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December 1, 2009
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Gerry Hartman, El Shaddai Bethlehem Ministries, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, J. Michael Schweder, and Robert J. Donchez, 7.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of November 17, 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)
Bill No. 37 – 2009 – Amending Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks – Vendor Ordinance
Lynn Logue, 5464 Jaclyn Lane, Vice President of Bethlehem Initiatives for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, spoke on behalf of the Historic District members of the Downtown Bethlehem Association that is a council of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Logue communicated that during the past decade the City has encouraged entrepreneurs to locate restaurants and specialty shops in the downtown, and the City has largely succeeded where other cities have failed because of the restaurants and shops that have located in the downtown areas. Ms. Logue pointed out that success continues as the private sector continues to invest in Bethlehem despite a national recession. She highlighted the fact that business and property owners have invested millions of dollars to maintain the unique and historic charm and atmosphere of Main Street, Broad Street, and beyond. The Historic District members of the Downtown Bethlehem Association do not believe there is a need for food or merchandise vendors on the streets of the historic district. Ms. Logue noted that visitors can find something to eat, buy flowers, a gift or variety of items on every block. The proposed Ordinance for cart vendors creates an unlevel playing field between these new proposed vendors and the existing merchants and property owners, many of which are long-standing businesses which pay rent, taxes, utilities, and create jobs. Under the proposed Ordinance cart vendors would only pay a fraction of the cost and overhead that existing businesses incur. Business owners spend a great deal of money as well as countless hours promoting, decorating, and producing events that bring thousands of people to downtown each year. Emphasizing that merchants are invested in Bethlehem, Ms. Logue said because of their efforts along with investments made by the City of Bethlehem, the Historic District is known far and wide for its charming shops, fine restaurants and cafés, and diverse festivals. Communicating that businesses choose to be in the historic area as opposed to a mall, Ms. Logue pointed out that is why they go through the process of the HARB restrictions. Expressing that people do not want to lose that charm, Ms. Logue noted there is some concern that the presence of street vendors may change the look and the feel of the downtown that visitors have come to enjoy. The members of the group expect that cart vendors would have to comply with the same strict historic standards that have been properly created to establish and maintain the charm of the historic district. The membership believes that the organization needs to be much more involved in helping to develop a policy and approach on an issue that could directly affect the investments, businesses, and atmosphere of the downtown.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, thought that people who are the most impacted by the proposed Ordinance should have the most say. Mr. Grubb said anything that is implemented needs to be a fair and incorruptible process, needs to respect the community’s wishes, should necessitate review by the appropriate historic review board, and fees should be reasonable. Mr. Grubb expressed the opinion that the determinations should be made only by City residents, not City employees or administrators who do not reside in the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Grubb stated that City Council should have the final say on the process developed, in view of the fact that people will come before City Council with their concerns or problems. Mr. Grubb noted he has heard comments reflecting concern about sidewalk café furniture including styles and condition. Mr. Grubb thought that perhaps consideration should be given to creating some standards. Turning to Bill No. 36 - 2009 for a line of credit in the amount of $12.6 million for sewer and water capital projects, Mr. Grubb remarked it is incumbent on Council to receive assurance that the proceeds from the line of credit will only be used for the express purposes. Mr. Grubb said for too long the City has been acting like a consumer who takes cash from one credit card to make payments on another. Noting that the 2010 Budget message touts the paying down of existing debt, Mr. Grubb stressed that even before the 2010 Budget has been approved residents and rate payers are being asked to guarantee and pay back another $12.6 million in additional debt. Mr. Grubb said it is time to get the City’s fiscal house in order and not continue to pile on more debt.
Patrick Wilson, 64 E. Wall Street, noted he received a flyer regarding the issue of vending, and wrote to Ms. Dolan concerning the matter. Mr. Wilson, explaining that he must obtain approval to make changes to his house that is in the historic district, advised that he moved to Bethlehem because he loves Historic Bethlehem. He observed that other cities in the area have experienced a downturn and people who cared about their properties left. Agreeing there is a place for many kinds of businesses, Mr. Wilson did not think that a vending cart could be dressed up to bring beauty and ambience to the area. Mr. Wilson expressed that he and his neighbors take a lot of pride in their properties and he believes in what the Historic and Architectural Review Board is doing to keep it that way. Mr. Wilson thought that homeowners and business owners in the City should have a weightier say in what happens with the issue. Mr. Wilson noted that some of his friends own small businesses in the area and they are struggling but pay their rent and put money into their stores. Mr. Wilson stated he has nothing against those who have a vending cart but he thought there is a place for the carts and it is not in historic Bethlehem.
Lisa Ronca, 1110 Spring Street, owner of Cutter’s Bike Shop at 418 E. Third Street, explained that she and her husband will lose everything if their business does not succeed, and they did everything on their own without loans, and worked very hard. Ms. Ronca, advising that parking was a large part of choosing the site for their business, expressed she did not feel it was fair to find someone taking up parking spaces in front of her store that should be where her customers or customers of other shops in the vicinity could park. Ms. Ronca, agreeing there should be a place for vendors, said she does not think it adds ambiance. Ms. Ronca pointed out there are many rules and regulations to follow in order for a business to open. Ms. Ronca, expressing that the South Side has come a long way, said she is anxious for the Greenway and would like to see more people on bicycles. Ms. Ronca hoped that a happy medium can be found, and said she would like to see the vendors make a living. Adding that she and her husband work very hard to make a living, Ms. Ronca said everyone should have to follow the same suits. Ms. Ronca notified the assembly that, because of the many rules the merchants had to follow in preparing food for the dessert event that was to be held as a fundraiser on the South Side, the event was cancelled and yet it is not known where the vendors’ food is prepared.
Tina Kowalski, merchant at 5 E. Fourth Street, asking who
will see to it that the vendors comply with the Ordinance,
said the City has allowed the vendors to operate illegally
all summer long, taking up two to four parking spaces, disrupting
merchants property, disrespecting the merchants, blocking
the right of way, disrupting traffic, and leaving garbage.
Stressing that the City should enforce the law, Ms. Kowalski
questioned who should the merchants call if a vendor is breaking
the rules in front of a merchant’s property, and what
will be the response time. She remarked that the merchants
have called the City, the Parking Authority, and the Police
all summer long but the merchants did not receive help. Ms.
Kowalski stressed that the hot dog man was made legal but
he is operating illegally. Ms. Kowalski asserted that if the
Ordinance would have been enforced then the merchants would
not have had to go through this all summer.
Expressing that putting a vendor in front of a merchant’s business will create animosity between the merchant and the vendor, Ms. Kowalski queried what merchant would welcome a five foot by six foot metal cart on a trailer, with propane tank, grill, umbrella, garbage can, cooler, lawn chairs, and a karaoke machine in front of their storefront. She stressed this is not local income, entry level entrepreneurs. Ms. Kowalski, asserting that targeting New and Fourth Streets with three of the five vending sites is biased and discriminatory, pointed out there are other areas in Bethlehem with the same amount of foot traffic if not more. Ms. Kowalski said vendors should be spread out throughout the City in appropriate areas. The merchants of both business districts work very hard, and are small businesses that all work together to better the business districts and neighborhoods. Ms. Kowalski stated that littering the streets and sidewalks with unwanted vendors is not positive. Ms. Kowalski expressed that the City should concentrate more on picking up garbage and keeping the streets clean in the business districts and leave the merchants alone.
Tabitha Petrecz, stating that she resides in Bethlehem and is a business owner at 22 W. Fourth Street, advised there was bagged meter parking across the street from her business last week, and a vendor parked there. Observing that vendors want to be treated like the merchants, Ms. Petrecz said she would like to be treated the same way as the vendors and be entitled to bagged parking as well that her customers could use when they get takeout meals, for deliveries, or a special feature to give to her customers. Ms. Petrecz, expressing that parking spaces are like gold, communicated it does not make sense. She advised that she did get bagged meters for a week for her customers who were ecstatic.
Jim Krisovitch, 284 Brodhead Road, partner of Ms. Petrecz in the Blue Sky Café, noted he operates another business in Bethlehem. Mr. Krisovitch related that last Saturday when he had breakfast at the café he had to search for a parking spot and noticed two bagged meters with no parking and was told it was for the food vendor. He continued on to say the two bagged spots directly across from the café are reserved 24 hours a day for the vendor who is not there all the time. About 10:30-11:00 a.m. the vendor came and then left, and moved to the corner of Fourth and New Streets where there was more foot traffic. Mr. Krisovitch advised there were four parking spaces on Fourth Street tied up for the food vendor. Advising that on Sunday morning he had to go to the café to fix a machine and stayed for breakfast during which time the vendor was not at the two spots across the street, Mr. Krisovitch informed the assembly that is the busiest day and customers could not use those spaces. He was told by his staff that the vendor was not there throughout the day on Sunday. Mr. Krisovitch challenged the City to make policies and decisions that are fair to all the businesses and residents in Bethlehem.
Janice Katowitz, 860 E. Macada Road, thought that Bethlehem is big enough for both the vendors and the merchants. She noted that her son frequented vendors in Philadelphia between classes, and they go to vendors when visiting New York City.
Tom Morganelli, 807 W. Broad Street, noted that vendors are located in many sections in big cities, they fit in well, and they are successful. Recalling a vendor on Third Street in the 1950’s, Mr. Morganelli pointed out that something permitted it. Mr. Morganelli observed that sidewalk dining is successful but was not allowed years ago. Mr. Morganelli thought the vendors are another thing that a City the size of Bethlehem can handle and people appreciate them.
Rod Holt, 519 11th Avenue, an owner of the Apollo Grill on Broad Street, affirmed that yesterday he submitted to City Council a petition signed by 42 of the 43 businesses that he visited who are opposed to street cart vendors in downtown Bethlehem. Mr. Holt, expressing that vendors have a right to make a living, recalled that the City had a bidding process for a restaurateur at the Golf Course. Noting that the application of Dave Rank was chosen who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the restaurant, Mr. Holt did not think it would be fair to allow a food vendor to be located there. Mr. Holt, while expressing it is commendable that vending allows an individual to become entry-level entrepreneurs, thought a business person would suggest that these entrepreneurs would be better served by referring them to the many existing programs for entrepreneurs, including at Lehigh University, Northampton and Lehigh County Community Colleges, in addition to financial assistance programs provided through the City. Mr. Holt, advising he has been in business for 30 years, pointed out he sought the advice of Lehigh University when he opened the Apollo restaurant. Mr. Holt informed the assembly that the owner of Billy’s Downtown Diner is teaching a class at Northampton Community College on how to start a restaurant, and the third group of students from Lehigh Community College will come to his restaurant and he and his wife will talk to them about becoming an entrepreneur. Mr. Holt did not think that Bethlehem could be compared to cities in foreign countries or to New York, Philadelphia or Washington since what works in those cities does not work in Bethlehem.
Dyanne Holt, 519 11th Avenue, an owner of the Apollo Grill at 85 W. Broad Street, communicated that she would not interfere in an issue that concerned other streets in the City because what is decided there would not affect her. However, Ms. Holt expressed that when it is where she lives and works those voices should be taken seriously. Ms. Holt communicated that business and property owners in the North and South Side business districts would advise what is vital to success is keeping the areas clean, safe, charming, historical, and vibrant. Ms. Holt stressed that, without business owners who have put everything they have into downtown Bethlehem, the City would go the way of neighboring cities. Ms. Holt informed the assembly that the Apollo Grill brings between 300-600 people to downtown every day, employs 50 people, pays thousands of dollars in taxes and fees, and gives back to the community. She exemplified that the restaurant has raised more than $250,000 in the past ten years for local organizations in need, including the Bethlehem Public Library. Ms. Holt said if someone wants to work and make a living in downtown Bethlehem then they should stand with the other business owners, make a serious commitment, rent an empty storefront, and the business owners will help any way they can.
Fred Bonsall, resident of Historic Bethlehem, did not think the vendor carts will contribute any ambiance to the Historic District. Mr. Bonsall, affirming he has been the Chairman of the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB) for 24 years, said he is proud of what HARB has done for the district. Mr. Bonsall felt if vendors are permitted to be in Historic Bethlehem they should at least follow and be responsible for all the guidelines set forth by the HARB for the rest of the merchants.
Jan Kleckner, 1423 Montrose Avenue, expressed she is sad to see a group of hard-working business people squelch out one of their own who is Edwin Padilla, the Bethlehem hot dog vendor. Ms. Kleckner continued on to say she is sad that her tax dollars support a bureaucracy that finances solicitors to construct a ten page document to overregulate an honorable man who just wants to make a living. Ms. Kleckner challenged barkeeps or restaurateurs present to stand in support of Mr. Padilla, street vendors, and a free market, competitive economy that benefits everyone.
T. J. Walker, 250 Flagstone Drive, stating that the public has been overwhelmingly in support of Edwin Padilla and vendors in general, said the group he helped to form in June had close to 100% positive postings and currently has over 3,000 members. Mr. Walker remarked that almost all of the naysayers were owners of South Side businesses or one of their friends. Mr. Walker, noting that merchants have complained that vendors do not have the same overhead or expenses, said Mr. Padilla has paid all the fees required, cost of equipment, and serve-safe certification, and his volume of sales is a fraction of the other businesses. Mr. Walker pointed out that there are vendor carts at Independence Hall in Philadelphia where there is no auction and vendors who do not follow the rules are not permitted to vend. Mr. Walker stressed that a vendor is not going to take business away but rather will draw foot traffic and bring exposure to businesses that people may not have been aware of. Remarking that vendors are not parasites, Mr. Walker stated that Mr. Padilla did not depend on society, did what he could to take care of his family, and his entrepreneurial spirit should be applauded. Mr. Walker expressed the hope that Mr. Padilla and a few select others will be allowed to operate their vending businesses in a professional and respectable manner.
Ellen Larmer, 1721 W. Highland Street, Allentown, noted she is the director of the Community Action Development Corporation (CADC) of Bethlehem that promotes social and economic change in South Bethlehem, and provides training, classes and technical assistance for people who want to start a business. Ms. Larmer advised she assists and trains people in starting businesses. Ms. Larmer confirmed that CADC sent a letter to the Members of Council in support of vending activities, noting that food and flower vendors are the most desirable for urban development, and that regulated vending provides an opportunity for entrepreneurship. Ms. Larmer enumerated that many cities in the United States and in Europe have found that urban food establishments enhance rather than detract from a city’s eating experiences for various reasons including price and convenience. Ms. Larmer informed the assembly that studies show that vendors do not compete with stores because they offer entirely different products, and also present the opportunity for customers to see stores they may have otherwise missed. Further pointing out that food vendors add vibrancy and generate foot traffic, Ms. Larmer communicated that the interests of street vendors and store owners are the same that is to increase foot traffic. Food vendors and businesses together can create synergy, a gathering point, and increase the number of people in a commercial area thereby deterring crime. She added that food vendors give the opportunity to eat locally and avoid chain restaurants. Ms. Larmer stated that a regulatory system is requested to encourage urban food vending where the emphasis is on quality and entrepreneurship. She noted it is a positive opportunity for women, immigrants, and others with aspirations to succeed and add to the vibrancy of downtowns.
Tim Dodge, 950 Wedgewood Road, said not all of the South Side business owners are opposed to vendors, while acknowledging it seems there are legitimate concerns regarding parking and bagging meters. Mr. Dodge thought that locating vendors on the South Side may make a little more sense than on the North Side. Mr. Dodge stated he supports the hot dog vendor.
Edwin Padilla, 602 Wyandotte Street, recounting that the issue regarding vendors started last November, affirmed that he came to the City and asked how he could get a permit to vend hot dogs on the street. Mr. Padilla, relating that the City mistakenly gave him the permits, explained that a few weeks after he started operating it turned out the City was wrong and so was he. Mr. Padilla communicated that the City was gracious to let him operate for a few months, and now he is operating totally legally. Mr. Padilla notified the assembly that he pays to have meters bagged, and the Parking Authority knows what days he operates. Mr. Padilla agreed that the aesthetics of his vending cart are not historic. Noting that the concept of vending is historic, Mr. Padilla said just because there have not been vendors in Bethlehem for a while is not a reason not to have them now. Mr. Padilla advised he pays taxes, he has a place where he cooks and stores his food that is approved by the Health Bureau, he pays the Parking Authority and for right of way permits, gas, propane, etc. Mr. Padilla questioned how he could be taking business away from merchants when what he sells is a hot dog that costs $1.50 from a cart. Mr. Padilla informed the Members that he has a petition signed by hundreds of people who support him.
Tim Finnegan, 618 Turner Street, said it seems there are plenty of spaces for vendors, particularly on the South Side. While acknowledging it must be aggravating for a business owner to see a hot dog vendor in front of their business, Mr. Finnegan thought there must be a solution to the matter. Noting he is a customer of Mr. Padilla, Mr. Finnegan related that he saw Mr. Padilla run across the street to pick up garbage. Mr. Finnegan observed that the marketplace dictates the number and types of vendors. Mr. Finnegan pointed out that no matter what the cost Mr. Padilla still made an investment in his business, and with the understanding that he was doing everything within the law.
Bruce Haines, 65 W. Market Street, managing partner and an owner of the Hotel Bethlehem, addressed the Ordinance as it relates to the North Side and the Historic District. Mr. Haines stated he made an investment in the City as a resident and business owner because of the Historic District, and the ambiance of Main Street. Mr. Haines thought that street vendors as outlined in the Ordinance are incompatible in the North Side Historic District. Mr. Haines did not think vendors should be on the street and taking parking places away from businesses that invested in the downtown and knowing the limited street parking. Turning to Section 721.06 of the Ordinance that addresses outdoor dining that he noted has been positive for the historic district, Mr. Haines observed the Ordinance does not have any regulations pertaining to any standards for the outdoor dining furnishings such as tables and chairs, and noted that businesses have to adhere to the historic and architectural review standards for whatever is attached to their buildings. Mr. Haines asked for increased standards for outdoor dining. Mr. Haines thought the Ordinance is counter to the interests of the Historic District and is lacking in standards. Mr. Haines added that once vending is permitted anywhere on the North Side it will promulgate.
Edward Luque, 552 Benner Avenue, said the vendor is trying to live like everyone else. While expressing his understanding of the point of view of business owners who have spent a lot of money, Mr. Luque stated there are a lot of people unemployed during this economy and people have to be creative in doing the best they can to make money. Mr. Luque expressed the hope that people will be as courteous as possible with Mr. Padilla.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, communicated that the issue of vending is a very polarizing issue. Mr. Antalics stated there have been street vendors on the South Side for 75 years, and in the 1930’s and 1940’s vendors sold chestnuts. Mr. Antalics noted there are vendors at Campus Square and at Morton Street but there is no complaint because they are dispensing vegetables and baked goods. Mr. Antalics thought the City should introduce variety through street vendors, and observed that areas in New York City have many vendors, with a variety of products, and they are well accepted. Mr. Antalics further enumerated cities where there are vendors, and commented it is an eclectic feeling for the area. He thought an issue is the food preparers in establishments versus vendors on the street. Mr. Antalics expressed that if done properly street vendors can add dynamically to the community by creating street traffic that would enhance the restaurants and other traffic.
Charles Lyman, 444 N. New Street, noted that of the proposed locations of the two sites on the North Side one is within the Historic District and the other borders it within a half block. Mr. Lyman spoke about the residential part of the Historic District on the North Side and pointed out that one of the proposed sites at New and Church Streets is two blocks within the residential area. Mr. Lyman pointed out that vending areas in other cities are within a business area rather than a residential area. Mr. Lyman communicated that people say that downtown Bethlehem is very special because the residential area and the commercial area are so close, residents walk and visitors tour in the area. Mr. Lyman observed that having a street vendor not governed by HARB as to what the selling device looks like in the Historic District is quite different from what people have been talking about. Mr. Lyman, explaining that the street vending carts would be located two blocks within the residential part of the Historic District, did not think it fits many of the streets near the Historic District on the North Side, the ambiance of which many people worked hard to create over many years. Mr. Lyman commented there is the opportunity to change the locations so that they are not in the Historic District, and expressed the hope that the locations on the North Side will be considered very carefully.
Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, commented that no one is against vendors per se, but people are against vendors because they are encroaching upon a business establishment, or have not followed the rules. Ms. Pongracz stated that vendors would not be able to be placed in the Historic Districts without the consent of the HARB or the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy. Ms. Pongracz asserted that the Ordinance should not be voted on because it is incomplete and does not contain everything needed. Ms. Pongracz expressed her opinion that street vendors without access to hot water would lead to flu and contagious diseases. Ms. Pongracz questioned if a vendor has enough insurance to cover an action as a result of salmonella, for example. Ms. Pongracz noted that members of the public have said they do not want vendors in the City at this time, but it does not mean they will not be welcomed at another time.
Kate Cipolle, 933 Wyandotte Street, noted she is a volunteer of the community garden, and she is speaking in support of vendors. Ms. Cipolle noted by supporting someone local who is bringing in local food the business person is being given money that can be spent in the local area, versus giving money to a large chain. Ms. Cipolle related that in one of the most historic cities in Spain there are street vendors and public space is used, and communicated it creates well-being in the space. Commenting on the economic challenges, Ms. Cipolle thought that issues should be looked at openly and creatively. Ms. Cipolle observed that antiseptic soaps could be used. Ms. Cipolle did not think there is a competition between business owners and vendors, and thought that parking issues could be dealt with. She added that vendors are investing in Bethlehem but in a smaller way. Ms. Cipolle observed that if rules can be created for historic places then it should be easy to create regulations for vendors.
Olga Negron, 1306 E. Fifth Street, remarked it seems funny that a $1.50 hot dog would take anybody else’s business away. Ms. Negron observed that many people do not have the time or money to go to a restaurant. Ms. Negron noted that vending is an opportunity, and added that many individuals need and want it. Ms. Negron advised she is president of Community Action Development Corporation in Bethlehem that has talked about the issue and is in support of it. Ms. Negron commented there is a lot of room for everybody.
Slain Police Officer
Dave Griffiths, 2830 Linden Street, pointing out that, as the newspapers reported, Police Sergeant Mark Renninger, formerly of Bethlehem and who moved to Washington, has died because he was shot, asked what is the City’s policy in honoring slain Police Officers.
President Donchez advised that Mr. Griffiths could meet with the Deputy Police Commissioner regarding the matter. Mayor Callahan, advising that the matter was discussed at the staff meeting today, explained that a representative of the FOP and Deputy Police Commissioner Bedics will fly to Washington for the services.
Don McRae, 418 High Street, noting that he moved to Bethlehem 40 years ago because of its beauty, remarked it did not take long for the City to be destroyed in view of the historic buildings that were razed including tearing down numerous buildings on Broad Street such as Dennis Drug Store that had a soda fountain, and the Nile Theatre that was in the art deco style. Mr. McRae said the problem he has seen is with trying to restore the historic dimension to Bethlehem, and an overzealous direction towards reestablishing the historic dimension such as ambiance and uniformity of outdoor seating. Mr. McRae encouraged people to expand their horizons as far as possibilities of a more eclectic view of the City.
Michelle Ryder, 514 W. Third Street, commented that vending stands in other cities are not usually attached to pick-up trucks or other vehicles parked with a bagged meter, and wondered if that is the best way to approach the issue of vendors. Ms. Ryder expressed she is in favor of push-type carts but aesthetically did not know whether the vending carts currently in the City are the best way to do it. Mr. Ryder said she sees more litter from McDonald’s restaurant than from vendors.
Debbie Groth, 528 Main Street, communicated her concern about the animosity that the issue of vendors is creating in the community. She thought that the downtown is changing for the better, and there has to be a happy medium. Ms. Groth pointed out that the vendor is trying to make a living like everyone. Ms. Groth commented there has to be a way for the vendor’s business to be appealing in a location where people can get a hot dog. Ms. Groth highlighted the fact that antibacterial soaps can be used for sanitation.
James Holliman, 817 Lynn Avenue, suggested that the word designated be added in section 721.05 (b).
Robert Virgilio, business owner of 518 Long Street, noted there is a vendor Ordinance now that allows vendors with the permission of the property owner. Mr. Virgilio observed that the proposed Ordinance states that there can be five vendor locations decided by the City, and did not think the City has any property involved in the proposal. Mr. Virgilio questioned whether the proposed Ordinance requires a property owner to place a vendor on their property. Mr. Virgilio expressed a lot of trouble could have been saved if the vendor could have asked someone for permission to be on their property; and, if the vendor has not, Mr. Virgilio thought there are a lot of people who would give him permission. Mr. Virgilio wondered why the Ordinance is even being proposed. Mr. Virgilio stated that perhaps there could be some requirements put in place that would address some of the questions.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, informed the assembly that in Washington, D.C. there are vendors on the National Mall serving mainly the tourists, and on the city streets. Mr. Scheirer observed that vendors are less of a problem in larger cities because there is more foot traffic, and wider sidewalks. Mr. Scheirer stated that if there were a vendor at the proposed New and Church Streets site who sold food it would compete with the teen café being planned by the Library.
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. Director of Public Works – PennDot Utility Relocation Reimbursement Request
The Clerk read a memorandum dated November 18, 2009 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and the Utility Relocation Reimbursement Request for the S.R. 378 Section RMP project for reimbursement of the costs to relocate the City’s water facilities in connection with the project that is part of the overall Route 412 Improvement project. The City will be required to reimburse PennDot 50% of the total estimated cost of $102,410.
President Donchez stated that the authorizing Resolution is listed on this evening’s Agenda.
A. President of Council
President Donchez announced that City Council will hold the
next Budget Hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, December 2, 2009
at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the following Budgets:
Civic Expenses; Council; Mayor; Treasurer; Controller; Law Bureau; Department of Administration; Parks and Public Property; Golf Course Enterprise Fund; General Fund Revenue; General Fund Expenditures; General Expenses; and Debt Service.
President Donchez stated that the Final Budget Meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall. The last Council Meeting in December will be held on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall.
1. Administrative Order – Jessica L. Lee – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Jessica L. Lee to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective until December 2012. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-202 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7.
2. Administrative Order – Michael D. Recchiuti – Bethlehem Parking Authority
Mayor Callahan appointed Michael D. Recchiuti to membership on the Bethlehem Parking Authority effective until March 2010. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution 2009-203 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 36 – 2009 – General Obligation Note (Line of Credit) – Sewer Capital and Water Capital Funds
The Clerk read Bill No. 36 – 2009 – Line of Credit – Sewer Capital and Water Capital Funds, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM, LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON COUNTIES, PENNSYLVANIA, AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF ITS GENERAL OBLIGATION NOTE, SERIES A OF 2010 (THE “ 2010A NOTE”) IN THE AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF $10,000,000 AND THE GENERAL OBLIGATION NOTE, SERIES B OF 2010 (THE “2010B NOTE”) IN THE AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF $2,600,000 (TOGETHER THE “NOTES”); SETTING FORTH THE PURPOSE OF THE ISSUANCE OF THE NOTES, TO FUND CERTAIN CAPITAL PROJECTS OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM PURSUANT TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT; DETERMINING THAT THE NOTES SHALL BE SOLD AT PRIVATE SALE; DETERMINING THE PROJECTS AND ESTABLISHING THEIR USEFUL LIFE; DETERMINING THAT THE DEBT EVIDENCED BY THE NOTES SHALL BE NONELECTORAL DEBT; SETTING FORTH THE INTEREST RATES, INTEREST AND PRINCIPAL PAYMENT DATES AND FINAL MATURITY OF THE NOTES AND THE PREPAYMENT PRIVILEGES; ACCEPTING A PROPOSAL FOR THE PURCHASE OF THE NOTES; DESIGNATING A PAYING AGENT FOR THE NOTES; SETTING FORTH THE METHOD AND PLACE OF PAYMENT OF THE NOTES; APPROVING THE FORM OF THE NOTES; AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF THE NOTES; ENTERING INTO A COVENANT WITH RESPECT TO THE NOTES AND PLEDGING THE CITY'S FULL FAITH, CREDIT AND TAXING POWER THEREFORE, AND ESTABLISHING A SINKING FUNDS FOR THE NOTES; DESIGNATING A SINKING FUND DEPOSITORY; SETTING FORTH CERTAIN ADDITIONAL TERMS WITH RESPECT TO THE NOTES; AUTHORIZING APPROPRIATE OFFICERS TO FILE UNDER SECTION 8110 OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING PROCEEDINGS UNDER SECTION 8024 OR 8026 OF THE ACT MAKING CERTAIN FEDERAL TAX COVENANTS AND DECLARING THE NOTES TO BE QUALIFIED TAX-EXEMPT OBLIGATIONS; DECLARING THE DEBT EVIDENCED BY THE NOTES TO BE WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT DEBT ACT MAKING CERTAIN FEDERAL TAX COVENANTS AND DECLARING THE NOTES TO BE QUALIFIED TAX-EXEMPT OBLIGATIONS; AUTHORIZING DELIVERY OF THE NOTES; AUTHORIZING INVESTMENT OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE NOTES; PROVIDING FOR INVALID PROVISIONS; PROVIDING FOR INCONSISTENT ORDINANCES; PROVIDING WHEN THE ORDINANCES SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 36 – 2009 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 37 – 2009 – Amending Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks – Vendor Ordinance
The Clerk read Bill No. 37 – 2009 – Amending Article 721 – Streets and Sidewalks – Vendor Ordinance, sponsored by Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
ARTICLE 721 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES
ENTITLED STREETS AND SIDEWALKS.
Ms. Dolan moved the following amendment:
That the following paragraph in Section 721.05, Street and Sidewalk Vendors, be amended to read as follows:
(3) Operation Standards
(f) Use and maintenance of sidewalk or street. All sales and related activity shall be conducted from the vending stand during which times the vending stand shall not be moved from the assigned vending location. No products shall be stored or displayed nor trash receptacles placed on the sidewalk, street, or any adjacent outside area by the vendor. The sidewalk and street in the immediate vicinity of the vending stand shall be kept and maintained free of trash, recyclables, litter, debris or spillage by the stand vendor. Vendor shall supply a recycling container approved by the Recycling Bureau.
Mr. Reynolds seconded the motion.
Ms. Dolan noted that Thomas Marshall, Director of Recycling, is in agreement with the proposed provision. Ms. Dolan affirmed the intent is that there should be the same rules for vendors as for business establishments and homeowners regarding recycling, and encouraging customers to recycle.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Amendment 1 passed.
Ms. Dolan moved the following amendment in Section 721.05, Street and Sidewalk Vendors:
(4) License Selection
(b) Review of applications. Not less than 15 days prior the selection of qualified applicants, the Director shall complete the review of all applications filed and notify the applicants of the results thereof, in writing.
(1) An application shall be denied and the applicant ineligible
to participate in
the vending [ license auction ] selection if:
(i) The application proposes the sale of anything other than
[ non-alcoholic ] beverages, or fresh flowers.
Mr. Reynolds seconded the motion.
Mr. Reynolds inquired where in the Ordinance is the conflicting language. Ms. Dolan, replying it is on page 8 of the Ordinance under Section 721.06, Sidewalk Sales and Outdoor Dining, paragraph (c), noted that according to State law alcohol cannot be sold unless there is a license given to do so, and other references in the Ordinance simply state the word beverages.
Mr. Schweder thought that there should be a vote against the amendment because it double-covers what is being attempted to do, and street vendors are handled differently under the Ordinance than those who obtain licenses for other events as enumerated by Ms. Dolan.
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan, 1. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Amendment 2 failed.
Ms. Dolan moved the following Amendment in Section 721.05, Street and Sidewalk Vendors:
(c) Award of license by committee
(1) To ensure vendors operate as a complement to the [ downtown ] City, a committee will be chosen by the Director of Public Works and individually appointed by a vote of City Council to examine and [ score ], assess vendors on their applications, products, and carts. The Committee [should ] shall be comprised of a representative of the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Bethlehem Health Bureau, a member of each or all of the local merchant associations closest to the vendors’ sites, and a knowledgeable representative of a non-profit business [development organization ] advisory group, and one member of the HARB and one member of the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy. Members should be chosen who have an understanding of tourism, the food industry, architecture, and business development.
There was no second to the Amendment, and the amendment died.
Ms. Dolan moved the following Amendment in Section 721.05, Street and Sidewalk Vendors:
(2) All vendor applicants [ should ] shall appear before the committee for a public interview. [ All committee business shall be public. ] The committee will [ score ] assess vendor applications on the viability of their business idea, their personal presentation, knowledge of local health and hygiene laws, sales experience and/or ability.
There was no second to the Amendment, and the amendment died.
Ms. Dolan moved the following Amendment in Section 721.05,
Street and Sidewalk Vendors:
(3) Applicants who [ wish ] desire to sell food, should bring a sample of their product(s) for the committee’s review. Applicants [ will ] shall be [scored] evaluated on the quality and desirability of their product and the manner in which the product will enhance the overall food experience of Bethlehem. [ Applicants whose food reflects the city’s immigrant history will be given preference, and v ] Vendors will be chosen to increase the variety and convenience of [ ethnically diverse specialties ] food purchasing opportunities in the City. If the committee is not presented with sufficient applications to achieve the aforestated objective, the committee shall have the right to choose fewer than five vendors.
There was no second to the Amendment, and the amendment died.
Mr. Schweder moved the following amendment, and Mrs. Belinski seconded the motion:
That Section 721.05 be amended to read as follows:
721.05 [ STREET AND ] SIDEWALK VENDORS.
A. [ Purpose. The City Council finds that the authorization and underlying regulation of street vending in the City will enhance the vitality, charm, ambiance and economic stability of Bethlehem’s two downtowns, and it is the purpose and intent of this ordinance to further these objectives while maintaining and preserving traditional community character, and promoting the general public safety, health, welfare and morals, and protecting the rights of its citizens to the quiet and productive enjoyment of their neighborhoods and property. For any vending activity in excess of twenty-one (21) days in any given calendar year, it shall be unlawful to sell or offer for sale any food, beverage, service or merchandise on any City street, sidewalk, lane, alley, pavement, footway or right-of-way from any wagon, truck, auto, push cart, stand or vehicle or in any other manner whatsoever if not duly licensed pursuant to this section to operate in any area designated by the Committee as an area for vending.
B. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Director of Public
Works shall establish the location of not more than 5 sites
available on public right of way for street and sidewalk vendors.
These sites shall be the only place where any street and sidewalk
vending is permitted with the exception of sidewalk sales
discussed in Section 721.06 and during Municipal Sanctioned
or Sponsored Events.
C. It shall be unlawful to sell or offer for sale any food, beverage, service or merchandise on any City street, sidewalk, lane, alley, pavement, footway or right-of-way from any wagon, truck, auto, push cart, stand or vehicle or in any other manner whatsoever if not duly licensed pursuant to this section to operate in any area designated by the Director of Public Works as an area for vending. ]
[ D. ] B. Standards and Requirements
(1) License Requirements
The application for a vendor’s license shall be filed
[ Director of Public Works ] Committee and include the following:
(a) The name, home and business address of the applicant and the name and address of the owner and/or operator, if other than the applicant, of the vending business.
(b) A description of the type of food, beverage or fresh flowers to be sold. Only applications for sales of food, beverage or fresh flowers will be accepted.
(c) The place or places where applicant proposes to operate, which shall be limited to a commercial zoning district within the City of Bethlehem.
(d) A description and photograph of any stand, cart, vehicle or equipment to be used in the operation of the business, including the license and registration number of any motor vehicle used in the operation of the business. Photograph shall be of stand, cart, vehicle, or equipment in operational mode.
(e) Three (3) two-inch (2”) by two-inch (2”)
prints of a full-
face photograph, taken not more than thirty (30) days prior to the date of the application, of any person who will sell, or offer for sale, any food, service, or merchandise on any street or sidewalk within the City.
(f) [ A non-refundable application fee of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) from all applicants. ] Applicant must provide a criminal record check and child abuse check for himself and any employee.
[(g) Applicant must provide a criminal record check and child abuse check for himself and any employee. ]
(2) Stand Design Standards / Vending Cart Design Standards
All stands and carts must be clean, sanitary, attractive and be designed consistent with guidelines promulgated by the [Director ] Committee.
(3) Operation Standards
(a) Days and hours of operation. All vendor activities involving arrival on site, unloading, setup, sales, breakdown and departure must be confined to the hours [ of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily ] established by the Committee.
(b) Daily removal. Vending stands and all related equipment,
supplies and packaging materials used or resulting from the
vending activities shall be removed daily.
(c) Safe and sanitary condition. Vending stands shall be maintained in a safe, clean and sanitary condition at all times. Vending stands licensed hereunder to sell food products shall:
(1) Be subject to inspection at any time by the Health Officer and/or his inspectors and shall at all times be licensed under and be in compliance with the Health Code of the city.
(2) If using portable heating or cooking facilities, be subject to inspection at all times by the Fire Marshal and shall comply with all applicable requirements of the Fire Code of the city.
(d) Quiet operations. Vending shall be conducted in a quiet and peaceable manner, and there shall be no hawking of merchandise or solicitation of pedestrians or motorists.
(e) Sign. No sign shall be permitted except an identification of the vendor’s business name.
(f) Use and maintenance of sidewalk [ or street ]. All sales and related activity shall be conducted from the vending stand during which times the vending stand shall not be moved from the assigned vending location. No products shall be stored or displayed nor trash receptacles placed on the sidewalk, street, or any adjacent outside area by the vendor. The sidewalk and street in the immediate vicinity of the vending stand shall be kept and maintained free of trash, litter, debris or spillage by the stand vendor.
(g) Vendor shall provide a Certificate of Insurance from a company acceptable to the [ Director ] Law Bureau providing liability coverage to the vendor and naming of the City as an additional insured. The amount of the insurance coverage shall be One Million Dollars ($1,000,000);
(h) [ Street and ] [s ] Sidewalk vendors will be required to obtain a Business License prior to opening and will be required to pay Occupational Privilege Tax for all employees. Those selling food will be required to obtain a Health License.
(i) No person not a legal title owner or lessee to the premises utilized shall be permitted to conduct any activities as permitted by this Section.
(4) License Selection.
(a) Notice of license availability. At such time as a vending license shall become available either through failure to renew, creation of a new location, expiration or early voluntary or involuntary termination, the [ Director ] Committee shall give public notice thereof by advertising such availability two times in a newspaper of general circulation in the City and on the City website not less than 45 nor more than 60 days prior to the date of license selection. The advertisement shall specify the number and type (food or natural products) of vending license(s) available, the vending location, that the license(s) shall be awarded to selected qualified applicants and where and by when applications for a license shall be filed. Not less than 30 days shall be allowed for the filing of applications.
(b) Review of applications. Not less than 15 days prior the selection of qualified applicants, the [ Director ] Committee shall complete the review of all applications filed and notify the applicants of the results thereof, in writing.
(1) An application shall be denied and the applicant ineligible to participate in the vending [ license auction ] selection if:
(i) The application proposes the sale of anything other than food, non-alcoholic beverages, or fresh flowers.
[ (ii) The application is incomplete in any material respect; ]
[(iii)] (ii) The proposed vending stand does not comply with the applicable design criteria, standards or specifications and/or applicable health codes;
[(iv)] (iii) The applicant, or any natural person having not less than a thirty-three-percent interest in the entity making application has:
(1) An interest in another vending license;
(2) Within the past five years held or had an interest in a vending license that had been revoked;
(3) Any city tax liability being more than 10 days overdue; or
(4) Within the past 10 years been convicted of selling, offering to sell or possession with intent to sell a controlled substance.
[ (v) ] (iv) Non-compliance with regulations.
(2) If an application is denied, the applicant shall be notified, in writing, of the reason therefor.
(c) Award of license [ by committee ].
(1) [ To ensure vendors operate as a complement to the downtown, a committee will be chosen by the Director of Public Works and individually appointed by a vote of City Council, to examine and score vendors on their applications, products, and carts. The committee should be comprised of a representative of the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Bethlehem Health Bureau, a member of each or all of the local merchant associations closest to the vendor sites, and a knowledgeable representative of a business development organization. Members should be chosen who have an understanding of tourism, the food industry, architecture, and business development. ] The carts should be designed of quality materials that enhance the integrity of Bethlehem and the activities, location, and appearance of the carts shall be subject to the review of a committee comprised of the Historic Review Officer, the members of the HARB or the members of the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy depending upon the applicant’s location. All applications in City Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 17 shall be reviewed by the committee comprised of members of the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy and City Wards 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, and 15 shall be reviewed by the committee and members of HARB.
[ (2) All vendor applicants should appear before the committee for a public interview. All committee business shall be public. The committee will score vendor applications on the viability of their business idea, their personal presentation, knowledge of local health and hygiene laws, sales experience and/or ability. ]
[ (3) Applicants who wish to sell food, should bring a sample of their product(s) for the committee’s review. Applicants will be scored on the quality and desirability of their product and the manner in which the product will enhance the overall food experience of Bethlehem. Applicants whose food reflects the city’s immigrant history will be given preference, and vendors will be chosen to increase the variety of ethnically diverse specialties.
(4) The committee will also review photos of the applicant vendor’s cart in its current condition, or the cart they will purchase if selected. The carts should be designed of quality materials that enhance the integrity of our downtowns.
([ 5 ] ) (2) The committee [ will notify the Director of the committee’s selections, and the Director ] shall notify Council which shall place the item on the next upcoming agenda for a vote. The [ Director ] Committee [will ] shall award licenses to any of those approved by Council after the vendor pays his/her first annual fee of $250.00.
(5) Suspension or Revocation of License.
(a) Grounds. A vending license shall be subject to suspension
or revocation by the [ Director ]Committee for any of the
(1) The violation of any provision of this article, the regulations promulgated hereunder or the orders of the [ Director ] Committee issued pursuant thereto;
(2) Where the license holder has knowingly made a false, misleading or fraudulent statement of material fact in the application for a license;
(3) When the license holder fails to renew or pay the annual fee within 10 days of the anniversary date of license issuance; or
(4) If the vending license is for sale of food products, when the vendor violates the provisions of or fails to maintain any license or permit required by any applicable city or state health codes;
(5) When the license holder violates any conditions of the license; or
(6) Abandonment, neglect, or such lack of regular occupancy and use of the license as is inconsistent with the purposes of this section.
(7) Fees shall be non-refundable.
(b) Procedure, notice and hearing.
(1) Prior to the suspension or revocation of a vending license becoming effective, the [ Director ] Committee shall notify the licensee, in writing, of the suspension or revocation, the reasons therefor, his right to a hearing before the [ Director ] Committee if desired and that unless a request for a hearing is filed in writing within 15 days of the date of the notice of suspension or revocation, the suspension or revocation shall then become effective without further action. Such notice shall be served upon the licensee by delivering the same personally or by registered mail, postage fully prepaid, addressed to the licensee at his or her place of business or residence as shown on the license application.
(2) If a hearing is requested before the [ Director ] Committee, it shall be conducted by the [ Director or his designee] Committee within 20 days of the request and shall be conducted in accordance with the Local Agency Law (2 Pa.C.S.A. § 105). If following the hearing the suspension or revocation is upheld, the reasons therefor shall be set forth in writing and delivered to the licensee by ordinary mail. A decision upholding or sustaining the suspension or revocation shall result in such suspension or revocation becoming effective and not subject to further stay except upon order of court.
A license issued under this section shall be valid for a period of one (1) year from the date of issuance of the license. Each licensee is eligible to renew his license an indefinite number of times, but annual fee will increase to $400, upon the application of vendor’s second and subsequent years, and is subject to review by City Council at any time. Vendor’s fees may not change except upon the date of their re-application. If no substantial changes are made to the application and revocation is not under consideration, the [ Director ] Committee may approve the re-application. If any substantial changes are made in the application, as assessed by the[ Director ] Committee, the application shall be submitted before the [selection] Committee [ and judged using the same criteria as other potential applicants ] .
(a) The [ Director ] Committee may promulgate such regulations as are necessary for the proper administration and enforcement of this Article.
E. Ice Cream Trucks and non-stationary vendors that need only to stop their vehicles from time to time to sell goods shall be required to obtain a permit, pay a One Hundred Dollar ($100.00) fee, and provide a Certificate of Insurance from a company acceptable to the [ Director ] Law Bureau providing liability coverage to the applicant and naming of the City as an additional insured. The amount of the insurance coverage shall be One Million Dollars ($1,000,000).
F. No person shall conduct any vending activity unless first having obtained a license or permit provided for by this section. Each day that anyone continues to operate without a license after having received notice of a violation either in person or by posting at the site of the violation shall be a separate violation punishable in accordance with Section 721.99.
Mr. Schweder recounted there have been three meetings and hours of testimony about the proposal. Mr. Schweder noted that after the last meeting he reviewed with Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, a number of concerns raised by various individuals. Mr. Schweder, commenting that if it could be done legally he would ban vending carts from the City but that cannot be done, pointed out there is a process that must take place. Advising that Mr. Padilla is still not operating legally, Mr. Schweder stated that today he looked at the application and the dates are not correct under current law. Mr. Schweder observed that among the concerns are that there are double standards. Mr. Schweder stressed that under the proposed Ordinance, the five locations for the vending carts are being arbitrarily decided, and four of the locations are in the Historic Districts and yet there is no review by the historic boards and the same standards are not required of the vendors as are required of everyone else in the Historic Districts. Mr. Schweder, highlighting the fact that there is a way for vendors to be legal today under current law, affirmed that section of the Ordinance is not being amended by the proposal he is presenting. He added that under current law there is one other vendor who is legal because it was in the correct time span. Mr. Schweder, explaining that under the amendment vending activity for 21 days or less stays the same as it has always been, pointed out that covers Musikfest, Celtic Fest, farmers market, and so on.
Mr. Schweder advised that under the amendment there is a committee that would derive its authority from the Ordinance and would be comprised of the Historic Officer of the City, the members of the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB), or the members of the Historic Conservation Commission – South Side and Mt. Airy. It defines that anyone seeking a vending license in the wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 17 of South Bethlehem and West Bethlehem goes to the committee comprised of the Historic Officer and a board that is made up of members of the Historic Conservation Commission – South Side and Mt. Airy. Those seeking to place vending carts in wards, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, and 15 would go to a board comprised of the Historic Officer of the City and individuals who serve on the HARB. The criteria and all the responsibilities for the location of the vending facilities would rest with that committee, and the recommendation from the committee comes back to City Council for approval. Mr. Schweder notified the Members that, under the amendment, the responsibility is taken away from the Director of Public Works, and it is not limited to the five sites stated in the proposed Ordinance. Mr. Schweder asserted that to create an Ordinance with arbitrary numbers creates more problems than it solves. Mr. Schweder, explaining that the amendment sets up a procedure by which vendors will go before a board established under the amendment, advised that vendors will be required to be in Commercial Districts. Under current law, vendors are eligible to be anywhere in the City under any zoning.
Mr. Schweder added that the insurance requirements will be determined by the Law Bureau. Mr. Schweder continued on to advise that the amendment requires a vendor to secure the approval of the property owner, as is the case under current law. The location and appearance of the cart, and so on must be approved by the committee that is formed under the amendment, and it is finally approved by City Council after that point. Mr. Schweder, informing the Members this would apply to anyone who presently has a vending cart, pointed out those vendors would have to go before the committee. He noted that is according to case law from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mr. Schweder stated that the amendment offers equity to everyone and there should not be an advantage given to those vendors who are here, and the same standards should apply to all.
President Donchez inquired whether the other sections of the Ordinance that was presented by the Administration are being kept as is, and that changes are being made only in Section 721.05. Mr. Schweder replied that is correct.
Ms. Dolan turning to Section 721.05, paragraph (a) of the amendment, questioned whether both the Historic and Architectural Review Board and the Historic Conservation Commission – South Side and Mt. Airy will together choose the commercial area where vendors can operate. Mr. Schweder, replying no, advised that page 6 lists the wards where each committee would have responsibility. He added that those who are on the HARB would cover the North Side and the Northampton County sections of the City, the Mt. Airy board would cover West Bethlehem and Lehigh County, and the South Side in Northampton County would be covered by the board that oversees that area. Mr. Schweder affirmed it is not a combined board and it depends on what location in the City the vendor is requesting to be located. Ms. Dolan asked if either of the committees, independent of City Council or the Administration, could designate in any commercial area on the North Side or South Side where vendors can be located. Mr. Schweder responded no, and affirmed that the vendor has to first get the approval of a property owner to locate there. In the absence of approval from a property owner a vendor could not get a license. Mr. Dolan asked what is meant by the word area. Mr. Schweder explained that if a property owner on Wyandotte Street agreed to allow a vendor to locate in front of the store, that designated area is in Ward 1 and that board would oversee the request. However, if a vendor does not get the approval of a property owner then they cannot proceed. Mr. Schweder noted that the committee on its own cannot establish any locations anywhere in the City unilaterally. Ms. Dolan observed the amendment would open it up to anyplace where anyone gives a vendor permission to be located there. Mr. Schweder pointed out that is already the case under current law. Ms. Dolan commented that she thought the intent was to try to change that. Mr. Schweder advised that, in accordance with his discussions with Attorney Spadoni, if it were attempted to limit this then the City would open itself up to legal challenge. He continued on to communicate that with the five locations the question is how does the committee determine when the sixth vendor makes a request that the sixth vendor is not allowed. Mr. Schweder noted there will probably be less vendors under the amendment but it does not run the legal risk of having arbitrarily established a number of vendors and locations for them to go.
Ms. Dolan asked if the five locations were chosen randomly by the Administration. Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, stating they were not chosen randomly, said the Department first sent the engineers and inspectors to look at the sidewalks in the downtown areas to see where it would be suitable to conduct vending on the sidewalk if there was ample room so that it would not interfere with pedestrians, utilities, traffic, and so on. Numerous sites were identified on the South Side and North Side, meetings were held with various Departments and the sites evaluated. Based on interest that had been expressed in vending along with the other criteria, the five sites were selected. Mr. Alkhal, stressing these are the initial five sites that were selected, stated they are subject to change if the City becomes aware of other data or conditions that would preclude staying with one or more sites, and having to alter a location. He added that some flexibility was provided in the event a site was inappropriately selected so that another site could be selected. Mr. Schweder thought the concern when reading the proposed Ordinance for the designation of specific sites and numbers of vendors was that it is not just these five sites since the Department found 37 sites acceptable for vendors. Mr. Schweder continued on to say the Department could move a site without obtaining any other authority or having to come back to City Council. Then, if a sixth vendor makes a request then the City would simply say they cannot be there and that will not stand up. Mr. Schweder said he is trying to make it a very stringent process but one that is legal.
Ms. Dolan, affirming that copies of vending ordinances from other cities were received, advised there are many cities that choose the vending sites based on similar criteria including plaza type areas. Mr. Schweder pointed out that the amendment as it pertains to around the year vending for more than 21 days requires the removal of the vehicle that brought the vending cart and the cart must be placed on the sidewalk. For the special events that occur in the City including Musikfest, or Sidewalk Art Show, since they are under 21 days they are covered under current law, and the streets are closed during those events.
Mr. Schweder observed that presently it is not just one parking space that a vendor is taking up but it is two. Mr. Schweder informed the assembly that he went to the parking lot across from Cutters Bike Shop and saw a hot dog cart attached to a pickup truck, another truck parked behind it with a karaoke machine, the meters were bagged, and there were folding lawn chairs. Mr. Schweder restated that the amendment requires the cart to be removed from the vehicle and has to be removed from the street since parking should not be taken away from people who go downtown to shop.
Ms. Dolan, turning to section 2 of Standards and Requirements, observed it would give complete oversight to a committee for everything from the look of the vending carts, where they operate, the cleanliness, the criminal record check of the vendor, and so on, and the design of the carts would have to be consistent with guidelines created by the committee. Ms. Dolan pointed out the committee is essentially the historic boards that will have total control. The only time City Council enters into the equation is at the very end of the process. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that a part of her proposal, that was just turned down, gave some oversight to merchants, the City, and experts in certain areas. Mr. Schweder informed Ms. Dolan that the Members of Council decide all of that, since under his amendment the recommendation comes back to City Council the same way it does for a resident of the historic district who wants to change a doorknob, for example. While affirming that the committee will promulgate rules and regulations, Mr. Schweder pointed out that the ultimate decision comes back to City Council. President Donchez observed that in a sense it is similar to the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness. Mr. Schweder, while confirming it is not under that legislation, agreed that President Donchez is right in that it is the same type of review by a historic board as has been in existence in the City since 1962. Ms. Dolan asked does it not give the responsibility and the power to regulate every aspect of vending, aside from the final vote of Council, to the committee which has total control to take all the responsibility, create all the regulations, analyze them, implement them, to determine whether vending operations are quiet, how sidewalks are maintained, monitor whether the vendor gets a certificate of insurance, a business license, and so on. Ms. Dolan stressed that the control for everything that was formerly done by City Departments who are trained in the various laws is now turned over to a committee and whose members do not necessarily have any training, expertise, or experience with any of this. Mr. Schweder, replying no, restated that the control rests with City Council as it always has. Mr. Schweder added that the same people who review the various matters in historic areas are going to establish the criteria the way they do under current law. Ms. Dolan queried whether Mr. Schweder believes that the members of the historic boards who were chosen for their knowledge and commitment to the historic district, and whose expertise is in architecture and history will have an equal understanding of every commercial area in the City from Pembroke Road to Broad Street and are qualified to do everything from checking criminal records, to safety operations, to appropriateness of neighborhoods. Mr. Schweder, replying yes, said he thinks they are the fairest people to do this with respect to bringing uniformity to what is done in the City. Ms. Dolan inquired whether under the amendment in a Commercial District where the owner of the building or premises is also the owner of the restaurant every restaurant could have a vending cart if approval was given by the committee. Mr. Schweder noted they can do that now. Ms. Dolan observed they can do that now by going through the City Departments. Mr. Schweder advised he is not changing that.
In response to Ms. Dolan, Mr. Schweder advised that current law does not change and the filing of an application with the committee is for vendors not covered under Section 721.06. Mr. Schweder affirmed to President Donchez that the certificate of insurance is to be submitted to the Law Bureau, as is the case with all certificates of insurance for festivals and events, etc. Ms. Dolan asked if the committee can determine where businesses wish to operate. Mr. Schweder, replying no, said the responsibility rests with the seven Members of Council as it does in the other proposals that come before the City. Mr. Schweder notified Ms. Dolan that the committee derives its authority from the Ordinance, and there will be uniformity. The same people who make the determinations in the neighborhoods with regard to Certificates of Appropriateness are going to continue to do so under the Ordinance. Mr. Schweder explained to Ms. Dolan that the committee members will be chosen by City Council from those who are already members of the HARB or the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mt. Airy. Ms. Dolan pointed out that members of the HARB stated they are against vending. Mr. Schweder commented that is not relevant to what is before Council.
Ms. Dolan, turning to Operation Standards, questioned whether the committee will establish the hours of the vendors until Council gives their approval. Mr. Schweder stated the committee has the right to make a determination to send to City Council for review and approval, and Council can make changes to the recommendation as is current procedure. Mr. Schweder continued on to affirm that once the committee makes their recommendation, they report it to Council, and Council has to put a Resolution on the Agenda. Ms. Dolan asked how does Council have any say over the regulations. Mr. Schweder explained that the rules are promulgated and made by the committee, and a recommendation comes to Council, and Council decides on the vendor. The committee can only grant the license after it is approved by Council. President Donchez added that City Council has the final say. Ms. Dolan, turning to Operations Standards, paragraph (3) (i) was informed by Mr. Schweder that the language in the paragraph that was added is current law.
Ms. Dolan inquired about the meaning of the word premises. Attorney Spadoni explained that it means the area, it does not necessarily have to be a building, and it could mean lot. Attorney Spadoni added that the language tracts Section 721.06. Ms. Dolan asked if lessee means someone who has permission or who is renting and paying money to the legal title owner to operate in front of the premises. Attorney Spadoni, indicating that is correct, stated it is people who have the authority, whether apparent or expressed, and the permission of the property owner. Ms. Dolan queried whether passage of the amendment means that someone can vend in any Commercial area as long as an individual knows someone in a Commercial area, or owns a commercial property, someone gives the individual permission, or the individual is willing to pay money to do so. Attorney Spadoni, responding yes, said he does not think there is any indication it must be tied to compensation but the person must have the permission of the fee owner of the property. Mr. Schweder, commenting that he would have made it more stringent, noted that in the two vendor applications the approval came from the renter of the building but the renter did not ask the owner of the building. Mr. Schweder continued on to point out that section of current law is not changing.
Ms. Dolan, turning to paragraph (4) License Selection, paragraph (b) (1) (4) pertaining to denial of an application if within the past 10 years the applicant has been convicted of selling, offering to sell or possession with intent to sell a controlled substance, asked if the members of the committees have access to this information. Attorney Spadoni, replying they would receive that information from the applicant, noted it could be a question posed by the committee to the applicant, and part of the application. Mr. Schweder stated that is the language in the current Ordinance. Ms. Dolan explained she is asking the question because the people who will be doing this work as proposed in the amendment are different than those who would have been doing the work under the current Ordinance and revised proposal. In the past, the work of figuring out if someone were convicted of a crime was the job of City workers and not the job of members of the HARB or of the Historic Conservation Commission. Mr. Schweder stated this language is part of how an applicant applies for a license so they have to show the background checks. Mr. Schweder, continuing on to say this will not be a day to day operation of the committee, observed this is not something that will have a large number of applicants. Mr. Schweder advised those are requirements in the proposal that was forwarded by the Law Bureau. Mr. Schweder affirmed to President Donchez that it would be part of the application process.
Ms. Dolan expressed her belief that the amendment will make it practically impossible or improbable for anyone to vend. Ms. Dolan continued on to observe it could also have a different result, if the economy continues as it is and more people want to start a vending business because they lost their jobs, in a huge number of applications. Ms. Dolan pointed out, in that case, all of the work that would have been done by City staff who have education and years of experience related to the standards would instead be done through the process of a committee comprised of members of the HARB or of the Historic Conservation Commission chosen by Council based solely on their experience with historical review in very specific neighborhoods. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that this is a committee that is not the HARB or the Historic Conservation Commission but is made up of members of the HARB or the Historic Conservation Commission. Consequently, Ms. Dolan said City Council does not get a vote on who is on the committee, unless when voting on the members of the HARB or Historic Conservation Commission there is an understanding and it is written into the Ordinance and it is known that Council is also voting on the committee that is in charge of every aspect, except for the final vote, of establishing, choosing, and regulating the sidewalk vendors. Ms. Dolan continued on to say every single ward of the City could potentially be impacted. Ms. Dolan thought this is a very drastic move on what could be discussed instead, if the amendment does not pass, that is the locations. Ms. Dolan wanted City Council to go back and look again at the chosen locations based on what has been heard from the citizens.
Mr. Mowrer called for the question.
Mr. Schweder stated that if the amendment passes then Ms. Dolan and anyone else can debate it again tonight on First Reading of the Ordinance and then again on consideration of the Bill on Final Passage.
Mr. Schweder seconded Mr. Mowrer’s motion to vote on the amendment, and end debate.
Voting AYE on the motion: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Schweder, Mr. Donchez, 5. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds, 2. The motion passed.
Voting AYE on the Amendment: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, 1. Amendment 6 passed.
Ms. Dolan, expressing that this is dangerous, said she does not think this is what the merchants wanted. Ms. Dolan advised that in her proposal, she had the involvement of the business district, merchants, and Historic and Architectural Review Board on the committee. Ms. Dolan stressed if the amended Bill becomes law then everyone is shut out except for members of the HARB and the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mt. Airy, and at the very end City Council, although she thought it was unclear as to exactly what City Council can actually approve. Ms. Dolan expressed her belief that Council can only approve the vendor choices, since the amendment says nothing about City Council approving the regulations, or other matters, and stressed there is no oversight. Ms. Dolan wondered whether the HARB and the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mt. Airy knows what it is getting itself into. Ms. Dolan, emphasizing it would be better to look at the locations, stated to her that is the issue. Ms. Dolan communicated that, rather than having a committee that gives a voice to the merchants and the business districts, and utilizing the services of City workers who are paid a salary to review such matters, the amendment takes them out of the process. Ms. Dolan remarked that the amendment leaves the two historic boards to be involved in the process, and Council votes yes or no on the recommended choices.
Mr. Reynolds did not necessarily think the amendment would end vending in the City but it would end unregulated vending. Mr. Reynolds thought that, as with other matters that go before the Historic Board or Historic Conservation Commission, if the Board or Commission decided to recommend or not recommend something and it comes before City Council, then it still gives the opportunity for the Members of Council to make changes. Mr. Reynolds communicated that other solutions to solving the problem were fraught with different problems, whether auction, lottery or committee, for example. Mr. Reynolds observed that the compromise that Mr. Schweder and Attorney Spadoni tried to reach is one that allows for entrepreneurship in the City while still maintaining the character and dignity of the downtown historic districts. Mr. Reynolds continued on to say that all believe in the idea of entrepreneurship, and pointed out that the Mayor has often talked about the support from the City of those who invest here. Mr. Reynolds highlighted the fact that there are not a lot of chain stores in the downtowns since there are a lot of people who live and operate their businesses in the City. Mr. Reynolds stated that the amendment is a compromise that allows people to enter the vending business, and gives some responsibility to the HARB and the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mt. Airy, but at the same time giving responsibility and the final say to City Council as to whether or not it is something that will fit with what the downtowns want. Mr. Reynolds, stating he will be voting yes, said he is happy to hear that, in this case, business owners are amenable to government regulation.
President Donchez, acknowledging that the issue has been debated for many hours over the past months, observed there is not a perfect Bill. However, President Donchez communicated that the amendment in Section 721.05 improves upon the Bill. President Donchez thought the amendment still permits vendors, and gives the responsibility to the HARB and the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mt. Airy versus the committee that was discussed previously in the amendment that did not pass, and the final decision is still with City Council. President Donchez did not think the Historic Board and Commission will consider as many vendor licenses as historic and architectural review issues over a period of twelve months. President Donchez expressed that the amendment tightens up the existing Ordinance. President Donchez, commenting that he is looking at what is best for Bethlehem as opposed to other cities, thought the proposed law will be a better law for Bethlehem.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 37 – 2009, as Amended: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Voting NAY: Ms. Dolan, 1. Bill No. 37 – 2009 was declared passed on First Reading.
A. Approving Auditors – 2009, 2010, and 2011 Audits
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-204 that approved Maher Duessel to provide the following audits at the listed rates for 2009, 2010 and 2011: General Purpose Financial Statements, Single Audit Reports, Water Fund, Sewer Fund, Bethlehem Area Public Library, Bethlehem Parking Authority, Bethlehem Authority, and 911 Fund.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Authorizing Utility Relocation Reimbursement Request – PennDot – Route 378
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution No. 2009-205 that, in accordance with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Design Manual – Part 5, Chapter 3.2, authorized the submission of a Utility Relocation Reimbursement Request for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to provide a fixed per centum reimbursement to the City of Bethlehem for all costs incurred in relocating the City’s water facilities located in the public right of way and affected by S.R. 378 Section RMP necessitated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Highway Improvement in Northampton County. The Resolution also authorized the execution of the Utility Reimbursement Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Reynolds moved to consider Resolutions
11 C through 11 E as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms.
Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder,
and Mr. Donchez, 7. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 359 Tenth Avenue
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution No. 2009-206 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install two bronze historic plaques at 359 Tenth Avenue.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 1112 Prospect Avenue
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution No. 2009-207 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct a small addition at 1112 Prospect Avenue.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 819-831 East Fourth Street
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Mowrer sponsored Resolution No. 2009-208 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign above the storefronts at 819-831 East Fourth Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 C through 11 E: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Schweder, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
Committee Meeting Announcement
Chairman Leeson announced a Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 4:30 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room on the following: Line of Credit – Sewer Capital Fund and Water Capital Fund; Refinancing 1998 Bond Issue; Transfer of Funds – Sewer General – Professional Services; and other matters.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
2010 Budget Revenues; Subsidizing Loop Bus
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, affirming that he distributed to the Members of Council a copy of page 6 of the Proposed 2010 Budget that lists Miscellaneous Revenues, requested that a Member of Council ask questions on his behalf at the Budget Hearing on December 2, 2009 about the following: $382,460 Cash Transfer to Water Fund to clarify how it is a revenue if it is an expense; Total of the amount to be paid under the Suburban Stakeholder’s Agreement; and why the Escrow fund must be used. Mr. Pfenning, referring to the amendment proposed by Mr. Leeson that was passed pertaining to use of additional Host Fees that were not budgeted, noted the City received about $335,000 extra this year. Mr. Pfenning, commenting he does not think Council has been approached about spending the additional funds, said perhaps that could reduce this year’s Escrow account. Mr. Pfenning, noting that City Council is being asked to approve the expenditure of $180,000 for the Loop shuttle bus, said he is not sure what the bus line is supposed to accomplish, and communicated it is important as a matter of public policy that there is a clear public purpose for subsidizing the bus line.
Vendor Ordinance; Outdoor Dining in Historic Districts
Bruce Haines, 65 W. Market Street, thought a good compromise solution was reached by involving the HARB Board and the Historic Conservation Commission in the process of the vending applications. Mr. Haines, turning to Section 721.06 - Sidewalk Sales and Outdoor Dining, suggested that the HARB Board be involved in the process of outdoor dining because there are currently no standards for facilities for outdoor dining. Pointing out that it is not unlike looking at architectural standards for buildings, signs, and paint, etc., Mr. Haines said it seems there should be a review for outdoor dining furniture and encouraged Council to look into the matter.
Choses In Action
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, recalled that the phrase
choses in action was discussed previously and informed the
assembly that he researched the matter, including the history
of the phrase. He said the meaning of the phrase is that it
is a thing that could be litigated.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:25 p.m.