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October 3, 2006 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, October 3, 2006 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order. Pastor Wolfgang Wendland, Bethlehem Community Fellowship Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Gordon B. Mowrer, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 7.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
President Schweder stated that he was informed that Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson will not be offering the amendments they had planned on this evening with respect to table games, but will be offering it as another separate zoning ordinance amendment at a future date.
The following citizens spoke in favor of Bills 28 and 29, listed for Final Reading concerning Zoning Text Amendments – 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.
Richard Guarino, 3124 Washington Street
Dave Sanders, 69 East Goepp Street
Bob Kilpatrick, 2136 Aster Road
Joe Kalushi, 7 West Second Street
Mike Kohn, 2023 Huntington Street
Peter DiPetro, Freemansburg
Robert Burkey, West North Street
Jeff Parks, 223 East Church Street
Helene Whitaker, 1852 Main Street
Ana Urrutia, 11 West Second Street
Roger Hudak, 1256 East Fifth Street
John Ladics, 1527 Kaywin Avenue
Bob Palik, 2335 Apple Street
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street
Dave Cavanaugh, Phillipsburg
Alan Jennings, Community Action Committee of Lehigh Valley
The following citizens spoke in opposition to Bills 28 and 29, listed for Final Reading concerning Zoning Text Amendments – 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.
Margo Ging, 806 High Street
Joe Schaffer, 23 East Market Street
Anthony Piergiovanni, 4497 Meadow Drive, Nazareth
Holly Heitmann, 1306 Prospect Avenue
Bonnie Dodge, Northampton
Robert Romeril, 26 West Market Street
Marilyn Hartman, 931 High Street
Santiago Rivera, 1349 Lynn Avenue
Marguarita Rivera, 1349 Lynn Avenue
Michael Dunstan, 824 Seneca Street
William Henry, 2100 Main Street
Jonathan Davies, 2030 Kemmerer Street
David Amidon, 910 Fifth Avenue
Florence Kimbel, 1715 Elm Street
Zane Kratzer, 733 High Street
Lenore Ferraro, 1047 Johnston Drive
Barbara Diamond, 425 Center Street
Janet Ferraro, 2803 West Boulevard
Mary Kerr, 244 East Wall Street
Robert Rentler, 1721 Elm Street
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue
Elaine Francis, 133 West Union Boulevard
Larry Byrd, 3659 Michigan Court
Robert Stevens, 204 East Market Street
Artie Curatola, Bethlehem
Darlene Schneck, 118 West Greenwich Street
Jessie Ostrosky, Allentown
Martin Romeril, 26 West Market Street
Michael Bachman, 618 Eleventh Avenue
Irene Follweiler, 2222 Main Street
Bethany Vitaro, Bethlehem
Ceilia Butler, 408 Second Avenue
The following individuals also spoke about various matters surrounding the issue:
Roy Gruver, 415 North New Street
Charles Lyman, 444 North New Street
John Lexo, 5077 Homestead Drive, Coopersburg
Diane Lexo, 5077 Homestead Drive, Coopersburg
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street
Heidi Stonesifer, 245 Biery's Bridge Road
Dean Bruch, 555 Spring Street
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street
Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, referring to the proposed amendment to the animal ordinance, said he does not think a stricter law should be passed and does not think it will work.
Kathy Savalo, 1252 East Fifth Street, said she opposes changes in the animal ordinance and does not think a ban of fowl will be effective. She believes the Health Bureau thinks if it is banned it does not need to be enforced. Ms. Savalo said she thinks the current Ordinance should be enforced as is.
Martin Gilchrist, Urban Research Development Corporation, stated that he wanted to introduce his company relating to Bill No. 23 concerning the preparation of the Comprehensive Plan. He said his company's job is to point out the pros and cons to help communities understand the issues, the constraints, the positives and negatives and help them develop courses of action in the implications of those. Mr. Gilchrist listed various involvements his company has had with the City of Bethlehem over the years.
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, stated that he thought the City would not get a very good Comprehensive Plan for $160,000. He said he thinks $100,000 should be added to get a good plan.
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. Police Commissioner – Resolution to Rescind – Adoption of Police Manual
The Acting Clerk read a memorandum dated August 30, 2006 from Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, requesting consideration of a resolution to rescind Resolution Nos. 9,179 and 13,239 that adopted the Police Manual. The current C.A.L.E.A. process has rendered the Police Manual redundant and it is now incorporated into either General Orders or Standard Operating procedures.
President Schweder stated that the authorizing resolution will be placed on the October 17, 2006 Council Agenda.
B. City Solicitor – Amending Article 1733 – Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The Acting Clerk read a memorandum dated September 27, 2006 to which was attached a proposed ordinance to amend Article 1733, entitled International Property Maintenance Code to include addition of a section relating to carbon monoxide detectors.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Community Development Committee.
C. City Solicitor – Seidersville Road Relocation – College Drive, Lehigh University - Dedicating College Drive
The Acting City Clerk read a memorandum dated September 27, 2006 to which was attached proposed ordinances to effect the vacation of a portion of Seidersville Road and to dedicate College Drive, Drive A, Drive B, Drive C and Apple Street and to realign Apple Street. The City has received a Deed of Dedication from Lehigh University for the rights-of-way of a portion of College Drive and all of Drive A, Drive B and Drive C.
President Schweder stated that Bill Nos. 35 and 36 are listed on the Agenda for First Reading.
D. Human Resources & Environment Committee Chairwoman – Ordinance to Create Environmental Advisory Council
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 29, 2006 from Karen D. Dolan, Chairwoman of Human Resources and Environment Committee, to which was attached a proposed ordinance to create the City of Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council. The subject was discussed at the Human Resources and Environment Committee on July 28, 2006.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Human Resources and Environment Committee.
A. President of Council
Motion – Considering Administrative Orders as a Group
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson moved to consider Administrative Orders 8B1 through 8B6 as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The motion passed.
1. Administrative Order – James R. Fiorentino – City Planning Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan appointed James R. Fiorentino to the City Planning Commission effective until May 2011. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,921 to confirm the appointment.
2. Administrative Order – Kenneth M. Kraft – Zoning Hearing Board
Mayor Callahan appointed Kenneth M. Kraft to the Zoning Hearing Board effective until January 2009. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,922 to confirm the appointment.
3. Administrative Order – George Z. Heimbach, M.D. – Board of Historical and Architectural Review
Mayor Callahan appointed George Z. Heimbach, M.D., to the Board of Historical and Architectural Review effective until March 2009. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,923 to confirm the appointment.
4. Administrative Order – Luke R. Cunningham – Civil Service Board – Engineers and Electricians
Mayor Callahan reappointed Luke R. Cunningham to the Civil Service Board – Engineers and Electricians effective until August 2010. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,924 to confirm the appointment.
5. Administrative Order – Marlene "Linny" Fowler – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Marlene "Linny" Fowler to the Fine Arts Commission effective until September 2009. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,925 to confirm the appointment.
6. Administrative Order – Donald J. Pulley, Sr. – Electricians' Examining Board
Mayor Callahan reappointed Donald J. Pulley, Sr., to the Electricians' Examining Board effective until July 2009. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,926 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE on Administrative Orders 8B1 through 8B6: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 28 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1313, 1317A and 1319 – Licensed Gaming Facilities and Retail
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 28 – 2006 – Zoning Text Amendment – Amending Articles 1302, 1313, 1317A and 1319 – Licensed Gaming Facilities and Retail, on Final Reading.
Ms. Dolan stated that rather than coming to the meeting with prepared remarks, she decided to come without prepared remarks and instead listen to questions and attempt to answer the questions. She said in answer to the question of whether Council educated themselves on the issue, she stated that she couldn't speak for everyone although she said she strongly suspected that everyone has educated themselves as much as she has. Ms. Dolan said she read the National Gambling Impact Study several times and that it is an unbiased study and she is aware of the negative impact of gambling. She said she is also aware of the positive impact of single casinos, because that is all that is before Council, on communities. The impacts as stated in the National Gambling Impact Study are decreased unemployment, lower taxes, and steady jobs. Ms. Dolan stated that comes from an unbiased study commissioned by the federal government, and in short that means increased economic development. She said that while in the process of educating herself she spoke with Alan Jennings who spoke earlier. She said he is our Valley's leading advocate for the poor and she said she was told by him that he supported BethWorks Now because the most moral action a government or an agency can take on behalf of the poor is to provide them and their families with jobs, food, shelter, and dignity. Ms. Dolan said yes, she has done her research. She said has read extensively about the impacts of single casinos in towns where they are operating. She said she is a 17-year English teacher with 21 years of training and teaching experience in research, and the figures occasionally quoted by some concerned residents in their remarks tonight would encourage her, if she were grading them as papers, to utilize her red pen and write "Please cite your sources". She said she thinks two other experienced teachers in the room, Roger Hudak and Mary Pongracz, would agree. Ms. Dolan said the question "do I trust the developer?" is a tricky question. She said she admires their previous work. She said she admires Tim Baker's remarkable and subtle adaptive reuse architectural plans that preserve historical structures in Great Britain and the work of Newmark and Barry Gosin where abandoned, dilapidated and dangerous properties were brought back to life. Ms. Dolan said she admires the employee benefit track record of the Sands in Las Vegas, childcare, health benefits, and equal opportunity hiring. She asks herself, "Do I trust the developer?" She said in this case the law is the issue, not trust, and Council is bound by state law to move through our zoning amendment processes in a deliberative way, with equal treatment to all applicants, those creating single family homes and those creating other legal uses such as casinos. Ms. Dolan said like it or not, casinos are as legal as shopping centers and the same procedures must be followed for all. We cannot always proceed the way many would wish we could. We cannot proceed as if Act 71 was never passed, and we cannot proceed as if property rights were not guaranteed by the constitution. We cannot go back to a blank slate, we cannot take this property and do with it something different, something that we dream of. We don't even own the property. We, the City, never owned the property. Ms. Dolan stated, in gambling terms, "We must play well with the hand we have been dealt." She said the cards include enormously successful developers in their fields, and the faces are those local – Northampton Area Community College, ArtsQuest, PBS 39, Mr. Perrucci, national – Newmark Development, and international – the Venetian Sands. Ms. Dolan commented that she thinks if Bethlehem is going to be dealt a hand, it deserves the best hand in this game. She said she believes we got the best hand in this game. Ms. Dolan, referring to question number three, "Were the zoning provisions we are considering tonight inspired by, designed by, or designed for the Las Vegas Sands?" She said so many people have asked about this and answered, with 100% certainty, that the opposite is true. Ms. Dolan said the Sands offered City Council a two-page zoning amendment that included no mention of noxious uses. The noxious use provisions were inspired by the concern expressed by citizens at the Broughal hearing and were designed to control their proliferation because right now Bethlehem has no protection, no rules at all, no definitions related to massage parlors, pawn shops, check cashing facilities, and porn shops. She said some people have stood and read aloud the lurid descriptions of these businesses, and true, no one wants to hear that language, but that language is necessary to legally control these uses. She said she personally feels that we have waited far too long to control these uses, and that is why all four of these uses are already in our City. Referring to pawn shops and check cashing facilities, she said there are eight of them in Bethlehem. She said a porn shop is within short walking distance of three public schools, and massage parlors within walking distance of three public schools. She said all four of these uses can currently proliferate, become abundant, anywhere without a hearing, in any neighborhood, and if this amendment does not pass, the City is powerless to control them. Ms. Dolan said right now that is what is being faced. She said as to the argument that the ordinance as written would protect the casino, she said, again, she must respectfully state that these controls, as written independently by our Planning Department without support or input from the Sands, were written to prevent their proliferation anywhere in the City and specifically to allay the stated fears of citizens who said publicly and in letters to this Council that these noxious uses would assuredly proliferate near casinos creating a nuisance and a danger, and citizens told us that we should control these uses. She said this ordinance is not perfect, but it is a very good start. Ms. Dolan said in answer to the question why the larger distance from the casino is because the Planning Department knows the facts, they have done their research too. That those people who are subject to the addictions of gambling are more vulnerable to these noxious uses as are the poor. She said, in short, we are aware of the downside of gambling, and we don't want to make anything worse. She said this is an attempt to prevent proliferation of negative uses through the City, but especially where they will do the most harm. Ms. Dolan said if anyone has doubts about the effectiveness of this resolution she encourages them to see the actual impacts of this zoning change, not as imagined, not as feared, but as they will, in fact, protect schools, children, churches, neighborhoods, those innocents. She said she is a teacher, too, and a mother. She said we all care about those innocents. She said this can be demonstrated in detail by the Planning Department as was demonstrated to her twice in a detailed and realistic way, and this ordinance will control these uses and prevent their proliferation for the first time in Bethlehem's history. In conclusion Ms. Dolan, answering the question "is this a good Zoning amendment", said not completely, it needs work, and work that will take time, but will hopefully lead, with Tony Hanna and Darlene Heller's help, and with the support, she said, she hopes of her fellow Council people, to the following changes. She said she cannot support these tonight, they are entirely too complicated, but will work with both Council Members and the Planning Commission and propose new language that includes up to date payday lender definitions and controls, possibly limiting pawn shops and check cashing to the CG zone only, addition of language that defines pawn shops and check cashing facilities as only those facilities that operate as licensed by the State of Pennsylvania, rewrite of the check cashing language to clarify its meaning, and prohibition of mobile check cashing and payday lender units. With regard to possible proliferation of casinos on the BethWorks site and the Lowe's property, amendments could effectively limit the number of casinos allotting Bethlehem to one, and no more. The Planning Department will work with the local zoning experts and consultants to help create language that would limit gambling to one casino of a limited size and would do so in such a way that the City's zoning would sustain court challenges. She said one way to do this is to set a minimum lot size and a minimum separation distance between cities for any gambling facilities. She said another possible way is stating in the Zoning Ordinance that there could be only one casino in the City of Bethlehem. In addition, a zoning amendment would insure that the current proposed casino could not go to the size of two or more casinos. Ms. Dolan said these changes will not happen tonight, they are complex and must be carefully written and submitted as a separate amendment, but they can be submitted to Council soon enough that Council can take its vote before the licenses are announced. Ms. Dolan thanked Tony Hanna and Darlene Heller for agreeing to hear citizen concerns at a meeting held the previous day, and to incorporating those concerns into an amendment that can be voted on within the next sixty (60) plus days if possible. She said she believed everyone involved in the meeting the previous day and everyone in the room agrees that everyone must do what is needed to assure Bethlehem residents that if the license is given to Bethlehem, that one casino is enough.
Gordon Mowrer stated that he thinks everybody knows his position on gambling and making it available to the City of Bethlehem. However, he said he recognizes some of the good that can come out of this, including jobs and taxes, and new businesses. He said he respects both sides because he believes that each side thinks they are right and they want what is right, and he commends both sides. Mr. Mowrer recommended that an additional ordinance be added, not this evening, but at another time that would include just one casino in Bethlehem and no more, and there would not be tables. He said Council has been told that it can be done with slots and he would like to limit it to that.
Jean Belinski stated that after hearing remarks made this evening she would like to reiterate what she said at the meeting two weeks ago. Mrs. Belinski mentioned a woman said she came back to Bethlehem after being away 10 years who is happy with what she sees within the City. Mrs. Belinski said that within the last 10 years since Bethlehem Steel shut down, the City lost 25% of the City's revenue and ever since then the City has been "robbing Peter to pay Paul". She said we have depleted all the excess revenue in our water and sewer funds, sold off all the assets we can, and the only thing we have left is our water system and our wastewater treatment plant. She said she doesn't think we would want to sell that after finding out how much we would have to pay for water and sewer if it goes out of the City's hands. She said the taxes have been raised 20% in the last two years. Mrs. Belinski stated, for the people who think the City is doing so well, they should come to Finance Committee Meetings, that our debt in total including all the different bonds and refinancing with interest included is $369 million. She said to compare it to the City of Allentown whose total debt is $192 million. Mrs. Belinski stated that 650 people showed up for the Sands seminar looking for work. She said the City needs the money and the jobs, but most of all Bethlehem Steel should be saved. Mrs. Belinski remarked that she doesn't think people realize what a wonderful, historic place Bethlehem Steel is. She quoted Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, from May 25, 2004 in the Morning Call who said "This is a very significant steel plant. It tells the story of industrial America. The steel plant can make history come alive better than any book or lecture." She then quoted from the Bethlehem Press on September 20, 2006, Edward McMahon, a senior resident fellow of the Urban Land Institute who was here recently at the Lehigh Valley Greenway Workshop and observed "no state has a richer industrial heritage than Pennsylvania". Mrs. Belinski quoted Mr. McMahon who said that "Bethlehem Steel is one of the most important historic sites in the country", and, she said, we have left it crumble and rust for almost 11 years now.
Magdalena Szabo commented that she understands all the emotional concerns because she has some of those concerns herself. She said she thinks there are a lot of misunderstandings about the intent of things. She said she thinks what was brought up by an individual regarding the IR zoning is the most misrepresented zoning that the City has and it just happens to fall under controversy right now. Ms. Szabo said IR zoning was created and designated to the Bethlehem Steel land during Ken Smith's administration. She said Mayor Smith resigned from his post in the fall of 1997 and the Sands was not in sight at that time, so this is not a plot to designate the land anywhere in Bethlehem as IR with the intent of expanding casinos. She said the IR on Eighth Avenue came about at the request of the developer during the controversy there as to whether or not to develop that land, and that went on for years and that, too, was before there was any State ruling on casinos. Ms. Szabo said so there should be no controversy, as has been stated too many times, about why those areas were designated IR and IR Flex in the matter of the Bethlehem Steel. She said it was done years ago because they were brownfields. At the time of the Eighth Avenue designation of IR zoning the Morning Call and Express Times both put out their public opinion on the subject by saying that Council should honor the request because they obviously are brownfields and that is what IR was to protect. Ms. Szabo commented, as Ms. Dolan had stated, that the 5,000 feet and the 500 feet is not to protect the casino, it is to protect the most vulnerable people who will be going into that area who may run out and cash their paychecks if a check cashing place is nearby, or go hock their gold wedding ring because there is a pawn shop down the street. So it is to protect the clients of the business, not the casino itself. Ms. Szabo said she has been unhappy with the ordinance, thought it needed a lot of work, and it was presented not too long ago to Council without the time to reconsider and change. She said she thinks in the future when there is controversy that draws many citizens to our meetings, the author of the controversial document should be present at the Council meeting at all times to answer the questions or reply to misunderstandings. Ms. Szabo said when she went to the meeting yesterday here at City Hall she was disappointed that some of the things that were explained during that meeting had not been explained before because it would have answered so many of the questions that have come up about the distance of 5,000 feet, what areas are protected by the 5,000 feet, and other questions. She said she thinks it is necessary for someone to be here to answer the questions, not only for Council but for the audience. Ms. Szabo said she thinks Bethlehem is the only Council in the Lehigh Valley who allow people who do not live in Bethlehem to speak. [We do allow people to speak, but it is too bad that opportunity is abused by condemning Council and not following the rules]
Robert Donchez stated he had some additional comments to what he said two weeks ago. He said Ms. Szabo and Ms. Dolan answered the questions regarding amendments, but he said in his opinion what Council has to do is tighten up the existing law. He thinks it can be improved and looks forward to Ms. Dolan's amendment before December 20 that will be debated by City Council. Looking back, Mr. Donchez said this is a very intense issue and reminds him going back to the landfill issue or even way back to the fluoride issue that divided the City many years ago. He said he thinks all the members at the table have done their homework and they do not all agree but hopes their decision will be respected. It is a very emotional and controversial issue, an issue that has been facing the City since 1995 when Bethlehem Steel basically left Bethlehem, and he said 160 acres, 150 acres now known as Bethlehem Works, have basically remained vacant for almost 12 years. Bethlehem Steel with Mr. Barnett, spent millions of dollars trying to develop that property and spent millions of dollars demolishing buildings and trying to renovate some buildings. During the boom period of the 90's not one plan came forward other than the initial proposal that Bethlehem Steel put forward, and he said he has been here since 1995. Mr. Donchez said not one developer came forward with a concrete plan because of the cost, the brownfields, and the renovations and remediations. Mr. Donchez said two and one-half to three years ago Mr. Perrucci purchased the property, Bethlehem Works, with his goal to develop it. Starting with Mayor Smith to Mayor Cunningham to Mayor Delgrosso to Mayor Callahan, all Mayors have worked to try to develop that property and members of City Council have also, especially President Schweder. Going back a year ago to Broughal Middle School, on September 14, 2005, Mr. Perrucci and representatives of the Sands signed a letter of commitment of good faith, not a legal agreement, on issues they addressed that were concerns of members of Council and members of the community dealing with licensing and site preservation, a casino design, jobs for local residents. There were 14 specific points and this was an attachment to their gaming casino application in Harrisburg. Mr. Donchez commented that we have listened to some of the speakers who have a stake in the development of BethWorks. We have heard from Jeff Parks about ArtsQuest moving in, we heard Ms. Whittaker talk about the community college that is there already and part of this whole project that we talked about, not just the last month, but the last two years. He said we talked about the Smithsonian, the National History Museum, the possibility of Channel 39, the renovation of the old Main Office, 1100 housing units, shops and restaurants, that would be the catalyst by way of the Sands. Mr. Donchez said he did not think anyone here would jump if it wasn't the Sands, simply because we have realized after studying and researching their reputation which, from his point of view, is a very good reputation. Mr. Donchez said when you look at the cost of almost $1 billion in development and 150 acres that have remained vacant for almost 12 years, we can't expect all those buildings to be preserved. He said that is not economically feasible. Just to renovate the old Main Office is over $150 million, but he said he thinks a balance is needed between economic development and historical preservation. He said he thinks we have to preserve some of our history, not all 22 or 23 buildings, but the number that was used two weeks ago was 15 or 16 buildings would stay and be renovated. Mr. Donchez stated that he teaches, too, at William Allen High School for 35 years, and half his day he has gifted students, and half the day he has the lowest senior students, with many of them having no future. He said he cannot even say how many students have come to him saying they need jobs and have nowhere to go after graduation. He said graduation at Stabler Arena for many of the students he has is a big deal because they are the first member of their family ever to graduate. He wonders where they are they going to get jobs. Mr. Donchez said he thinks this will provide jobs not just for the South Side, but for the City of Bethlehem and surrounding communities. He said not everyone goes to college and not everyone is middle or higher income. He said this is a city of blue-collar people and white-collar people. Mr. Donchez commented that one thing that has disturbed him is the reference to South Bethlehem, and said he feels it is a City of Bethlehem issue, not a South Bethlehem issue. It will provide jobs for everyone in this City, and for many of the people who are have nots that live in poverty. Mr. Donchez asked what the best way is to get out of poverty, and as Mr. Jennings will tell you, a job. They may not be the highest paying jobs, but how many middle class people today can afford a townhouse in the City of Bethlehem [because it would cost in the New York/Boston market. We all know the price of a townhouse or a condominium]. Mr. Donchez said he grew up above the railroad tracks in South Bethlehem and has been working since he was 14. He said his dad died when he was 17, and he put himself and his brother through school, and said he never dreamt in his wildest dreams that across from his mother's house on Evans Street where there were row homes in the 50's, 60's and 70's, and were demolished by the Steel for a parking lot, are now condominiums going for $300,000. How many people can afford $300,000 today? Mr. Donchez said what is happening in Bethlehem in the housing market is becoming very difficult. He said if Bethlehem doesn't get the license, Allentown will, and then the City of Bethlehem would have no control over anything. Mr. Donchez stated that he did not think anyone on Council is for a casino for a casino. He said twelve years have passed to try to develop this and if it is going to be a casino, which is the best one. He said from his opinion he believes it is the Sands. He said he believes if the City gets 75% of what is in the model on the table or what is in the document, he thinks it will be a success over the next ten years. Mr. Donchez said he thought if Bethlehem gets the license the City has the opportunity to try to do it right. He said we have no control over Allentown, and that is right next door to us. If the Administration and City Council can work together with Mr. Perrucci, Mr. Gosin, and the Sands, hopefully, he said we can have something that will benefit all of us. He said there could possibly be some short term problems with social ills, but thinks the bigger picture has to be looked at. He commented that he thought Mrs. Belinski made some good points on the financial side. If we would get the license, we would get $8 million a year. Mr. Donchez said he is not in favor of just spending $8 million automatically every year. He thinks, as he has said before, that maybe 50% of that money the first year should be placed in an escrow account and see what the expenses are going to be. Mr. Donchez said he thinks that should be evaluated. He said he knows the Administration has been working with the Sands on other issues that have been made reference to by citizens. He said he respects everyone's point of view and it is not an easy issue. Mr. Donchez stated you cannot let 160 acres remain vacant and you cannot let the blast furnaces on the verge of collapsing, because if they collapse, it is our men and women going in there. He said something has to be done. He said he is not a radical preservationist, so that is why he would like to see a balance of economic development and historical preservation. Mr. Donchez said when you look at Community College, ArtsQuest, Musikfest, and other referenced opportunities, he will vote yes. He then added that he looks forward to the debate and review of an amendment before December 20.
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., stated he will vote no on the proposal as he did the week before and a year ago. He said there is some irony in the timing of this vote this evening when you look at what Congress and the State Legislature have done in the last few days. He said in a unique bipartisan effort in Washington within the last week the United States Congress voted on, and the President is expected to sign, legislation to prohibit credit card transactions with respect to on-line gambling which will basically shut down the illegal on-line gambling industry. Mr. Leeson said that is because of the devastating effects it had on families and people. He said within the last few days Harrisburg has tinkered with the legislation, and a substantial part of the anticipated revenue that the City might expect to get from this casino would be diverted to the two counties, the City of Allentown, and possibly other municipalities as well. Mr. Leeson said he thinks this is a serious mistake. He predicted that in a couple of years from now after the licenses are awarded there will be wringing of hands and mashing of teeth because the revenue projected did not meet expectations, either on the part of the licensees or on the part of the government bureaucrats in Harrisburg who are projecting excessively all kinds of ridiculous numbers. Mr. Leeson said there has been some coverage in the newspapers recently that even the estimates of the casino applicants vary greatly from that of the state governments as far as projected revenue being derived by taxpayers with this disguised tax on the poor and on the elderly and on the people least able to afford it. Mr. Leeson asked what will then happen with all this hand wringing and mashing of teeth when gaming doesn't produce the golden goose and lay the golden eggs that everybody thinks is going to happen. Mr. Leeson asked if gambling will contract in size, go away, or will they say it was a mistake and it shouldn't have been done in the first place and it didn't produce what it said it was going to produce. He asked if they will tinker with it again, and he said he thinks they will, and eventually we will end up with more games, roulette wheels, card games, and the full-fledged treatment. Mr. Leeson commented that once it arrives, it will not get smaller, it is only going to get bigger and more problematic. Another point, he said, that there has been much discussion about is the BethWorks land sitting idle for quite a number of years, which is true with respect to about 10 to 20% of the land. He stated the vast majority of it was sold to Lehigh Valley Industrial Park and that has gone well. He said Mayor Cunningham asked him to chair the negotiations and to be the chief negotiator sitting opposite the table of the Steel Company to develop a plan of what to do with the Bethlehem Steel land. Mr. Leeson said there are misinformed people about what the projections and plans were. The Steel, as has been acknowledged, spent heavily on trying to act responsibly in its final days with respect to ownership of its real estate. One of the things it did is spend heavily on studies for evaluating what it would take to get this land developed, and thankfully they spent their money and the City did not have to spend anything to get that information. He said in particular the development of the land between the New Street Bridge and the Minsi Trail Bridge was dependent on two factors. The first factor was the significant investment by the public in building infrastructure, and that was done. About one-third of the site has streets, sidewalks, underground utilities, fiber optic networks, and state of the art utility service. He said the other key component that was needed if it was going to get developed, was a four lane highway from Hellertown up to the Minsi Trail Bridge, and, thankfully, due to the good work of various Administrations over the years, including the current one, the funding is in place to build that road and now the design work is underway, and that road is going to get built. Mr. Leeson said it has not been a surprise that it has taken time for that land to develop but to say that gambling is the only prospect for development is not accurate. He said unlike other communities Bethlehem has not gone for the easy first deal that comes across the table. Bethlehem has always been selective and that has been the key, historically, to the success, in his opinion, of Bethlehem as a community. Mr. Leeson said he does not see gambling as the only option, he said he sees it as the first one to come across the table and if it was rejected the developers would have some hard work ahead of them, so we would work with them. He said he thinks once the four-lane highway gets built there will be a Route 33 phenomenon along Route 412 up to the Minsi Trail Bridge, and said he wishes he owned that land. Mr. Leeson stated his next and final point that he would like to share is City government, including both the Administration and City Council, in his view gets a poor grade on this for its negotiations with the Sands. He said for some reason, and he cannot fathom why, the City has shown a weakness in dealing with these people in contrast to what the cities of Pittsburgh and Allentown have done. In Bethlehem we are dealing with a firm that has invested several billion dollars in Macau, several billion in Singapore, has an enormously successful multi-billion dollar business, and they are being treated with kid gloves, basically giving them anything they want. Mr. Leeson said their lawyer came in and wrote the ordinance concerning the zoning with respect to gambling, not with respect to the 5,000 feet. He said in view of the major concessions that have been received and negotiated in Pittsburgh and Allentown, the question needs to be asked – what went wrong here? He said aside from the fact that he doesn't agree with gambling and thinks it is the wrong thing for Bethlehem not only for the short term but the long term, he thought the ball was dropped when it came to advocating the public interest and in standing up for the public to try to get the best deal possible. He said he needs only to point to Allentown, and said he thinks they did a much better job. On the whole, Mr. Leeson stated, he does not think this is a good idea; he does not support it, and thinks in years to come it will be looked at as a mistake.
President Schweder stated that there have been many things that have been said about this over the last two weeks and also a year ago, and certainly in our community over the last two weeks. He said his position has been consistent on this and it is something that he has worked on for nine years, and if there were another way to be able to do something at that site, it would have happened. President Schweder said he would not reiterate everything that he has said in the past, but one of the only reasons he ran for City Council was to see that land be developed, and nothing ever happened with it with every developer that he dealt with until the current one. Mr. Schweder stated that Representative Rooney and his office have also spent almost every week over the first seven years after Bethlehem Steel went out of business trying to find someone to do it, and no one came forward because it can't be done at that cost unless there is a financial mechanism to do it. He stated it has been debated and he knows he cannot change anyone's mind in the audience who is opposed to gambling tonight. President Schweder said if there is a debate on this issue, everyone should be honest about it. He said he has seen emails and statements made over the last two weeks that are beyond belief, accusing or insinuating that arson and death threats were perpetrated to Members of City Council who were in favor of this. President Schweder said he asked the Police Commissioner tonight if he had any reports along those lines, and of course, he did not. He said the great deal that Pittsburgh has made has been talked about that somehow or another Bethlehem did not, and he said there is absolutely no truth to that whatsoever. Over the last two weeks he said he spoke to the people who represent the interests in Pittsburgh, and said there is not one, but two, competing applications for the City of Pittsburgh and there is no agreement with one single developer in that city at all. Mr. Schweder said that story has been told so many times that it has become fact in this debate. He then mentioned the story that has been heard about multiple casinos. Mr. Schweder stated there will be only one casino in Bethlehem, and there is no one on Council or from the Administration that would permit anything other than that from happening. He said when we talk about these red herrings that get thrown out with respect to the Lowe's site and how this was done is that the people who organized the opposition to this understood one thing, that if the City came up with the zoning ordinance that only took into account that parcel of land where the casino was going to go, they would have the opportunity to have it overthrown in court because it would be spot zoning, and that is the way it was written. Mr. Schweder said that is not going to happen in other places, for economic reasons and for the fact that will not be allowed to happen in this city. He said he and Mr. Leeson agree on more things than they disagree on, but when asked if we got the best deal or not he said he would give Mr. Leeson a failing grade for trying to get a deal worked out with them because Mr. Leeson never met with them. President Schweder stated that various members of Council spent the last year doing that as recently as last week. He said Mr. Leeson received a letter on Friday from the Sands that clearly states what has been done over the last year. Mr. Schweder requested that the following letter dated September 28, 2006 to Councilman Leeson from Andy Abboud, Vice President Government Relations & Community Development, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, be made part of the record this evening:
"Dear Councilman Leeson: After a lengthy hearing just about a year ago, City Council defeated the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance to ban gaming at the Bethworks site that was proposed by yourself and Councilman Mower. As recounted by Councilwoman Belinski at the time in her tabulation of the postcards and emails received, the supporters of the Bethworks project represented the overwhelming majority. That overwhelming majority support was again reflected in the persons who presented their views in person or by letter or postcard to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as part of the public hearing process earlier this year.
While we believed the vote last year by City Council removed any doubt that gaming was a permitted use in the IR district, we presented a proposal nearly a year later, seeking to make explicit the result that we felt flowed naturally from the failed effort to ban gaming. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended the ordinance amendment proposed by the City of Bethlehem Planning Department. In the absence of most of the supporters of Bethworks, who had already expressed their majority views as a result of each of the two earlier public hearings, except for the stalwart Rodger Hudak, representing the South Side Task Force where the project is located, and Mary Pongracz, the amendment passed by a vote of 5-2 of City Council on September 19, 2006. We write this letter for two reasons. We want to put to rest the suggestion that the amendment could result in more than one casino in Bethlehem and to respond to your comments to the effect that we had "done nothing" in the last year.
As we did last year in our open letter to the Residents of Bethlehem, which we presented to City Council, we pointed out that the Gaming Act prohibited a Category 2 license from being located within 20 miles of another Category 2 license. We then heard that the Legislature could amend the Act to delete that provision.
It is true that in other jurisdictions such as Nevada and Atlantic City that there are casinos located right next to each other, but those are jurisdictions where the tax rates are in single digits or about 6.75% and 9.25%, respectively, allowing profit margins that permit direct competition. Simply put, the same cannot possibly be true in Pennsylvania where the tax rate is as high as 53% plus $10,000,000.
We say 53% and $10,000,000 because the local share is stated in the Act as the greater of 2% of gross gaming revenue or $10,000,000. The 2% alternative equals the $10,000,000 alternative only when gross gaming revenue equals $500,000,000. That is the reason that concern was expressed by one Category One applicant or racetrack about the effective tax rate. For example, for a racetrack with gross gaming revenue of $125,000,000, the $10,000,000 minimum would represent 8% of gross revenue, making the effective gross revenue tax as high as 61%.
Given the existing tax structure, it is simply inconceivable that the Legislature would ever consider amending the Act to authorize another casino in close proximity to an existing casino because the loss of revenue from the new competition coupled with the exceptionally high tax burden would surely drive the first casino out of business and probably doom the second, resulting in a significant loss of tax revenue. And it is just as inconceivable to us that any rational person would invest the necessary several hundred million and seek to survive under the heavy tax burden by a strategy which would require as a matter of survival taking nearly all the market share from an existing operator.
Turning to your comments while voting on the proposed ordinance amendments at the September 19, 2006, City Council Meeting, we think our activities in the last year do not support any assertion that we have been doing little or not keeping our commitments. We next address what we have been doing in the last year.
As noted above, we issued an open letter to the Residents of Bethlehem. That letter was signed by the members of the casino license applicant, Sands Bethworks Gaming LLC, and described our project, our focus on local hiring and purchasing including the training program we were then discussing with Northampton Community College (NCC), our commitments to local charitable agencies, our historical commitment to diversity, our letter of intent with the local construction trades to enter into a project labor agreement for construction at Bethworks, and certain sections of the Gaming Act including the 20 mile separation requirement, the prohibition on accepting credit cards, and the requirement for a compulsive gambling program.
We were asked to make that letter part of our gaming application. We promised to do so. We kept that promise when we filed our license application in December 2005. We did a lot more after the first City Council vote. We also kept the promises reflected in the open letter concerning Arts Quest and the National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH), and NCC. We concluded agreements with Arts Quest, NMIH and PBS 39 to donate land for their projects on the Bethworks site. We also entered into a letter of intent with NCC regarding our training program. As you know, NCC is already located at the Bethworks site and is, therefore, an ideal training partner. The President of NCC had the opportunity to take his measure of us and wrote letters supporting our project to the Gaming Control Board as have NMIH and Arts Quest. So not only did we keep the commitments with those folks that we described in our open letter, we kept the promise given when we first came to Bethlehem that we would integrate ourselves into the community and develop community partnerships, which is part of our corporate culture.
In response to a request from City Council, we also promised to keep City Council "in the loop" as we developed our plans. We kept that promise too.
And keeping City Council in the loop has not been limited to the members of City Council who have voted in our favor. While you have declined to meet with us and we do not fault you for declining the invitations, we think that you would have to agree that we have tried to keep you informed of our plans and activities. Although we understand that you are irrevocably opposed to the Bethworks project, we will continue to seek your input.
Turning to some particulars, after the City Council hearing last year and before we submitted the Sands Bethworks application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, our consultants and representatives sought input from City planners, municipal services, and other city agencies and community groups regarding design and infrastructure issues so that we could benefit from the input of the principal stakeholders in the Bethlehem community. Indeed, we presented an opportunity to preview the plans by city leaders including the Mayor and City Council Members. After the plans were presented, we were told: "This is exactly what we hoped you would do."
Only after we received that input and presented that preview, did we finalize our plans for the application. We worked throughout the fall of 2005 on our gaming license application. This was an extraordinarily time consuming endeavor due to the comprehensive requirements of the Gaming Act. Indeed, our Pennsylvania counsel had to rent a truck to deliver our application to the Gaming Control Board in late December 2005.
We then started plans to conduct seminars on local hiring and purchasing and our commitment to diversity. We returned to the community to host those seminars during the winter months in early 2006. Local hiring and purchasing was another commitment we made in the open letter. So that was another promise we made in the open letter that no one can accuse us of forgetting. In other words, our hosting of those seminars was another part of a consistent trend that would lead any reasonable observer to conclude: these guys do what they say they will do.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board then announced public input hearings in the spring of 2006. As part of our extensive preparation for those hearings, we decided to present a model of the entire Bethworks site and each phase of our planned development including Phase I, which includes the casino on the east side of the Minsi Trail Bridge (exactly where the Southside Task Force asked us to put it) and a hotel and a retail complex of approximately 290,000 square feet including a Cineplex and multi-purpose space on the west side. While our plans for Phase I were already on file with the Gaming Control Board, we saw the model as an opportunity to create a visual representation of those plans so that everyone would have an opportunity to see what we intend to build in Phase I and to see our plans for later phases if Phase I takes off as we expect it will with the synergy created by the unique opportunity to integrate a brownfields site into the Southside and add the community based tourist attractions to the site. To ensure that the Bethlehem Community would have an ample opportunity to see what we intend to build in Phase I, we loaned the model to the City of Bethlehem and it sits in City Hall for all to see. With this degree of public transparency, we do not think that anything else reasonably could be asked of us with respect to our intentions.
We are not too modest to note that the design of the development and the excitement created by the anticipated revitalization of the Bethworks site yielded many favorable comments and endorsements from community leaders and the general public. As we noted earlier, praise was particularly effusive from some of those local organizations who most directly benefited from the applicant's largesse on the site including NCC, NMIH and Arts Quest and from the Southside Task Force, which has many times voiced its enthusiastic endorsement and recounted how we incorporated its suggestions into our plans.
That is not all we have done. We have contributed approximately $200,000 to community organizations or entities hosting events in the Lehigh Valley. We also sponsored the Lighting of the Blast Furnaces Ceremony as part of the festivities during which PBS 39 announced its plans for the Bethworks site.
Following the Gaming Control Board public input hearings we turned our attention to developing site plans in preparation for a "sketch plan" submission to the Planning Commission. As you know, the "sketch plan" process is one presenting yet another public opportunity to comment on our plans. We listened to those comments at the "sketch plan" hearing and are at this time preparing a revised set of plans to submit for preliminary plan approval. Notably, those plans will not depart from what we have presented to the Gaming Control Board and in the model as what we intend to build in Phase I, but will respond only to the comments received during the `"sketch plan" submission process to specifically provide for bus parking on site and changes in the entrances and internal circulation and other similar matters.
We would not want anyone to conclude that this is an exhaustive
list of our productive work on the Bethworks site or on our
gaming or planning applications over the last year, but it
is indicative of just how busy we have been. At the least,
the record will not and never will support a conclusion that
we have done nothing or not kept our promises.
Our effort to work with the community will continue. We continue to work with the planning staff, city engineers and elected officials to share our excitement with the project development and to listen carefully to their constructive suggestions, which can only serve to make the project better. Respectfully submitted,"
President Schweder referred to what Mrs. Belinski commented on, and said he doesn't want to frighten anyone, but over the last two weeks in the newspapers even the Editorial Page of the Morning Call talks about this risky idea that the City of Allentown may take and go out and borrow $10 million to get through this year. President Schweder said that if they do that, their debt would be half of what this City's debt is. The debt of the City of Bethlehem is twice what the City of Allentown and City of Easton is. President Schweder said there are some of us, and Mr. Leeson included, who are not responsible for that, who voted against that. But for anyone who thinks the City of Bethlehem is moving greatly ahead and we don't need this, he invites anyone back in several months when the debate will take place on refinancing the entire debt of the City simply so payments can be made to the authorities over the next year. Mr. Schweder said this is the kind of information that when asked have you studied and learned enough about that, he said yes he has, and thinks all seven members of Council have, but have reached different conclusions on that. He said the debate tonight will hopefully end with us making a decision to go forward with this. President Schweder commented that he has learned over the years and lots of debates that a project never ends up being as good as was presented, and it is never as bad as the opponents think it is. He said what needs to be done is to make an intelligent decision, that we live in a republic and the seven members of Council are elected to represent you. He said we don't live in a pure democracy, Council is asked to make intelligent decisions based on as much information as can be gathered. He said he respectfully submits that he believes all of Council have done that. President Schweder said he will vote in favor of this. Referring to comments made by Ms. Dolan and what has been said countless times this evening, is that this noxious language, or however it is referred to that is in Bill No. 29, was written by the developer. He stated that is not true, it was written by the Administration, in Tony Hanna's Department of Community and Economic Development Department. He said that may have been because they thought for those opposed to gambling that this may make them change their mind, which would have been a serious miscalculation by what was heard tonight. He said that language did not come from the developer, and Bill No. 28, what is before Council right now, is the only thing that came from the developer. The second vote, on Bill No. 29, is what the City Administration sent to Council. President Schweder stated he thinks as it is moved forward, it will be approved. He said he agrees with Mr. Donchez and does not want the City of Allentown to get this. He said again what he said two weeks ago to people living in West Bethlehem, that a casino in Allentown will be closer to them than the one in South Bethlehem and the City of Bethlehem will not have any control over it. President Schweder stated that this is something that he has supported consistently, this will get done, and we will send this message to the Gaming Commission. He said he respects those who disagree, but after much deliberation over many years, not just the past year, he believes this is what needs to be done to bring that ground back into vital use and to restore the economic engine that drove this City.
Mr. Leeson stated for the record that he has met with representatives of the Sands on the following occasions. He said he met with Barry Gosin and Andrew Stern at his office, he said he met with Napoleon McCallum twice over the summer months, and the Friday before the last City Council Meeting he explained that he was available to meet with them but they were not available, so that did not occur.
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, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4392, was declared adopted.
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 Acting 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, on Final Reading.
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, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4393, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 30 – 2006 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – HOME Investment Trust and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 30 – 2006, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – HOME Investment Trust and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 30 – 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 30 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4394, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 31 – 2006 – Amending General Fund Budget – Pandemic Flu Grant
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 31 – 2006, Amending General Fund Budget – Pandemic Flue Grant, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 31 – 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms.
Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and
Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 31 – 2006, hereafter to be
known as Ordinance 4395, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 32 – 2006 – Amending Water Capital Budget – Water Treatment Plant – Improvement Engineering/Construction – Filters
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 32 – 2006, Amending Water Capital Budget – Water Treatment Plant – Improvement Engineering/Construction – Filters, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 32 – 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 32 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4396, was declared adopted.
F. Bill No. 33 – 2006 – Amending Article 1159 – Animals
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 33 – 2006, Amending
Article 1159 – Animals, on Final Reading.
Ms. Dolan commented that she struggled with this amendment. She said on one hand she thinks that raising your own fowl is commendable, and there are four people in the community who raise chickens as a source of income and a source of food. So, she said, this is tough for her, but she said she received a phone call from someone who lives next door to someone who owns chickens. Ms. Dolan stated that the phone call came on a school day at 6:45 AM and the citizen held the phone up to the window so she could hear what she hears every day, which, even though she knew what she was hearing, she said, was cacophony. Ms. Dolan said the woman agreed to let her come to the house. She said she also knows what the Health Bureau has dealt with. She said there are times when there are competing interests where the right of an individual to do something seriously infringes on the right of another individual to live their life free of significant nuisance. Ms. Dolan said she thinks if folks want to raise chickens and roosters they can do so in the City of Bethlehem when they have enough land around them. She said for those folks who currently have them, this wouldn't have happened in the first place if they were controlling their animals. Ms. Dolan said she thinks this came about because there are a significant number of people who do have these chickens and fowl in their yard who are not making an effort and it is very difficult for the Health Bureau to find these folks and to enforce these ordinances. Ms. Dolan said she apologizes to those people who have these animals as pets. She said they have got to be kept in coops, and that has been the law for a long time and it was flagrantly broken across the City. She said this is the last straw effort to control this and to make it easier for the Health Bureau to simply control this. Ms. Dolan said, with some prejudice, she will vote yes.
Ms. Szabo said she had reported what a citizen was facing, and wanted to clarify that her porch was not involved because she does not have chickens next door to her porch, but this person certainly did, and it was also her whole back yard. She found out when she talked to the Health Bureau that was a common complaint and also food attracting rats. Ms. Szabo said she is surprised and can't understand the comments all the time about "you have the law, why don't you enforce it". She said there are so many complaints about debris and things and questioned how many people would the Health Bureau have to have to enforce these things if people refuse to obey these ordinances.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 33 - 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 32 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4397, was declared adopted.
G. Bill No. 34 – 2006 – Street Vacation – Portion of Greenleaf Street
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 34 – 2006 – Street Vacation – Portion of Greenleaf Street, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 34 - 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 34 – 2006, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4398, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES:
A. Bill No. 23 – 2006 – Amending Community Development Budget – Comprehensive Plan
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 23 – 2006 – Amending Community Development Budget – Comprehensive Plan, sponsored by Ms. Dolan and Mr. Donchez, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BUDGET FOR 2006.
President Schweder stated, in the interest of time, he has serious reservations about this but since it is a new ordinance and there will be a vote again in two weeks, he will reserve until that time to speak on it.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 23 - 2006: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, and Ms. Szabo, 6. Voting NAY: Mr. Schweder, 1. Bill No. 23 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 35 – 2006 – Street Vacation –
Portions of Seidersville Road
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 35 – 2006 – Street Vacation – Portions of Seidersville Road, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE VACATION,
DISCONTINUANCE AND STRIKING FROM THE
CITY'S GENERAL PLAN OF STREETS OF A PORTION
OF SEIDERSVILLE ROAD IN THE SIXTEENTH (16TH)
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. 35 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
C. Bill No. 36 – 2006 – Dedication of Land Along College Drive, Drive A, Drive B, Drive C and Apple Street
The Acting Clerk read Bill No. 36 – 2006 - Dedication of Land Along College Drive, Drive A, Drive B, Drive C and Apple Street, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE DEDICATING PIECES OF LAND ALONG COLLEGE DRIVE, DRIVE A, DRIVE B, DRIVE C AND APPLE STREET FOR STREET PURPOSES; PROVIDING FOR THE RE-ALIGNMENT OF APPLE STREET IN CONFORMITY THEREWITH; AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE CITY ENGINEER TO REVISE THE LINES AND TO PLACE UPON THE GENERAL PLAN OF STREETS OF BETHLEHEM THE PORTIONS OF STREETS HEREIN DEDICATED AND RE-ALIGNED.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. Bill No. 36 – 2006 was declared passed on First Reading.
Motion – Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Leeson moved to consider Resolutions 11 A through D 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 – 742-744 East Fourth Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,927 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to revise the original storefront plan and install a flat wall sign at 742-744 East Fourth Street.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 301 Broadway
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,928 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the façade at 301 Broadway.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 337 Vine Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,929 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to revise the previously approved work at 337 Vine Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 12-14 West Fourth Street
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,930 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the facades at 12-14 West Fourth Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11A through 11D: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 7. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
The meeting was adjourned at 11:55 p.m.