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October 20, 2009
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Reverend Judith Sheriff, of West Side Moravian Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. President Donchez called for a moment of silence in memory of James A. Delgrosso, former Member of Council and Mayor, who passed away on October 8, 2009. Present were Karen Dolan, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, J. Michael Schweder, and Robert J. Donchez, 6. Jean Belinski was absent, 1.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of October 6, 2009 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on Ordinances and Resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening – 5 Minute Time Limit)
Lease Agreement – Adams Outdoor – Billboard
at 127 River Street
Alan Jennings, of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, stressed that access to credit is very important, especially for residents of South Bethlehem. Mr. Jennings expressed his support for moving billboards in order to accommodate PNC bank that will be opening a branch on the South Side. He continued on to point out that people living there will be able to be served by another financial institution, it will strengthen the tax base of the City as well, and the opening of the bank makes a strong statement about the direction of the South Side.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed his support of the project and said it will be an excellent advantage to the South Side and is something that is needed.
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Tabled Items
B. Unfinished Business
1. Bill No. 28 - 2008 – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Various Sections
2. Establishing Article 1716 – Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest
C. Old Business – Members of Council
A. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement – Artsquest – Christkindlmarkt 2009, Christmas City Follies 2009, and First Night 2009
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 15, 2009 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and Use Permit Agreement between the City and ArtsQuest for use of various City properties for the time periods listed for Christkindlmarkt 2009, Christmas City Follies 2009, and First Night 2009, according to the terms of the Agreement.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution will be placed on the November 4 Agenda.
A. President of Council
C. Community Development Committee
Chairman Schweder presented an oral report of the Community Development Committee meeting of Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall, on the subject of the proposed 2010 CDBG and HOME Programs. The Committee, by a vote of two in favor and one absent, tabled the proposal. The Committee requested that the Administration forward a revised proposal that fully funds the request of New Bethany Ministries for a total of $300,000 ($100,000 in CDBG funds and $200,000 in HOME funds) which was not included in the Administration’s proposal.
Committee Meeting Announcement
Chairman Schweder announced a Community Development Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall to again review the Proposed 2010 CDBG and HOME Programs and requested revisions.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 23 – 2009 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau Grants, Parks Department – Temporary Help, Police Department – Overtime
The Clerk read Bill No. 23 – 2009 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau Grants, Parks Department – Temporary Help, and Police Department – Overtime, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 23 – 2009, hereafter to be known at Ordinance 2009-24, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 24 – 2009 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Parks Department – Park/Playground Improvements, DAR Memorial House, Planning Bureau – Eastern Gateway Streetlight Project, TANF Program – Repayment
The Clerk read Bill No. 24 – 2009 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Parks Department – Park/Playground Improvements, DAR Memorial House, Planning Bureau – Eastern Gateway Streetlight Project, and TANF Program – Repayment, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 24 – 2009, hereafter to be known at Ordinance 2009-25, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 25 – 2009 – Amending Community Development Budget – Reprogramming Funds, American Reinvestment Recovery Act (ARRA)
The Clerk read Bill No. 25 – 2009 – Amending Community Development Budget – Reprogramming Funds, and American Reinvestment Recovery Act (ARRA), on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 25 – 2009, hereafter to be known at Ordinance 2009-26, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Allocating 2009 Pension State Aid
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2009-177 that authorized the appropriate City officials to allocate $2,787,060.20 of the 2009 General Municipal Pension System State Aid among the City's pension plans as follows: Police - $648,321.32; Fire - $648,321.32; PMRS - $648,321.31; and Pension Bond Payment – May 1, 2009 - $842,096.25.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
B. Authorizing Traffic Signal Easement Agreement – PennDot – Third Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 2009-178 that authorized the execution of an Easement Agreement between the City and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the purpose of granting traffic signal easements to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation along (1) a portion of Property of the City of Bethlehem located at the intersection of Third Street and New Street, (2) a portion of property of the City of Bethlehem located at the intersection of Third Street and Wyandotte Street and (3) a portion of property of the City of Bethlehem located at the intersection of Third Street and Webster Street, all in accordance with the Easement Agreements.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
C. Authorizing Lease Agreement – Adams Outdoor – 127 River Street
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2009-179 that authorized the execution of a Lease Agreement between the City and Adams Outdoor Advertising Limited Partnership for the purpose of erecting a billboard sign at 127 River Street which abuts Route 378 near the Hill-to-Hill Bridge, according to the Agreement.
Mr. Reynolds, noting he will vote yes on the Resolution, thought it was a win-win situation for many people involved, especially residents of the South Side where financial institutions are underrepresented.
Ms. Dolan, advising she met with one of the principals of Adams Outdoor Advertising, observed that two billboards will be removed from the Greenway and instead there will be a billboard in a new style that can be programmed for advertising as well as messages; e.g., emergency messages. Ms. Dolan, stating that she was concerned about the exact placement of the billboard, said Adams Outdoor Advertising prepared multiple design drawings. Ms. Dolan explained she wanted the billboard to be at the same height as the Fritch Fuel billboard to provide symmetry, and to not impair the viewscape as one approaches the Hill-to-Hill Bridge coming South. Ms. Dolan stated she will be voting yes on the Resolution. Ms. Dolan affirmed to Mr. Reynolds that viewshed is the same as viewscape.
President Donchez, stating that he will be voting yes, expressed that Adams Outdoor made many accommodations based on recommendations from Members of Council. In addition, President Donchez highlighted the fact that a very reputable bank will be coming to the City of Bethlehem located in South Bethlehem and everyone will benefit, and he denoted there are no banks on the eastern end of South Bethlehem.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Reynolds moved to consider Resolutions 11 D through 11 L as a group. Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 509 Main Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution 2009-180 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace two exterior lights at the front entrance at 509 Main Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 429 Heckewelder Place
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-181 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to extend the use of the temporary metal siding at 429 Heckewelder Place.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 456 North New Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-182 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness for alternate roof shingles installed at 456 North New Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 550-552 Main Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-183 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to repair the front of the roof and replace the gutters and downspouts at 550-552 Main Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 531 Main Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-184 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to paint the exterior, replace existing signs, and add a new sign at 531 Main Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 736 East Fourth Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-185 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a window sign and a sign above the front door at 736 East Fourth Street.
J. Certificate of Appropriateness – 502 East Fourth Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-186 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the roof and garage doors at 502 East Fourth Street.
K. Certificate of Appropriateness – 129 East Third Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-187 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signs and aluminum storefront finish at 129 East Third Street.
L. Certificate of Appropriateness – 203 East Third Street
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Schweder sponsored Resolution No. 2009-188 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install an awning with signage at 203 East Third Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 D through 11 L: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
Rescheduling First Meeting in November to Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Schweder moved to reschedule the first City Council Meeting in November to Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall from November 3, 2009 which is General Election Day.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds,
Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Time Limit for Citizens
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noted that, at the last City Council Meeting, Al Bernotas spoke about a variance that had been granted to Elias Farmers Market by the Zoning Hearing Board, an issue on which Mr. Bernotas spent six hours researching. Mr. Antalics said it deeply disturbed and appalled him that Mr. Bernotas had to sit down after the five minute time limit for speakers. Mr. Antalics noted people have told him they are discouraged by the five minute time limit for speakers. Mr. Antalics stated that town council meetings are for the voice of the public under the first amendment rights of freedom of speech, and the Members of Council ask the public to elect them to be their public servants. Mr. Antalics remarked that Members of Council are allowed to speak without time limits. Mr. Antalics said he is going to ask citizens to ignore the five minute time limit, and to continue speaking if they feel it is of importance. Mr. Antalics continued on to say if the comments are invalid then they can be gaveled.
President Donchez recounted that in the past there were no time limits for the public under Courtesy of the Floor, it was later changed to twelve minutes, and then to five minutes. President Donchez, observing it has worked well, commented it is for City Council to change the rules.
Elias Farmers Market - Linden Street and Johnston Drive – Zoning Hearing Board Decisions
Al Bernotas, 1004 Johnston Drive, noted that he has more information for the Members of Council regarding the Zoning Hearing Board granting a variance to Elias Farmers Market located at the corner of Linden Street and Johnston Drive. Mr. Bernotas added that he spent another six hours preparing another document. Mr. Bernotas advised that his two issues are the Zoning Hearing Board and the lack of enforcement of the Ordinances. Mr. Bernotas, affirming that he forwarded a letter for the Members of Council through President Donchez, said he was concerned about four areas with regard to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Bernotas stated that in the notice of hearing, the particular articles that were the subject of the appeal were never specified, were not published, and were not in the minutes of the Board’s meeting. Mr. Bernotas noted that in every other hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board the articles were published. Mr. Bernotas commented that another issue the neighbors are considering appealing was the addition and enlargements, and they felt there were errors in the dimensional calculations of the variance and that they were not accurate. Mr. Bernotas added that the Zoning Hearing Board heard what the neighbors had to say and fundamentally ignored it. Mr. Bernotas communicated that in the neighbors’ estimation they felt the Zoning Hearing Board illegally interpreted some of the Ordinances. Mr. Bernotas, noting the property is a non-conforming use in a Residential zone, stated one of the buildings on the property burned down and from his reading of the Ordinance in order to restore something in a non-conforming area it is either restored as is or with no new non-conforming uses. He continued on to point out that the building would be torn down and the building would be expanded. Explaining that he was informed the building is a conforming use which is a garage storage area, Mr. Bernotas questioned if it is a conforming use how can it be torn down to expand a non-conforming use. Mr. Bernotas said based on the letter he sent to President Donchez he was asking that City Council join the neighbors in the appeal, and stated he would like to hear about that. Mr. Bernotas, informing the Members he has a document this evening that he will submit to City Council, stated it outlines the summary of the Ordinances that the neighbors feel are being violated. Mr. Bernotas further stated there are several issues for which he could not find an ordinance that were being violated because in the RR Residential zone there are no Ordinances that govern industrial or retail usage so the neighbors do not know which particular Ordinance to research to see if things are happening the way they should be. Mr. Bernotas advised he also has a series of Zoning questions. Mr. Bernotas notified the Members that the particular violations that the neighbors are concerned about are parking a semi-trailer that is a trailer with no front wheels in an RR District, and parking a road tractor in an RR District. Mr. Bernotas informed the Members that Elias Farmers Market is also functioning right now as a distribution center in an RR District, and the neighbors did not know that until they went to the Zoning Hearing Board meeting and in testimony they found out that products were being distributed to restaurants and the other Allentown store. Stressing that the property is like a dump, Mr. Bernotas explained there are many kinds of discarded material and litter all over the place, and weeds growing up to hide the junk.
President Donchez informed Mr. Bernotas that he can submit the information he has this evening and it will be forwarded to Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, for review. President Donchez noted that Attorney Spadoni would have to address whether City Council could become party to a lawsuit.
Mr. Bernotas affirmed that he read the copy of the memorandum dated October 18, 2009 that he received from Attorney Spadoni. Mr. Bernotas restated that the neighbors would appreciate City Council joining them in the appeal or joining as a friend of the court.
Mr. Schweder queried whether procedurally City Council would have to act no later than the next City Council Meeting.
Attorney Spadoni, stating he has not seen the opinion, commented that in speaking with Mr. Bernotas on the telephone on Saturday, he thinks City Council would have until November 6, 2009.
Mr. Schweder noted the last day City Council could take action is on November 4, 2009 that is the date of the rescheduled City Council Meeting. Mr. Schweder, recalling he has tried to do this previously but failed in trying to appeal Zoning Hearing Board decisions, stated he is prepared to sponsor the action if Attorney Spadoni will prepare what needs to be done in order to put the matter on the Agenda for the next City Council Meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. Mr. Schweder stated that he would move that City Council join the residents in appealing the decisions of the Zoning Hearing Board in the matter of Elias Farmers Market.
Mr. Schweder, referring to requests from neighbors on Macada Road concerning a cement business on Macada Road that was being operated out of an RR District next to the cemetery, said he was not sure there was enforcement regarding requiring the business to be removed since it was clearly in violation of any number of tenets of the RR District. Mr. Schweder queried if anything was done with respect to that matter. Mayor Callahan commented that he would have the matter checked.
President Donchez asked Attorney Spadoni to draft a Resolution for the November 4, 2009 City Council Agenda to be considered and voted on.
Mr. Leeson, noting he was unable to attend the Zoning Hearing Board meeting on this matter, stated that he wrote a letter at the request of the residents both in his private capacity as a citizen of that area and also noting he was speaking as a City Council person to oppose the matter. Mr. Leeson advised he would join Mr. Schweder as a seconder of the Resolution.
President Donchez affirmed that the Resolution will be on the November 4, 2009 City Council Agenda.
Ms. Dolan queried whether City Council can join an appeal without the Administration. President Donchez, recalling the case of Foulk Lumber and the issue of sprinklers, thought there was precedence for City Council to appeal on its own since it is an independent body. Attorney Spadoni indicated in the affirmative. Ms. Dolan wondered whether it would strengthen Council’s position if it were to get the support of the Administration. President Donchez communicated that in his personal opinion the answer would be yes. Ms. Dolan wondered whether it would be prudent to send a memorandum to the Law Bureau to ask if the Administration would wish to join City Council in the matter.
Mr. Schweder, recalling that during the debate on whether or not City Council should have its own Solicitor he thought at that time that Council did not need its own Solicitor, pointed out that the only lawyer whose opinion has standing with this body is City Council’s Solicitor and not the Administration’s Solicitor. Mr. Schweder communicated that, although it would be well to have the Administration’s support, if Attorney Spadoni gives City Council the wherewithal to take action, then it is appropriate for the Members of Council to proceed to vote on the Resolution at the next City Council Meeting.
Ms. Dolan clarified that she is not predicating her vote on the opinion of the Administration but rather is querying about what would produce the strongest support.
Sue Fang, 1847 Marchant Drive, advised that her property and that of Elias Farmers Market is divided by one fence. Ms. Fang informed the Members she is at the Meeting to seek Council’s support to oppose the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision on Elias Farmers Market that will become a warehouse distribution center with three loading docks next to her bedroom window. Currently, Elias Farmers Market has one loading dock that is far away from her bedroom window but their operation at night and during the early morning hours often wakes up her family, and causes her and her husband to be sleep deprived. Ms. Fang continued on to say that the owner of Elias Farmers Market is fully aware of this but now is going to build a huge warehouse even closer to her property, with utilities on the rooftop, that will cause further disruption of her life. Ms. Fang stressed that the noise from the tractor trailers loading and unloading, engines running to keep refrigerated items cold until unloading, and from utilities on the rooftop, in addition to pollution from the diesel and exhaust, will put her life in danger and will have a detrimental effect on the nearby residents. Ms. Fang, pointing out that she alone cannot do anything about this hardship that Elias Farmers Market created for her, begged the Members to help her to overturn the Zoning Hearing Board decisions. Ms. Fang notified the Members that she and her husband complained to the owner of Elias Farmers Market about the operation of the tractor trailers, garbage and recycling pickup that make loud sounds and shake their house, the open garbage dumpster, the smell of garbage, and litter all over her and her neighbors’ yards. Ms. Fang advised that for the past two and a half years she has lived there little has been done and she feels hopeless. Highlighting the fact that Elias Farmers Market is located in a Residential zoning area, Ms. Fang stated that residential zoning priorities should be there to protect residents’ normal daily living. Ms. Fang continued on to say that Elias Farmers Market’s warehouse violates the Zoning code, will create a hardship for the neighbors, damage neighbors lives and the neighborhood, and jeopardize public safety. Ms. Fang, questioning Elias Farmers Market’s business model, wondered whether it is to make more money no matter who is hurt. Ms. Fang asked why the Zoning Hearing Board approved the warehouse distribution plan despite the neighborhood opposition. Ms. Fang begged the Members of Council to make a justified decision.
Bethlehem Fields - Lights
Joan Madzarac, 2074 Easton Road, Lower Saucon Township, recounted that she was at the October 6, 2009 City Council Meeting to again make an appeal to have five street lights, one flood light, and six porch lights that are directed on her property from the Bethlehem Fields project on Cherry Lane and Easton Road removed or changed to environmentally friendly lights because she has been suffering with the lights shining in her bedroom, bathroom, porch, dining room, and kitchen, and directed on her garage, barn, and trees. Ms. Madzarac said she found out today that it is the City’s responsibility for the street lights. Advising that Greg Cryder, the City’s Electrician, came during the day, Ms. Madzarac stressed that he should come during the night. Ms. Madzarac stated she was informed by Tracy Samuelson, Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning, that caps would be put on the lights. Ms. Madzarac stressed that caps will not work because the lights are double globes that shine right into her house. Enumerating the cost to put shades on her upstairs and downstairs windows, Ms. Madzarac asserted this will not help in the summer and remarked that air conditioning will cost $5,000 and it would cost $1 million to move her house. Ms. Madzarac said that Boyd Wilson is responsible for only the lights on the buildings that are the porch lights and flood light. Ms. Madzarac asked if the City is going to do anything about the matter because there is only one more week before she takes the matter further. Ms. Madzarac added there are four other neighbors who are having the same problem.
Ms. Dolan inquired whether a legal opinion or a response from the Public Works Department has been pursued regarding the matter and the street lights being the City’s issue.
President Donchez recalled that the Administration was asked to look into the issue. President Donchez requested that the Administration review the matter again and provide a response prior to the next City Council Meeting.
Mayor Callahan confirmed that he met with Ms. Madzarac after the last City Council Meeting and the previous time she attended. Mayor Callahan, affirming that he called Ms. Samuelson, said he knows that Ms. Samuelson has been working with Ms. Madzarac and trying to work with Boyd Wilson to deal with lighting impacts from their project. Mayor Callahan, while noting that the issue of the street lights can be looked into, explained his understanding was that the cause of the concerns was the lighting coming from the project itself.
Ms. Madzarac noted the porch lights were taken care of, but seven days later they turned on other lights that were turned off in August.
Mayor Callahan, affirming it will be discussed, stated a time will be set up for a meeting with City staff to look at the lights.
President Donchez requested that Ms. Madzarac meet with the Mayor and the Administration staff after the Meeting, and that a report be provided prior to the next Meeting.
Zoning Hearing Board Decisions
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, observed the discussions this evening centered around the quality of residential life, and continued on to say that the different neighborhoods have characteristics worth preserving. Mr. Scheirer expressed his opinion that the first priority of the City’s government is to preserve the quality of life because if people do not want to live here then there will not really be a city. Focusing on the matter of Elias Farmers Market, Mr. Scheirer said the idea of having three loading docks in an RR Residential zone as a non-conforming use is absolutely ludicrous. Mr. Scheirer asserted that Council’s voting to join the appeal is the only way the matter is going to be resolved because the decisions coming out of the Zoning Hearing Board are getting worse and worse. Pointing out that not every neighborhood has the $10,000 needed to launch an appeal, Mr. Scheirer thought that in order to protect the less affluent neighborhoods as well as the more affluent neighborhoods Council needs to take action, joined by the Administration if possible. Mr. Scheirer remarked that right now there is zoning of, by and for the developer.
Budget - Casino Revenues; Recycling – Celtic Classic
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, noting that at the last Meeting he gave an estimate of next year’s budgeted revenue for the City, advised he should have indicated about $7.1 million excluding table games revenue which he said is still in a state of flux in Harrisburg. Mr. Pfenning reported that Penn National casino near Harrisburg, that also has a race track, has surpassed Sands Casino in wagers and has done so with fewer machines, less capital investment, and without more direct access to the New Jersey and New York markets. Observing there is a billboard off the Minsi Trail Bridge as one approaches the Sands Casino that is advertising the Borgata casino in New Jersey, Mr. Pfenning continued on to compare the number of restaurants, and other amenities and differences between the two casinos. Mr. Pfenning noted there were discussions at last evening’s Northampton County Council meeting concerning the sharing of table games revenues. He continued on to comment on the split of slot revenues among the City, Northampton County and Lehigh County. Mr. Pfenning expressed his disappointment with the State Senator from Northampton County for failing to serve the constituents. Mr. Pfenning, recalling that recycling requirements for festivals were to be included in Use Permit Agreements, asked if language requiring recycling was in the Celtic Classic Use Permit Agreement, and if it was included why was it not enforced since he threw a plastic bottle into the trash barrel.
Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, expressed
the belief that verbiage was in the Musikfest Use Permit Agreement
and is now standard in all Use Permit Agreements.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, asked what is the hesitation to relocate the security camera at the Five Points area, and said he still has not received an answer. He commented that the cameras are not always on. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that the Ale House building is blocking the camera, and he pointed out that another hindering spot is near Pete’s Hot Dogs where there are tree branches. Mr. Rodriquez requested that a camera be installed at Wyandotte Street and West Fourth Street. Agreeing with previous speakers that the quality of life is in the neighborhoods, Mr. Rodriquez questioned why the City is not doing something about these things. Mr. Rodriquez questioned why corners at the South Side Library at New and West Fourth Streets that are very steep were allowed by PennDot. Mr. Rodriquez expressed his disagreement with the comments of a previous speaker regarding citizens speaking beyond the five minute time limit.
President Donchez informed Mr. Rodriquez that Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, did respond in a memorandum to the Mayor concerning the camera at Five Points.
Mayor Callahan, while pointing out some of the information that would be counterproductive to be made public concerns what the camera can and cannot see, advised that he would paraphrase from Police Commissioner Miller’s memorandum. Mayor Callahan, affirming that he did view the cameras, advised he asked for a response from the Police Commissioner. Noting there are a number of reasons why it was not prudent to move the camera at Five Points that is mounted on the traffic signal, Mayor Callahan enumerated them, as follows. The camera locations were determined using crime statistics and field of view. The goal was to be able to see in all five directions on all five streets with one camera. The vendor, that has a lot of experience working in large cities, worked with City staff for several years to determine the best positions. The Five Points camera is mounted on a City traffic standard that overhangs the intersection and provides a view of the streets for one to three blocks of all five streets. There are certain areas that are unable to be seen. The camera cannot be moved further out on the signal arm due to the weight of the camera and the wireless node since the weight will cause the standard to wobble in the wind, overstressing the arm and possibly leading to a collapse of the traffic standard, in addition to not being able to see the camera clearly during high wind conditions. Moving the camera would cause other views to be diminished and, based on crime statistics, the areas in view now are more critical than areas that would be gained if the camera were to be moved. The cost to move the camera would be several thousand dollars, and the City would have to pay a monthly fee if the camera were moved to a utility pole. Five more cameras will be added at Indian Hills and other areas of the South Side, after which there will be a better overall calculation of the area’s needs. Mayor Callahan summarized from the memorandum that at some point the camera could be moved but at this time the crime statistics and other information does not justify the expense of the move.
Randall Miller, Police Commissioner, expressing his understanding of Mr. Rodriquez’s concerns, acknowledged it was reviewed, and noted the Vice Unit confirmed the activity is not as great as it is in some of the other areas around the Five Points areas. In the future, it is an area that will be considered. Police Commissioner Miller, advising he was at the site this morning with the vendor, explained that even if the camera were to be moved to the other traffic standard the trees on Route 378 will block the view of the parking lot and the ministries. Police Commissioner Miller, restating that this morning he and the vendor looked at the area, said possible plans are to consider installing another camera at the traffic standard at Fourth Street and Route 378. Reiterating that the purpose for the Five Points camera is to be able to look at five different streets, Police Commissioner Miller said the position of the camera works perfectly for that purpose. Relating that this evening a citizen driving a vehicle was following a vehicle north on Route 378 into the City, Police Commissioner Miller said he watched the camera, and the Officers were able to stop the vehicle. Police Commissioner Miller, communicating that the hope is to expand the system in the future, explained the system is early in its inception and there has been success. Police Commissioner Miller restated that the vendor who has completed hundreds of such projects has stated the best view to see all those streets is to have the camera positioned where it is currently at Five Points.
Ms. Dolan noted that, in preparation for the Budget Hearings, a memorandum has been drafted and submitted to the Administration with various questions in addition to requesting statistics about the security cameras. Ms. Dolan advised her goal was to make sure that before budget review Council had information about the security camera project.
Mr. Rodriquez asked if Ms. Dolan saw that the camera was facing the Ale House building and was blocking the view of Route 378 north and south bound. Ms. Dolan replied yes, and noted that Mr. Leeson saw it as well. However, Ms. Dolan expressed her understanding is that the primary directive of the camera is to see all five points and so is not doing everything but rather what can be done.
Mold; Lights; Star of Bethlehem - South Mountain
Louise Valeriano, 1122 E. Fourth Street, noting she has addressed the Members of Council several times and has found that the City has no accommodations for handling the issue of stray cats, said she has now discovered that the City has no accommodations or interest in handling mold that may be a serious health problem. Ms. Valeriano confirmed she has had success with her requests for the turning on of lights in various areas by Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works. Ms. Valeriano informed the assembly that during a visit to New York State she saw in the local newspaper an article on Christmas cities in which Bethlehem was mentioned, and that reported one of the nicest things was the star on South Mountain. Ms. Valeriano, noting that her in-laws will be visiting her in Bethlehem this week, pointed out that the star is currently not lit and she asked if the star will be lit by this weekend. Mr. Alkhal later advised that the lights were fixed and now the star is lit again.
City of Bethlehem
Mary Pongracz, 321 West Fourth Street, observing this is not the Bethlehem she grew up in, pointed to the gradual destruction of the South Side in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and further stressed that the Mayor at that time did not listen to the citizens when there was a referendum not to build City Hall in its present location on Church Street. Ms. Pongracz communicated that when one looks at history they can understand that people can do good some of the time, they try to do good most of the time, and people will do some good every day of their lives if that is the fortunate circumstance.
Budget Hearings; City of Bethlehem
Chuck Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, referring to the 2010 Budget Hearings, said he wants Council to be smart about it, to start saying no to a lot of things, yes to other things, and to think about all the taxpayers who are paying every penny in the City. Mr. Nyul expressed he is very disillusioned with the City right now and he does not have a good feeling any more after living here 40 years and raising his family. He added that things can be turned around, and Council should stand up for it.
Elias Farmers Market - Linden Street and Johnston Drive – Zoning Hearing Board Decisions
Steve Long, Marchant Drive, thanked Mr. Schweder and Mr. Leeson for their support regarding the issue of Elias Farmers Market. Mr. Long communicated that what seems irresponsible to him is the blatant disregard of the Zoning Hearing Board for the policies in place, and an uncaring view of the impact. Mr. Long, expressing his opinion that it seems to be about money, observed that if additional tax dollars will be paid by Elias Market for the land it appears that is the bottom line rather than what is right for the City of Bethlehem. Referring to the number of residents as compared with the small number who came to the City Council Meeting, Mr. Long thought that people do not come because they feel they cannot have an impact. Mr. Long urged the Members of Council to support the neighbors in the matter.
President Donchez stated that, following Mr. Bernotas’ appearance at the last City Council Meeting, he did have a telephone conversation with Mr. Bernotas about the matter.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, encouraged the Members of Council to support the Resolution regarding Zoning Hearing Board decisions about Elias Farmers Market, and added that the neighbors have a legitimate gripe. Focusing on the dedication of Illick’s Mill this past weekend, Mr. Grubb thought it was a good example of preservation in Bethlehem. However, Mr. Grubb enumerated instances when preservation was not regarded including the destruction of colonial root cellars at the site of the new Moravian College dormitories without public review, the razing of Broughal Middle School, and plans to tear down the former Bethlehem Steel electric furnace shop. Mr. Grubb, stressing that the Administration and City Council need to address the situation, said one way is to advance the Ordinance that will address the preservation of historic and potentially historic properties. Mr. Grubb pointed out that one by one the history of the community is being destroyed, and stated it is incumbent on the Members of Council and the Administration to reverse that trend. Mr. Grubb did not feel that time limits are needed for those addressing City Council, and that the timer would be helpful for individuals to know how long they have been talking. He thought the gavel and guidance of the Council President should be the determining factor. Mr. Grubb said it was very disheartening at the last City Council Meeting when people were cut short and remarked that is not democracy. Referring to Ms. Valeriano’s comments about the problem of mold, Mr. Grubb informed the assembly that he researched the matter and found that in each case it was recommended that the local health department should be contacted to get assistance. Turning to the light pollution at the Bethlehem Fields development, Mr. Grubb thought it was an ongoing problem in America and it is natural that people want lights to feel safer. Mr. Grubb, observing it is an intrusive issue in neighborhoods and is also a quality of life issue, expressed the hope that the Administration can help address the particular situation, and review how the existing ordinances and codes are applied to lighting installations in view of the fact that light shining continually into a home during the night prevents a resident from sleeping and conducting their lives.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.