers and the lifeblood of our community, but now it lies blighted and vacant.
Most of the opposition’s argument has centered on the potential negative social consequences resulting from gaming. It is my belief that we all need to come to grips with the fact that gaming is the law of the land in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that no action that we take tonight is going to change that. As the law exists now, even without a slot license being awarded to the Lehigh Valley, which likely will be the case, there will be no fewer than 6 slot locations within an hour and a half’s drive of where I am standing right now. They will literally ring the Lehigh Valley – north, south, east and west: 2 in Philadelphia, 1 in Chester, 1 in Bensalem, 1 outside Harrisburg, and 1 in the Poconos. And, again the very high likelihood that the Lehigh Valley, being the third most populous region in the State and given our close proximity to New Jersey, will be granted a license. So our discussion should center not on whether we have the gaming license in the Lehigh Valley, but rather where best to have gaming in the Lehigh Valley. Where can we put gaming so that it will have the most positive impact?
As I stated last year when this issue was before you, zoning is a tool to plan for the future. It should not be used to deny the future. The first Ordinance before you tonight clears up any ambiguity as to whether gaming is a permitted use on the BethWorks site within the IR zone. This is a critical next step for the project to move forward. The second Ordinance, modeled after the City of Pittsburgh’s gaming Ordinance, addresses even more important issues. It protects the neighborhoods. It protects neighborhoods surrounding the site, and indeed neighborhoods throughout the City from the proliferation of certain uses. First, let me point out that many of these uses unfortunately exist in our community today. While it is not a given that these uses will come to Bethlehem and proliferate, it is important that we put safeguards in place to ensure that they do not. It is important to note that all of these uses discussed tonight are currently allowed in all commercial zones in the City, and it is our goal through this ordinance to limit them without being exclusionary. As you will see from tonight’s presentation, not only have we taken the necessary steps to limit these uses to narrowly defined areas in our City, we have also just as importantly required that they be allowed only by special exception, even within these zones, by the Zoning Hearing Board. This provides yet another level of protection and further limits their presence in our community. The City has thoughtfully considered the potential future impacts of gaming to our community and has responded accordingly. And, I might add, this Ordinance enjoys the full support of BethWorks Now and Las Vegas Sands. Nothing is more important to me or to Bethlehem’s future than the strength of our neighborhoods. By supporting these amendments tonight, we are assuring the protection of neighborhoods not just on the South Side, but the North Side and the West Side as well.
The BethWorks project will drive close to a billion dollars of capital investment in the urban core of our City, provide for the adaptive reuse of existing Steel buildings, preserving the blast furnaces and this community’s sense of place, and commemorating 125 years of steelmaking history in our City, bringing thousands of construction jobs, and as many as 5,000 direct jobs to the South Side where they are needed most. It’s been said that the greatest social program in the world is a job. This project will provide thousands of full-time jobs for this region, giving people a reason to get up in the morning, to go to work, to have pride in themselves, and an opportunity to collect a check at the end of the week to provide for themselves and their family. And with the resulting host fee, we will likely be able to reduce property taxes and deliver better City services to the residents of Bethlehem.
Some have characterized this project as a quick fix or an act of desperation. I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth, and no one is looking for either one of those. The BethWorks Now plan is part of an overall comprehensive plan that brings the former Bethlehem Steel lands, that are nearly 20% of the taxable land mass of the City, back to productive use and back on the tax rolls. Let us remember that the entire site represents 1,800 acres. 1,600 acres, the Bethlehem Commerce Center, are dedicated to rebuilding this City’s industrial tax base and bringing thousands of blue-collar, family-sustaining jobs back to the City. The entire BethWorks plan makes up only 10% of the Bethlehem Steel property, and only 10% of the BethWorks Now plan has any connection to gaming. That’s 1% of the entire Bethlehem Steel property has anything whatsoever to do with gaming. That’s hardly a quick fix or an act of desperation.
Working together we can make sure that we maximize the positive impacts the BethWorks plan will have on our community and minimize any of the potential negative impacts that it may bring. We can embrace our future and remember our past. That is why I urge you to vote for the zoning amendments that are before you this evening.”
Planning Director Comments
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, noted that quite a bit of time was spent by the office staff doing research, compiling provisions and drafting the expanded Zoning Ordinance Amendment before City Council Members this evening. Ms. Heller reviewed the first Zoning Ordinance Amendment that was submitted by the developer. Ms. Heller enumerated that the Amendment defines a licensed gaming facility, and lists it as a permitted use in the IR – Industrial Redevelopment Zoning District. It also clears up a few minor issues. The City Zoning Ordinance defines Shopping Center as three or more retail uses that are integrated into one development. To clear up any confusion, a Shopping Center is listed as part of the permitted uses within the IR – Industrial Redevelopment Zoning District since there will be collection of at least three retail uses at the proposed BethWorks site in South Bethlehem. The provision also clears up the matter within the CS Shopping Center Zoning District in which retail and personal service uses are allowed, including shopping centers. In the IR Zone, there is a section that states that area, yard and building regulations for each proposed use are governed by the most intense applicable zoning districts in which the use is permitted by right. Ms. Heller continued on to explain it is agreed that for this situation that zoning district would be the CB Commercial Business District. Section 4 of the developer’s amendment specifies that clearly. Section 6 of the developer’s amendment addresses parking standards. When the Bureau looked at parking standards for licensed gaming facilities in communities that already have such uses, a broad range of standards was found. Many are based on square footages, and the criteria is based on the maximum square footage of the licensed gaming facility. Ms. Heller stated it is believed that the standard presented by the developer within their proposal is appropriate for the site and no revisions are proposed by Planning. Ms. Heller noted it provides a median of parking spaces required in other communities that were reviewed, and is very similar to the standards required in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Ms. Heller informed the assembly that in the proposal submitted by the developer the Planning Bureau and Planning Commission have no objection to any of the provisions. Ms. Heller explained the concerns were that it was felt the Amendment needed to go well beyond what was submitted by the developer. Ms. Heller, while acknowledging it is felt that a licensed gaming facility is an appropriate use for the IR zone and should be permitted, advised it is felt it should be permitted with standards and criteria to ensure that the facility is well designed, compatible with the surrounding area, is safe, and easy to access, etc.
Ms. Heller, focusing on the Planning Bureau’s Amendment, said the introductory sections are the same. Section 6 of the expanded Planning Bureau’s Amendment allows a licensed gaming facility as a permitted use in the IR zone, but it lists several additional provisions that a licensed gaming facility would need to meet. Ms. Heller stated there should be coordination with the local bus services to minimize trips to the site. Sidewalks need to be provided to allow for pedestrian safety within the site and also to and from the site, and the Bureau wants the site to be connected to the surrounding neighborhoods, and wants people to be able to walk to work on the South Side if needed. There needs to be illumination for security and safety. There are provisions for the amount of landscaping that must be included within the parking area. There are provisions for the exterior design of the principal buildings and the materials that are appropriate. The Planning Bureau’s Amendment also requires that architectural sketches and conceptual sign designs be submitted to the Planning Commission for review and comment. A minimum of 10% of the entire site must be maintained in trees, shrubs, or vegetative ground cover since the Bureau wants to have as much green space on the site as possible. The Bureau’s proposal requires 10 foot landscape plantings along any public street, and buffering of waste storage areas and loading areas, and all utility lines must be in the ground. The Bureau is also encouraging use of crime prevention through environmental design concepts that would address some of the lighting and landscaping of the site, and the Police Department will be participating in that review. Also listed in Section 7 is additional criteria that needs to be met not just for the licensed gaming facility but for any development within the IR District. It addresses street trees, landscaping within surface parking areas, screening of dumpsters, and lighting. It allows for more than one use or building on the lot and must be coordinated. It also allows for development to occur in phases, although those must be coordinated as well, and each phase must be able to stand on its own. Ms. Heller further explained that the Bureau’s Amendment also addresses some nuisances. These uses are currently permitted in Commercial Zoning Districts in the City, but there are little or no provisions for them in the Zoning Ordinance. It is felt the provisions that are being included now add protection for the neighborhoods throughout the City. Included in Section 8 are definitions for adult oriented establishments, checking cashing businesses, massage parlors, and pawn shops. Also included are additional provisions for Bring Your Own Bottle clubs but they are already addressed in other Ordinances. In Section 10, the Amendment specifically outlines provisions for adult oriented establishments and massage parlors. In part one of that section, the purpose is addressed. The Amendment is very strict and conservative in the provisions but it is recognized that the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code does require the City to allow for each of those uses somewhere in the City. Adult oriented establishments and massage parlors are proposed to be permitted in the Heavy Industrial Zone only, and would be permitted only by special exception through review of the Zoning Hearing Board. They are required to be at least 5,000 feet from a licensed gaming facility, at least 1,000 feet from each other, at least 1,000 feet from a Residential District, 1,000 feet from schools, and at least 500 feet from a place of worship, a library, a day care center, public park, playground, or school. Also listed in the Section are other provisions they must adhere to, there must be a 50 foot buffer around the use, signage, etc. not visible from beyond the property lines, and there are quite a few other detailed requirements. The BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) clubs, that are already permitted in the City in the CS Shopping Center Zoning District, are listed in the Amendment and are required to be on a two acre minimum lot size, and to be closed between midnight and 7:00 a.m. The check cashing businesses and pawn shops are proposed to be permitted only in the CS Shopping Center District and CG General Commercial District, and to be closed between midnight and 7:00 a.m. The check cashing businesses and pawn shops are proposed to be permitted only in the CS Shopping Center District and CG General Commercial District. It is required that they be at least 5,000 feet from a licensed gaming facility, and at least 1,000 feet from each other. They would be permitted only by special exception through review of the Zoning Hearing Board, so that residents can comment and participate in the review. Pawn shops, adult oriented establishments, and massage parlors are specifically prohibited in the IR Zoning District. Ms. Heller explained that the Amendment was drafted to limit where these uses can be located, but there were questions about what areas does that leave for development in the City, and she advised that a map was prepared. Ms. Heller noted that the 5,000 foot distance from a licensed gaming facility is about a mile. Ms. Heller, pointing to the map, denoted the Lehigh River which divides North Bethlehem and South Bethlehem. The BethWorks site is just to the South of the Lehigh River and the yellow dot is the site for the proposed licensed gaming facility. In red, to the east, are the bulk of the City’s Heavy Industrial areas that would be the remaining areas from the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s land. Since there are separation distances for uses in Residential Districts from schools, and so on, in red are noted the remaining areas where an adult entertainment use could potentially be located. The largest location is the site of the BethIntermodal project at the Commerce Center. On the very eastern edge of the City on the City line is an area owned by LVIP that the company is trying to potentially save and work with Wildlands Conservancy or some other groups to protect it as open space. To the west is the site of the Conectiv power plant. Other sites closer to Route 412 are the sites of the rail line owned by Lehigh Valley Rail Management. Ms. Heller notified the Members there is only one other spot in the City that is currently zoned HI Heavy Industrial that is where Weldship company is located, and a small portion of the rail line between Weldship and the river. In green are the areas where potentially pawn shops or check cashing facilities could be located that are the CS Shopping Center and CG General Commercial Zoning Districts and beyond the 5,000 foot distances of the licensed gaming facility. Some are located along Stefko Boulevard, and to the northern end of Stefko Boulevard at Easton Avenue. There is a very small CS area on Linden Street, and a couple smaller locations on the western edge in West Bethlehem in the CG zone of West Broad Street. There are areas highlighted in yellow that are in the CS Zoning Districts on the western edge of the City and where BYOB’s could be located. Further explaining that on some of the sites is the core of the CS Zoning District because with a BYOB separation distances are required between residential properties, Ms. Heller said if a shopping center abuts a residential zoning district then it could only locate at the core of the site. Ms. Heller notified the Members that right now these uses are permitted in all the Commercial Zoning Districts, and are permitted by right so there is no public review before the Zoning Hearing Board or any other public body. This does restrict their locations, and allows a more open, public process so that residents can participate in determining where a use is to be permitted.
Marc Brookman, with the law firm of Duane Morris, said he is at the meeting this evening on behalf of the landowners who have petitioned the City to amend the Zoning Code to clarify certain issues that pertain to what is hoped will be a gaming facility in the City of Bethlehem. Attorney Brookman, informing the Members that with him this evening is Tim Baker who is the director of development, said Mr. Baker will briefly summarize the presentation that was made recently to the Planning Commission during which a sketch plan was submitted for review and comment. Attorney Brookman, noting some Members of Council and of the community were there, stated many members of the community and the other Members of Council were not there so Mr. Baker is going to go over the presentation to provide an overview of the proposed facility and the BethWorks site.
Mr. Baker, pointing to the overall site photograph, stated it tries to put the phase one application for the licensed gaming facility into context with the rest of the BethWorks site and the river. He noted the casino development, with retail, and associated parking, hotel, and cinema uses near the Minsi Trail Bridge. He further noted the Machine Shop No. 2, high house, Minsi Trail Bridge, foundry, downtown in South Bethlehem and North Bethlehem. Mr. Baker said this is a simple use plan of the development currently proposed, and is currently being updated in the evolution of the project. Mr. Baker stated the casino development is on the east side of the Minsi Trail Bridge, a parking structure is further to the east up against the boundary, the retail, food, and beverage components are near the Minsi Trail Bridge going westward towards Machine Shop No. 2. Joined to that are hotel developments, multi-purpose space that could be used for expos, performances, and concerts, as well as a multi-plex cinema facility. Mr. Baker then turned to some photographs of the model which shows the building proposals in context with a larger master plan proposal. It showed the parking structure, the main casino building, the ore bridge, high house to the north, the roof of the retail development, Machine Shop No. 2, and the blast furnaces to the west. He then turned to the area of Daly Avenue, Route 412, Minsi Trail Bridge, the development underneath the Minsi Trail Bridge linking to the retail, hotel, cinema, and multi-purpose space with parking to the north. He showed another view of the main retail development, the hotel component, and public access routes through the retail and into the food and beverage area, and the casino space. Mr. Baker noted the main drop-off area mainly from Route 412 on the South Side turning in from I-78. Mr. Baker, stating these are the drawings that were discussed and presented to the Planning Commission, said following that meeting they received a number of comments. Mr. Baker explained that the proposals are being currently updated to reflect input from some of those issues onto the drawings. The developers are looking at landscape improvements, internal circulation, improvements to pedestrian connections, and the greenway. They are also looking at an environmental approach to implement into the project, and looking at the building through its life cycle from design, transportation, construction, operation, and technology.
Ms. Dolan, noting she received two e-mails that mentioned if Council voted for this change tonight it would allow gambling at the current Lowe’s site on Eighth Avenue, asked Ms. Heller to comment.
Ms. Heller stated the Zoning Amendment allows a licensed gaming facility as a permitted use in the IR Industrial Redevelopment zone. The Lowe’s site is zoned IR; however, it is not up to the City of Bethlehem to determine where licensed gaming facilities will be located in the City because that is up to the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission. There are only a certain number of sites before the State Gaming Commission, one of which is at the BethWorks property, and is the only site that is available for a licensed gaming facility in the City of Bethlehem.
Ms. Dolan asked if Ms. Heller knows what the laws are concerning the distance that must be between licensed gaming facilities. Ms. Heller advised she is not certain of the distance.
Fred Krauss, with Las Vegas Sands, responding there are two distances, noted there is a space separation from Category 1 licenses and Category 2 licenses, and there are 20 and 25 mile distances set forth in the Act. Mr. Krauss explained if a site is licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board at the BethWorks site, it would be an impossibility under the law to have another site in Bethlehem.
Ms. Dolan commented that some residents have mentioned that if the Ordinance were passed check cashing facilities would be allowed inside the casinos, and asked that the matter be clarified.
Mr. Krauss stated that is specifically referenced in the regulations of the Gaming Control Board and they specify precisely the checks that can be cashed inside the casino so it is a matter controlled by State law. In further response to Ms. Dolan, Mr. Krauss said they are much more restrictive and include a number of different types of checks; e.g., welfare checks.
Ms. Dolan, recalling she had some discussions on whether passage of the Ordinance would unintentionally encourage noxious uses in other areas of the City, observed some facilities such as check cashing facilities already exist on Fourth Street and on Stefko Boulevard.
Ms. Heller stated what was not shown on the map are existing pawn shops and check cashing facilities, and the map also does not show separation distances from churches and schools that would apply to adult entertainment. Ms. Heller advised there is a separation distance of 1,000 feet required between check cashing facilities and pawn shops and would apply to existing uses as well. Ms. Heller added the Amendment is written in such a way that would prohibit a proliferation within any one specific area.
Ms. Dolan inquired whether any decisions were rendered by the Law Bureau regarding recommendations of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.
Ms. Heller, responding that the proposal before Council is the one that was submitted to the Planning Commission, said the section was not amended except to include those as special exception uses rather than permitted uses. Ms. Heller, adding it was felt those uses were tightened, pointed out that right now those uses can go in any Commercial Zoning District, and now they are limited to where they can go in two Commercial Districts, and there is a separation distance between them.
Ms. Dolan communicated it was her understanding that changes were still being discussed and might be considered when the Comprehensive Plan is reviewed.
Ms. Heller replied that can be done.
Ms. Dolan, pointing out there were concerns about bus traffic, ingress, egress, and parking, asked whether the developers have looked at how buses will move through the site, and ensuring that buses will not be parked on the South Side.
Mr. Baker responded the developers have been actively reviewing the design, and a number of areas have been identified for holding buses within the site. Access from Route 412 is being reviewed in conjunction with recommendations from PennDot for one entry point, and the intention is to provide additional circulation within the site.
Ms. Dolan communicated her understanding that Act 71, the primary gambling law, holds developers of casinos to the plans that have been seen, to following the Zoning laws, and to the promises or expectations laid out at the hearings, and asked if that is correct.
Mr. Krauss, replying yes, said it is actually the regulation issued by the Gaming Control Board that provides that the plans presented for the licensing hearing are the plans that have to be built absent amendments that the Gaming Control Board approves. Mr. Krauss continued on to observe the rationale behind the rule is that a licensing decision is being based on what is represented to the Board, and there has to be some finality to the plans. As part of the developer’s license application and in fulfilling a promise made to City Council last year, included as an attachment to the developer’s gaming license application is the letter that was submitted to City Council.
Ms. Szabo, turning to Section 1319.01 (a) (35) – Adult Oriented Establishment or Massage Parlor, questioned where are Adult Oriented Establishments and Massage Parlors now allowed.
Ms. Heller responded they are not specifically addressed in the Ordinance. Consequently, Ms. Heller advised if it is not stated where they are specifically permitted that is a problem, and opens the matter up to challenge, and having a property owner or developer determine through the courts where they are permitted. Ms. Heller continued on to point out that the department wants to create some safeguards and protections so there is not a flood of uses.
Mr. Donchez noted that Mr. Krauss made reference to the letter dated September 14, 2005 containing 14 points that was signed by Mr. Perrucci and others and was an addendum to the developer’s gaming application that was discussed a year ago at the City Council Meeting held at Broughal Middle School. Mr. Donchez asked the time frame for completion of phase one.
Mr. Krauss, advising one of the requirements for the licensing hearing is to present a timeline for construction, said the developers are presently discussing it and have targeted 18 months.
Mr. Donchez inquired if there would be construction of other phases separate from phase one that would be the casino.
Mr. Krauss responded the developers have it set out in phases, and have entered into option agreements for public and charitable entities including National Museum for Industrial History, local public television, ArtsQuest, and Northampton Community College. Mr. Krauss noted their timetables are not known. Mr. Krauss further communicated that, in response to the sketch plan submission comments received from the Planning Commission, there could be some access to the principal site from the phase two site. Mr. Krauss explained the developers thoughts are that before they would start building phase two they want to see what phase one results in. Adding that they think phase one will be a driver for the rest of the site, Mr. Krauss said their application to the Gaming Control Board is for what Council sees here tonight described as phase one. The Gaming Control Board has also been informed of the construction plans of the charitable entities, although the developer does not control their timetables.
Michael Perrucci, one of the developers of the site, said in addition to phase one which includes the gaming hall, hotel, convention center, about 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, it is anticipated that the developers would also move forward on the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation Sales General Office (SGO) building and would work closely with ArtsQuest to do their $40 million performing arts center. Mr. Perrucci continued on to say it is also believed that the National Museum for Industrial History would move forward. The public television station has done a fund raiser and the developers are working with them to get the Channel 39 live audience and studios in the area. Then, from the SGO building the developers hopefully would move west. Mr. Perrucci said it is his personal opinion and he has always represented that he felt if the gaming license were approved which is the economic engine then the project would move forward over a 65 month period. Mr. Perrucci added there are approximately 1,000 to 1,200 loft apartments that the developers anticipate building on the site.
Mr. Donchez, recalling that a year ago there were discussions about balancing economic development with some historical preservation, expressed it is not economically sound to keep all of the Bethlehem Steel properties in view of the fact that the integrity of many of the buildings are being compromised. Recounting that 17 was mentioned as the number of possible buildings that would be renovated and incorporated into the project, including the former Main Office Building, Mr. Donchez asked if that is still the intent.
Mr. Perrucci replied “I think the letter that we signed last year when we represented our position to the Council, we’ve made that an attachment to the Gaming Control Board. My understanding is, as Mr. Krauss has indicated, that’s our representation in terms of finality, and we have to adhere to that…I believe we’ve indicated…approximately 23 of the 33 existing Steel buildings are going to be preserved…”.
Mr. Donchez asked how many spaces would be on the surface lot for cars and the holding area for buses.
Mr. Baker responded that currently the sketch plan submission contained in the license application from December 2005 reflects a total number of 5,831 spaces. The surface lots to be north and west of phase one contain about 1,650 spaces. The parking structure to the east of the casino contains about 4,190 spaces. Currently, because of the input during the Planning Commission meeting and from PennDot regarding circulation, some of the spaces will be lost because of additional landscape and so on and some area may be lost to a dedicated self-holding area. Mr. Baker stressed the numbers are not finalized. Turning to bus parking, Mr. Baker noted the area may hold from 60 to 90 or 100 buses in a holding area that will be within the site.
The following individuals spoke in favor of Bill No. 28 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1313, 1317A and 1319 – Licensed Gaming Facilities and Retail; and Bill No. 29 – 2006 - Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1311, 1313, 1317, 1317A, 1318 and 1319 – Regulating Licensed Gaming Facilities, Providing Additional Regulations in the IR Zoning District, and Regulating Adult Oriented Establishments, Pawn Shops, Bring Your Own Bottle Clubs, and Check Cashing Operations:
Roger Hudak, 1256 East Fifth Street
Richard Guarino, 3124 Washington Street, Bethlehem Township
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street
The following individuals spoke in opposition to Bill No. 28 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1313, 1317A and 1319 – Licensed Gaming Facilities and Retail; and Bill No. 29 – 2006 - Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1311, 1313, 1317, 1317A, 1318 and 1319 – Regulating Licensed Gaming Facilities, Providing Additional Regulations in the IR Zoning District, and Regulating Adult Oriented Establishments, Pawn Shops, Bring Your Own Bottle Clubs, and Check Cashing Operations:
Joe Travato, 2641 Madison Avenue
Arnaldo Ortiz, 1618 East Sixth Street
Jimmy Perez, 1436 East Fifth Street
Nancy Matuczinski, 716 Sixth Avenue
Darlene Schneck, 118 West Greenwich Street
Beverly Matchett, 1732 Jefferson Avenue
Judith Ruth, 2017 Ridgelawn Avenue
John Angelucci, 359 Tenth Avenue
Randy Toman, 359 Tenth Avenue
Fred Bonsall, 437 High Street
John Guido, 4984 Preakness Place, Bethlehem Township
Heidi Stonesifer, 245 Biery’s Bridge Road
Larry Burd, 3659 Michigan Court, Bethlehem Township
Joanne Haines, 65 West Market Street
Martin Romeril, 26 West Market Street
Robert Romeril, 26 West Market Street
Sam Liberto, 4629 Kathi Drive
Robert Rentler, 1721 Elm Street
Martha Popichak, 1032 Main Street
Dawn Benner, 240 East Wall Street
David Freeman, 555 Spring Street
Bruce Haines, 65 West Market Street
Sis-Obed Torres Cordero, 612 Prospect Avenue
Nick Hess, 1504 Butztown Road
Angel Sotomayor, 610 West Union Boulevard
Jonathan Davies, 2030 Kemmerer Street
Charles Lyman, 444 North New Street
Florence Kimball, 1715 Elm Street
Stephen Frey, 2429 Main Street, Whitehall
Janice Forero, 2830 West Boulevard
Robert Rowe, 2640 Madison Avenue
Marilyn Hartman, 931 High Street
Angel Rivera,1180 Railroad Street
James Carrigan, 100 West Macada Road
Danielle Hakim, 450 Carlton Avenue
Rick Forero, 2830 West Boulevard
Bob Stevens, 204 East Market Street
Allison Stevens, 204 East Market Street
Mark Riegel, 2727 Middletown Road
Jim Rostrosky, Lehigh University student
Bonnie Dodge, Northampton
Rick Williamson, Lower Saucon Township
Resident, West Lehigh Street
Don Emory, 952 West Macada Road
Mike Long, 161 Wedgewood Road
Kevin Lexo, 831 Center Street
Patricia Sunny, 543 West Third Street
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street
Resident, 450 Carlton Avenue
Karen Zaun, 621 Seventh Avenue
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue
Roy Gruver, 415 North New Street
Josh Ogden, 232 East Ettwein Street
Mike Bachman, 618 Eleventh Avenue
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 11:57 p.m.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of September 5, 2006 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances
and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Establishing Article 1314.B – CMU - Commercial Mixed Uses Zoning District and Rezoning Parcels Along Eighth Avenue, Eaton Avenue and Schoenersville Road to CMU District
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, noting he had conversations with residents who live south of Eaton Avenue about rezoning the area to a Commercial Mixed Use Zoning District in the vicinity of Eighth Avenue, said the prevailing view is that it is going to make life more difficult for them. Adding it is difficult presently for them to get onto Eaton Avenue from the side streets or from their driveways, Mr. Scheirer explained they feel that nothing they say will make any difference so the only thing they can do is move. Mr. Scheirer, asserting it is an attitude that exists in many places of the City, stated it is one of the reasons why the Bethlehem Citizens Association was founded. Mr. Scheirer stressed the only way to change this attitude is for City Council to show that it cares.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, focusing on houses in the Eighth Avenue area proposed to be rezoned to a Commercial Mixed Use Zoning District, communicated one should ask would they want the potential retail uses that the proposed rezoning could bring. Mr. Grubb remarked there is no plan because if there were the City would be following it, and said the Comprehensive Plan is only used when convenient. Instead, Mr. Grubb asserted the shotgun approach is used, and exemplified the results are a Wawa on Easton Avenue, McDonald’s on Wyandotte Street, CVS on Broadway, mishmash of building designs on Macada Road and Linden Street, care facilities at Oakland Road, Linden Street, and Johnston Drive, and a strip mall in the 100 block of East Third Street. Mr. Grubb questioned when City officials are going to concern themselves more with the already established residents rather than those who develop for their own financial interests, and whether growing the tax base is so important that residents must suffer the consequences of noise, traffic, litter, and lighting. Mr. Grubb did not see how creating a new retail area does not become a destination for more than the immediate neighborhoods, and wondered what is the City trying to fix with the introduction of retail uses and six story buildings and why. Mr. Grubb stressed that residents do not believe their opinions matter, and added that the people of Bethlehem usually know what is best for their City.
The Meeting was recessed 12:10 a.m. and was reconvened at 12:20 a.m.
B. Business Administrator – 2007 Preliminary Budget Estimate – Pension Plans
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 15, 2006 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, listing estimates of the financial requirements of the Police, Fire, Officers and Employees, and PMRS pension plans, and minimum municipal contribution to the plans for 2007 budget purposes, as required under Act 205.
President Schweder advised that the item is for information only at this time.
C. City Solicitor – Street Vacation – Portion of Greenleaf Street
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 15, 2006 from John F. Spirk, Jr., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed ordinance to effect the vacation of a portion of Greenleaf Street from Best Place westward to a dead end. If there are utility service lines located in the right-of-way of that portion of Greenleaf Street to be vacated, it is the Solicitor's Office position that, prior to final passage of the vacation ordinance, the utilities involved receive easements from Ashley Development Corporation insuring the continuance of the utilities' right to maintain the lines currently in place.
President Schweder stated that Bill No. 34 - 2006 is listed on the Agenda for First Reading.
D. Business Administrator – Reorganization – Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 15, 2006 to which was attached a proposed reorganization at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Public Works Committee.
A. President of Council
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Leeson, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held September 13, 2006 on the following subjects: Insurance Policies Review; First Half 2006 Budget Reviews; City Vehicles Report; Overtime Reports; Pension Funds Review; Transfer of Funds – Mechanical Bureau – Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Compliance Officer – Salary; Transfer of Funds – Police Department – General Overtime; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – HOME Investment Trust; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program; Amending General Fund Budget – Pandemic Flu Grant; Transfer of Funds – Traffic Maintenance Bureau – Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Engineering Bureau – Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Streets Bureau – Overtime; Amending Water Capital Budget – Water Treatment Plant – Improvement Engineering/Construction – Filters; Transfer of Funds – Water Treatment Plant – Roof Replacement; Transfer of Funds – Water Capital Budget – Commercial/Industrial Meters; Transfer of Funds – Sewer Fund Budget – Wastewater Treatment – Chemicals and Equipment Maintenance; Transfer of Funds – Sewer Capital Budget – Emergency Change Orders; Repair of Dystor Cover; Transfer of Funds – Wastewater Treatment Plant – Department Contracts; Transfer of Funds – City Council – Timer Equipment; Transfer of Funds – City Clerk’s Office – Adding Data Base Users.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 27 – 2006 – Establishing Article 1314.B – CMU - Commercial Mixed Uses Zoning District and Rezoning Parcels Along Eighth Avenue, Eaton Avenue and Schoenersville Road to CMU District
The Clerk read Bill No. 27 - 2006, Establishing Article 1314.B – CMU Commercial Mixed Uses Zoning District and Rezoning Parcels Along Eighth Avenue, Eaton Avenue and Schoenersville Road to CMU District, on Final Reading.
President Schweder, stating he will be voting no on the Bill, noted there were a number of individuals who wanted to speak to the issue this evening but were unable to remain at the Meeting, and there are concerns in the neighborhood.
Ms. Dolan commented that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission received the traffic study and their concerns are alleviated. Ms. Dolan pointed out that Dennis Benner, a developer, has agreed to increase the size of the berm from 3 feet to 5 feet that would provide significantly more adequate protection to the neighboring residents.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo,
and Mr. Leeson, 5. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Schweder,
2. Bill No. 27 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance
4391, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES:
A. Bill No. 28 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1313, 1317A and 1319 – Licensed Gaming Facilities and Retail
The Clerk read Bill No. 28 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1313, 1317A and 1319 – Licensed Gaming Facilities and Retail, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLES 1302, 1313, 1317A
AND 1319 OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS AMENDED, ENTITLED
DEFINITIONS, C-S SHOPPING CENTER DISTRICT, I-R
INDUSTRIAL REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT, AND OFF-STREET
PARKING AND LOADING, TO CLARIFY AND ADD PROVISIONS
FOR LICENSED GAMING FACILITIES AND RETAIL
President Schweder stated he would accept comment on both Bills 28 and 29 at this time from the Members of Council.
Mrs. Belinski, advising she will vote in favor of the Bills, affirmed she has been on the Finance Committee for nine years and informed the assembly that the City owes $359 million in principal and interest for debt payments. In addition, there will be a cost of $4 million to rebuild the filters at the Water Filtration Plant, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant needs from $30 to $50 million for upgrades and expansion. Mrs. Belinski highlighted the fact that every year salaries of workers go up, and medical expenses rise so that new development is just keeping up with those costs. Mrs. Belinski expressed her wish that Moravian College and Lehigh University paid their fair share of the taxes. Mrs. Belinski stated the City needs the money that the casino will bring in. Mrs. Belinski denoted that some Police candidates accept jobs in Bethlehem Township because the Township can afford to pay them $11,000 more in starting salary than the City can afford to pay. Mrs. Belinski continued on to point out that every City Department is short-handed. Mrs. Belinski, affirming that the seats and carpeting in Town Hall were recently finally replaced after 40 years, stressed the rest of City Hall needs a lot of work but the City does not have the money. Noting that City taxes went up 20% in the last two years, Mrs. Belinski communicated they will go up another 20%. Questioning where does it end, Mrs. Belinski said she does not know how long the City can keep this up. Mrs. Belinski confirmed she has been to the Venetian in Las Vegas and they are rated the top, it is the best casino to work in, and has child care for employees. Mrs. Belinski further advised she has visited Atlantic City and their Chamber of Commerce. Focusing on a survey on gambling’s effect in Atlantic City done by Rutgers University, Mrs. Belinski pointed out it brought more money than expected, created more and better paying jobs, and the positives far outweighed the negatives. Mrs. Belinski continued on to enumerate that a new convention hall, a new medical center, a new fire station, a new train station, a new bus terminal, and a new high school were built. Turning to Bethlehem Steel, Mrs. Belinski stressed if it were not for the company building a ship a day during World War II the attendees would not be here to voice their opinions freely. Stating she does not want to see the former Bethlehem Steel buildings crumbling and rusting away, Mrs. Belinski noted they cannot all be saved but part of that history can be saved, and said it is just as important as the Moravian industrial center. Mrs. Belinski, observing that some attendees are not from Bethlehem and may not want a casino, communicated she does not think there is a choice.
Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that municipalities must
provide a location for all legal uses, including those they
do not like, whether they be pawn shops, bars, massage parlors,
predatory lenders, all of which are in Bethlehem now, or a
casino. Ms. Dolan denoted that the proposed Ordinance regulates
those uses and their placement. Ms. Dolan, explaining she
was undecided about the issue, and as a candidate she had
the convenience of exploring the options, said she believed
it was her duty to study the effect of gambling as opposed
to reaching conclusions based on common knowledge, anecdotal
evidence, or opinions. Ms. Dolan advised a resource she found
was the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. She learned
there are those who can gamble responsibly and those who cannot,
and the most dramatic increase in gambling over the last 23
years was seen in people 65 years or older, and younger people
gamble smaller amounts than senior citizens. The average American
gambler spends 0.74% of income on gambling. Noting the proximity
to a casino measured at 50 miles or less more than doubles
the chances of a person becoming a problem gambler, Ms. Dolan
observed that whether a casino is in Bethlehem, Allentown,
or the Poconos everyone will feel the negative social effects.
Ms. Dolan continued on to note that 2.5% of American gamblers
are problem and/or pathological gamblers as compared to 7%
of Americans who drink who become problem or pathological
drinkers. Pointing out that no one she knows of fought the
development of Starters Riverport pub that is Bethlehem’s
largest bar on moral grounds, Ms. Dolan stressed that the
human and societal costs of drinking are so much greater than
gambling. She pointed out that bankruptcies, negative health
indicators, and crime are unchanged in communities proximate
to casinos because job opportunities and population go up
creating a balancing effect, unemployment and welfare decline
by about one-seventh, and per capita income stays the same.
Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that the first race track where
gambling was openly practiced in North America was in Brooklyn
in 1665, and all thirteen original colonies established lotteries
to raise revenue that was considered a civic responsibility.
Proceeds helped to establish some of the nation’s oldest
and most prestigious universities including Harvard, Yale,
Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton, and William and Mary, and
to build churches, libraries, and public works projects. Ms.
Dolan said many of her City Council colleagues have expressed
support of the BethSands casino for the same reasons the founding
fathers supported gambling that is to raise revenue for civic
improvements because years of efforts to market the sale of
the BethWorks site, where the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation
operations were located, failed. Ms. Dolan questioned can
a casino be designed that fits in with the enormous scale
of the remaining Bethlehem Steel site and yet does not detract
from the recent past of an industrial look and that does not
degrade the river or the community. Pointing out that Act
71, the Pennsylvania gambling law, requires any licensed casino
operator to follow all local zoning codes and deliver on their
promises, Ms. Dolan said the BethSands corporation will be
required to submit plans that look like those already shown
for a casino and looks like it fits in South Side Bethlehem.
Ms. Dolan stated she has faith in the Planning Commission,
in the BethSands director of development who brings experience
in restoration and historic adaptive reuse and who has shown
plans that are innovative and appropriate, and in the executive
and legislative branches of government who have everything
to gain by making it a project that fits Bethlehem, and spurs
the rebirth of one of the nation’s largest brownfields
into a tax and job generating gem in the urban core of the
City. Ms. Dolan enumerated that the development would provide
places to shop, to visit, to stay, to work, to learn at the
new Northampton County Area Community College campus, view
old and new architecture, listen to music, and to gamble as
a form of entertainment for those individuals. Ms. Dolan expressed
she is on the side of more jobs, redevelopment of brownfields,
and a vibrant urban core. Communicating she does not agree
that one slots parlor will turn Bethlehem into Sodom and Gomorrah,
Ms. Dolan said she is voting yes.
Mr. Leeson recalled that one year ago he and Councilman Mowrer proposed a Zoning Amendment to effectively prohibit gambling in Bethlehem but it was not successful. Mr. Leeson continued on to recall that after the vote he made a number of public statements primarily for the gambling interests to hear to see how they would conduct themselves with respect to the planning and development process. Mr. Leeson recounted one of the things he said was it is now incumbent upon the developers to proceed in a responsible manner and to take the legally unenforceable letter and the other representations that had been made and to convert them into some legally binding agreements. Mr. Leeson noted he had said if the process were to proceed then it should be a good process and it should be done right. Mr. Leeson illustrated what has happened since that time is what has not happened here and what has happened elsewhere with other applicants. Mr. Leeson observed that other gambling applicants in the State have gone through the zoning process and have gotten their zoning addressed, and have gone through the land development process and made their written binding agreements. Querying how has BethSands approached this process in order to back up its representations to the community, Mr. Leeson said “the answer is they have not.” Mr. Leeson, referring to remarks made earlier, commented one of the strategies is to invest as little as possible in the community that has happened. By way of contrast, Mr. Leeson stated in Allentown the applicant made legally enforceable agreements concerning funding of municipal facilities, equipment, and a variety of things. He continued on to say in Pittsburgh the developer made legally enforceable commitments to build a sports arena. Mr. Leeson communicated he had said “give us doubters some tangible examples to bind you to what you say you’re going to do.” Mr. Leeson expressed “where we are today is a lack of attention to detail, we’re being asked to do it fast but not do it right, we’re being asked to accept a lot of communications through very big spending on public relations efforts, and accept at face value that we are going to do these things yet they refuse to make them legally enforceable, and there’s been a maximum focus on public relations with a minimum focus on making legally enforceable commitments.” Mr. Leeson observed, while he did not anticipate this last year, whoever thought in Bethlehem that legislation would have to be passed to deal with massage parlors, sexual activities, specified anatomical areas, viewing booths both enclosed and not enclosed, live actual or simulated sex acts, lap dancing, and so on. Mr. Leeson, expressing he understands that the intent of the second Zoning Ordinance is to address these things which he added is an implicit implied admission that this is what one gets with gambling, remarked one of the puzzling things is the point that the high school teacher made which is what kind of a message do we send that we safely insulate the casino with 5,000 feet but churches and other institutions with 500 feet and 1,000 feet. Mr. Leeson asserted such things belong with the casino rather than elsewhere, as much as he would like to see it nowhere. Mr. Leeson, remarking if that were not enough on the trust issue, pulled out the sketch plan submitted to the Planning Commission and said “wouldn’t you think if you were going to put your name on something and submit it as part of the land development process that you’d want to make it with an eye towards some detail, and an eye towards addressing the issues that have been raised with respect to things talked about in the community as well as in City Council at the debate last year; for example, parking…buses…transportation issues.” Mr. Leeson, while acknowledging it is a preliminary sketch plan in concept of what is proposed, observed he counted about 10 spaces for buses. Continuing on to say a lot is heard about “intentions” and the fact that “it’s not designed yet; it will be dealt with,” Mr. Leeson said the translation is “trust us.” Mr. Leeson advised his objection to gambling is not on moral grounds. Mr. Leeson, further expressing that while he kept an open mind to see how the developers would conduct themselves over the last twelve months and they have disappointed him, said he remains opposed to it for the reasons he expressed last year which include “why do we want to introduce a new form of addictive disease into our community, gambling addiction; why do we want to invite in a business that preys on the poor and the handicapped, and the vulnerable who are susceptible to the get rich quick illusion of gambling.” Mr. Leeson, focusing on the issue about the economic suction effect of gambling from the economy, stressed there is only a limited pool of money in any economy, and there is only a limited pool of money in every household which now is either saved or spent on local businesses. Mr. Leeson asserted the suction effect of that money is going to come from other businesses somewhere else in the community. Mr. Leeson pointed out one of the very troubling trends in gambling is the marketing efforts to focus on young people which is the single largest growing customer base of the gambling, with slot machines being the single most addictive form of gambling. He queried what happened to the Planning Commission recommendation that a comprehensive community impact study be done so that if gambling were to be done it would be done right, and not do it fast. Highlighting the fact that once the Ordinance would be passed by City Council it is removed from Council’s hands and it is turned over to the Administration and the Planning Bureau to run the process, Mr. Leeson said quite frankly he does not think they will be as scrutinizing as the Council would be, and added there have been multiple examples in the past. Mr. Leeson stated on the whole he would say that the theme of his remarks last year which he still thinks is true this year is “gambling for Bethlehem, bad for people, bad for business.” Mr. Leeson commented that, regrettably, the developers have had a year to try to do something of a tangible concrete nature other than public relations to try to build trust and they failed. Mr. Leeson said “if we do this tonight, and if we make what, in my view, will be a mistake, we can’t reverse it. We can’t go back once there’s a license [and] kick them out and say oh, sorry, we made a mistake. It’s basically irreversible. I haven’t changed my position from last year. I was willing to keep an open mind and to see whether they could do something that would give me reason to believe well I lost the fight last year and maybe I need to reconsider but no, it has not happened, so I will be voting no.”
Ms. Szabo said tonight as in all of the hearings various concerns have been heard. Ms. Szabo continued on to say at each hearing she waited to hear someone say “I’m concerned about what is happening today: drugs, alcohol, etc. I wait to hear someone say we are going to make a determined effort to do something about it. No one did. Will rejecting a casino make our problems go away. Will rejecting a casino make our problems stop growing. I say no. Every time we have a hearing on any subject for change we stir up fear for the future. Will a casino in Allentown be a benign experience for our community. I fear not. We have to face the facts. No one wants to develop brownfields…We have to make a determined effort to pinpoint the cause of problems. Why kids start drugs. Why far too many people are not accepting responsibility for their own actions. All the concern about the young people on the South Side are those people [who] probably meant their remarks sincerely…[but] no one offered to start a girl scout troop or a boy scout troop…It is not the responsibility of Sands to solve our problems. It is our responsibility. As far as talking about additional massage parlors, pawn shops, etc. that fits right in with fear of change rather than reality…This is a hard thing. But nobody’s coming up with any real answers…everybody says…get something better. For twelve years we’ve been trying to get something better and as I said before we have to realize that brownfields do not bring in developers. And, the longer that property lays there the more the handicap it is to us not only financially but you’re concerned about what the people down the hill look at [in] the neighborhood, and from Donegan School will see a casino there, but nobody’s concerned that we’re now looking at these rotting buildings which are being pirated by people walking in and stealing the metal from stripping the walls of the buildings causing all kinds of damage down there. And that is what we should continue to look at? We want the site developed. And what difference does the bright lights of a casino make. To some people bright lights are a joy, it’s activity, its lights. And, again, we’re flashing Las Vegas. Well let me tell you one thing, the first question I asked was how are we going to pay and get all the necessary electricity for this…Before the first casino could be built [in Atlantic City] we had to build an electric company for that. We’re not going to be flashing all over the place because PP&L can’t do it. We’re just letting ourselves be blocked by any change. We’re afraid of change of our littleness that we built in the world…We can do better. We can work together, and I ask you to let us all start to work together for a better Bethlehem…[and] not have people from out of state provide money to fight everything that goes on.”
Mr. Mowrer said since he is the only clergy on board he guesses he should say something “clergy so I’m saying amen to what brother Jay had to say today. I value greatly what his thoughts are. I recognize there are some things about this that are good, and I need to acknowledge that. I certainly like the idea of the new shopping area, and upgraded area. I like the idea of the restoration of the Bethlehem Steel buildings,…and I like the idea [of] the taxes that it will bring in. And, going back to when I was Mayor, we tried desperately to find ways in which we could bring new tax dollars to try to relieve the taxes as far as home owners and real estate are valued at. I also value job opportunities where we can employ additional people in our community. So, there are things that I do value, and recognize, and acknowledge, and I wish well with that. But, I’m troubled by a whole lot of other things. I’m very frankly troubled by all the public hearings we’ve had. When we say we want to hear what the public has to say, every public meeting that I attended was outnumbered with people who were against gambling compared to those who were for gambling, including tonight when I think we had two speak on behalf of gambling and everyone else spoke against it and we totally ignored what they had to say, at least it appears to me that we have, and we’re voting in the opposite direction. But that was also true in the public hearings that we had in the various places where people came out…We say we want the public opinion but we don’t always listen to it. I’m troubled by the fact that I’ve talked to the representatives that are here tonight as recently as less than a week ago and said one of the things that bothers me is the fact that you people said this will bring 400 buses a day and 10,000 cars, and I’ve never seen an answer to how you’re going to handle those 400 buses and those 10,000 cars…I don’t care who comes in with that amount of traffic, I’m going to be upset because I don’t think we are able to handle it. I’m concerned over the fact that we even acknowledge the fact that a casino will bring things like pawn shops and massage shops, and adult book stores. And, I, as clergy, particularly am not excited about that. And, if they don’t come and we zone them out of the area where the casinos are, then we’re saying go somewhere else in the City and spread that. It’s an addiction as well. I’m very disturbed by the problem of addiction, and I deal with them all the time in the churches that I’ve been a part of. And, of course, we’ve all read about the Lehigh student who was gambling and others that are going into that. So, I’m troubled by a lot of things. I don’t think there’s an easy answer. I’m listening to what the people said tonight, and I will continue as I have in the past to vote no.”
Mr. Donchez stated his opinion today is exactly the same as his comments were twelve months ago. Mr. Donchez recalled approximately 11 years ago, Bethlehem Steel officials presented to him and other City officials their plans for Bethlehem Works. Mr. Donchez continued on to say, as many know, it was a very ambitious plan with movie theatres, an I-Max theatre, national history museum, and restaurants just to name a few. Mr. Donchez observed that, Mr. Barnette, to his credit, made a commitment to try to have a balance between economic development and historical preservation. Mr. Donchez noted that, unfortunately, as some of his colleagues have said, 11 years later despite millions of dollars spent by Bethlehem Steel and $50 million spent by the City of Bethlehem for new sidewalks, lights, and streets, no development has taken place on the site. Mr. Donchez said he personally has not seen one serious proposal until Mr. Perrucci purchased the property and made his plan public two years ago. Mr. Donchez communicated that, in his opinion, Mr. Perrucci and his partners have presented a plan for economic development along with balanced historical preservation. Mr. Donchez said he would hope that if a license is awarded to the City of Bethlehem that the City would have a true partnership between the Sands, the City, and Mr. Perrucci and, as the project enters the planning stages, with the Administration and the Planning Commission. Mr. Donchez continued on to express as each day goes by the integrity of the existing Steel properties is being compromised. Highlighting the fact that the property is a brownfield, Mr. Donchez stressed it would take a tremendous amount of money for demolition and for new renovation and construction. Observing he is sure the cost is much higher than it was last year, Mr. Donchez recalled he asked Mr. Perrucci last year what would it cost to renovate the old Bethlehem Steel Main Office Building and it was over $100 million a year ago. Mr. Donchez expressed he believes as time goes by it will become more and more difficult to have economic development on the site because of the cost and because it is a brownfields site. Mr. Donchez, commenting the City is required by law to have a site for gaming, denoted that gaming is legal now in Pennsylvania, and thought in all probability one license is going to be awarded to Allentown which has gaming in its ordinance. Communicating the community is divided, Mr. Donchez said he has spoken to many people over the last year and a half and he is convinced the City is divided on the issue. Mr. Donchez stated the Administration has begun to look at the effects of traffic, public safety, police, fire, and EMS if a casino comes to Bethlehem and noted the City is trying to plan for the future. Mr. Donchez observed “you cannot legislate morality, you have to have personal responsibility and personal accountability.” Looking at the second part of the amendment addressing massage parlors and bring your own bottle clubs, etc. Mr. Donchez noted he thinks they are legal in the City now, and the amendment is trying to be more restrictive to deal with the issue in a proactive way. Mr. Donchez did not believe that one casino is going to be the death of the community. Observing there is the opportunity to do it right, Mr. Donchez said he truly believes this can be the catalyst to develop the Bethlehem Works into a model that all can be proud of. Mr. Donchez stressed it has to be done right. Mr. Donchez, commenting he knows Mr. Perrucci and has faith in him, thought if all work together it will yield something that people will be proud of for jobs and economic development. Mr. Donchez, noting if the license goes to Allentown then Bethlehem will still have some problems, said “we can’t be naïve.” Mr. Donchez reiterated he thinks that is why it is necessary to be proactive. Mr. Donchez said he intends to support both Amendments.
President Schweder observed “this evening presented all of us with a very difficult situation.” President Schweder, focusing on the people who testified this evening such as Ms. Matuczinski who he has known for 30 years and has deep respect for, and Mr. Angelucci who has known three generations of his family, thought all of the people who spoke and who attended the Meeting truly love the City and have concerns about its future. President Schweder communicated he also happens to think that the same is true of everyone who supports placing a casino here. Remarking there is no monopoly on who loves the City more than someone else, President Schweder pointed out both sides do and he thinks that is what makes the City great. President Schweder noted the one thing he would address tonight that he has said before is that any number of people talked tonight about finding alternatives to develop the land and do something with it. President Schweder stated he can assure the people of Bethlehem as he said a year ago if that was the case it would have been done. President Schweder, advising he has been active in the matter for nine years, explained he has traveled to meet with developers in New York, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh and has tried to bring people to Bethlehem. President Schweder recounted the matter started with Bethlehem Steel where he along with Members of Council at that time were supportive of every proposal brought by the company before them, and yet the company could not pull it off. Continuing on to recount the matter continued with Delaware Valley Real Estate Development and he met with them constantly on what was going to be done, President Schweder exclaimed that people in the community believed it was not something that was simply going to be made “into a billiard table”, start from scratch, and have big box stores but that there was something worth preserving. President Schweder stressed that was made crystal clear to all in elective office at least three or four years ago. Pointing out there were also developers who came in and had agreements with ISG who would have done that very thing, President Schweder affirmed he went to meet with people in Cleveland to plead with them that that not be the case. He emphasized that the people in the City have spoken about that, they wanted preservation and that tied in. Observing that if it could have been developed on its own it would have been done and someone would have completed it, President Schweder denoted the fact is that it could not be done. President Schweder commented “none of us would be for building a casino for the sake of building a casino and there are drawbacks to doing that, and I think we have a responsibility, and we will accomplish it in minimizing those.” President Schweder pointed out the fact of the matter is that what he believes the majority of people in Bethlehem want, which is the preservation and creation of jobs, cannot be done without this as the economic engine. Restating what he said a year ago, President Schweder noted he was graduated from what was then Bethlehem High School 40 years ago and he graduated with many people who grew up and went to Washington Junior High School which does not exist any more and Broughal School. President Schweder continued on to say that many of them, for any number of reasons, were not able to go on to college, but what they ended up doing was creating a good life for their families in Bethlehem because they walked down off the hill and walked into the buildings of Bethlehem Steel Corporation and worked there. President Schweder communicated that to him is as important as anything else that can be done which is to create jobs. He highlighted the fact that the commitment made by Northampton Community College to be on the South Side and to develop people for the casino industry and others is a very significant step. Having studied the appearance of the project, President Schweder stated the appearance of what is going to be built exceeds what he ever thought it would be. He added the developers are committed to that by State law because that is part of their application to the State. President Schweder stated that he will join Mr. Donchez in supporting the setting aside of a portion of money for tax reductions for everyone in the City of Bethlehem. President Schweder thought one of the people who spoke tonight gave the best reason why Council should vote in favor of the proposal and that is the ripple effect. Continuing on to communicate that perhaps he is more parochial and pragmatic than most other people here, President Schweder said he understands what is going to happen. There is going to be one license awarded in the Lehigh Valley and it is either going to be in South Bethlehem or in East Allentown. President Schweder noted if it is in East Allentown, the individuals who spoke here tonight about their neighborhoods in West Bethlehem will be closer to that casino with all the concerns they have than they will be with the one in the City of Bethlehem. The difference will be in the ripple effect that comes from something outside the City of Bethlehem. There are not going to be additional Police from Lehigh County or from Allentown who are paid as part of the host fee to drive into Bethlehem to take care of whatever concerns they have in those neighborhoods. President Schweder stressed “we will have none of the benefits if it is not placed here. There is a way for us to control this. We can’t do this if it goes to Allentown, and the City of Bethlehem deserves to have this…for a lot of reasons, but protecting our community is probably more important than anything else, and the only way we ensure that is to guarantee that it is under our jurisdiction.” President Schweder stated for that reason he is going to vote in favor of both proposals.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 28 – 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Voting NAY: Mr. Leeson, and Mr. Mowrer, 2. Bill No. 28 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 29 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1311, 1313, 1317, 1317A, 1318 and 1319 – Regulating Licensed Gaming Facilities, Providing Additional Regulations In IR Zoning District, and Regulating Adult Oriented Establishments, Pawn Shops, Bring Your Own Bottle Clubs, and Check Cashing Operations
The Clerk read Bill No. 29 –2006, – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1311, 1313, 1317, 1317A, 1318 and 1319, Regulating Licensed Gaming Facilities, Providing Additional Regulations In IR Zoning District, and Regulating Adult Oriented Establishments, Pawn Shops, Bring Your Own Bottle Clubs, and Check Cashing Operations, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLES 1302, 1311, 1313, 1317, 1317A,
AND 1319 AND ESTABLISHING ADDITIONAL REGULATIONS WITHIN
THE I-R INDUSTRIAL REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA, AS
AMENDED, AND REGULATING LICENSED GAMING FACILITIES,
ADULT-ORIENTED ESTABLISHMENTS, PAWN SHOPS, BRING YOUR
OWN BOTTLE CLUBS AND CHECK CASHING OPERATIONS, AND
ADDING VARIOUS DEFINITIONS
Voting AYE on Bill No. 29 – 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms.
Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Voting
NAY: Mr. Leeson, and Mr. Mowrer, 2. Bill No. 29 – 2006
was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 30 – 2006 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – HOME Investment Trust and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program
The Clerk read Bill No. 30 – 2006 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – HOME Investment Trust and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2006 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 30 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
D. Bill No. 31 – 2006 – Amending General Fund Budget – Pandemic Flu Grant
The Clerk read Bill No. 31 – 2006 - Amending General Fund Budget – Pandemic Flu Grant, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2006.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 31 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
E. Bill No. 32 – 2006 – Amending Water Capital Budget – Water Treatment Plant – Improvement Engineering/Construction – Filters
The Clerk read Bill No. 32 – 2006 – Amending Water Capital Budget – Water Treatment Plant – Improvement Engineering/Construction – Filters, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2006 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR WATER UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 32 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
F. Bill No. 33 – 2006 – Amending Article 1159 – Animals
The Clerk read Bill No. 33 – 2006 – Amending Article 1159 – Animals, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
ARTICLE 1159 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES
Mrs. Belinski inquired if property is zoned RR Residential would the property owner be allowed to have chickens.
Joseph Kelly, Assistant City Solicitor, replied the Ordinance was written to insure that if farming was previously approved then the owners could continue to have chickens in the future provided the other requirements in the Zoning Ordinance are met. In further response to Mrs. Belinski, Attorney Kelly explained the Law Bureau would have to look into whether that particular property would qualify under the Ordinance but the owners could contact the Bureau and it could be reviewed.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 33 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
Motion – Removing Bill No. 23 – 2006 from the Table
G. Bill No. 23 – 2006 – Amending Community Development Budget – Comprehensive Plan
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Donchez moved to remove Bill No. 23 –
2006 from the Table that was tabled at the July 18, 2006 Council
Meeting. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez,
Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill
No. 33 – 2006 was removed from the Table.
President Schweder stated that, in light of this evening’s Agenda, the Bill will be taken up at the next City Council Meeting.
H. Bill No. 34 – 2006 – Street Vacation – Portion of Greenleaf Street
The Clerk read Bill No. 34 – 2006 – Street Vacation – Portion of Greenleaf Street, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE VACATION,
DISCONTINUANCE AND STRIKING FROM THE CITY'S
GENERAL PLAN OF STREETS OF A PORTION OF
GREENLEAF STREET IN THE FOURTEENTH (14th)
WARD OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, COUNTY OF
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 34 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 11 A and 11 B as a Group
Mr. Mower and Mr. Leeson moved to consider Resolutions 11 A and 11 B as a group.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
A. Certificate of Appropriateness – 425 Center Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,904 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a satellite dish at 425 Center Street.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 520-526 Main Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,905 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signage at 520-526 Main Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11A and 11B: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
C. Establishing Local Redevelopment Authority – Reuse Planning for Wilson-Kramer Army Reserve Center – Airport Road
Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,906 that established a Reuse Planning Authority to be called City of Bethlehem Local Redevelopment Authority to be composed of fourteen members to serve as an advisory planning body for planning the reuse of the Wilson-Kramer Army Reserve Center located on Airport Road. The Authority will submit the reuse plan to the Secretary of the Department of Defense, and the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval, pursuant to federal law. The Authority will disband either on December 31, 2008 or by majority vote of the Local Redevelopment Authority, whichever occurs first.
Amending Resolution 11 C
Mr. Leeson moved to amend the Resolution to delete the phrase “or his designee” wherever it appears in the Resolution. Mr. Leeson explained the reason is to avoid the problem of different people coming to the meetings since the same people are needed at the meetings all the time. Mrs. Belinski seconded the motion.
Voting AYE on the amendment: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 5. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, and Mr. Donchez, 2. The amendment passed.
Voting AYE on Resolution 14,906 as Amended: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
D. Authorizing Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement – Ice Skating Rink Food Concession Stand
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,907 that authorized the execution of Amendment No. 2 to Lease Agreement between the City and Richard J. H. Keck, Jr., for lease of the Ice Skating Rink at Illick's Mill Road for use as a Food Concession Stand for a renewal term of three years, beginning on Opening Day of the 2006-2007 Ice Skating Season and Ending on the Closing Date of the 2008-2009 Ice Skating Season, according to the terms of the agreement.
Voting AYE as amended: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolution passed.
Motion - Considering Resolutions 11 E through 11 Q as a Group
Mr. Leeson and Ms. Dolan moved to consider Resolutions 11 E through 11 Q as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
E. Approving Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Harvest Wine and Beer Festival
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,908 that authorized the execution of a Use Permit Agreement between Celtic Fest, Inc. d/b/a Celtic Cultural Alliance and Downtown Bethlehem Association (Council of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce) for use of Main Street from the Main Street Ramp to Broad Street for the Harvest Wine and Beer Festival on October 7, 2006.
F. Amending Golf Fees – Deleting Winter Rates and Monday Specials
Mr. Mowrer and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,909 that adopted Golf Fees that were listed on the attached Exhibit. This Resolution supersedes Resolution No. 14,752 adopted December 20, 2005.
G. Approving List for City Auction – September 30
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 14,910 that authorized a public auction on September 30, 2006 per the attached 2006 Vehicles and Property List.
H. Transfer of Funds – Mechanical Bureau – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,911 that transferred $4,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Mechanical Bureau – Salaries Account to the Mechanical Bureau – Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the account.
I. Transfer of Funds – Compliance Officer – Salary
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,912 that transferred $1,460 in the General Fund Budget from the Human Resources – Recruiting and Testing Account to the Human Resources – Temporary Help Account to cover the salary of the Compliance Officer for the remainder of the year.
J. Transfer of Funds – Police Department – General Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,913 that transferred $57,308 in the General Fund Budget as follows: $9,798 in Police Musikfest Overtime and $47,510 in the Unforeseen Contingency Accounts to the Police Department – General Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the Account.
K. Transfer of Funds – Traffic Maintenance Bureau – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,914 that transferred $1,200 in the General Fund Budget from the Traffic Maintenance Bureau – Operating Supplies Account to the Traffic Maintenance Bureau – Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the Account.
L. Transfer of Funds – Engineering Bureau – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,915 that transferred $11,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Engineering Bureau – Salaries Account to the Engineering Bureau – Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the Account.
M. Transfer of Funds – Streets Bureau – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,916 that transferred $10,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Streets Bureau – Department Contracts Account to the Streets Bureau – Overtime Account to provide additional funding needed in the Account.
N. Transfer of Funds – Water Treatment Plant – Roof Replacement
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,917 that transferred $69,000 in the Water Capital Budget from the Emergency Repair Transmission Mains to the Water Treatment Plant Roof Replace/Rehab/Engineering Account to provide additional funding needed to execute the construction contract.
O. Transfer of Funds – Water Capital Budget – Commercial/Industrial Meters
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,918 that transferred $7,650 in the Water Capital Budget from the Emergency Repair Transmission Mains Account to the Commercial/Industrial Meter Replacement Account to pay an outstanding invoice.
P. Transfer of Funds – Sewer Fund Budget – Wastewater Treatment – Chemicals and Equipment Maintenance
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,919 that transferred $50,500 in the Sewer Fund Budget from the Wastewater Treatment Bureau – Equipment Account to the following: $35,000 – Wastewater Treatment – Chemicals Account and $15,500 – Wastewater Treatment – Equipment Maintenance Account to cover expenses.
Q. Transfer of Funds – City Council – Timer Equipment and Adding Data Base Users
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,920 that transferred $2,632 in the General Fund Budget from the Council – Professional Services Account to new Account – Council – Equipment for the purchase of a Limitimer System for Council Meetings; and the addition of 7 Network Users for the City Clerk's office index system.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 E through 11 Q: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Committee Meeting Announcements
Chairman Donchez announced a Public Safety Committee meeting jointly with the Community Development Committee on October 11, 2006 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the following subject: Noise Ordinance, and upon adjournment a Public Safety Committee meeting on the following subjects: Police Civil Service Rules and Regulations and Updates from the Police, Fire, and EMS Departments.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Crime and Other Issues
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, reminded the assembly that drugs are coming into the City at a rapid pace, and crime and violence are also up. Mr. Rodriquez explained he observed at block watch meetings that members do not know what is happening in the neighborhoods. He noted that among things that can be done are leaving on porch lights at night, telling children not to talk to strangers or to go too far from the play area or their home, avoid running in dark areas or woods. Referring to the host fee, Mr. Rodriquez communicated it should be spent wisely. He added that traffic will be at a standstill with a casino.
Proposed Gaming Project
Marilyn Hartman, 931 High Street, stated although she disagrees with Council’s decision allowing Bills 28 and 29 to go through she urges Council to do what is best for the City and to not settle for vague answers. She further urged Council to ask for legally binding documents, for a community impact study, and to follow what they have said in looking out for the best interests of the City. Ms. Hartman stressed that the developers should be able to answer the questions.
Northampton County Funding - Commerce Center Boulevard
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, said at the September 7, 2006 Northampton County Council meeting a Resolution was introduced indicating that the $2 million for the Commerce Center Boulevard project should be put back for that use, and was tabled.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:50 a.m.