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Bethlehem Council MInutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 – 7:00 PM
PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
Pastor Craig Weidman, of Hope Alliance Church, offered the
invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag.
1. ROLL CALL
President Evans called the meeting to order. Present were Jean Belinski, David T. DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Michael D. Recchiuti, J. William Reynolds, and Eric R. Evans, 7.
Citations – Honoring William Cruz, Charles A. Doncsecz, and Van A. Scott, Sr.
President Evans stated that the Citations for William Cruz, Charles A. Doncsecz, and Van A. Scott, Sr., on the occasion of their retirement will be mailed to them since they were unable to attend this evening.
Zoning Ordinance Amendment - Establishing New Article 1321
- Landmarks and Historic Resources
Prior to the consideration of the regular Agenda items, President Evans called to order a Public Hearing to consider Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to establish new Article 1321, Landmarks and Historic Resources, to recognize buildings outside the Historic Districts that may be classified as landmarks or historic resources and are important to preserve, as provided for in the Municipalities Planning Code.
5A. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission – Zoning Ordinance
Amendment – Landmarks and Historic
The Clerk read a letter dated March 1, 2013 from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission that stated the Commission reviewed the amendment at its meeting on February 28, 2013 and considered the proposed amendment to be a matter of local concern and offered no comments.
Bethlehem Area School District - Liberty High School Original
President Evans informed the assembly that a letter dated March 12, 2013 was received from M. Arif Fazil, on behalf of the Bethlehem Area School District, recommending that in Table 1, Item 10 on the list of Identified Historic Resources be changed to read: Liberty High School Original Commons Building constructed in 1922. President Evans asked that Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, address this request in her presentation and advise whether the Administration is in agreement.
Director of Planning and Zoning – Presentation
Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, pointed out that the proposed Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance has been discussed previously and explained that she would recap the proposal. She highlighted the fact that the idea of the Ordinance itself has been discussed for a few years, there was a draft proposal, and more work had to be done before finalizing it. In 2011, the City prepared a Historic Preservation Plan for which a Resolution was adopted by City Council on July 19, 2011. One of the main items was how to address the preservation of resources that are not listed in the City’s Ordinances addressing Historic Districts. Noting that several community meetings were held, a community survey was conducted, there was outreach and a blog, Ms. Heller reiterated that was one of the main issues that was discussed in the public comment. Ms. Heller affirmed that the Preservation Plan itself does outline not only a procedure but also a basic list of historic resources, a recommended list to be included in the Ordinance, and also a procedure to include additional resources in the future. Ms. Heller advised that after the Preservation Plan was adopted, the proposed Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance was finalized. She confirmed there have other meetings with Members of Council to discuss the proposal and some modifications have been made to address some of Council’s concerns. Ms. Heller recalled the proposal was addressed in December 2012 and it was presented to the Planning Commission in January 2013. The Planning Commission recommended that the Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance be approved as amended. Ms. Heller advised it would be a part of the new Zoning Ordinance that was adopted last year.
Ms. Heller advised that the Zoning Ordinance Amendment for the Landmarks and Historic Resources is drafted to follow the same procedures that are followed now for the local Historic Districts. She explained that, if someone comes to the Department’s Permit Counter for a demolition permit, that proposal would be sent to the Historic Commission, they would review it and make a recommendation to City Council, and it would come to City Council for a final approval. Ms. Heller communicated the major difference is that the review would not encompass looking at every change to the exterior, but it would specifically look at demolition. She stated that the procedure involves only highlighting the matter if someone comes in for a demolition permit for these properties. The proposed Ordinance defines what is demolition and what is demolition by neglect. The Ordinance provides that the City will still use the same Historic Conservation Commission and the same Historic Officer. Ms. Heller affirmed there is a list of Historic Landmarks that were identified and are attached as Table 1. Added to the draft was some language that Council requested last Fall about some other Historic Properties on the former Bethlehem Steel site, and other language was added that was communicated by members of the public at that meeting.
Ms. Heller, while pointing out that everything on the list in Table 1 of Identified Historic Properties that is recommended to be included is considered to be a Historic Landmark, acknowledged that the list is not comprehensive. Ms. Heller, highlighting the fact that there are many landmarks in the City, pointed out that not enough research has been able to be done in order to qualify some of the other landmarks that were recommended. She affirmed that within the proposed Ordinance a procedure is included with a survey form and other recommendations if someone would like to recommend another property or their own property to be included within the Ordinance. Ms. Heller continued on to say the documentation would go to the Historic Commission, be reviewed by the Historic Officer, and then would be forwarded to City Council for a final recommendation. She noted the procedures are the same as are in place now. Ms. Heller noted that the Zoning Ordinance Amendment also states what needs to be included in the application, and the requirements are fairly lengthy. Ms. Heller advised it must be shown that there is no other viable alternative for reuse of the building, it must be demonstrated that the demolition of the building is unavoidable, and it must show what the next reuse of the building shall be. Ms. Heller added it also must be demonstrated that there is unreasonable economic hardship if the building is required to be retained, and the documentation that is necessary is listed to address unreasonable economic hardship.
Ms. Heller informed the assembly it is required that a land development plan be reviewed for the reuse so that the City would know what the plan would be, and also that there would be some investment in that reuse to make it likely that the City would not end up with a vacant parcel. The City can require by recommendation that there be a nine month period where the City or the property owner could research alternatives that could include perhaps moving the building or so on. Demolition by neglect is defined, and as a result of some of the comments received previously some of the penalty provisions were modified slightly.
Ms. Heller, referring to the letter received from Arif Fazil, of D’Huy Engineering, the engineers for the Bethlehem Area School District, affirmed that Liberty High School is Item 10 on the Identified Historic Resources list. Ms. Heller continued on to note the School District did request some clarification that the only portion of the complex that would be included is the Liberty High School original Commons building constructed in 1922. Ms. Heller informed the Members that the Administration does agree with that provision. Ms. Heller pointed out that, in fact, there were other properties where questions have come up. For example, for the listed Church properties, it is the recommendation that the Church building itself be included but not any of the other buildings. Ms. Heller added that for Item 7 on the list, the Weldship property, there is really only one building that is historic but there are many buildings on the site. The City would want to be specific and clarify the building that is intended to be protected. Ms. Heller pointed out that Martin Tower, Item 13 on the list, would be another case, and it would be the main tower, but the accessory buildings would not be included. Ms. Heller advised that the Department could come back and make the list more specific so it is known that it is not the property in its entirety but specific structures on the property. Ms. Heller, restating those changes can be made, reaffirmed the Administration does agree with the request in the letter from Mr. Fazil of D’Huy Engineering.
Ms. Dolan, expressing her agreement regarding Liberty High School, noted that the Commons building is the historic structure. She added that the science building and the Klein Classroom center were built in different years but are not over 100 or even 50 years old.
Ms. Dolan queried whether neighborhood landmarks in the neighborhood districts are also considered Bethlehem landmarks under this Ordinance. Ms. Heller advised that on the list there are two National Register Historic Districts that are Residential Districts. Ms. Dolan observed that on the list there are some buildings in residential districts. Ms. Heller noted that there are three local Ordinance Historic Districts now that are completely protected, so nothing on the list in Table 1 is in any of those districts because they are already protected. Ms. Dolan asked if they are protected from demolition by neglect. Ms. Heller replied that, even if one looks at the language in the definition of demolition by neglect, it refers to the Property Maintenance Code. This Code exists City-wide so it is not a higher standard of protection. Ms. Heller explained what the Code does is call out the fact that the City would not allow a demolition through the procedure in the Ordinance, nor would the City allow demolition by neglect. The standard is the same and it is not a different standard. The City has adopted the Property Maintenance Code and does not have the authority to enforce a higher standard than the Property Maintenance Code.
Ms. Dolan wondered if the enabling legislation for a National Historic Registry or the State Registry would hold the individual buildings or the owners of those buildings to the same standard that is the highest standard the City can hold a building owner to in terms of repairs. Ms. Heller replied yes, and reiterated it is the Property Maintenance Code that is a standard code used across the State and the Country. Ms. Dolan asked whether across the State and across the Country there is nothing more stringent than that for any building and whether there are the same standards for any building whether it is historic or not. Ms. Heller stated that to her knowledge yes and it has more to do with documentation and enforcement than anything else.
Ms. Dolan asked, as far as Ms. Heller knows, if there is nothing on which a community has taken a stronger stand and gotten something through a court. Ms. Heller mentioned the Department has had some conversations with PHMC to see if they have knowledge of other communities that do this differently. Ms. Heller, advising she does not know of any in the State of Pennsylvania, said the Department is also looking at other States but she does not know anything conclusively right now. Ms. Dolan thought this is something that definitely should be known. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that Pennsylvania would not be the definitive answer with something like this because if it is a National Historic Recognized Landmark there can be something done differently in another State. Ms. Heller, while indicating she is not sure about this, believed that the State building code is used and there are State regulations that require the City to either enforce that code or pay a third party to do that for the City. Ms. Heller confirmed the City has building inspectors who do that work but it is a code mandated by the State, and the City cannot enforce a greater standard than that.
Ms. Dolan, expressing she did not realize that there is not a greater standard for buildings that are on the National Historic Registry, wondered if anywhere it does not mean something more if a building is listed on the National Historic Registry. Ms. Heller noted that it would not matter if a building was on the National Registry or not. The City is creating an Ordinance that says these are resources the City wants to protect. Ms. Heller affirmed the City has also done that in its three local Ordinance Districts. Ms. Heller added that whether or not it is on the National Register is something else entirely. It would need to be a local Ordinance before the City has any power or authority at all.
Ms. Dolan inquired if there is a building that is identified as being historic and is being neglected would the City’s building codes department send someone out and begin the process of having the owner bring it up to code whether historic or not. She wondered if this is going on now and whether there are buildings that are not complying with the building maintenance code in historic structures in Bethlehem. Ms. Heller replied that, typically, because the City does not have the manpower to go out and look for buildings that do not comply with the code, the City responds to complaint calls or concerns from neighbors. The City inspectors go out and respond to those situations and would respond based on the Property Maintenance Code, so whether it is a historic property or not the standard would be that code.
Ms. Dolan queried whether that would mean that the house at 1304 Spring Street that was discussed at a previous Council Meeting would currently be under enforcement of the Property Maintenance Code. Ms. Heller commented that she would have to talk to the Building Inspections Bureau, and she is not certain of the state of the property. Ms. Dolan asked if it matters whether it is occupied or not. Ms. Heller noted that the Property Maintenance Code allows the Inspector to go to the outside of the property and inspect the property, so that it would not matter if it is occupied or not.
Ms. Dolan commented that she is happy to see this proposed Ordinance moving along, especially with the changes.
Mr. Reynolds noted it was said that all of the property owners who would fall into this list were contacted. Ms. Heller affirmed they were all mailed notices of this Meeting. Mr. Reynolds asked if there has been any response rate as far as concerns about the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment. Ms. Heller confirmed that a letter from the School District was received and they are not objecting as long as it is only the Liberty High School Commons Building that is included on the list. Ms. Heller continued on to advise the Bureau has been contacted by one of the churches about demolition of a building other than a church. Ms. Heller commented she has not specifically spoken to other property owners, although she knows there is interest. She added that another individual did call to ask what the Ordinance meant, they discussed it, and he is at the Meeting tonight.
Mr. Reynolds observed that, as far as the buildings that are included in the Elmwood Park Historic District, for example, the proposed Ordinance would only address demolition. Mr. Reynolds communicated that he has talked to people in the neighborhood who are concerned about the restrictions. Ms. Heller explained it is very different. In the Historic Districts, the State law reads that any exterior change can be reviewed by the HARB or the Historic Commission. She exemplified that if someone wants to change a door, windows, or roofing material, they would go before the historic review board, but that would not be required under the proposed Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance. Ms. Heller affirmed the City would only be reviewing the request if someone comes in for a demolition permit. Ms. Heller advised the proposed Ordinance does require that if someone is taking down a rear addition or a front porch a demolition permit is needed and the Bureau would review that.
Mr. Reynolds inquired whether for both the Elmwood Park Historic District and the Pembroke Village Historic District the entire areas need to be included. Ms. Heller stated that they are both on the National Register of Historic Places and that is why they are raised to a higher lever than other neighborhoods. Mr. Reynolds pointed out that some of the homes have been modified and there are certain parts of the area that would be considered historic while some areas would not. Ms. Heller advised that the boundaries of the districts in the proposed Ordinance are the same as on the National Register and that is what is being proposed.
George Lambert, representing Housing Development Corporation Mid-Atlantic in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, stated that he had a brief meeting with Ms. Heller and Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, this evening regarding the proposed Ordinance. Mr. Lambert stated that any comments he may have had have been all addressed by the Department.
Kenneth Miller, 2930 Mission Road, advised he is a member of the governing board of St. Thomas United Church of Christ (UCC). Mr. Miller informed the assembly that the reason he is at the Meeting tonight is to support the Church known as the St. Thomas Monocacy Church at 902 E. Macada Road in Bethlehem to be designated as an historic landmark. Mr. Miller noted that under the proposed Article 1321, Landmarks and Historic Resources, the word Landmark is defined as an individual site, element or building that demonstrates historical, architectural, cultural, archaeological, educational or aesthetic merit. Mr. Miller explained that the Pastor of the Church, The Reverend Deborah Hess, and Matt Ford, president of the governing board of St. Thomas UCC Church, feel that the Church easily falls within this definition. Mr. Miller advised that in January 1848 a group of Christian people came together and decided to build a house of worship, that is thriving, and has a rich and vibrant history to this day. Highlighting the fact that the spelling of the original Church is different than is listed in Table 1, Mr. Miller stated that Monocacy should be spelled Monoquacy and in the document issued to them it was spelled wrong.
Evelyn Beckman, 310 W. Broad Street, affirming that her building is listed as qualified and eligible for the National Registry, noted the building is number 4 on Table 1 of the Identified Historic Resources and is listed as Siegfried Pharmacy. Ms. Beckman informed the Members that on numerous occasions she has requested that the words Ambre Gallery be changed to Ambre Studio that is the correct name of her building at 310 W. Broad Street. Ms. Beckman added that in 2010 she was honored to be invited by the Mayor to be one of the 15 members of the Bethlehem Preservation Planning Task Force. Ms. Beckman noted the members have been working with a paid organization to help create the plan, and with research for the creation of the final preservation plan that has now developed into the City of Bethlehem’s proposed Article 1321, Landmarks and Historic Resources. Ms. Beckman pointed out this proposed Ordinance is to recognize that outside the Historic Districts there are buildings that may be classified as Landmarks or Historic Resources.
Ms. Beckman inquired is it correct to assume that if there is anything she is doing on the exterior of the building it is not going to be under review, but it is just demolition that would be reviewed under the Ordinance. President Evans stated that is correct.
Ms. Beckman asked also that if there was anything she wanted to add to the building in the future in order to restore what had been there, such as a triangle on the top of the building that was lost over the years, would she need to contact the Historic Conservation Commission listed in the proposed Ordinance for review of the work, rather than the Historic and Architectural Review Board. Ms. Heller responded that, as provided in the proposed amendment, all of the properties would go before the Historic Conversation Commission (HCC). Ms. Heller continued on to say the HCC already reviews a broad range of architectural styles and their jurisdiction includes the Mount Airy historic district so it seemed logical. Ms. Heller added if Ms. Beckman would be restoring any portion of the front of her building that would not require review by a Historic Board at this time.
Ms. Beckman, remarking this has been a very long and exhaustive effort that started in 2010, denoted that the proposed Ordinance is moving in a forward direction. She recalled that the proposal has been presented to the Mayor, Planning Commission, and City Council, and numerous revisions were made. Ms. Beckman communicated there is still not a strong enough enforcement for what happens with demolition from neglect. In the process, Ms. Beckman noted there are very few staff members who can go out and address these buildings. She pointed out that the City had to say goodbye to the Jack Jones Buick building because of neglect, and if there would have been Ordinances earlier to protect such buildings maybe that building could have been saved. Ms. Beckman, stressing this is a strong start, said as a member of the task force, a proud co-owner of a building that is now designated as a landmark, and a business owner of Ambre Studio that is housed in the building of the architect A. W. Leh, she would like to thank the City and City Council for working on this project and devoting money to put towards this effort, and the volunteers of the task force who spent hours of preparation on the proposal.
Attorney Kevin Kelleher, 901 W. Lehigh Street, stated that he is at the Meeting as a representative of Atlantic Holdings Limited, the record owner of the property located at 15th Avenue and Gary Street, identified as property number 12 on Table 1, the list of Identified Historic Resources, named Lehigh and New England Railroad Freight Warehouse. Attorney Kelleher advised he is at the Meeting to request that Council and the Administration reconsider the inclusion of this property on the list. Attorney Kelleher advised the request is with respect to its application for the purpose of this Ordinance regarding protection and preservation of Historic Resources for educational, cultural, economic and welfare of the public through preservation, protection and regulation of buildings. Attorney Kelleher stated he is hard pressed to imagine how or why a 7 story warehouse that contains storage space in excess of 200,000 square feet on the north side of the Spur Route falls within this designation. Attorney Kelleher informed the Members that, on behalf of the owner, it causes a concern regarding the use of the property and the disposal of the property within its commercial applications. For those reasons, Attorney Kelleher asked that City Council and the Administration reconsider the inclusion of this property on the list, and asked that it be excluded from the list when it comes to final passage.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, observing that the stadium at Liberty High School is at least 60 years old and is the largest stadium in the Lehigh Valley, thought it should be on the list also. Mr. Scheirer said the revised proposed Ordinance on Landmarks and Historic Resources is something of an improvement over the last version, primarily in the area of penalties. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say there are still two huge gaps in the protection afforded making the Ordinance much too developer friendly. Mr. Scheirer remarked that, fortunately, there is a partial but simple and effective remedy. Mr. Scheirer thought that Demolition Applications, subsection (c) (2) has a large loophole. Mr. Scheirer read the paragraph and asserted that a minimum size of the larger area should be required and not just the adjoining lot, and the public benefit should be compelling, not just substantial. Concerning subsection (c) (3) regarding unreasonable economic hardship, Mr. Scheirer thought it should be explicitly stated that acquisition of the landmark after passage of the Ordinance would constitute self-imposition of any hardship. Mr. Scheirer said, therefore, hardship cannot be advanced as a justification for demolition. He commented there needs to be a severability clause. While denoting that the list of 26 landmarks on Table 1 is obviously not exhaustive, Mr. Scheirer queried who has the resources today to go through the process to add more than one or two buildings to the list. He thought that once a developer sets his sites on a significant building there is no way anyone can complete the cumbersome and lengthy process to achieve landmark status before the building is demolished. Adding that age is something of a proxy for historical worth, Mr. Scheirer communicated that historical structures happen to be old so let age be a filter, and demolition of any structure of a certain age should go to City Council for approval. Mr. Scheirer pointed out that the other huge gap concerns structures that are not landmark quality but contribute nonetheless to the historical atmosphere. Stating an example of this would be stone houses that are scattered throughout the City, Mr. Scheirer said each one makes the City more historic. Remarking that under the proposed Ordinance there is open season on stone houses that are not landmarks, Mr. Scheirer restated that again age should be a filter to trigger Council review, but noted this does not mean that every old structure would have to be saved by Council. Querying what age should be the trigger, Mr. Scheirer thought that a case could be made for anything from 50 years and up. He stressed that certainly as the absolute barest minimum anything older than 200 years should require review by City Council. Mr. Scheirer commented it may be suggested that Council pass the Ordinance as it is and amend it later. Recalling that the desirability of this Ordinance was first raised before the destruction of Broughal Middle School, Mr. Scheirer said a few more months will not matter. Mr. Scheirer stressed that the time to act is now before development pressures heat up again.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, noted that St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Windish Church is listed as number 19, but said it is a Slovenian not a Windish Church. He advised that, prior to the decree from the Vatican, St. John Capistrano Church, St. Stanislaus Polish Church, and St. Joseph’s Church became warehouses of religious artifacts by order of the local Diocese. Mr. Antalics highlighted the fact that the appeal of the group that was honored by the Vatican informed the Diocese that St. Joseph’s will remain a Church. Mr. Antalics pointed out that in St. John Capistrano Church anything reflecting anything religious was removed from the Church so that Church today, as much as St. Stanislaus Church, is a building. Mr. Antalics questioned whether the Churches are on the list because they were churches or are they on the list because they have historic architectural value. Mr. Antalics said he knows that St. Joseph’s Church should also be considered on the National Historic places list simply because the architect was A. W. Leh and his buildings have been considered for historic listings beyond what this historic listing is asking. Mr. Antalics restated the question is should the St. John Capistrano Church building on 4th Street be considered a church, since it is no longer a church, or because St. Stanislaus is no longer a church and is a building sold to private individuals. Mr. Antalics expressed his concern that accessory buildings or annexes are not to be included with the basic church building. Mr. Antalics noted that the rectory for St. Joseph’s Church was built as an integral part of the church, and since that time that building has been sold off to another entity. Mr. Antalics asked whether the buildings belong on the list since they no longer satisfy the list, if what is being put on Table 1 is historic South Side Churches. Mr. Antalics indicated that the list could recognize St. Joseph’s Church on 5th Street as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by virtue of the architect, A. W. Leh, because the architect was instrumental with other buildings put on the list in Table 1. Mr. Antalics, stating he would like to see documentation requesting that St. Joseph’s Church be put on the list, asked if there is a formal document where it is, where can he read it, and who prepared the document.
President Evans informed Mr. Antalics that at the end of the Meeting or in the coming days he can direct the question to Ms. Heller.
Motion – Revising Table 1 - Liberty High School Original Commons Building
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds moved that in Table 1, Item 10 on the list of Identified Historic Resources be changed to read: Liberty High School Original Commons Building constructed in 1922.
Voting AYE: Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, and Mr. Evans, 7. The motion passed.
President Evans stated that the appropriate Ordinance will be placed on the April 2 Council Agenda for First Reading.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:42 pm.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of March 5, 2013 were approved.
3. PUBLIC COMMENT
Intervention – Appeal of Zoning Hearing Board Decision – 2349 Linden Street - Northampton County Court of Common Pleas
Stewart Early, 2277 Main Street, stated that he wants to speak in favor of Resolution 9 C listed on the Agenda to have City Council’s Solicitor, Christopher Spadoni, intervene in the upcoming appeal by Abraham Atiyeh of the Zoning Hearing Board’s denial of his application to put a rehab facility at 2349 Linden Street. Mr. Early communicated he is thankful for the past support on the issue of rehab facilities being located inappropriately close to schools, parks and playgrounds. Mr. Early thanked City Council and the Administration for the support and leadership in the effort to modify the Zoning Ordinance to limit such rehab facilities to an area of 500 feet from schools, playgrounds and parks. Mr. Early stated he is also thankful for having Solicitor Spadoni successfully intervene against Mr. Atiyeh’s application for rehab facilities at 111 Dewberry Avenue, 2110 Center Street and at 2349 Linden Street. Mr. Early, pointing out that Council Solicitor Spadoni knows the issues and the opposition and has been very effective, urged Council to have him continue to represent the neighborhood in this opposition. Advising that others are joining this appeal, Mr. Early thought that is not quite sufficient. Noting the City has indicated that it may intervene in opposition to Mr. Atiyeh’s appeal, Mr. Early expressed that the City has not been nearly as visible or actively opposed as Council has been to the string of applications by Mr. Atiyeh. Mr. Early continued on to say the City has appealed Mr. Atiyeh’s approved 150 bed facility at 825 12th Avenue in an Industrial District that is removed from children and playgrounds. Noting that facility would meet the revised Zoning Ordinance, Mr. Early expressed he does not understand why the City has appealed that approval. While welcoming the Administration’s involvement at this time, Mr. Early did not think it is prudent to rely on their opposition. Mr. Early explained that 30 to 40 neighbors have participated in the Zoning Hearing Board hearings and have spoken out against the application for a rehab facility at 2349 Linden Street. The neighbors are concerned about the negative impact to the character of the neighborhood and the negative impact to school children who go to Spring Garden Elementary School. Mr. Early mentioned that neighbors are in the process of forming a Spring Garden Neighborhood Association. Mr. Early encouraged City Council to see the matter through the conclusion and oppose Mr. Atiyeh’s appeal.
Timothy Mason, 2411 Woodstock Drive, commented that he wants to reiterate what was stated by Mr. Early. Mr. Mason, thanking City Council for bringing the Resolution to a vote tonight, expressed the hope that Council Solicitor Spadoni will continue to represent the neighbors. Mr. Mason, noting that a neighborhood committee has been formed, said there is tremendous opposition to this type of facility being in the neighborhoods and near the schools. Mr. Mason hoped that City Council will continue to oppose this matter, support the neighbors and the children in the neighborhood.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, stating that he wanted to give another reason for having Council Solicitor Spadoni involved in this matter, said the appeals of Mr. Atiyeh are getting rather tiresome and a waste of everyone’s time. Mr. Scheirer thought the sooner Mr. Atiyeh can be persuaded to stop filing these appeals that have no chance of succeeding the better. Mr. Scheirer remarked that one way to persuade Mr. Atiyeh to stop this is to present him with overwhelming force and that would include Council Solicitor Spadoni.
4. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Old Business – Members of Council
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
B. Traffic Coordinator – Resolution – Traffic
Signal Upgrades – Schoenersville Road, Jacksonville
and Catasauqua Road
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 11, 2013 from Tiffany Geklinsky, Traffic Coordinator, requesting consideration of a Resolution for an Application for Traffic Signal Approval for modifications to an existing signal. The work proposed is to install certain upgrades to the traffic signal at the intersection of Schoenersville Road, Jacksonville Road, and Catasauqua Road in conjunction with the proposed land development plan in Hanover Township at this intersection for a new Patient First Facility. The development lies completely within Hanover Township; however, a majority of the traffic generated by this facility will utilize this intersection, and the City requested that upgrades be made to the signal, which is owned and maintained by the City.
President Evans stated that Resolution 9 D is listed on the Agenda.
A. President of Council
In Mayor Callahan’s absence, Dennis Reichard, Business Administrator, read the following Administrative Orders:
1. Administrative Order – Nancy L. Topping – Sister City Commission
The Mayor reappointed Nancy L. Topping to membership on the Sister City Commission effective through March 2016. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013 – 44 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Dr. Joseph B. Lennert – Civil Service Board – Fire
The Mayor reappointed Dr. Joseph B. Lennert to membership on the Fire Civil Service Board effective through March 2017. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013 – 45 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
3. Administrative Order – Dennis R. Cunerd – Redevelopment Authority
The Mayor reappointed Dennis R. Cunerd to membership on the Redevelopment Authority effective through March 2018. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013 – 46 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
4. Administrative Order – Mary Mulder – Fine
The Mayor appointed Mary Mulder to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective through June 2013. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013 – 47 to confirm the appointment.
5. Administrative Order – Geoff Gehman – Fine Arts Commission
The Mayor appointed Geoff Gehman to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective through February 2016. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013 – 48 to confirm the appointment.
7. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL READING
A. Bill No. 7 – 2013 – Amending Community Development Budget – CDBG and HOME Programs – 2012 Year End Adjustments
The Clerk read Bill No. 7 – 2013 - Amending Community Development Budget – CDBG and HOME Programs – 2012 Year End Adjustments, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 7 – 2013, now known as Ordinance No. 2013 – 6, was declared adopted.
B. Bill No. 8 – 2013 – Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau
The Clerk read Bill No. 8 – 2013 - Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 8 – 2013, now known as Ordinance No. 2013 – 7, was declared adopted.
C. Bill No. 9 – 2013 – Amending Sewer Capital Budget – 2012 Year End Adjustments
The Clerk read Bill No. 9 – 2013 - Amending Sewer
Capital Budget – 2012 Year End
Adjustments, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 9 – 2013, now known as Ordinance No. 2013 – 8, was declared adopted.
D. Bill No. 10 – 2013 – Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – 2012 Year End Adjustments
The Clerk read Bill No. 10 – 2013 - Amending Liquid Fuels Fund Budget – 2012 Year End Adjustments, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 10 – 2013, now known as Ordinance No. 2013 – 9, was declared adopted.
E. Bill No. 11 – 2013 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – 2012 Year End Adjustments
The Clerk read Bill No. 11 – 2013 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – 2012 Year End Adjustments, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 11 – 2013, now known as Ordinance No. 2013 – 10, was declared adopted.
F. Bill No. 2 – 2013 – Adopting Salaries – Members of Council and President of Council
The Clerk read Bill No. 2 – 2013 - Adopting Salaries – Members of Council and President of Council, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 2 – 2013, now known as Ordinance No. 2013 – 11 was declared adopted.
8. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Authorizing Destruction of Records – Controller’s Office
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution No. 2013-49 that authorized the disposition of the public records from the Controller’s Office 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.
B. Authorizing Destruction of Records – Department
of Community and Economic Development –
Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez sponsored Resolution No. 2013-50 that authorized the disposition of the public records from the Department of Community and Economic Development – Health 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.
C. Authorizing Intervention – Appeal of Pennsylvania
Venture Capital, Inc. – Zoning Hearing Board –
2349 Linden Street
Mr. Donchez and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution No. 2013-51 that authorized City Council Solicitor Christopher T. Spadoni to enter his appearance for Bethlehem City Council, to intervene, to participate in conjunction with the anticipated intervention of the City of Bethlehem, to present any and all necessary testimony, filings, and/or documents as deemed necessary by City Council Solicitor Christopher Spadoni, to oppose the Zoning Appeal before the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, of Pennsylvania Venture Capital, Inc., Assignee of Greenhouse Development LP, Owner, appealing the Decision of the Zoning Hearing Board of the City of Bethlehem dated January 24, 2013 pertaining to the property known as 2349 Linden Street, City of Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in a RS-Residential Zoning District.
Mr. Reynolds communicated that the neighbors who have been vigilant in this situation should be applauded. Mr. Reynolds, expressing his thought that all Members of Council are in agreement with the Resolution and the City’s intervention as well, observed it seems that Mr. Atiyeh has made it clear that he is not going away, and added that the City is not either. Mr. Reynolds commented that Council needs to continue to support the efforts to protect the neighborhood.
Ms. Dolan queried when does such a matter start to reach the level of what could be called a nuisance.
Attorney Spadoni, stating he would be hard-pressed to use that phrase, noted that Mr. Atiyeh is a citizen and a property owner who has certain rights that all have, and has the ability to foster that position. Attorney Spadoni communicated that he would not deny anyone the right to appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board or the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, and all are entitled to do so. Attorney Spadoni thought the evidence and law is on the City’s side in this matter.
Ms. Dolan, inquiring what constitutes a nuisance, pointed out that signs were put on the property saying that something is coming that was denied, and that the City offered Mr. Atiyeh a location where the facility could be placed that would be suitable. Ms. Dolan, while expressing her understanding that he has the right to do it, wondered just because someone has the right to do it does the Court always accept it, if a person has the money, and tie up the time of Council’s Solicitor and the citizens except for perhaps no good reason than to believe him publically.
Attorney Spadoni, acknowledging there are points of irritation, advised the legal proceedings need to be dealt with and proceed under the facts, testimony, and the law.
Mr. Reynolds, pointing out the amount of time and work these appeals take up among the staff members, communicated it is not always recognized and deserves to be noted publically. Mr. Reynolds added that it takes a lot of time away from other things the staff does.
President Evans said he is pleased that City Council has been involved from the beginning on the applications of several of the properties proposed by the applicant. President Evans, stating that Attorney Spadoni has done a good job, expressed appreciation for Attorney Spadoni’s work on behalf of City Council and the neighbors. President Evans continued on to say Council is pleased that the Administration has joined in the effort along with the residents, and recounted that the School District and Bethlehem Catholic High School have been involved earlier.
D. Authorizing Traffic Signal Upgrades – Schoenersville Road, Jacksonville Road, and Catasauqua Road
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution No. 2013-52 that authorized Tiffany Geklinsky, Traffic Coordinator of the City of Bethlehem, to submit an Application for Traffic Signal Approval at Schoenersville Road and Jacksonville Road/Catasauqua Road and Birchwood Drive to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and to sign the Application on behalf of the City.
Mr. Recchiuti asked is it correct that the City is not paying for these traffic signal improvements. Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, responded that is correct.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 9 E through 9 H as
a Group – Certificates of Appropriateness
Mr. Recchiuti and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 9 E through 9 H as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The motion passed.
E. Certificate of Appropriateness – 526 Main Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution No. 2013-53 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove signs and overhead lighting and install a new awning, tables and chairs at 526 Main Street.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 553 Main Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution No. 2013-54 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add 12 café style tables with 24 chairs at 553 Main Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 15 East Wall Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution No. 2013-55 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add a third set of French doors to the west elevation of the new addition at 15 East Wall Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 549 Main Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution No. 2013-56 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to add 9 tables and 36 chairs for outdoor dining at 549 Main Street.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 9 E through 9 H: Mr. Recchiuti,
Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr.
Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolutions passed.
10. NEW BUSINESS.
11. PUBLIC COMMENT
South Side Streets
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, affirming that he lives on the South Side, explained the difficulties navigating in the area. He enumerated that Webster Street from Packer to 3rd Street is two ways but at the bottom of Webster at 3rd Street the sign on the corner states one way going north. From Columbia going south it is two ways so that traveling north on Webster and coming to 3rd Street there is a one way sign. In the left lane on 3rd Street which is now one way and crossing 3rd Street the driver would run into oncoming traffic because it is two ways. There is no sign on Webster on the 3rd Street side saying two ways ahead. From Buchanan Street from Thomas down to 5th Street going north is two ways, and from 5th Street to 4th Street is one way but that is not known when the driver sees the sign coming the other way that states do not enter. Mr. Antalics continued to say that Buchanan Street from 3rd to 5th is also one way but in the opposite direction. On 4th Street going east/west one cannot make a turn either way on Buchanan because it is one way in opposite directions. Fillmore is two ways going north from Hillside to Mechanic Street but at Mechanic Street it becomes one way in the opposite direction. The driver cannot go left because it dead ends and has to go right. Mr. Antalics has seen people drive down Fillmore off 4th Street and come to Mechanic where the sign states do not enter but have gone through the do not enter roadway because they do not know where to go. Mr. Antalics continued to say Evans Street is one way going down to Perry Street and from Hayes to Perry Street it is two ways where there is a bank. A small sign states bank access only but if the driver misses that sign they would come to the Evans Street do not enter sign and then the Perry Street do not enter sign. Mechanic Street is one way east to west and then becomes one way at Hill Street to New Street. State Street is two ways from 6th Street down to 4th Street.
President Evans suggested that Mr. Antalics could submit his comments for the record to be forwarded.
Intervention – Appeal of Zoning Hearing Board Decision – 2349 Linden Street - Northampton County Court of Common Pleas
Steve Barron, 2239 Lincoln Street, thanked City Council for continuing to support the neighborhoods, the newly soon to be formed Spring Garden Neighborhood Association, and the students at Spring Garden Elementary School. Mr. Barron expressed the hope that City Council will continue to fight to make sure that the facility for a proposed drug rehabilitation center at 2349 Linden Street is not going into the neighborhood dangerously close to the school.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.