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April 5, 2011
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, April 5, 2011 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Robert J. Donchez called the meeting to order. Pastor Dale Miller, of First Baptist Church, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski, David T. DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, and Robert J. Donchez, 7.
Honoring Edward M. Orth
President Donchez presented a Citation to Edward M. Orth on the occasion of his retirement after 41 years of service in the Fire Department.
Honoring Valentine H. Wingert
President Donchez presented a Citation to Valentine H. Wingert on the occasion of his retirement after 39 years of service in the Fire Department.
The Members of Council applauded Mr. Orth and Mr. Wingert and wished them well in their retirement.
- ELECTION OF VICE PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, offered his best wishes to Gordon Mowrer, and added that he is a credit and honor to his family, his faith, and to City Council, and thanked him for his service.
Attorney Spadoni stated that the procedure for the successor to Gordon Mowrer, Vice President of Council, will be as follows. There will be nominations from City Council, the nominations pursuant to Roberts Rules of Order will not require a second, and it will be asked that the nominations be closed. At that point, there will be opportunity for discussion. There will be vote by Roll Call of each Member of Council to fill the position of Vice President of Council in the order of the nominations. The first person to receive four affirmative votes will become the Vice President of Council.
Attorney Spadoni read the memorandum dated March 21, 2011 from Gordon Mowrer, Vice President of Council, as follows: “It is with deep regret and much of a struggle because of my Parkinson’s that I need to announce that I can no longer serve as Vice President of City Council. I just have problems that cannot be helped and I would not be able to do the job that I would like to do. Fortunately Bob, as President of Council, you have always been around and I have only needed to fill in from time to time. I thank you for the honor to have been elected and to serve when I did. It is my hope that I will remain with you as a Member of Council for my remaining time as elected by the people. You have been a good Council and have done fine things for the citizens of Bethlehem. I look forward to continuing to serve and thank you for your many courtesies.”
Ms. Dolan said she would like to see in Roberts Rules of Order where it is the appropriate method for Members of Council to make nominations and then proceed to voting in the manner suggested. Acknowledging her understanding that this is the way Council has acted in the past, Ms. Dolan pointed out she spent several hours studying the matter and it seemed obvious that, if there is not a nominating committee, if nominations are not being taken from the floor, and if nominations are not being taken from the chair, it is not supposed to proceed in the manner being suggested. Instead, nominations can be made, but any Member of Council may vote for whomever they choose as explicitly stated twice in the section titled Nominations and Elections in Roberts Rules of Order. Ms. Dolan commented the other issue is that in those circumstances one is not supposed to have a vote for one candidate and then for another candidate. Instead, the roll is supposed to be called and for example, Mrs. Belinski would vote for whoever she wanted as Vice President, and then Mr. DiGiacinto would vote for whoever he wanted, and so on with each Member of Council voting for whoever they wanted. Ms. Dolan pointed out the reason is that it is supposed to avoid the situation where there are only two nominees and specifically avoid the situation where a nominee or nominees has been determined in advance. Acknowledging that City Council has operated that way in the past, Ms. Dolan expressed she is sure it was done innocently but there are rules and City Council rules are followed. Ms. Dolan stated she can show several sections to support her view, and asked that the City Council Solicitor explain why what seems clear in Roberts Rules is not the truth and why Council should not change from precedent if precedent is against Council’s own rules.
Attorney Spadoni, advising he has reviewed Roberts Rules of Order and the Rules of Council, stated he would specifically advise Council that the procedure outlined is compliant with Roberts Rules of Order and with City Council’s Rules. Attorney Spadoni added he had a brief conversation today with Ms. Dolan in which that was indicated, and that it was the procedure in the past, and it is his belief that complies with all the rules and regulations.
Upon President Donchez’s request, Attorney Spadoni repeated the procedure, as follows: Nominations would be open, nominations would not require a second pursuant to Roberts Rules of Order, there would be consensus or motion that the nominations would be closed, there would be discussion by Council, at the close of discussion there would be a vote by roll call upon each party nominated in the order of their nomination, and the first party to receive four affirmative votes would become the Vice President of Council.
Ms. Dolan explained her request was for Attorney Spadoni, as opposed to giving his opinion, to give a legal opinion by showing and reading to Council where he derives that authority from Roberts Rules. Ms. Dolan noted Roberts Rules states that strictly speaking nominations are not necessary when an election is by ballot or roll call, since each member is free to vote for any eligible person, whether he has been nominated or not. It then explains how to do so.
Attorney Spadoni confirmed that he delivered Chapter 14 of Roberts Rules to Ms. Dolan and there is a different reading. Attorney Spadoni noted he renders several opinions a day to various municipalities including this body, and to Northampton County, and he is indicating that his research of Roberts Rules of Order and the Rules of Council require the protocol and procedure that has been outlined. Attorney Spadoni pointed out that, strictly speaking, it states nominations are not necessary but it does not say that there cannot be nominations. In this case, Attorney Spadoni stated that Council has and will continue under that procedure where there are nominations, discussion, and a vote. Attorney Spadoni added he thinks that is the most fair and equitable way for it to be resolved.
Ms. Dolan explained it is really not about nominations because she would agree they are not necessary which does not mean they are not legal. However, Ms. Dolan stressed it is the right of every Council Member to vote for whomever they believe to be eligible, whether they have been nominated or not. Ms. Dolan stated it is impossible to give every Council Member that right if the election proceeds in the manner that Attorney Spadoni is suggesting. Ms. Dolan suggested that Attorney Spadoni has developed his opinion based on perhaps a time when there was a nominating committee because if there is a nominating committee that is the way it proceeds. Ms. Dolan noted as long as she has been on Council there has not been nominating committees, and Council has determined the nominees to some degree in advance, but that is not what is allowed under Roberts Rules when a roll call is followed which Council does. There are many other ways that Council could vote, but Council does not vote any other way. Ms. Dolan said she can find not only multiple sections in chapter 14 of Roberts Rules but she can also show sections in chapter 66 that is specifically about voting that shows it. Ms. Dolan reiterated it is Council’s right to vote for whomever they please. Ms. Dolan implored President Donchez to intervene to allow Council Members to have their rights as Council Members.
Attorney Spadoni stated it would never be his position to direct a Council person how to vote. Attorney Spadoni said his opinion and review is for the protocol on how to vote.
Ms. Dolan, denoting she was not saying that Attorney Spadoni was attempting to influence who to vote for, advised she was saying the system is set up to allow for a fair vote and to allow everyone, not the first person nominated, to have the opportunity to be voted for, and to allow everyone on City Council the opportunity to vote for the person of their choice. If there is an election that is based somewhat arbitrarily on whoever is nominated first, it does not allow for everyone on Council to have a vote. Pointing out she is not suggesting any malice, Ms. Dolan stated she would like the opportunity to vote for whoever she thinks is eligible. In the system Attorney Spadoni is suggesting, Ms. Dolan said she would most likely not be afforded that right.
Attorney Spadoni observed if four people would vote for someone Ms. Dolan did not want to vote for then the will of Council has spoken. He continued on to note that Council is a representative government that rules by majority, and in this case by the majority of Council being four affirmative votes. Attorney Spadoni, commenting that Ms. Dolan may be right that she would not have a right to vote, stated but certainly she would be subservient to the rule of law and the rule of Council.
Ms. Dolan stated she does have the right to vote because it says since each member is free to vote for any eligible person, whether he has been nominated or not. Ms. Dolan said that would mean if the nominations are closed off after only one person has been voted upon then it would not allow all Members of Council to vote on each Member, or on any Member who they wish. Ms. Dolan observed that Roberts Rules goes into different techniques and ways that people can vote but they are all based on such things as nominations by the chair, nominations from the floor, and nominations by ballot. Ms. Dolan said Roberts Rules is very interesting on the subject of why they think this is such a dangerous or bad way to proceed. Roberts Rules recognizes that it is possible to set up an election ahead of time, and that by going with the majority rules then in essence there is not really an election. Ms. Dolan commented she would submit that in the past if one thinks about how Council Members have elected the Council President only one nomination has been taken, nominations were closed, and there was in almost all cases a unanimous vote for one person. Ms. Dolan observed the reason that has been so effective is because Council Members can only vote for whoever is nominated, and that has always been decided ahead of time. Ms. Dolan stressed that is exactly what Roberts Rules wishes to prevent. Ms. Dolan asserted just because it was done irresponsibly in the past does not mean that Council should continue to do something irresponsible in the future. Ms. Dolan asked Attorney Spadoni if he can prove that she is wrong. Ms. Dolan said she is very uncomfortable in moving forward because of precedent of something that cannot be proven by directly quoting Roberts Rules.
Attorney Spadoni stated he is unwavering.
Nominations for Vice President of Council to Serve to January 2012
Mr. Reynolds nominated Ms. Dolan for Vice President to serve the remainder of Mr. Mowrer’s term to January 2012.
Mrs. Belinski nominated Mr. DiGiacinto for Vice President to serve the remainder of Mr. Mowrer’s term to January 2012.
Mr. Mowrer said it is not his intent to stir up the group, and he does not know what exactly happened since his resignation as Vice President. Mr. Mowrer stated he is not going to support either of the nominees tonight, but will watch one get elected and wish them well. Mr. Mowrer expressed the hope that no matter what happens Council can pull together and work together. Mr. Mowrer commented that during his time as Vice President the Members of Council got along. Mr. Mowrer added this is a good Council who gets along well together.
Mr. Reynolds moved to close nominations, and Mr. Evans seconded the motion.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Abstaining: Mr. Mowrer, 1. The motion to close nominations passed.
Mr. Reynolds thanked Mr. Mowrer for his service. Mr. Reynolds observed that the duties of Vice President are relatively light and will be for the remaining nine months of this year. Mr. Reynolds pointed out that in January 2012 following the two terms of Mr. Donchez’s presidency the discussion could be different in addressing the President of Council. Mr. Reynolds, crediting President Donchez’s attendance, highlighted the fact that the Vice President did not have to step in too often and it is not a position for which there needs to be an in-depth discussion. Communicating that the number one attribute a Vice President of Council should have would be the ability the take the gavel, Mr. Reynolds stated it is a position that requires some experience. Mr. Reynolds denoted that in looking not only at Ms. Dolan’s years of service as a Member of Council but also some of the work she has done, meetings she has conducted, and her work in rewriting Council’s Rules, he believes this is the way to address the matter. Referring to the photographs of the Members of Council on the wall on the second floor of City Hall, Mr. Reynolds pointed out there are only six women of approximately 71 Members of Council to serve. Mr. Reynolds thought it would be a step into the 21st Century if a more diverse leadership were created. Mr. Reynolds restated he would be supporting Ms. Dolan.
Ms. Dolan said that her review of Roberts Rules and suggestions would have benefited no one but rather would be closer to what Council is supposed to do. Ms. Dolan agreed it is a discussion that Council should have as the time gets closer to electing a President of Council next year to make sure there is agreement that Council is following the rules. Ms. Dolan stated it is with great respect for City Council that she asks for support from her colleagues. Ms. Dolan said after Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Donchez, and Mrs. Belinski she is the most experienced Member on Council, elected to two terms, chair of Human Resources, Public Works, and Community Development Committees, and member of Public Safety and Finance Committees. She continued on to affirm the position of Vice President is relatively new to City Council that was added by a special committee she chaired to review Council Rules. Ms. Dolan pointed out that was the first update to Council Rules since Council Member Dolores Caskey chaired a similar special committee in the 1970’s. Ms. Dolan confirmed that Mrs. Caskey, a mentor of hers, was the only woman in City Council history to serve as Council President. Ms. Dolan observed if she were to be elected, she would be the first woman elected to the position of Vice President of Council in City history, and communicated she would serve, as did Mrs. Caskey, with integrity and tenacity. Ms. Dolan noted this is her sixth year on Council, her attendance is excellent, and she once attended an important City Council Meeting only three hours after being released from a five day hospital stay, and she is committed to this job. She chaired 17 Committee meetings, including two where the subjects were contentious, and the audience seats were filled. Ms. Dolan continued on to note she chaired two community boards, was vice chair of another, and secretary to a third board. Ms. Dolan advised that she studies Roberts Rules, and President Donchez. Based on her research, Ms. Dolan expressed the belief that she could jump in at any time to preside over a City Council Meeting, if needed. Ms. Dolan thanked Mr. Mowrer for his service, and stated he is the most diverse elected official in Bethlehem history, having been elected to three different positions and serving with grace and wisdom.
Mr. Evans stated it is an honor to serve with Mr. Mowrer, and he will be missed. Mr. Evans communicated that he respects what Ms. Dolan brings to the table as a Member of Council, who offers a lot in a number of different ways, and brings a variety of ideas and opinions. Mr. Evans, advising that he will be supporting Mr. DiGiacinto, said the number one reason is finances. Mr. Evans noted that right now, given the past two years, the number one priority, focus, concern, and stress is finances, and getting the City up to where everyone wants it to be. Mr. Evans thought that Mr. DiGiacinto can provide leadership in the area of finance and is unparalleled for what he can bring to the table.
First Nominee – Council Member Dolan
Voting AYE: Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds, 2. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Donchez, 4. Abstaining: Mr. Mowrer, 1. The vote to elect Council Member Dolan as Vice President of Council failed.
Second Nominee – Council Member DiGiacinto
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Donchez, 5. Voting NAY: Mr. Reynolds, 1. Abstaining: Mr. Mowrer, 1. The vote to elect Council Member DiGiacinto as Vice President of Council passed.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of March 15, 2011 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, commented that if a Member of Council is being deprived of voting for their choice then a solution is to nominate that person.
Administrative Order – Mohammed Arif Fazil – City Planning Commission
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, stated that Mohammed Fazil has a close relationship with the Bethlehem Area School District and there is a potential conflict of interest, and added there was a conflict of interest regarding the issue of Broughal Middle School. Mr. Scheirer said someone should be put on the Planning Commission who does not have that potential conflict of interest, as exemplary as Mr. Fazil is as an individual.
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Old Business – Members of Council
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
1. Establishing Article 1716 – Landmarks and Properties of Historical Interest
(Assigned to Preservation Plan Task Force)
A. Police Officer Joseph Ocasio – Request for Additional Leave of Absence
The Clerk read an email dated March 19, 2011 from Police Officer Joseph Ocasio to Police Commissioner Stuart J. Bedics requesting another leave of absence. Officer Ocasio was previously granted a leave of absence for a period not exceeding six months until the 7th day of April, 2011 under Resolution No. 2010-162, adopted October 19, 2010.
President Donchez stated that Resolution 11 D is listed on the Agenda.
B. City Solicitor - Intergovernmental Agreement - Authorizing Municipal Project on State Highway – PennDot – Route 378 from Broadway/Dakotah Street to 3rd Street/Delaware Avenue
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 31, 2011 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esquire, City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution authorizing an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the Route 378 project to implement revised pavement markings and signing to reestablish parking on the east side of Route 378 between Broadway/Dakotah Street and Third Street/Delaware Avenue. The work will also consist of the removal of the left-turn standby lane into the McDonald’s restaurant, and replacement of the turning lane with a northbound through lane for Route 378.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution will be on the April 18 Agenda.
C. City Solicitor - Records Destruction Resolution – EMS Bureau
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 31, 2011 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a Resolution for the destruction of records from the EMS Bureau. The Law Bureau reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution will be placed on the April 18 Agenda.
D. City Solicitor - Records Destruction Resolution – Purchasing Bureau
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 31, 2011 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, requesting a Resolution for the destruction of records from the Purchasing Bureau. The Law Bureau reviewed the Municipal Records Retention Act and the records fall within categories where destruction is permitted.
President Donchez stated that the Resolution will be placed on the April 18 Agenda.
E. Bethlehem Authority – Working Woodlands – Blue Source Agreements
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 31, 2011 from Stephen Repasch, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Authority, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and summary regarding the Working Woodlands Conservation Easement Agreement with the Nature Conservancy, and the Agreement for the Verification, Registration, and Marketing of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Benefits with Blue Source. At the Bethlehem Authority’s regular meeting of March 10, 2011 the Authority unanimously approved these two Operative Agreements.
President Donchez stated that Resolution 11 F is listed on the Agenda.
F. Parks and Public Property Director – PPL Right of Way – Hellertown Road
The Clerk read an Addendum dated April 1, 2011 to the memorandum dated December 10, 2010 from Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, requesting consideration of a Resolution granting a right-of-way to PPL in the vicinity of Hellertown Road.
President Donchez stated that Resolution 11 K is listed on the Agenda.
G. Parks and Public Property Director – DCNR Grant Applications – Clearview Pool and Monocacy Creek Dam Removal
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 1, 2011 from Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, requesting consideration of two Resolutions for grant applications to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for funding assistance for Clearview Pool and Monocacy Creek Dam Removal.
President Donchez stated that the Resolutions will be listed on the April 18 Agenda.
A. President of Council
President Donchez noted that last year when the fee proposals were reviewed he does not recall that there was a discussion about the fees charged to profit versus non-profit organizations for use of the City’s facilities such as the Ice Rink and Memorial Pool buildings. Affirming that he has sent a memorandum concerning the matter, President Donchez advised that he received telephone calls from two non-profit organizations, The Boutique at the Rink and the Luminaria event volunteers, that expressed surprise at the cost of the usage fees now being charged that are about $1,200 and $700, respectively. President Donchez wondered if the matter could be reviewed to determine whether there should be a differentiation between the usage fees charged to profit-making groups versus non-profit organizations in view of the fact that the non-profit organizations are donating the proceeds of their events to charity.
1. Administrative Order – Beverly Hoover – Fine Arts Commission
Dennis W. Reichard, Acting Mayor, read the Administrative Order reappointing Beverly Hoover to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective until April 2014. Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-49 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Deni Thurman-Eyer – Fine Arts Commission
Dennis W. Reichard, Acting Mayor, read the Administrative Order reappointing Deni Thurman-Eyer to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective until April 2014. Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-50 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
3. Administrative Order – A. Craig Evans – Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy
Dennis W. Reichard, Acting Mayor, read the Administrative Order reappointing A. Craig Evans to membership on the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy effective until April 2014. Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-51 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
4. Administrative Order – Anthony M. Silvoy – Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy
Dennis W. Reichard, Acting Mayor, read the Administrative Order reappointing Anthony M. Silvoy to membership on the Historic Conservation Commission – South Bethlehem and Mount Airy effective until April 2014. Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-52 to confirm the appointment.
5. Administrative Order – Mohammed Arif Fazil – City Planning Commission
Dennis W. Reichard, Acting Mayor, read the Administrative Order appointing Mohammed Arif Fazil to membership on the City Planning Commission effective until March 2013.
Ms. Dolan commented that she thought there was some potential conflict of interest with the appointment of Mr. Fazil. Stating she cannot say enough positive things about him, Ms. Dolan pointed out he is extremely talented and capable. However, Ms. Dolan pointed out that as has been seen in the past few years and will undoubtedly be seen in the future, the City will have to make decisions that will have a definite impact on the School District. Ms. Dolan noted those decisions in many cases will come through the Planning Commission. Ms. Dolan observed there has been some debate about the power Mr. Fazil holds within the Bethlehem Area School District, and some School Board Directors have questioned conflicts of interest on behalf of Mr. Fazil. Ms. Dolan, expressing she would hope there is a great role for Mr. Fazil in serving the City, cautioned the Members of Council against an obvious conflict of interest regarding a person who submits so many plans to the City and who would also serve on the Planning Commission that she thought has the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Voting AYE: Mr. Reynolds, 1. Voting NAY: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution failed.
C. Finance Committee and Public Works Committee
Chairman Reynolds presented an oral report of the Finance Committee meeting, jointly with the Public Works Committee, on March 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the following: Proposed Wind Energy Project at the Watershed in Penn Forest Township. The Committees unanimously recommended that City Council approve a Resolution for the Bethlehem Authority to enter into a non-binding Letter of Intent with Call Mountain Wind in order for Call Mountain Wind to construct and operate a Wind Energy Facility on Bethlehem Authority property at the Watershed in Penn Forest Township.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 9 – 2011 – Amending General Fund Budget – JAG Accounts
The Clerk read Bill No. 9 – 2011 – Amending General Fund Budget – JAG Accounts, sponsored by Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Reynolds, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
AMENDING THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2011.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 9 – 2011 passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 10 – 2011 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Main Street Streetscape Improvements
The Clerk read Bill No. 10 – 2011 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Main Street Streetscape Improvements, sponsored by Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Reynolds, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE NON-UTILITY CAPITAL BUDGET FOR 2011.
Mr. Reynolds questioned whether the work being done currently on Main Street is part of the Main Street Streetscape Improvements. Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, stated no. Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, advised the current work being done is being paid for by both the Moravian Church and the City.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 10 – 2011 passed on First Reading.
A. Transfer of Funds – Taxes – Temporary Help
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2011-54 that transferred $48,750 in the General Fund from the following accounts: $28,750 – Professional Services and $20,000 – Unforeseen Contingency to the Taxes – Temporary Help Account to pay for a contract employee to assist with processing EIT claims and final returns through year end.
B. Transfer of Funds – Overpayment of State Aid
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2011-55 that transferred $6,500 in the General Fund from the Unforeseen Contingency Account to the Prior Year Encumbrances Account to pay the Commonwealth back for overpayment of State Aid plus interest.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 11 C, and 11 G through 11 J as a Group
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Evans moved to consider Resolutions 11 C, and 11 G through 11 J as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The motion passed.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 425-427 East Fourth Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-56 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to renovate the front façade at 425-427 East Fourth Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 333 Broadway
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-59 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a shed style awning and new trim work on the façade and apply vinyl lettering to the front window at 333 Broadway.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 375 13th Avenue
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-60 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct an addition to the rear of the building at 375 13th Avenue.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 132-134 West Fourth Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-61 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove a portion of the brick front façade and apply stucco at 132-134 West Fourth Street.
J. Certificate of Appropriateness – 501 East Fourth Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-62 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install vinyl lettering on windows and door at 501 East Fourth Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 C and 11 G through 11 J: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolutions passed.
D. Granting Additional Leave of Absence – Police Officer Joseph Ocasio
Attorney Spadoni affirmed that, according to Codified Ordinance Section 153.11, a four-fifths vote of the Members of Council, or six Members, is required to extend the previously granted six months leave of absence to the Police Officer. Under Resolution No. 2010-162 adopted October 19, 2010 City Council granted Police Officer Joseph Ocasio a leave of absence, without pay, for a period not exceeding six months until April 7, 2011.
President Donchez advised there is only one Sponsor for the Resolution and since there is not a second Sponsor the Resolution cannot be considered.
E. Approving Letter of Intent – Bethlehem Authority and Call Mountain Wind
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-57 that approved the non-binding Letter of Intent between the Bethlehem Authority and Call Mountain Wind, LLC, that states that a License Agreement will be entered into which provides for, among other things, that the Bethlehem Authority will license to Call Mountain certain portions of the Authority’s property in Penn Forest Township to be utilized by Call Mountain to construct and operate a Wind Energy Facility, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
Mr. Reynolds thanked Attorney Faul and the team for their presentation at the Finance and Public Works Committee meeting. Mr. Reynolds, stating it was very informative and thorough, observed there are a lot of moving parts to the project. Mr. Reynolds observed that the group answered the questions that were raised. Mr. Reynolds noted it is a plus that some of the individuals have done work before in the Lehigh Valley. He requested that the Members of Council be kept informed as the project moves forward. Mr. Reynolds thanked David Brong, Director of Water and Sewer Resources, Stephen Repasch, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Authority, and John Tallarico, Chairman of the Bethlehem Authority, who were present at the meeting, for their work on the proposal. Mr. Reynolds, stating that the project has been nothing but positive up to this point, said he is excited about the project.
Mr. DiGiacinto, observing there is a lot of study work that has to be done, thought that an update should be given to the Committee before it goes back to Council.
Ms. Dolan noted there are several stipulations in the documents and the lease will not be signed before it comes to Council.
F. Approving Execution of Operative Agreements – Working Woodlands
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-58 that approved the Operative Agreements between the Bethlehem Authority, The Nature Conservancy, and Blue Source, LLC, known as the Term Conservation Easement Agreement and Agreement for the Development, Verification, Registration and Marketing of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Benefits, and to move forward with the Working Woodlands Project.
Mr. Reynolds, observing this is a project of the Bethlehem Authority and The Nature Conservancy, thought it is a win-win situation for everyone.
Ms. Dolan, affirming that all the questions were answered, communicated the City has a great relationship with The Nature Conservancy with regard to shepherdship of the land in the watershed and the Poconos. Ms. Dolan added that the program is forward thinking and proven. It is a way to best utilize the resources while preserving the resources, and to lessen the carbon footprint. Ms. Dolan expressed her strong support of the project.
K. Authorizing Execution of Right of Way Agreement – PPL – Hellertown Road
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-63 that authorized the execution of a Right of Way Agreement with PPL Electric Utilities Corporation for the purpose of granting permission to construct, reconstruct, operate and maintain its electric and communication lines consisting of facilities as shown on the plan including two push brace poles and overhead wires, cables, fixtures and apparatus upon, across, over, under and along certain property of the City of Bethlehem known as Hellertown Road/Route 412, according to the Agreement.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
A. Rescheduling Second Meeting in April
To: Monday, April 18, 2011
From: Tuesday, April 19 – Passover
B. Rescheduling Second Meeting in May
To: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
From: Tuesday, May 17 – Primary Election Day
Ms. Dolan and Mrs. Belinski moved the following: to reschedule
City Council’s second Meeting in April to Monday, April
18, 2011 from Tuesday, April 19 that falls during Passover;
and to reschedule City Council’s second Meeting in May
to Wednesday, May 18 from Tuesday, May 17 that is Primary
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The motions passed.
Mr. Evans informed the assembly that he was at a meeting on March 17 at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity attended by over 50 people on the topic of homelessness that was called by Craig Updegrove of St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Pennsylvania Avenue. Attendees included church leaders, students, and county employees. Mr. Evans advised that Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, also attended, pledged City support, and noted that grant funding could be made available when a plan is more formalized. Mr. Evans advised that several groups are working on this difficult problem, and the meeting was targeted at those most in need. There are about 15-45 chronically homeless people on any given night who struggle with mental health problems, substance abuse, and alcoholism among other matters. Many have no identification, social security number, or ability to hold a job, that make it difficult for them to qualify for tax-supported shelters aimed at helping individuals return to the community. To help this group, eleven churches have set up a network of emergency overnight shelters staffed and supervised by volunteers from mid-November through March 31 that are open from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM every night, and provide dinner and breakfast. Transportation is also arranged to nearby shelters. Mr. Evans expressed his thanks to the volunteers who worked 5,500 plus hours this past winter. While pointing out the difficulty in solving the problem in its entirety, Mr. Evans informed the assembly several plans were presented to help reduce the number of people seen in the program. A follow-up meeting will be set to explore plans. A growing number of people who are using the Library during the day will be directed to a more suitable and appropriate location, and would include lunch. Mr. Evans thanked everyone involved in the program.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Various Matters – South Side Business District; Vendors – Fourth Street
Tina Kowalski, merchant at 5 E. 4th Street, distributed pictures
to the Members of Council, and informed the Members that the
streets in the South Side business district and the sewer
grates were cleaned two weeks after she contacted the City.
Relating that one of the merchants was told by a City official
there was too much garbage in the garbage can in front of
her establishment that is located in the vicinity of the bus
stop, Mrs. Kowalski notified the Members that the garbage
can was removed by the City. Consequently, people waiting
for the bus throw garbage in the street. Mrs. Kowalski asked
that the garbage can at Fourth Street and Brodhead Avenue
please be replaced. Mrs. Kowalski highlighted the fact that
there are three garbage cans on the other side of Fourth Street
and Brodhead Avenue, two of which are in front of businesses.
Explaining that almost every merchant has a no soliciting
and no loitering sign in the first block of W. Fourth Street,
Mrs. Kowalski informed the Members that merchants are complaining
about people hanging out in front of their businesses and
trying to sell junk. Mrs. Kowalski recalled that two summers
ago both business districts told City officials they did not
want push cart vendors in the business districts. Stressing
that one of the reasons was that it could lead to riff-raff
coming into the business districts and neighborhoods, Mrs.
Kowalski affirmed that people are selling electronics and
all sorts of household goods and junk on W. Fourth Street
in front of businesses on the sidewalks. Mrs. Kowalski continued
on to point out that the food vendor has various things on
the sidewalk including coolers, open containers, and garbage
cans. Mrs. Kowalski explained that when calls are placed to
the Police Department response times are long, and the attitude
is lax. Advising that business owners are making a group effort
to keep their business district clean and safe, Mrs. Kowalski
said they want the City to help them. Noting that new, young
entrepreneurs in the South Side Business District are working
hard with the DBA to have events to bring people to the area,
Mrs. Kowalski pointed out that if the streets are dirty and
people are soliciting and loitering then the efforts and events
serve no purpose because people may not want to come back
to the South Side Business District. Mrs. Kowalski informed
the assembly there are 12 vacant storefronts on Third Street.
Mrs. Kowalski communicated that the merchants want to work
with the various City Departments and Police Department, and
asked for the City’s help.
TIF - SteelStacks
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, thanked President Donchez for the response regarding his concerns about the current status of mercantile tax collections, and issuance of licenses to determine if the proper revenues are being generated. Mr. Pfenning noted that the issues of the budget for the TIF BethWorks project, and lease agreement between the Redevelopment Authority and ArtsQuest may be coming before the Redevelopment Authority at its meeting on April 18. Mr. Pfenning referred to an Express-Times article on City Council’s March 21 tour of ArtsQuest at the BethWorks site in which a Member of Council was quoted as saying this is what the TIF was made for. Mr. Pfenning, referring to State Act 113 of 1990 that created the TIF, read the purpose of the Act. Mr. Pfenning stressed that the work at the BethWorks TIF is not residential, commercial, industrial, redevelopment, or revitalization although it is public facilities to some extent. Mr. Pfenning continued on to say he would not be able to have lunch at the Stock House, and during Musikfest and some of the other events there will be admission charges to portions of the festival plaza area. Mr. Pfenning said even though there are public facilities being developed, they are being developed not, per se, to encourage development but for the benefit of one non-profit organization to which all the financial benefits will accrue. Mr. Pfenning stated that another quote from the article was that the project is going to help the City’s bottom line. Mr. Pfenning wondered whether PBS and ArtsQuest paid sewer tapping fees and recreation fees, or if non-profits are excluded from that. Mr. Pfenning pointed out that no property taxes will be generated although there will be some mercantile taxes, LST, and EIT. Mr. Pfenning commented he does not see a lot of revenue coming in. Mr. Pfenning thought there will be a lot of public safety expenses such as ambulance transports, or police responses to incidents. Mr. Pfenning expressed his concern that there was never a public discussion about funding of priorities.
Crime - South Side
Lillie Reynolds, 318 W. Packer Avenue, echoed Mrs. Kowalski’s comments regarding crime on the South Side. Ms. Reynolds noted that businesses have gotten together to do what they can. Ms. Reynolds explained she does not feel comfortable walking to her car during the evening. Ms. Reynolds recounted that last December she stepped outside her house when she saw four Police cars, and then immediately returned inside her house as she did not feel assurance from the Police regarding the situation. Ms. Reynolds advised she is working with businesses on the South Side, and they would like to see the services provided by the City.
Sue Fang, 3218 Marchant Drive, behind Elias Market, explained she would like to highlight the fact that Elias is building a warehouse, the structure is already beyond the legal limit at 12,000 sq. ft., and later it will be over 19,000 sq. ft. The Zoning Hearing Board gave them permission, and they had to get a special exception. There is a loading dock that is next to her bedroom, one side is set back 25 ft., and the other is set back 40 ft. The tractor trailer truck traffic starts at Midnight and there is garbage pickup before 6:00 AM. Ms. Fang remarked that since the neighbors started their appeal, the conditions are not enforced. Ms. Fang communicated that the neighbors’ requests are ignored by Elias Market. Ms. Fang explained that the situation is causing a tremendous amount of stress and money to fight to have the Zoning Hearing Board enforce the law so that the citizens can have a normal life. Ms. Fang highlighted the fact that when the neighbors bought their houses the Elias Market structures were not there, the loading docks were not there, nor were all the utilities on the rooftop. Ms. Fang expressed there is no where she can turn for help, and nothing can be enforced because of the appeal. Ms. Fang stated her family life is in trouble and the community is changed when such things are done in a residential neighborhood. Ms. Fang asked the Members of Council to support her and help her with this ongoing fight so that no harm is done, rather than having everything that Elias wants granted.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, pointed out that he has been talking about the crime in the City for the past four years. Mr. Rodriquez said the traffic flaggers at Third Street and Riverside Drive are not directing drivers into the proper lanes. Mr. Rodriquez said Route 378 South at McDonald’s Restaurant needs two right turn arrows that would allow drivers to stay in the proper lanes. Referring to a past situation when his life was threatened, Mr. Rodriquez said decisions were made by Police Officers who had no regard for his safety, there was dishonesty, and there has been no resolution. Mr. Rodriquez stressed he will not allow this to happen again with him or anyone else. Mr. Rodriquez encouraged citizens to report crime when they see it.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, pointed out that Township Line Road between the Monocacy Creek and Route 22 is in bad condition and has potholes. Mr. Grubb related that he witnessed a cyclist who was almost hit by a driver traveling at 40-50 mph on Williams Street that is a narrow, rural road, and observed there is a lot of speeding on the roadway. Mr. Grubb stated that City Council should inquire about the size of the grants and any matching requirements for the DCNR Grant Applications for Clearview Pool and Monocacy Creek Dam Removal. Mr. Grubb asked why the RACP funding for the parking garage did not come to City Council for authorization. Mr. Grubb related he was informed about the renovations in the Community and Economic Development Department, and a sofa and television in one of the offices. He questioned who is paying for the improvements, who is doing them, and who is paying for the television, in view of the limited resources of the City. Mr. Grubb brought to attention that he was told a City employee is parking in a handicapped parking space for several hours. Mr. Grubb said this June it will be five years since almost $800 was collected to install benches in front of City Hall and have a dedication of the space in memory of Carl DiCello, former Community and Economic Development Director. In a November 2009 memo from Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property Committee, it was indicated that a plaque would be purchased and installed but it is still not done. Mr. Grubb advised he is being questioned by people who want to know the status.
President Donchez asked Mr. Carp for an update. Mr. Carp affirmed that the plaque has been received, and an event will be scheduled when weather conditions improve and when it can be put on the Mayor’s schedule. Mr. Carp expressed the hope that it can be done in the next month.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, noted that the market where Elias Market is now located began as a roadside stand and advocated that a plaque be erected stating that one is witnessing the largest roadside stand in Pennsylvania. Mr. Scheirer remarked that the matter was reviewed by various Zoning Hearing Boards, numerous variances were given, and now a special exception has been granted. Mr. Scheirer stressed this amounts to a rezoning, and spot zoning which is illegal.
Mowrer Family; Vice President of Council
Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, stated that Mr. Mowrer’s
family and hers go back a long time, Mr. Mowrer’s grandfather
was the Burgess in Northampton Heights, Mr. Mowrer’s
father was Council President, and Mr. Mowrer was also the
Mayor and now a Member of Council. Ms. Pongracz remarked that
the Mowrer family stands as shining lights in Bethlehem. Ms.
Pongracz expressed her thoughts on the matter of the nominations
for Vice President of Council, and the discourse that took
Third and Fourth Streets
Chuck Nyul, 1966 Pinehurst Road, observed that Jersey City,
New Jersey is cleaner than Third and Fourth Streets, and the
traffic is better regulated with one way streets east, west,
north and south, and there is parking on both sides of the
streets one way in either direction. Mr. Nyul stressed that
the City should have one way streets. Mr. Nyul also pointed
out that in Hoboken, New Jersey there is a fifteen block area
that is clean, with numerous shops, many people, and various
parks. Mr. Nyul said that the South Side should be cleaned
up to make the City look better.
Administrative Order – Mohammed Arif Fazil – City Planning Commission
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, advised there is a major School Board meeting on April 18. Mr. Antalics commended the judgment in earlier voting down the recommended appointment of Mr. Fazil to the Planning Commission. Mr. Antalics, while stating that Mr. Fazil is very capable, commented that many of the School Board projects would probably dovetail with the City. Mr. Antalics wondered why the Administration made the recommendation in terms of how it is serving the City.
Approving Execution of Operative Agreements – Working Woodlands
John Tallarico, Chairman of the Bethlehem Authority, thanked the Members of Council and the Committees for their support of the Resolution approving the Execution of the Operative Agreements for the Working Woodlands project with The Nature Conservancy. Mr. Tallarico pointed out that, with the help of The Nature Conservancy, the best management practices will be applied in the watershed to prioritize water production as well as addressing wildlife and the forest. Mr. Tallarico also thanked Mayor Callahan for his support from the beginning for the project, and Stephen Repasch, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Authority, and the Authority’s Solicitor for their work. Mr. Tallarico exclaimed that with all the parties involved, including Blue Source, coming together it is almost a historic moment. Mr. Tallarico thanked Bud Cook, Director of The Nature Conservancy, for the 20 years he has spent coming to the Bethlehem Authority meetings, and Josh Parrish for the work on the project.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.