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BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 – 7:00 PM
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Robert J. Donchez called the meeting to order. The Very Reverend Anthony Pompa, of Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 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.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of September 6, 2011 were approved.
Certificate of Appropriateness – 425-429 North New Street – Removed from Agenda
President Donchez informed the assembly that Resolution 11 K, a Certificate of Appropriateness for 425-429 North New Street, has been removed from the Agenda.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
6. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Old Business – Members of Council
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
A. Business Administrator – 2012 Preliminary Budget Estimate – Pensions
The Clerk read a memorandum dated September 12, 2011 from Dennis W. Reichard, Business Administrator, listing estimates of the financial requirements of the Police, Fire, Officers and Employees, and PMRS pension plans, and minimum municipal contribution to the plans for 2012 budget purposes, as required under Act 205.
President Donchez advised this is for information only at this time, and no action needs to be taken.
A. President of Council
C. Public Safety Committee
Chairman DiGiacinto presented an oral report of the Public Safety Committee meeting that was held on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall to discuss and listen to public comment on the Dewberry Avenue Fire House and EMS Center.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 21 – 2011 – Authorizing Intergovernmental Cooperation and Purchase and Sale Agreement – East Allen Township and East Allen Township Municipal Authority – Purchase of East Allen Township Municipal Authority Water System
The Clerk read Bill No. 21 – 2011 – Authorizing Intergovernmental Cooperation and Purchase and Sale Agreement – East Allen Township and East Allen Township Municipal Authority – Purchase of East Allen Township Municipal Authority Water System, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. Bill No. 21 - 2011, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 2011-22, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Authorizing Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce – Bethlehem Fall Fashion Event
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-154 that authorized a Use Permit Agreement between the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Bethlehem for use of Main Street from Broad Street to Market Street and Walnut Street on October 15, 2011 for the Bethlehem Fall Fashion Event, according to the Agreement.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolution passed.
Motion – Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds moved to consider Resolutions 11 B 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.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 437 Main Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-155 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install umbrellas at the outdoor dining tables at 437 Main Street.
C. Certificate of Appropriateness – 453 Main Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-156 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signs and vinyl letters at 453 Main Street.
D. Certificate of Appropriateness – 534 Main Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-157 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install stationary solar panels on the roof at 534 Main Street.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 525 Pine Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-158 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to rebuild the greenhouse at 525 Pine Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 64 East Wall Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-159 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to repaint the house at 64 East Wall Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 440 Heckewelder Place
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-160 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install two signs at 440 Heckewelder Place.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 52 East Wall Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-161 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the cedar fence at 52 East Wall Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 247 East Market Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-162 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace aluminum storm windows with wood storm windows at 247 East Market Street.
J. Certificate of Appropriateness – 61 West Lehigh Street
Mr. Evans and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution 2011-163 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to provide accessible entrances and vestibules at both levels, a canopy at the platform and a roof screen above the kitchen at 61 West Lehigh Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 B through 11 J: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Mowrer, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Donchez, 7. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS.
President Donchez announced that a Public Hearing has been scheduled on the matter of Officer Rogers on Monday, October 17 at 7:30 PM in Town Hall.
President Donchez announced that the Committee of the Whole meeting on the proposed new Zoning Ordinance has been rescheduled to Thursday, October 20 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall from Tuesday, September 27 at 7:00 PM.
Chairman Reynolds announced a Finance Committee meeting on Monday, September 26, 2011 at 7:00 PM in Town Hall on Transfers of Funds and 2010 Audit.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Deanna Post, 337 Wyandotte Street, explained she has been homeless and although she has been harassed by Police Officers she advised that other Officers are very nice. She wrote an article to the Express-Times and it was suggested to her that she come to a City Council Meeting. She asked that the matter of the homeless being picked on be resolved.
Monocacy Creek - Flooding
Eddie Rodriquez, 701 Main Street, addressed his concerns about Monocacy Creek and flooding issues, and said conditions are getting worse. Pointing out that about 250 ft. of retaining wall is crumbling near the steel railroad trestle area at Union Boulevard, Mr. Rodriquez stressed that the stones may fall into the creek, and people may be injured. He asked that the Parks and Public Property Department clear away the trees in that location underneath the trestle area. Mr. Rodriquez added that although stones were placed at the edge of the creek the job remains incomplete. Mr. Rodriquez questioned why a higher wall was not built. He asked why is there so much flooding in the area on the Old York Road side where the water is seeping in from the Monocacy Creek.
Ralph Carp, Director of Parks and Public Property, responded that the Department is doing everything possible with the limited resources it has. Mr. Carp advised that along the stone wall that was repaired right after Hurricane Irene only three days later it flooded again and scoured out. Mr. Carp informed Mr. Rodriquez that the trees must be accessed with a crane across the railroad tracks. Mr. Carp emphasized that the Department is doing everything it can to try to ameliorate the flooding problems. Mr. Carp, explaining that the walls are crumbling as a result of several storms, said the City’s stone mason is working on various wall locations.
Street Light; Elias Market
Al Bernotas, 1004 Johnston Drive, thanked Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, and his staff for quickly fixing a street light in his neighborhood, that has gone out three times in the past few years, shortly after he called the Public Works Department. Mr. Bernotas thanked City Council for continuing to support the neighbors in the Elias Market matter before the Zoning Hearing Board, and for Attorney Spadoni’s attendance at the Zoning Hearing Board meeting.
Loading Docks – Residential Areas
Yong Hao, 3218 Marchant Drive, thanked Attorney Spadoni and City Council for their support of the neighbors in the Elias Market matter before the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Hao referred to the neighbors’ petition to add Zoning restrictions for retail stores with loading docks for diesel powered vehicles in or adjacent to residential districts. Mr. Hao stressed that these structures in residential areas are a potential hazard to residents’ lives and health. Mr. Hao, pointing out it is not just a trivial matter, affirmed that is why a petition and emails have been sent to City Council, and why he talks about it at City Council Meetings at every opportunity he has. Mr. Hao asked the Members of Council to take some time to review the issue, think about it, and add it into the new proposed Zoning Ordinance not only for the current residents but for future generations. Communicating it may be too late for the neighbors of Elias Market because the case is already in court, Mr. Hao repeated his request that Council think about it for the future of the City. Mr. Hao, highlighting the fact that there are provisions in the current and proposed new Zoning Ordinance about loading docks and diesel powered vehicles in mixed use commercial zones, read the requirements. Mr. Hao pointed out there is more protection from loading docks and diesel powered vehicles if their house were located next to a commercial zoning district but there is no protection since their house is in a residential district. Mr. Hao stressed that is why the protections are needed. Mr. Hao informed the Members that there is a case in Windsor Township in York County, Pennsylvania where Walmart wanted to build seven loading docks very close to a residential area.
Elias Farmers Market – Zoning Ordinance
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, said it is because of the situation described by Mr. Hao concerning Elias Farm Market that he came up with one of 27 comments on the proposed new Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Scheirer expressed the belief it could be solved and a lot of similar cases could be prevented by one sentence such as whenever an additional use is granted by a special exception or a variance that use shall be subject to not only the requirements of the zoning district in question but also to all the requirements for that use in other zoning districts.
Flooding; Student Matters; Traffic – South Side
Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, informed the assembly that in the 1950’s the Congressman at that time brought in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to alleviate the flooding problem at the Lehigh River, and added it is not something that can be done locally. Ms. Pongracz complimented Michael Palos, Chief Housing Inspector, and his staff for the effort they took in going door to door in the 200 and 300 blocks of E. Fifth Street on two Saturdays in a row and talking to every student who was home. Ms. Pongracz continued on to say the students were most cooperative, and the conditions in the area have vastly improved. Ms. Pongracz asked why all the north-south streets from New Street to Hayes Street were shut off in the third and fourth wards during the VegFest. She highlighted the fact that people going to mass at 5:15 p.m. could not park where they usually park, and people were not able to get to where they wanted to be. Ms. Pongracz communicated that shutting off streets from New Street to Hayes Street is not a good way to handle traffic, particularly in view of a situation where an ambulance would have to access the area. Ms. Pongracz commented that the opening of the Second Street Ramp has not really improved the traffic flow on W. Fourth Street.
City Employees - Residency
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, stated that citizens who live and work in the City have the best sense of community pride while employees who do not live in the City would possibly have a diminished sense of community. Mr. Antalics emphasized that a classic example of a citizen who lived and worked in the City was Charlie Brown, former Parks and Public Property Director. Mr. Antalics stressed that employees who live outside of the City leave at 5:00 p.m. and do not return until the next morning, if they use City vehicles to drive back and forth they incur a cost, they are not in the City other than during working hours, and it discourages them from coming to the City during weekends. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that in 1962 an Ordinance was passed requiring employees to live in the City, especially Department Heads, but the Ordinance was revoked in 1988. Mr. Antalics stated that he checked the minutes but there appears to be no good reason why the Ordinance was rescinded, other than hardship or the cost of housing. Mr. Antalics thought that, for employees who need to be in the City on short notice such as Police Officers and Firefighters, the City needs to conduct a study on where they live and how soon they can be in the City on an emergency basis. For the best interest of the community, Mr. Antalics strongly urged City officials to review the 1962 Ordinance and reinstitute it.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.