The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
August 19, 2008
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Assistant Pastor William Marcano of Central Assembly of God offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., J. William Reynolds, J. Michael Schweder, and Robert J. Donchez, 6. Gordon B. Mowrer was absent, 1.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of July 29, 2008 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Bill No. 24 – 2008 - Amending Article 121 – Gaming Local Share Account
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, expressed his support for Bill No. 24 – 2008, Amending Article 121 – Gaming Local Share Account, and urged City Council to pass the Ordinance tonight. However, Mr. Pfenning was not convinced it was of much value. Explaining his understanding that the Ordinance requires only unappropriated funds to be approved by Council, Mr. Pfenning pointed out that upon Council’s adoption of the Administration’s annual Budget the majority of the host fees will have already been appropriated. Mr. Pfenning said his concern is that the proposal does not show clearly whether or not the Mayor’s plan for the host fees is being followed, and asserted there is not enough transparency under the proposed Ordinance. Mr. Pfenning thought the proposed Ordinance should be amended to require the Administration to specify the reasons behind the budgeted host fee figure rather than the amount getting lost within the Budget. Mr. Pfenning added his opinion that there is probably a lot of incentive for some mischief in expending the proposed $9.1 million host fee from the casino.
Resolution 11 D - Certificate of Appropriateness – 15-19 West Fourth Street
Dale Kochard, 5950 Daniel Street, Allentown, Executive Director of Community and Regional Affairs for Lehigh University, said he is at the Meeting to support the project for the opening of a restaurant and lounge at 15 –19 West Fourth Street on behalf of Lehigh University. He observed that South Bethlehem is experiencing a transformation from a major industrial town to a diverse and vibrant town with arts and cultural venues, and entertainment and restaurant establishments. Mr. Kochard continued on to say it is thought that the restaurant and lounge proposed at 15 –19 West Fourth Street, the site of a former church, will add to the vibrancy and Lehigh welcomes the project to the neighborhood. Mr. Kochard stated it will allow Bethlehem to continue to thrive as a place for the creative class, and communicated it is representative of the individual investments of independent establishments throughout Bethlehem. Mr. Kochard added what is good for South Bethlehem is good for Lehigh University. He continued on to comment that Lehigh University is pleased the owners intend to maintain the architectural integrity of the church and that the new construction will complement the streetscape. Mr. Kochard further stated that Lehigh University is particularly proud of the long legacy the owners have with the institution. Mr. Kochard asked that City Council vote favorably on Resolution 11 D, Certificate of Appropriateness – 15-19 West Fourth Street.
Vanessa Williams, 333 East Washington Avenue, President of the Network of Young Professionals, expressed full support for the project for the opening of a restaurant and lounge at 15 –19 West Fourth Street, the site of a former church. Ms. Williams said this is the type of amenity that young professionals are looking for in this region. Ms. Williams stressed it is critical that the Lehigh Valley labor market stay in competition with Philadelphia and New York. Ms. Williams commented that the owners have put a lot of foresight into the project, and noted they have worked with the Historical Commission to make sure it is appropriate for the streetscape. Ms. Williams, indicating the businesses in the area are in support of the project as well, thought it would be a great idea to support this type of project.
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. Tabled Items
1. Authorizing Records Destruction – Controller's Office
2. Authorizing Records Destruction – Bureau of Purchasing
3. Authorizing Records Destruction – Department of Water and Sewer Resources
4. Authorizing Records Destruction – Tax Bureau
5. Authorizing Tower Lease Agreement with T-Mobile – Clearview Park
Meg Holland, City Controller, noted over the last few months the Departments have been organizing records for retention and destruction, based on guidelines of her Department and the Law Bureau, and other documents that she has uncovered. Pointing out the process has needed to be done for several years, Ms. Holland said all the items listed for destruction in the Resolutions are recommended and instructed to be destroyed within municipal statutes, and have been held beyond the statutory period at this point. During the process, Ms. Holland advised she came across the Mishkin report of 2001. The report was the result of a $5,000 State grant to the City for the hiring of Janet Mishkin to determine how the City should organize records, and follow the State destruction policy. In addition, Ms. Mishkin identified historical documents and archival information and listed where they are stored. The report indicates the historical and archival documents should be consolidated in one area and preserved. The report also highlighted artwork that was found throughout the City offices and storage areas. Ms. Holland informed the Members that a museum expert has volunteered to inventory and price all the artwork in City Hall at no charge. Ms. Holland advised that a representative of the Fine Arts Commission will inventory and value sculptures at City Hall in addition to artwork given by the Fine Arts Commission to the City. Ms. Holland notified the Members that the next phase of the project is to continue the destruction of the superfluous items and then to consolidate the historical items. Ms. Holland explained that the records requested and recommended to be destroyed based on State statute are scheduled for destruction on August 27, 2008 and will be in a certain area if anyone would like to view them before they are destroyed. Ms. Holland highlighted a booklet titled, An Interim Report of the City of Bethlehem, issued in 1956 that was among the items of historical value. Ms. Holland noted the booklet shows a plan of how the City Center was initially going to look which was a historical type building instead of its present modern style. Another booklet discovered was a summary of the history of the Bach Choir.
Mr. Leeson, offering his personal observations, stated when he served as City Solicitor and Council Solicitor, he had occasion to go through a lot of the records and advised they are of no value. Mr. Leeson affirmed that, in his opinion, Ms. Holland has given an accurate summary of the assessment of the value of the records which is really none. Mr. Leeson agreed there is a severe problem in City Hall of running out of storage room. Acknowledging the review was appropriate to be conducted and the questions of Council were appropriate to be asked, Mr. Leeson said he thinks the time has come to follow through with destruction of the valueless records. Mr. Leeson, commenting that anyone can look at the records if they think the records might have value, confirmed he has looked at the records and the recommendations for programmed destruction of the records are well thought out and in his view appropriate. Mr. Leeson said he has no problem moving forward with the matter when deemed appropriate to act upon by the President.
Mr. Schweder, raising a point of order, questioned if the Resolutions should be removed from the table before they can be discussed.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, stated there should be a motion to take the matter off the table and vote on the motion.
President Donchez, affirming he had announced at the beginning of Courtesy of the Floor that the items may be removed, noted the Tabled Resolutions could be considered under Agenda Item 11, Resolutions.
B. Unfinished Business
1. Establishing Article 314 – Security Cameras
2. Political Contributions and Expenditures – Proposed Ordinance
3. Gift of Real Estate – LVIP
C. Old Business – Members of Council
A. Business Administrator – Tabled Items – Council Agenda
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 25, 2008 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, requesting consideration of resolutions to approve the tabled items from the July 15, 2008 City Council Meeting authorizing records destruction from the Bureau of Purchasing and Tax Bureau. Attached to the memorandum were e-mails from Alex Karras, Tax Administrator, and Mary Jo Reed, Director of Purchasing, confirming that the records to be destroyed are backed up in the computer system.
President Donchez stated that under Agenda Item 11, Resolutions, Council can consider taking the Resolutions off the Table.
B. Police Commissioner – Reimbursement – Police Office Training
The Clerk read a memorandum dated July 31, 2008 from Randall P. Miller, Police Commissioner, in which it was requested that a Resolution be considered for the purpose of the City’s receiving reimbursement from the State for 60% of the salary during the 20 weeks time that three individuals will be attending the Allentown Police Academy.
President Donchez stated that Resolution 11 B is listed on the Agenda.
C. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public
Property – Celtic Fest, Inc. – Celtic Classic
2008, 2009, and 2010 and Harvest Fest 2008, 2009 and 2010
The Clerk read a memorandum dated August 12, 2008 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Use Permit Agreement between Celtic Fest, Inc. d/b/a Celtic Cultural Alliance and the City for use of various City properties and streets for the Celtic Classic 2008, 2009 and 2010 and Harvest Fest 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution can be listed on the September 2 Agenda.
A. President of Council
President Donchez stated that the Members of Council will have a tour of the Sands BethWorks project on Wednesday, September 17 at 4:00 PM.
1. Administrative Order – Timothy Wynn Fox – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Timothy Wynn Fox to the Fine Arts Commission effective until August 2011. Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-132 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Debra A. Pilorz – Sister City Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Debra A. Pilorz to the Sister City Commission effective until August 2011. Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-133 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
3. Administrative Order – Philip B. Pilorz – Sister City Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Philip B. Pilorz to the Sister City Commission effective until August 2011. Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-134 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
C. Public Safety Committee
Ms. Dolan, in Chairman Mowrer’s absence, read an oral report of the Public Safety Committee meeting held August 14, 2008, on the subject of Establishing Article 314 – Security Cameras.
D. Human Resources and Environment Committee
Mr. Reynolds, Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, gave an oral report of the meeting held prior to this evening’s City Council Meeting on the following subjects: Police Department – Adding Police Officer – Liberty High School; and Communications Bureau – Adding Supervisor and Communications Specialist.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 21 – 2008 – Amending General Fund
Budget – Health Bureau – Grants, Police Department
– PCCD Grant – Hiring One Police Officer, and
Mechanical Maintenance Bureau – Small Tools
The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2008 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau - Grants, Police Department – PCCD Grant – Hiring One Police Officer, and Mechanical Maintenance Bureau – Small Tools, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds,
Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 21 – 2008,
hereafter to be known as Ordinance 2008-21, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 22 – 2008 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Treasurer’s Escrow – Ice Rink Renovations, and Easton Avenue Improvements
The Clerk read Bill No. 22 – 2008 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Treasurer’s Escrow – Ice Rink Renovations, and Easton Avenue Improvements, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds,
Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 22 – 2008,
hereafter to be known as Ordinance 2008-22, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 23 – 2008 – Establishing Streets – General Plan of Streets
The Clerk read Bill No. 23 – 2008 – Establishing Streets – General Plan of Streets, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING, ON THE GENERAL
PLAN OF STREETS AND MAP OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM AND VICINITY, AND OPENING FOR
PUBLIC USE AND TRAVEL, PORTIONS OF VARIOUS
STREETS THROUGHOUT THE CITY WHICH WERE PAVED.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds,
Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 23 – 2008
was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 24 – 2008 - Amending Article 121 – Gaming Local Share Account
The Clerk read Bill No. 24 – 2008 - Amending Article 121 – Gaming Local Share Account, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM
AMENDING ARTICLE 121, ENTITED FINANCE,
ESTABLISHING A GAMING LOCAL SHARE ACCOUNT
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds,
Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 24 – 2008
was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Installation of Traffic Signal – 1435 Eighth Avenue
Ms. Dolan and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-135 that approved the installation of a traffic signal at the high volume driveway located 1435 Eighth Avenue (Plaza on Eighth), subject to the approval of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation, and in accordance with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code and the Regulations for traffic signs, signals, and markings of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
B. Requesting Reimbursement – Training of Police Officers
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-136 that authorized the City to obtain reimbursement of monies for expenses incurred for Officers Emily Schock, Luke Trevezoa, and Kelly McLaughlin pursuant to the training provisions of the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Act, and agreeing that while receiving funds from the Commonwealth pursuant to the Act, the City shall adhere to the rules established by the Commission.
Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan moved to consider Resolution 11 C and Resolutions 11 E through 11 K as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 1-5 West Fourth Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-137 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace existing signage at 1-5 West Fourth Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 131 East Wall Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-139 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to repoint the brick façade at 131 East Wall Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 574 Main Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-140 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to change the graphics on the awnings at 574 Main Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 55 Lehigh Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-141 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to erect a temporary banner at 55 Lehigh Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 55 Lehigh Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-142 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the facades at 55 Lehigh Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 505 Main Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-143 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the existing storefront at 505 Main Street.
J. Certificate of Appropriateness – 451 Main Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-144 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the existing storefront at 451 Main Street.
K. Certificate of Appropriateness – 131 East Church Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-145 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add a side porch at 131 East Church Street.
Voting AYE on Resolution 11 C and Resolutions 11 E through 11 K: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolutions passed.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 15-19 West Fourth Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 2008-138 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish the existing rectory and construct a new restaurant/lounge incorporating the church at 15-19 West Fourth Street.
Mr. Schweder, affirming he intends to vote in favor of the Resolution, commented as he has done several times in the past, that what concerns him is that some Certificates of Appropriateness are not finished business and some matters are still left up to the Historic Board. Consequently, if Council gives approval the matter moves ahead. Mr. Schweder noted it happens infrequently but he has raised concerns in the past, and added there are other times when the work has been done before Council is asked to vote on the Certificates of Appropriateness.
Mrs. Belinski recalled she does not remember a time when a representative of Lehigh University has come before City Council in support of anything that the Members are voting on. Mrs. Belinski, commenting she finds it strange that Lehigh University is concerned about the neighborhood, recounted that years ago the home of her in-laws was taken by Lehigh University. In addition, Mrs. Belinski observed that some residents have moved from the City as a result of students living in neighborhoods. Mrs. Belinski, advising she intends to vote in favor of the Resolution because she is in favor of saving the church façade, said it puzzles her that Lehigh University is speaking on behalf of the project, and wondered why it was felt necessary.
L. Authorizing Tower Lease Agreement – TTM Operating Corporation – South Mountain Park
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 2008-146 that authorized a Tower Lease Agreement between the City and TTM Operating Corporation, Inc., for the purpose of installing and/or operating radio communications equipment on the tower located in South Mountain Park on South Mountain Drive, according to the terms of the agreement.
Removing Resolutions from the Table (Agenda Items 6 A 1, 2, and 4)
Ms. Dolan and Mrs. Belinski moved to take Resolutions 11 M, N, and O (Agenda Items 6 A 1, 2, and 4) from the Table. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
M. Authorizing Records Destruction – Controller’s Office
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2008-147 that approved the disposition of public records from the Controller’s Office, as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on July 16, 1993 and Resolution 13,076.
Ms. Dolan, referring to Communication 7 A from the Business Administrator, highlighted the fact that the records in question are backed up on the computer so that the records requested to be destroyed will not be gone forever. Ms. Dolan, observing the process was beneficial in that various documents were discovered, thanked the City Controller’s Office for taking the time to look into the matter. Ms. Dolan expressed the hope that this is the beginning of a proactive stance to actively implement the recommendations contained in the report prepared by Janet Mishkin, and that thought can be given to separating out ahead of time what might be historical.
Mr. Schweder, expressing his support of the Resolutions, communicated Council was not deciding to keep paper forever but rather the real concern was that information would be lost without any way to retrieve it. Mr. Schweder, recounting that verification was never received in the process when records destruction requests were made in the past as to whether or not the records were backed up, noted that the current process initiated an important dialog and direction so that information is examined. Mr. Schweder highlighted the fact that what is now being ensured is that relevant information will remain intact and other documents will be eliminated.
N. Authorizing Records Destruction – Bureau of Purchasing
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2008-148 that approved the disposition of public records from the Purchasing Bureau, as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on July 16, 1993 and Resolution 13,076.
O. Authorizing Records Destruction – Tax Bureau
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2008-149 that approved the disposition of public records from the Tax Bureau, as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on July 16, 1993 and Resolution 13,076.
Removing Resolution from the Table (Agenda Item 6 A 5)
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds moved to take Resolution 11 P (Agenda Item 6 A 5) from the Table. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
P. Authorizing Tower Lease Agreement with T-Mobile – Clearview Park
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 2008-150 that authorized the execution of a Tower Lease Agreement between the City of Bethlehem and Omnipoint Communications, Inc., to operate a communications system to be located in Clearview Park at Pinehurst and Abington Roads, according to the terms of the agreement. The Tower Lease Agreement shall be subject to the right of the City of Bethlehem to use the subject pole as a flagpole and to place a flag on the top of the pole, and that tower installation shall be conditioned upon the approval of the FAA.
Mrs. Belinski, referring to information received today from the Bethlehem Area School District through the office of the Parks and Public Property Director, noted the School District explained there are pros and cons, the issue is not clear cut, the School District would go along with the City’s decision in the matter, and the tower is on City property and not on School District property. Mrs. Belinski affirmed that the requested response from the FAA has not yet been received, and stated there should be an answer from the FAA before the matter is voted upon.
Ms. Dolan also referred to the response received today from the Bethlehem Area School District through the office of the Parks and Public Property Director. She further highlighted the fact that in the memorandum from Ralph Carp, Parks and Public Property Director, it was explained that the FAA has to approve the cell tower before it can be installed in any event. Ms. Dolan observed that deferring action on the Resolution is a moot point because the cell tower cannot be constructed before the FAA approves it. Ms. Dolan pointed out this is a source of revenue for the City, and there is the potential for the revenue to be received when it is most needed. Ms. Dolan, restating the School District does not have a problem with it, and the FAA will have to approve it, commented she would act on the recommendation of the Public Works Director that the request be approved.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, stated he has looked at the letter from the School District and would concur and echo the comments of Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan that it is up to City Council, noting it is not on School District property but on City property. Attorney Spadoni affirmed that he had forwarded letters to both the School District and the FAA. In response to President Donchez, Attorney Spadoni recounted that, at a previous Meeting, City Council was pointed in having inquiries made to both the School District and the FAA. Continuing on to restate that a response has not yet been received from the FAA and a response was received from the School District today, Attorney Spadoni advised that would not prevent the Members of Council from voting if they so desire.
Mrs. Belinski, expressing her understanding is that the company cannot construct the cell tower until the FAA approves it, observed it would be appropriate for Council to vote now.
Mr. Schweder, commenting it would seem the FAA cannot approve a hypothetical tower, pointed out that if Council did not vote on the Resolution the matter would never get to the FAA.
Ralph Carp, Parks and Public Property Director, informed the Members it was established through conversation with Christopher Milotich, of Omnipoint Communications, representing T-Mobile, that the FAA does in fact have to review an application submitted by T-Mobile and approve it before the tower can be constructed regardless of where the tower is proposed to be located.
Mr. Schweder observed if Council does not vote on the Resolution then there is no application that would be sent to the FAA because in effect there is no tower to approve. Mr. Schweder, highlighting the fact that it ultimately rests with the FAA, noted Council would have to enact it first before it gets to the FAA.
Mr. Carp, commenting that typically an application is submitted to the FAA and they review and approve it, stated that until a formal application is submitted it would not trigger the FAA’s review process. Mr. Carp communicated that not acting on the matter will delay the process that will occur anyway.
Mr. Reynolds thought is makes sense that the FAA cannot consider an application until they receive it, and in order for the FAA to receive the application Council has to pass the Resolution. Mr. Reynolds recalled that at the Parks and Public Property Committee meeting on the matter it was explained that if the City did not do anything then there would be a problem in that municipalities have to allow cell towers to go somewhere. In addition to lost revenue, Mr. Reynolds thought the longer the matter waits there could be challenges from the company or FCC, for example, with the explanation that the tower needs to be allowed to be constructed somewhere. Acknowledging that Mrs. Belinski’s concerns were legitimate, Mr. Reynolds communicated it would be prudent to act on the Resolution.
Attorney Spadoni suggested that a motion could be considered to make the authorization conditioned upon FAA approval.
Motion – Amending Resolution
Mrs. Belinski moved and Ms. Dolan seconded the motion to amend the Resolution to make the authorization conditioned upon FAA approval.
Mr. Reynolds pointed out that if the Resolution is passed without the condition the construction still needs to be approved by the FAA, and wondered what would be gained by adding the condition.
Mr. Schweder, highlighting the fact that an Ordinance was passed in 1998 under which cell towers are allowed to be sited in that zoning area, stated there is no rationale or legal means to say the City does not want it there. Expressing it seems there is not much choice other than to enact the Resolution, Mr. Schweder commented that if the amending language will lead to that point then he is in favor of it.
Ms. Dolan expressed her concurrence with Mr. Schweder’s comments.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 5. Voting NAY. Mr. Reynolds, 1. The motion passed.
Voting AYE on the Resolution as amended: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
Committee Meeting Announcements
Chairwoman Dolan announced that the Public Works Committee meeting on August 20, 2008 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall for updates on the Water Filtration Plant and Freemansburg Trunk Line has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.
Chairman Leeson announced a Finance Committee meeting on
August 28, 2008 at 4:30 PM in the Mayor’s Conference
Room on the 2007 Audit.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Street, and Peter Crownfield, 569 Brighton Street, read Mr. Scheirer’s prepared statement concerning the Zoning Hearing Board meeting on July 23, 2008 for the development of the Stratford Park area. A summary follows. Mr. Scheirer said there is precedent for appealing such an action since the Administration appealed a decision of the Board concerning East Garrison Street and won in court. Mr. Scheirer pointed out that if the appeal period passes without an appeal, the developer, Jama Barker, will turn over to the City any claim to the middle parcel of 1.3 acres, which would mean the City will own the middle parcel outright, and it will put the City in a stronger position to defend the 2.3 acres along Stratford Street, since that portion reverts to the heirs only if the City abandons the property for park and playground purposes. Mr. Scheirer believed the City could successfully defend the middle parcel against the developer because it only has to show that the parcel was used exclusively for park and playground purposes. Pointing out that the Zoning Hearing Board is supposed to grant variances, while rezoning is supposed to be considered by the Planning Commission and then by the City Council, Mr. Scheirer felt the Zoning Hearing Board ignored the requirements for variances, and also engaged in rezoning, and spot zoning. Mr. Scheirer stressed that the use variance in question, allowing houses on parkland, amounted to a rezoning and should have been submitted to the Planning Commission.
He recounted it was testified that the six twin houses the developer wished to squeeze into half an acre was consistent with RM zoning. When Dominic Villani, a witness for the developer, was asked why he did not pursue detached homes on the property when he had an agreement of sale prior to developer Barker owning the property, Mr. Villani responded that single homes would have been too costly. However, Mr. Scheirer highlighted the fact that the land only cost $50,000.
Mr. Scheirer highlighted the fact that RM zoning is the densest of the five residential zones in the City. The three single family homes on the other side of 16th Avenue are zoned RG, which is the middle of the residential zones according to density. The single family homes to the side and to the rear of the rezoned parcel are zoned RS, which is the second most restrictive. Mr. Scheirer felt that when a small parcel, such as half an acre, is rezoned two or three levels more dense than the surrounding zones, there is in effect spot zoning, which he understands to be illegal. Explaining that the Zoning Hearing Board also ignored the requirements for a variance, Mr. Scheirer stressed that putting twin houses on parkland in the midst of all the detached homes will be injurious to the values of the single family homes, and therefore injurious to the neighborhood and detrimental to the public welfare. Mr. Scheirer further questioned where is the proof of unnecessary hardship, and pointed out he finds it beyond the realm of probability that the applicant was not advised of the restrictions before the purchase of the land this past January.
Mr. Scheirer noted he is uncertain as to who really owns the half acre that is called 829 16th Avenue. He observed that, to accept the sale from Blue Ridge Real Estate Company to developer Barker, one has to believe that the only mistakes that were made were on various engineering drawings and in the lack of tax bills, and that no mistakes were made in recording deeds, such as not losing a deed. In other words, the recorder of deeds did not lose deed implications until it became time to notify the tax office or the tax office mislaid the notification. Mr. Scheirer questioned why Blue Ridge Real Estate company did not deed this parcel as well to the City for park and playground purposes. He found it very difficult to believe that Blue Ridge had some plan for this strangely shaped and isolated half acre, bounded by City-owned property, by 16th Avenue, and by other land donated to the City by Blue Ridge. He felt that clearly it was an oversight. Mr. Scheirer further wondered why Blue Ridge did not correct that oversight by making the grant of land now.
Mr. Scheirer pointed out the possibility of adverse possession, since the City has been cutting the grass and otherwise maintaining this property for some eighty years. He also observed there is the distinct possibility that Stratford Park was an Indian burial ground for the Delaware Indians.
Mr. Scheirer stressed that converting parkland into housing is not only bad zoning, it is also bad planning and bad for the image of Bethlehem. He asserted that the planning for these new residents is being done by developers and their lawyers, which makes the planning in Bethlehem an oligarchy rather than a democracy. He emphasized that it is more than ironic that the residents do the real work to make a real city, while the developers and their lawyers reap the profits, often at the expense of the residents. He said it is still more ironic that it is constantly heard that there is a lack of affordable housing, yet neighborhoods such as Stratford Park, which are more affordable than some other neighborhoods, are at the mercy of developers.
Mr. Scheirer highlighted the fact that if anything further is to be done on this matter, it will involve a lawyer, and the neighborhood cannot afford to hire one. He felt it is up to City Council, as representatives of the people of the City, to take further action. Mr. Scheirer asked that Council act this evening at this meeting to refer this matter to the appropriate committee, which can then meet and report at the next Council Meeting, giving Council time to take two votes at its September meetings, before the appeal period will likely expire on October 6.
Mr. Scheirer stated that in his opinion the Zoning Hearing Board not only ignored a number of the requirements for variances, and engaged in rezoning, it also engaged in spot zoning, and additionally took unto itself the powers of a planning agency, without the required review by City Council. Mr. Scheirer expressed if it is believed that planning should continue to lie with the Planning Commission and this Council, then Council will want to carefully scrutinize any future nominations to the Zoning Hearing Board. Stressing he does not think one will find any decision worse than this, Mr. Scheirer communicated that the immediate fate of city planning lies in Council’s hands.
Mr. Schweder commented that approximately 25-30 years ago there was a concern by City Council at that time regarding the inordinate amount of zoning variances and changes the City was experiencing. As a result, City Council enacted a moratorium for a set period of time when no action could be taken brought before Planning or Zoning. Mr. Schweder, recalling that revising the Zoning Ordinance has been under discussion for about five years, pointed out that the latest Master Plan has been under discussion for a year and has not really yielded any new information. Mr. Schweder observed if there is a legal way to curtail the current heightened climate of zoning and development changes throughout the City until the Zoning Ordinance can be revised then he would be prepared to bring that forward as soon as possible in working with the Council Solicitor. Mr. Schweder, recalling the discussions at a previous Meeting about the Elliott Heights development, informed the assembly of his amazement when he drove on Mary Street in Northeast Bethlehem last Saturday morning and saw that a single ranch home had been replaced with three two and a half story townhouses. Mr. Schweder stressed that the City is in the process of destroying the very fabric of its neighborhoods, and there must be more stringent zoning and limitations on what can be placed in areas where structures are being torn down. Mr. Schweder communicated that, if there is a way to hold the process in abeyance, then Council needs to do so. Mr. Schweder noted that the Community Development Committee that he chairs is probably the appropriate Committee to review a proposal. Mr. Schweder observed there may be a way to state that there is a pending Zoning Ordinance in order to prevent further future zoning changes and projects from moving forward.
Attorney Spadoni, explaining that he will study the matter, pointed out a case he is aware of that went to the Supreme Court is a Township in York County that had a moratorium.
President Donchez asked Attorney Spadoni to follow-up on Mr. Schweder’s points to see if the requests throughout the City can be curtailed, and to report back to Council. President Donchez, expressing his agreement with Mr. Schweder, pointed out in different parts of the City developers will purchase a property and tear it down to build bigger projects in its place. President Donchez concurred that the Community Development Committee would be the appropriate Committee to discuss the matter.
Mrs. Belinski informed the assembly that the former Parks and Public Property Director took care of the Stratford Park property for probably over 30 years. Mrs. Belinski thought the City had every right to claim the half acre since it should rightfully belong to the City. Mrs. Belinski questioned how Blue Ridge Real Estate Company could sell the property after neglected it for all the years while the City was maintaining it.
Cassiano Henriques, 1259 Mechanic Street, advised he has lived on the South Side for 36 years. Highlighting the fact that his tenants are at the Meeting this evening, Mr. Henriques explained they never had parking problems, but now the City bought the property for the Greenway. Mr. Henriques questioned where are people supposed to park. He further highlighted the fact that on some streets there are meters. Mr. Henriques asked City officials to please think about the people. Mr. Henriques recalled that a short block of Polk Street used to be open in the past but is now closed and the sign has been taken down. Mr. Henriques said he would appreciate if the City would put the sign back up. Focusing on street repairs, Mr. Henriques explained that in the vicinity of Third Street and Fortuna Street a fire hydrant was leaking, the City fixed a portion of the street but a short distance away there was another hole that the City did not patch. Near his garage between 1259 and 1261 Fortuna Street there is a patch of blacktop that washed away and has not been repaired for over a year.
Public Transportation; One Way Pairs
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, observing it seems the City wants to be a cosmopolitan, metropolitan area, explained that the City has a totally inadequate transportation system including limited hours of operation, and infrequent service. Mr. Pfenning, while relating that his experiences when riding the LANTA buses were fairly good, highlighted the fact that almost a majority of the time the buses departed ahead of schedule, and riders have to wait almost an hour for the next bus. He further detailed the long distances from bus stops to destinations such as the St. Luke’s Hospital therapy offices at Union Station, in addition to the lack of sidewalks in that specific area. Mr. Pfenning remarked it would have been nice if the $3 million received by the City to build a new parking garage could have been made available to improve public transportation. Mr. Pfenning highlighted the fact that LANTA needs riders to extend service.
Mr. Pfenning asked the status of the one way pairs and counterflow procedures.
Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, responded the preliminary design has been completed, PennDot will review the project, and a public meeting will be held to review the project once more before construction proceeds.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, distributed photographs to the Members of Council. Mr. Rodriquez commented that the entire wall at Yosko Park should have been done instead of just a portion. He pointed out that at the handball court at the area of the former shed it should be filled in with concrete because it is very dangerous. Mr. Rodriquez suggested that when staff are not occupying the office the door should be closed in view of the recent incident involving a child who went through the office to the swimming pool area that he reported. He acknowledged the Police are doing a good job but said they have to stay alert. Mr. Rodriquez asked the Police Department to be more concerned about speeding at pedestrian crossings throughout the City and particularly at Five Points. He asked how the City Forester can be contacted. Turning to illegal parking on the Greenway, Mr. Rodriquez pointed out that almost the next day the issue was addressed by the City. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that occurrences in the community need to be reported. He talked about the increased crime level and said everyone is at risk.
Five Points Area
Chuck Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, referred to the sketch of the Five Points area that he had distributed to the Members of Council. Mr. Nyul explained a problem on Sheets Street and the nearby pedestrian crossing involving cars coming in one direction that must stop for pedestrians while at the same time cars that have a green light are coming from Broadway towards Wyandotte Street which could lead to a deadly accident involving motorists and pedestrians. He brought the Members attention to the second sketch that showed a repositioning of the crosswalk so that pedestrians, especially school children, would not be in between cars. Mr. Nyul asked the City to take care of the situation before Broughal School reopens.
Mr. Nyul, recalling the FAA did not allow the Embassy suites to build an eight story building, also recounted the FAA asked the City to move a tower to the mountain side but the City refused so that the FAA may not look positively on the current cell tower request.
Elliott Heights; Cops in Community Program
Guillermo Lopez, 1404 Budd Avenue, expressed that the residents of Elliott Heights are very concerned about the development planned in the neighborhood.
Mr. Lopez informed the assembly he is the grant coordinator for the Cops in Community program that is a partnership between the Police Department, National Coalition Building Institute, and Community Oriented Policing Services. Mr. Lopez commended the Police Department for their partnership in the program that he explained is about working together with the community, having closer relationships, and how to deal with situations before they become crises. He announced the next workshop on September 20 at Fowler Family Center on the South Side, and added that a report will be made on the program.
Bill Kovacs, 1836 West Union Boulevard, expressed his opinion that some of the musical performances at Musikfest were not reflective of the image of family oriented activities for the City. Mr. Kovacs questioned the number and location of handicapped parking spaces available during the festival.
Mr. Kovacs highlighted the fact that in other cities such as Cambridge, Massachusetts the University is contributing money to the city for the services they are given in contrast to Lehigh University that has a $100 million endowment fund and is benefiting from the City of Bethlehem’s services. He felt that Lehigh University should be taxed on the amount of land they have and their non-education related facilities, and he thought hospitals should be taxed as well.
Assessment of the Members of Council
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, presented an assessment of the Members of Council by a group of citizens who regularly attend the City Council Meetings.
Removal of Buildings in South Bethlehem Historic District
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, commented she has heard that Ginny’s Lunchonette and Orchard Knoll located on Third Street are to be torn down. Ms. Pongracz asked why the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation Commission, of which she is a member, has not been consulted, especially in light of the fact that buildings located in a historic area shall not be demolished without coming before the Historic Commission. Ms. Pongracz expressed the hope that the matter will be relayed to the Administration.
Certificate of Appropriateness – 15-19 West Fourth Street; Public Transportation
Vanessa Williams, 333 East Washington Avenue, president of the Network of Young Professionals, commended the Members of Council for passing the Resolution to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for 15-19 West Fourth Street.
Ms. Williams, advising that she rides the bus every day, echoed the comments of Mr. Pfenning, and informed the Members she has been invited to serve on LANTA’s advisory board. Ms. Williams noted that she will relate the comments to LANTA. Ms. Williams added that the consultant expressed that local government supports public transportation the least out of everyone. Ms. Williams asked Council to think about supporting LANTA and revision of the transportation system.
Andrew Prickler, 1843 Willow Park Road, Bethlehem Township, stated he is a City employee, and additionally owns his own waste hauling and disposal service. Mr. Prickler referred to a memorandum from Thomas Marshall, Recycling Coordinator, in which it was recommended that the City sign a 5-1/2 year recycling contract with a 48% increase, with more recyclables to be collected. Mr. Prickler wondered who is going to follow the loads to make sure they are from the City of Bethlehem so that the City receives the money for the additional commodities. He also stressed that people already have a hard time paying bills and will have to pay more under the new recycling contract. Stressing the two trash trucks that will be purchased to pick up yard waste twice a year will be idle the rest of the time, Mr. Prickler asserted employees who will be hired could do the recycling in-house as Union employees. Enumerating the various City facilities that do not have recycling including parks, Fire Stations, Golf Course, etc., Mr. Prickler stated that 60%-80% of the material being taken to the landfill is recyclable of which he has pictures. He added that the City spent $16,000 on landfill tipping fees for six months this year. Exemplifying that cutting the amount in half could provide funding towards a new tractor, Mr. Prickler informed the Members the one he is using breaks down almost every week. He continued on to highlight the fact that City employees drive City vehicles back and forth to work that costs the taxpayers money. Mr. Prickler notified Council that at times the employees have been told they cannot get things they need to do their jobs. Mr. Prickler communicated there is friction and low morale. Noting the Freemansburg-Main Street extension is slated to be closed September 1, Mr. Prickler expressed the hope that the temporary stop light will be installed at Pembroke Road and Washington Street near Freemansburg in view of the amount of traffic that will be added to an already dangerous intersection.
George Samuelson, 2021 Fernway Avenue, commented that he wished more attention could be paid to the condition of Clearview Park that he and his daughter use frequently, and advised there is trash and graffiti there. Mr. Samuelson queried if there is a recreational employee at the park and if so whether the person could help to pick up the trash or report it to the City. Mr. Samuelson explained that in his neighborhood where Homestead Avenue and Rosemont Avenue fork there was graffiti on the street itself that was reported to the City by the neighbors who ultimately painted the blacktop themselves. Mr. Samuelson expressed that the neighbors were not very happy with the response they received from the City. Pointing out there is no stop sign on Beverly Avenue in either direction, while Homestead Avenue has a stop sign, Mr. Samuelson noted it is a dangerous intersection where motorists speed through, and wondered whether there could be a four way stop sign. Mr. Samuelson further advised there frequently are illegally parked cars in front of Jerry’s Deli in the Lehigh Shopping Center.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.