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BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Robert J. Donchez called the meeting to order. Reverend William Kuntze, of Christ Church – United Church of Christ, offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were David T. DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, Gordon B. Mowrer, J. William Reynolds, and Robert J. Donchez, 6. Jean Belinski was absent, 1.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of April 5, 2011 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Approving Intergovernmental Agreement – PennDot – Route 378 from Broadway/Dakotah Street to Third Street/Delaware Avenue – Removing Left Turn and Restoring Parking
Steven Boell, 4001 Schoolhouse Lane, Center Valley, PA stated he is at the Meeting on behalf of the owners and operators of McDonald’s restaurant that is impacted by Resolution 11 A to authorize an agreement between the City and PennDot to eliminate the left turn lane currently providing access to McDonald’s restaurant, his client’s site at Wyandotte Street. Mr. Boell noted he was previously involved in this process since about 2008. He explained that when the project was first proposed and approved the traffic patterns and the parking were issues of significant discussion. Working with the City, the left turn lane was installed to provide safe and orderly access to the restaurant site. As a part of the Gateway area enhancement study, it was considered whether the elimination of the left turn lane or some alteration of the traffic patterns surrounding the site were necessary in order to facilitate that plan. At that time, he participated through that consideration. Mr. Boell stated that McDonald’s interest throughout the process is to cooperate with the City to provide whatever redevelopment is necessary to make this a vital area in the City but also to protect the vital access to the McDonald’s restaurant property because ultimately the restaurant business is to attract customers. Mr. Boell noted that, as part of the original 2004 Five Point Gateway Area Enhancement Study performed by the City, the conclusion on page 17 related to the alternative to eliminate the left turn lane. Mr. Boell quoted further from the conclusions that “this alternative is not recommended because it could create an unsafe condition for left hand turns into the McDonald’s. In addition, it will not address the long term needs of the area as traffic volumes increase.” Mr. Boell recounted that the dialogue concerning the left turn lane continued and last year the comments of McDonald’s were solicited. Last June 2010, McDonald’s provided to the City a letter that outlined the impact that the elimination of the left turn lane would have on their operations. Mr. Boell confirmed that a copy of McDonald’s letter was forwarded to the Members of Council today. Mr. Boell continued on to point out that in the letter it was indicated that the company would consider alternatives to the elimination of the left turn lane and requested to engage in a dialogue moving forward. Mr. Boell added that, specifically, it was requested that the representative be copied on correspondence and receive notice of meetings. Mr. Boell informed the Members that yesterday he was contacted by his client who had found out about Resolution 11 A listed on the Agenda tonight through a newspaper article. Mr. Boell requested that Council table the Resolution or deny it. Mr. Boell affirmed that in the correspondence forwarded today the matter of inverse condemnation was brought up and what remedies would be available to McDonald’s in the event of the elimination of the left turn. Mr. Boell advised that representatives of McDonald’s are at the Meeting this evening to speak about the specifics of that remedy. Stating they do not want to go down that road, Mr. Boell explained the parties are at the Meeting tonight because they want to work with the City to find a reasonable alternative. Expressing it is at a point now that rather than take immediate action tonight that would be difficult to take back, Mr. Boell observed the Resolution could be tabled to begin the dialogue that the representatives wanted to engage in from the outset. Mr. Boell explained that, in ultimately selecting the site at Wyandotte Street, if the left turn lane and access was not there in all likelihood there would not be a McDonald’s at the site. Mr. Boell stated McDonald’s relied on the inclusion of the left turn lane. He continued on to say that McDonald’s is a good employer and a good corporate citizen, and does good works for the City through charitable donations. Mr. Boell added that today a job event was held at McDonald’s. Mr. Boell, communicating this is economic development in existence, said the parties want to work with the City to improve this downtown corridor. For that reason, Mr. Boell said it is requested that City Council table any action on the Resolution tonight.
Bill Zuccarello, area construction manager with McDonald’s corporation, 3025 County Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA, explained when the site was developed one of the things that was looked at was ease of access to and from the property. Mr. Zuccarello recounted that in 2000 when the firm worked with the City one of the things that was obtained was the left turn into the McDonald’s property off Wyandotte Street. Mr. Zuccarello explained if that is eliminated the ability for customers to enter the site will be lost, and it could create the situation that customers may not go to the site. Mr. Zuccarello commented the preference is for Council to table the Resolution, and allow the parties to work with the City to come up with a solution.
Joseph Bonita, 1106 Mt. Zion Road, Harding, PA, stated he is a supervisor for the local owner/operator of the McDonald’s restaurant at Wyandotte Street and has been dealing with the store since December 2008. Mr. Bonita commented he can provide first-hand knowledge how much of a detriment it would be to the business by losing the left turn lane. Since the time the location was taken over 20 full-time jobs have been added. Pointing out that today is national hiring day, Mr. Bonita advised the McDonald’s restaurant took in over 50 applications. By taking away the left turn lane, McDonald’s would be losing almost 30% of its business based on decreased traffic flow. Mr. Bonita stressed that ultimately that would be a reduction in jobs. Mr. Bonita expressed the hope that the Resolution can be tabled until further talks can take place.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, said he has seen many accidents in the vicinity of Wyandotte Street where there is a blind spot on Route 378 South. He explained that the present traffic congestion as a result of construction in the area is further complicated when there is an accident. Mr. Rodriquez stated another arrow is needed that would allow traffic to move into the left lane and turn into McDonald’s or to Broadway and the Fountain Hill area. Mr. Rodriquez commented that a driver traveling on Route 378 northbound down the hill and trying to make a left into McDonald’s will get into a blind spot on the right side lane of Route 378 South due to the height of some vehicles. Mr. Rodriquez suggested that a sign be placed further up the hill in the 900 block of Wyandotte Street and direct traffic down Ontario Street, then drivers could make a right onto Broadway, and allow a left onto Dakotah Street to go into McDonald’s restaurant. He continued on to say drivers could exit McDonald’s by making a right onto Wyandotte Street northbound and eliminate the left turn lane because of traffic. Mr. Rodriquez thought there will still be a lot of drug activity in the vicinity of the Greenway, and questioned whether the City is concerned about safety. He wondered why the City wants to extend the Greenway and thought the better option is not to do it and put the money towards other uses.
Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, stated she finds it laughable that the people from McDonald’s are asking for the retention of the left turn lane. Ms. Pongracz recounted when all the controversy was going on about a McDonald’s restaurant at Wyandotte Street, McDonald’s did not pay one bit of attention to the citizens who live in the area and who wanted a graceful restaurant design. Ms. Pongracz highlighted the fact that there are many different designs of McDonald’s restaurants built across the country when they listened to what people said. She stressed that the people of Bethlehem had to put up with a McDonald’s restaurant design that does nothing to make the neighborhood more attractive nor does it reflect what the City of Bethlehem stands for. Observing that some of the activities in the area often start at McDonald’s, Ms. Pongracz said she does not call that economic development or betterment for the community.
DCNR Grant - Greenway Extension
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, read questions from Dana Grubb who was not able to attend the Meeting about the DCNR grant for extension of the Greenway asking how much is it for, is there a matching requirement, what is the requirement, has the City identified the match and is it on hand, and what is the source of the match.
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. President of Council – Commissioner Versus Chief Designation – Police Commissioner and Fire Commissioner
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 11, 2011 from City Council President Robert J. Donchez to which was attached an email received from Deputy Police Commissioner Jason Schiffer and a memorandum from Fire Commissioner George Barkanic relative to changing the designations of Police Commissioner to Police Chief and Fire Commissioner to Fire Chief, as well as Deputy Commissioner to Deputy Chief.
President Donchez referred the request to the Public Safety Committee.
B. President of Council – Codified Ordinance Section 531.04(f) – Penalty Reference
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 14, 2011 from City Council President Donchez advising that in a memorandum from Police Officer Stephen Marks it was brought to the attention of the City Clerk’s Office that there is an incorrect reference in Codified Ordinance Section 531.04 (f) to a paragraph in Section 531.99, Penalties. The reference states 531.99(b)(5) and should state 531.99(b)(8).
President Donchez stated that the Ordinance will be placed on the May 3 Agenda.
President Donchez asked the Clerk to read additional Communication 7 C.
C. Director of Planning and Zoning – DCNR Grant Application – South Bethlehem Greenway Extension – East Sixth Street to Saucon Park
The Clerk read a memorandum dated April 18, 2011 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a proposed Resolution in support of a grant application to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for the extension of the South Bethlehem Greenway from East Sixth Street to Saucon Park. The grant is in the amount of $200,000 for completion of design, engineering and construction of the Greenway trail from East Sixth Street (the terminus of Phase III construction) to Auburn Street and connecting to Saucon Park.
President Donchez stated that the authorizing Resolution will be added to the Agenda.
A. President of Council
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 9 – 2011 – Amending General Fund Budget – JAG Accounts
The Clerk read Bill No. 9 – 2011 – Amending General Fund Budget – JAG Accounts, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 9 – 2011, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 2011-10, was declared adopted.
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, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. Bill No. 10 – 2011, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 2011-11, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Approving Intergovernmental Agreement – PennDot – Route 378 from Broadway/Dakotah Street to Third Street/Delaware Avenue – Removing Left Turn and Restoring Parking
President Donchez advised that since there were no Sponsors for Resolution 11 A the Resolution will not be considered.
B. Approving Records Destruction – EMS Bureau
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-64 that authorized the disposition of the public records from the EMS Bureau as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on December 16, 2008 and Resolution 2010-6.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
C. Approving Records Destruction – Purchasing Bureau
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-65 that authorized the disposition of the public records from the Purchasing Bureau as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on December 16, 2008 and Resolution 2010-6.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
D. Approving Grant Application – DCNR – Clearview Pool
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-66 that approved a grant application to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for the Clearview Pool project.
Mr. Reynolds asked what are the improvements planned for Clearview Pool.
Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, explained the chlorination system is being rebuilt, and the main header that feeds the pool was broken outside the building and has been reconstructed. Mr. Carp affirmed that the grant will offset some of the costs.
Mr. DiGiacinto asked if a match is needed for the grant.
Mr. Carp explained that pooled capital dollars are being used as a match.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The Resolution passed.
E. Approving Grant Application – DCNR – Monocacy Creek Dam Removal
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-67 that approved a grant application to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for the Monocacy Creek Dam Removal project.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 77 West Broad Street, Unit 1-C
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2011-68 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the existing awning with a new fabric and tenant’s logo at 77 West Broad Street, Unit 1-C.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 450 High Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-69 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct a new brick parking area, garden walls, pergola and brick walks at the rear of the property at 450 High Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 437 Linden Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-70 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove and replace both the rear porch and front entry hood at 437 Linden Street.
Motion - Adding Resolution 11 I
Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Evans moved to add Resolution 11 I to the Agenda. Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 6. The motion passed.
I. Approving Grant Application – DCNR – South Bethlehem Greenway – East Sixth Street to Saucon Park
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-71 that approved a grant application to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for the South Bethlehem Greenway Extension – East Sixth Street to Saucon Park.
President Donchez asked for a response to the questions raised earlier in the Meeting on behalf of Dana Grubb. Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, said the source of the match will be CDBG funds and capital dollars, and the grant is for $200,000. Mr. Kelly noted that, other than having the money at the time the agreement is signed, there are no other requirements for the match. Ms. Dolan asked if CDBG dollars from this year will be used. Mr. Kelly, advising they will be reallocated, explained the City will be preparing the CDBG Action Plan by the time this application comes before Council and is potentially approved by DCNR, and the Department will come back before City Council with the CDBG Action Plan.
Approving Intergovernmental Agreement – PennDot – Route 378 from Broadway/Dakotah Street to Third Street/Delaware Avenue – Removing Left Turn and Restoring Parking (Resolution 11 A)
Mayor Callahan recalled that on May 20, 2008 City Council passed a Resolution by a vote of 5 to 2 to remove the left turn lane and restore parking to Wyandotte Street. Stating that the Administration is following the Resolution of Council, Mayor Callahan inquired if the Administration should stop in view of the fact that Resolution 11 A did not receive sponsors this evening.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, affirming that Resolution 11 A did not receive any sponsors, stated the Rules of Council require two sponsors. As a result, Attorney Spadoni commented that he would need to speak with John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, and the Members of Council. Attorney Spadoni confirmed there is no action on Resolution 11 A this evening.
Mayor Callahan explained the Administration needs to know whether to continue to pursue the matter, and McDonald’s deserves to know what their fate is. In addition, Mayor Callahan observed the Administration would not want to be in the position of not acting on Council’s Resolution.
Attorney Spadoni stated he will need to review what has happened in this case and report back. President Donchez asked Attorney Spadoni to meet with Attorney Spirk before the next Council Meeting since the correspondence was received today from the attorneys for McDonald’s, and to return with information prior to the next City Council Meeting.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
Committee Meeting Announcement
Chairman Mowrer announced a Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on the proposed Human Relations Commission.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Yvonne Plakotaris, of East Penn Sanitation, 4687 Hanoverville Road, Bethlehem, advised it is a 30 year old hauling company, she has been with the company 21 years, and she has come before Council four times to ask why the City is contemplating contract hauling. Ms. Plakotaris stated she has never been notified by the City that her customers have complained. She has been notified directly by her customers and she has immediately gone out and resolved the problem. Notifying the Members of Council that over the past 24 months many customers have advised they cannot afford their trash bill and have asked for help, Ms. Plakotaris explained she has informed them of various choices available to them. Ms. Plakotaris questioned will the City make the single resident or senior pay the same trash hauling rate as a family of six. She pointed out the company is able to address rates for its customers to give them a choice, help them with their budgeting, and extend credit sometimes as much as 12 months out based on a customer’s financial situation. Ms. Plakotaris wondered whether a contract hauler will do that for City residents. Noting that the company sponsors Celtic Fest, she advised that they provide trash removal service in excess of $7,000 for the festival free of charge. Commenting that perhaps a contract hauler will do that, and will also support local businesses as does her company, Ms. Plakotaris did not think it would be to the extent that the second and third generation haulers at the Meeting have and will continue to provide to the City. Ms. Plakotaris implored Council to think about the choice. Affirming these are difficult economic times, Ms. Plakotaris noted there are people who depend on their trash hauler to help them, and there are businesses who depend on the company to buy goods and services from them. Ms. Plakotaris communicated that the company is a small business, is also struggling, and also needs Council’s help. Ms. Plakotaris asked Council to please consider this matter.
Mohammed Arif Fazil – City Planning Commission
Ron Carr, principal with D’Huy Engineering, advised that he wanted to speak to the recommendation for Mohammed Arif Fazil to be appointed to the City Planning Commission that was voted down at the April 5, 2011 City Council Meeting. Stating he does not question that Council voted the way it believed was in the best interests of the City, Mr. Carr expressed the belief that the Members did not have some important facts on which to base their decision. Commenting that the Bethlehem Area School District is one of the company’s most loyal and valued clients, Mr. Carr said the reality is that the company’s work with the Bethlehem Area School District amounts to a small percentage of its client base in annual billings. Mr. Carr informed the Members that the last time Mr. Fazil or anyone from D’Huy Engineering was at a Planning Commission meeting on behalf of the Bethlehem Area School District was 2007. Mr. Carr communicated that the company has great respect for the Bethlehem Area School District as well as its many other school district clients beyond the Lehigh Valley, as well as their industrial, commercial, and municipal clients, New York City clients, and other clients, strive to serve them to the highest degree possible, and are not beholden to any of them. Mr. Carr explained the concern he has about the implications of Council’s conflict of interest conclusion is that it would disqualify a whole group of professionals who are specifically qualified to review plans and provide added expertise to a Planning Commission. Mr. Carr said the percentage of Bethlehem Area School District projects that have come before the Planning Commission compared to the overall number of projects the Planning Commission reviews is minor. Mr. Carr stated the potential for a conflict of interest issue is limited. However, Mr. Carr noted if a conflict does arise it can be easily addressed by having a professional recuse himself or herself from discussion when the client’s project is up for review. Mr. Carr stated that to disqualify someone who has lived in the City of Bethlehem for 25 years and maintains a business in the City because he has professional relationships with clients in the City is to essentially disqualify most if not all engineers and architects who reside in Bethlehem from serving. Mr. Carr said he does not believe this is in the best interests of the City. Mr. Carr commented that Mr. Fazil is a very insightful, sound individual who works exceptionally well as a team member. Mr. Carr further stated that Mr. Fazil served with professionalism on the LVIP Board and believed he would be an exceptional member of the Planning Commission. Mr. Carr suggested that for the future, in the best interests of City Council and the party involved, when questions regarding conflict of interest arise, obtaining the Solicitor’s opinion prior to voting may be helpful and in everyone’s best interest. Mr. Carr said when raising the question that there is a conflict there should be adequate research and review performed of the facts. Mr. Carr said he knows that most professionals and Mr. Fazil in particular would have not accepted the potential nomination if he believed there was a conflict of interest. Mr. Carr stated that he is expressing his concerns as a long time business owner, very pleased to be a part of the City, and excited about the tremendous improvements the City continues to make.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, distributed to the Members of Council his calculations on the Sands Casino quarterly revenues on four charts showing weekly gross terminal revenue, weekly slots gross terminal revenue, monthly table games revenue, and average daily win per table. Mr. Pfenning noted that the total gross terminal revenue since the beginning of the year versus 2010 is about a 3.72% increase and added it may be dependent upon companions of table games players. Mr. Pfenning pointed out that table games are doing better than originally expected. Mr. Pfenning advised the City should be receiving funds from the State totaling $1,308,045.41. Combined with the first quarter that included the catch up, Mr. Pfenning said $6,405,000 has come in versus $8,750,000 that was budgeted. By the end of this distribution, Mr. Pfenning stated about 73.2% of the City’s Budget for the year will have been received. If it continues at the same pace, Mr. Pfenning guesstimated that the total host fees for the year will exceed $9,000,000 so that the Administration should be notifying Council about expenditure of the $250,000 more than anticipated as specified in the Ordinance. Mr. Pfenning informed the assembly that he attended the Gaming congress in Philadelphia in March. Mr. Pfenning observed that the high gas prices could affect discretionary travel and spending.
Five Points – McDonald’s Restaurant
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, recalled that years ago
coming down Wyandotte Street there was a glow at the Five
Points from the Christmas lights welcoming visitors to the
City. That was discontinued in the 1960’s when there
was a power shortage in the United States. Mr. Antalics highlighted
the fact that now the glow coming down Wyandotte Street at
Five Points is from the McDonald’s restaurant. Mr. Antalics
pointed out that the Historic District in North Bethlehem
is based on the curb to the far side of the street but the
Historic District of South Bethlehem is the middle of the
street. Mr. Antalics stressed had it been extended to the
far side of the street then McDonald’s restaurant would
not have been allowed in the Historic District. Mr. Antalics
remarked that if the left turn is discontinued and business
starts to deteriorate the restaurant may disappear and Bethlehem
could go back to its historic origins.
Eddie Rodriquez, 1845 Linden Street, commented that East Penn Sanitation is clean and follows safety measures, and its trucks are clean and painted. Mr. Rodriquez said he does not see that happening with other trash haulers. Mr. Rodriquez communicated that contract hauling would put individual haulers out of business that have been in business for many years. Mr. Rodriquez remarked that the Ale House at the Five Points is a horrible site, there is debris, the bricks are deteriorating, and the fire escape is not painted. Mr. Rodriquez wondered why the chairman of the Planning Commission was an owner of the Five Points Getty gas station, he thought it was a conflict of interest, and he questioned why it was allowed to happen. Mr. Rodriquez pointed out that putting parking back on Wyandotte Street has been a request of the residents in the business district for a long time.
Mohammed Arif Fazil – City Planning Commission; Right to Know Officer; Elias Market Appeal
Al Bernotas, 1004 Johnston Drive, noted that Mr. Fazil lives in his neighborhood and he thought it would have been a benefit for him to be on the Planning Commission but acknowledged it is at Council’s discretion. Mr. Bernotas thought it would be nice to see people nominated not only by the Mayor, and for the nominees to appear at a Council Meeting to answer questions. Mr. Bernotas said he made a request to the City for some right to know information and was rebuffed. He accessed the State’s website where it was noted that such requests should be directed to the Right to Know Officer of the City. Mr. Bernotas stated he called the City and could not find the name of the Right to Know Officer. John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, advised the City’s Right to Know Officer is Christopher Cooper, Assistant City Solicitor. Mr. Bernotas related that he sent a letter to Attorney Spadoni requesting that City Council continue to intervene with the residents on the appeal of the Elias Market matter. President Donchez affirmed to Mr. Bernotas that the Members of Council received a copy of his letter. Mr. Bernotas asked if that will come up at the next City Council Meeting. President Donchez commented that he will ask Attorney Spadoni to obtain the thoughts of Council and if there seems to be support it would be listed on the Agenda. Mr. Bernotas asked if another Resolution is necessary in order to continue to intervene. Attorney Spadoni confirmed that he shared Mr. Bernotas’ correspondence with the Members of Council and has had some discussions with Members. Attorney Spadoni communicated it is his understanding that his involvement was as a result of the residents not being heard at the Zoning Hearing Board and not having the ability to present witnesses. Attorney Spadoni affirmed that he attended hearings, presented evidence, subpoenaed witnesses, and participated in the case. Attorney Spadoni, pointing out that he fulfilled his orders from City Council, commented that he then received Mr. Bernotas’ correspondence, shared it with Council, and has not received direction in that regard. Following the President’s advice this evening, Attorney Spadoni stated he will receive the pulse of Council regarding the matter. Mr. Bernotas said he totally disagrees with Attorney Spadoni about his rationale for not intervening any further. Mr. Bernotas added that if Council takes up the matter at the next Meeting he will go point by point.
Mohammed Arif Fazil – City Planning Commission
Bob Gilly, member of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Bethlehem Association, said he is also director of business development and marketing for D’Huy Engineering. Mr. Gilly said he came to the Meeting to share some perspectives and wanted to reiterate the fact that neither Mr. Carr nor he is requesting City Council to reconsider its decision. Mr. Gilly stated it is not about the result, but it is about the process. Mr. Gilly informed the members that he and the principals of the firm have three priorities that are their clients, their employees, and the community they serve. Mr. Gilly, communicating that the company’s clients like to come to Bethlehem, noted they encourage them to come here, and they enjoy the restaurants, merchants, etc. Mr. Gilly added that the company’s employees like to shop and enjoy the restaurants in Bethlehem. Mr. Gilly added the people enjoy the fact that they can do all those things safely that speaks a lot for the City. Mr. Gilly explained that D’Huy Engineering believes strongly it is their responsibility to give back to the community, and they share equally in the success of the downtown. Mr. Gilly expressed that the firm values more what others say rather than what they say. Mr. Gilly encouraged the Members to talk to anyone on the Board, the manager of the DBA, or any merchant or restaurant person and they will advise that the firm does it because it is the right thing to do. Mr. Gilly emphasized that a healthy downtown is in everyone’s best interest, and the company benefits from that tremendously. Mr. Gilly noted that he worked at Bethlehem Steel Corporation and came to appreciate the work ethic and commitment that people had. Mr. Gilly stressed that process, fairness, and opportunity is important. Mr. Gilly expressed the thought that it is important by Council’s action and processes to support the efforts of what everyone is trying to do.
Mayor Callahan affirmed he was out of the country and not in attendance at the April 5, 2011 City Council Meeting when the nomination of Mr. Fazil was before Council. Mayor Callahan advised that the Administration would not have put Mr. Fazil up for nomination to the Planning Commission if there was any inherent conflict in doing so. Mayor Callahan stated it is the opinion of the City Solicitor who is present this evening that there was no conflict of interest. Mayor Callahan noted any potential conflict that would arise as a result of Mr. Fazil’s nomination to the Planning Commission would be dealt with on a case by case basis as it is with any other member of the Planning Commission. Mayor Callahan pointed out there are developers on the Planning Commission and when they have issues they recuse themselves. Denoting that conflicts do arise on occasion, Mayor Callahan commented that so long as they are properly dealt with that is the appropriate vehicle to do so. Affirming the Administration does not believe there is a conflict of interest, Mayor Callahan said he did not receive any calls or questions in the week when Mr. Fazil’s nomination was put up. Mayor Callahan continued on to say that Mr. Fazil has been a great resident of the City for 25 years, he is a business owner, and the building at the corner of Broad and New Street would not exist had it not been for the investment of D’Huy Engineering. He added that their employees invest their personal time in the Downtown Bethlehem Association and other worthwhile causes. Mayor Callahan restated he does not believe there was a conflict of interest nor does the Solicitor with Mr. Fazil’s nomination.
Sue Fang, 3218 Marchant Drive, behind Elias Market, spoke about zoning and enforcement issues. Ms. Fang explained she has appealed the Zoning decision regarding the special exception for Elias to build a huge warehouse over 8,200 sq. ft. with three loading docks 40 ft. to her fence, 18 ft. to her bedroom on one side and 25 ft. to the other side. Ms. Fang explained that in the decision Mickey Thompson, Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board, only used a partial record from November 29. The first appeal was a four hour meeting, the second night it was about two and half hours, and Attorney Thompson only used the second night. The neighbors do not know who paid for the transcript for the second part. Ms. Fang communicated that the conclusion written by Attorney Thompson stated that the Elias Farmers Market burned down building is 4,400 sq. ft. and there is no testimony anywhere that stated 4,400 sq. ft. She noted that Attorney Thompson also said the extension was reduced 1,500 sq. ft. for which there is no testimony. Ms. Fang, expressing that the information was false and misleading, explained the neighbors could not get a record and they would be charged $4 per page. Ms. Fang emphasized that when Attorney Thompson wrote the report he was supposed to have two days’ testimony but the written report only had partial testimony and wrong information. Ms. Fang said she is at the Meeting as a citizen who trusts the government to do their job and stated they should do their job in a fair way. Ms. Fang expressed the hope that City officials would look at ordinary citizens and enforce the zoning law. She questioned why Elias Market can get away with everything, and asserted the report written by Attorney Thompson is biased to protect Elias and that is not right. Ms. Fang highlighted the fact that trash must be covered but Zoning has allowed the trash from Elias Market to blow around for the past five years. Ms. Fang wished that Council would intervene to help the neighbors.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, stated that, as he had mentioned at the last Meeting, the cumulative effect of the variances and special exceptions over the decades at the site of Elias Market amounted to a rezoning, and spot zoning in view of the fact that the site is 1.82 acres, and that is illegal. Mr. Scheirer questioned how this could be legal. Pointing out that rezoning is the responsibility of City Council, Mr. Scheirer stressed that the accumulation of decisions by the Zoning Hearing Board has amounted to a rezoning and usurpation of the powers of Council. Mr. Scheirer said that is why Council should continue to work with the neighbors as a friend of the court. Mr. Scheirer announced that tomorrow is the third Town Hall lecture and the title is The Egalitarian Promise of Moravian Bethlehem.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.