The City of Bethlehem uses an independent third party tool to provide automated language translation. As with any machine translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not fully translate text into its intended meaning. Therefore, the City of Bethlehem does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text and it should not be relied upon for anything other than informational purposes. We recommend that if you experience difficulty, or doubt the accuracy of the translation, you contact the proper City of Bethlehem department for the information you seek. Please note that some applications and or services may not work as expected when translated.
Bethlehem Council MInutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
10 East Church Street – Town Hall
Tuesday, April 2, 2013 – 7:00 PM
PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
The Reverend Bernd Weishaupt, of Bethany United Church of
Christ, 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.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of March 19, 2013 were approved.
3. PUBLIC COMMENT
President Evans informed the assembly that the following will be read into the record under Agenda Item 5, Communications: A memorandum from City Solicitor Spirk on the subject of an Agreement of Sale between the City and Triple Net Investments for the sale of a parcel on West 3rd Street. President Evans advised that he will accept public comment on this matter under the first Public Comment.
There was no public comment.
4. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Old Business – Members of Council
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
A. Public Works Director – Vendor License Renewal – Easy Weenies
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 21, 2013 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, requesting review of a Sidewalk Vendor Application Renewal submitted by Chris Morales of Easy Weenies for a sidewalk vending cart located at 15 West Fourth Street with proposed business hours of 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM Monday/Tuesday – Saturday/Sunday for the renewal period of March 20, 2013 to March 20, 2014. The Application Renewal Fee of $400 has been paid and the Renewal Application meets the requirements that include, but are not limited to, right of way permit, insurance, health, business privilege, etc. There appear to be no changes from the previous application.
President Evans stated the Resolution will be listed on the April 16 Agenda.
B. Planning and Zoning Director – DCNR Grant – South Bethlehem Greenway Extension
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 27, 2013 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a resolution in support of a grant application to the
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for the extension of the South Bethlehem Greenway to Saucon Park ballfields and considered to be Phase 5 of the South Bethlehem Greenway construction. The grant request is for $500,000 for completion of design, engineering and construction of the Greenway trail from the portion of the trail under design and proposed to be constructed this year (Phase 4 construction) to the ballfields in Saucon Park at Millside Drive.
President Evans stated that Resolution 9 A is listed on the Agenda.
C. Planning and Zoning Director – Keystone Communities Development Program Grant Application – South Bethlehem Eastern Gateway
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 27, 2013 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a resolution in support of a grant application for a Keystone Communities Development Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, for public improvements in the South Bethlehem Eastern Gateway neighborhood in the amount of $250,000 for implementation of streetscapes and other public space improvements as described in the South Bethlehem Eastern Gateway Vision Study.
President Evans stated that the Resolution will be listed on the April 16 Agenda.
D. Planning and Zoning Director – Table 1 – Identified Historic Resources - Revisions
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 27, 2013 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a revised list of Identified Historic Resources that reflected the discussion and information presented at the March 19, 2013 City Council Public Hearing for the Zoning Ordinance amendment for Landmarks and Historic Resources. The revisions included: clarification that only the Liberty High School Original Commons Building constructed in 1922 will be included; the list specifically only addresses the church buildings for any of the sites that include places of worship - rectories, school buildings and accessory buildings are not intended to be included; some spelling and editing changes are included; and the list only applies to the main or original building on a site - accessory buildings or later additions are not included.
President Evans stated that a motion can be made on this matter when Bill No. 12 – 2013 is considered.
President Evans asked the Clerk to read Communications 5 E, F, and G since they are related matters.
E. City Solicitor – Ordinance Amending Article 908 – Antenna Systems
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 28, 2013 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance to amend Article 908 – Antenna Systems.
F. City Solicitor – Ordinance Granting Cable Franchise to Service Electric Cable T.V., Inc.
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 28, 2013 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance granting Service Electric Cable T.V., Inc. a franchise pursuant to Article 908 of the Codified Ordinances.
G. City Solicitor – Ordinance Granting Cable Franchise to RCN Telecom Services (Lehigh) LLC
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 28, 2013 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Ordinance granting RCN Telecom Services (Lehigh) LLC a franchise pursuant to Article 908 of the Codified Ordinances.
President Evans stated that the Ordinances will be listed for First Reading on the April 16 Agenda.
President Evans asked the Clerk to read additional Communication 5 H into the record.
H. City Solicitor – Agreement of Sale – Triple Net Investments XXXI, LP – West Third Street Parcel
The Clerk read a memorandum dated March 28, 2013 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed resolution and associated Agreement of Sale for the sale of the West Third Street parcel to Triple Net Investments XXXI, LP, and the appraisal completed for the property. It is requested that a Parks and Public Property Committee meeting be scheduled to review the matter.
President Evans referred the matter to the Parks and Public Property Committee.
A. President of Council
7. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL READING
8. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 12 – 2013 – Establishing New Article 1321 – Landmarks and Historic Resources
The Clerk read Bill No. 12 – 2013 - Establishing New Article 1321 – Landmarks and Historic Resources, sponsored by Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Dolan, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
ESTABLISHING ARTICLE 1321, LANDMARKS
AND HISTORIC RESOURCES, OF THE CITY OF
BETHLEHEM ZONING ORDINANCE.
Motion – Revising Table 1 – Identified Historic Resources List as of January 28, 2013
Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan moved the following revisions as presented in Communication 5 D, the memorandum dated March 27, 2013 from Darlene L. Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, to which was attached a revised list of Identified Historic Resources that reflected the discussion and information presented at the March 19, 2013 City Council Public Hearing for the Zoning Ordinance amendment for Landmarks and Historic Resources. The revisions to the list were: Item 10 - clarification that only the Liberty High School Original Commons Building constructed in 1922 will be included; Items 14 through 24 - the list specifically only addresses the church buildings for any of the sites that include places of worship - rectories, school buildings and accessory buildings are not intended to be included; Item 13 and other applicable buildings - the list only applies to the main or original building on a site - accessory buildings or later additions are not included; some spelling and editing changes are included, as follows: Item 4 – Ambre Gallery to Ambre Studio, Item 16 – Manockisy Church to Monoquacy Church, Item 19 - St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Windish Church to Joseph’s Roman Catholic Slovenian Church
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The motion passed.
In addition, Ms. Dolan advised that in Item 9, the address for Illick’s Mill is incorrect and should be 100 Illick’s Mill Road instead of 130 Illick’s Mill Road. The Members of Council approved the correction of the typographical error by consensus.
Motion – Deleting Items 12 and 13 - Table 1 – Identified Historic Resources List as of January 28, 2013
Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan moved to delete the following from the Identified Historic Resources List in Table 1: Item 12 – Lehigh and New England Railroad Freight Warehouse – 15th Avenue at Gary Street, and Item 13 – Martin Tower – 1170 Eighth Avenue.
Mr. Recchiuti denoted that at the Public Hearing held at the March 19, 2013 City Council Meeting on the Landmarks and Historic Resources Zoning Ordinance Amendment, Attorney Kevin Kelleher, representing the owner, requested that Item 12 - Lehigh and New England Railroad Freight Warehouse – 15th Avenue at Gary Street, be removed from the List of Identified Historic Resources in Table 1. Mr. Recchiuti, observing it is a fairly industrial area in which the Warehouse is located, explained he does not see a historic purpose for the building. Mr. Recchiuti confirmed that, in reviewing the City’s Historic Preservation Plan, the Warehouse is not mentioned or referenced in the Plan. Mr. Recchiuti advised that, in speaking with Ms. Heller, the Warehouse is on the list because of its connection to the Railroad. Mr. Recchiuti stated he did not see a significant purpose in keeping the Warehouse on the list if the owner does not want it on the list.
Regarding Item 13 – Martin Tower – 1170 Eighth Avenue, Mr. Recchiuti stated that several Members of Council were contacted by representatives of the owner, they discussed it, they would like it on but at the same time they said that they have no plans to tear down Martin Tower. (Martin Tower was the main office headquarters of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation.) Commenting he does not believe it should come down, Mr. Recchiuti communicated he would hope the developers can refurbish and remodel the building. However, Mr. Recchiuti said he also understands their concerns that it is a barrier to redevelopment of the entire site. Mr. Recchiuti continued on to say if a plan came along where the entire site could be redeveloped and the building had to come down he would not want to see a future Council have to make a decision based on something this City Council did to put it on a list to not demolish the building. Mr. Recchiuti expressed that City Council should be looking to remove obstacles to redevelopment of the parcel. Stating it is one of the keys to the future of the City, Mr. Recchiuti pointed out the parcel is about 53 acres and is a large, undeveloped tract, and probably one of the last large, undeveloped tracts in the area. Mr. Recchiuti, highlighting the fact that a Zoning Overlay Ordinance for the tract was passed in 2006, said the benefits of the Overlay are only available if the owners keep Martin Tower. He added there are also some tax incentives from the State that are only available if Martin Tower remains. Mr. Recchiuti, while noting the current owner has a lot of incentives to keep the tower, said he does not think City Council should put a barrier on it, and that is why he is asking that Martin Tower be removed from the List.
Mr. DiGiacinto noted that he spoke about the matter with Mr. Recchiuti. A few years ago he had a discussion with Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, about the Overlay Ordinance, and perhaps revisiting the Overlay Ordinance because of things that have changed over time. Mr. DiGiacinto, while commenting that he would agree with the group on removing Martin Tower from the List, thought the Overlay Ordinance should be revisited.
Ms. Dolan, highlighting the purpose of the Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance to promote, protect, enhance, and preserve historic resources, noted to that end one might lean towards keeping Martin Tower on the list. But, Ms. Dolan continued on to point out, the purpose of the Ordinance further states that it is to preserve and enhance the environmental quality of neighborhoods to foster appropriate economic development, to strengthen the City's economy by the stimulation of tourism, and to establish and improve property values. Consequently, Ms. Dolan thought that Martin Tower does not pass the test in looking at all of the elements.
Ms. Dolan pointed out a typographical error on page 3, Section 1321.03 - Landmarks and Historic Resources, where there is a strikethrough in (b).
Ms. Dolan noted the possibility has been discussed that, if the property cannot be developed unless Martin Tower were to be retained but not at its current height, there would be demolition of some but not all of the building. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that the Ordinance states the Historic Conservation Commission has the advisory responsibility to submit written recommendations to City Council regarding the advisability of issuing any demolition permit, and that it can also offer conditional approval. In favor of excluding Martin Tower from the list, Ms. Dolan observed the Ordinance states the Commission can base its recommendations regarding demolition permits on the integrity of exterior architectural features which can be seen from a public street or way. Ms. Dolan thought the building does have integrity to its architectural exterior features. Ms. Dolan denoted the Ordinance further provides that the Commission shall base its recommendations on arrangement, texture, and materials of the building or structure and the relation of such factors to similar features of surrounding buildings and structures of the period of significance. Expressing that is the problem with Martin Tower as a Historic Resource in her view, Ms. Dolan observed that Martin Tower is a very tall building, and is a skyscraper in the middle of a beautiful, rolling field. Ms. Dolan remarked if it were located at East Broad Street, for example, it would probably look magnificent, and if it had been built somewhere along the former site of Bethlehem Steel it would fit in and be an impressive structure. Instead, Ms. Dolan stressed it is an issue of placement, and it is not appropriate to the neighborhood. Ms. Dolan communicated what Mr. Recchiuti is indicating is that it is possible that the placement of Martin Tower will prevent any further development or improvements to the neighborhood. What the City may end up having is a very tall, and very difficult to restore structure that does not look significant or appropriate, but located in an area where the City would like to have developed, and will not be able to because of the building itself.
Noting that the Ordinance speaks only to the exterior of structures, and there are resources on the interior of the Martin Tower building, Ms. Dolan asked in general when a demolition takes place does the City have any say in what would become of interior resources if they had historic significance.
Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, responded no, the City does not have any control over interior resources. Mr. Kelly advised that, under the Act, the review is limited to external aspects. Mr. Kelly added that in the past there was a case in Philadelphia involving preservation of interiors but the Court advised the city had overreached in terms of trying to protect the interior.
Ms. Dolan inquired, when demolitions take place, is it always the case that the owner can make decisions as to the reclamation of materials on the site or does a demolition company have the right of access to reclamation of materials.
Mr. Kelly explained his sense would be that the owner of the property would have a great deal of say over where the materials went. Mr. Kelly added that, in terms of environmental matters related to Martin Tower, DEP may play a role in directing where certain materials from the building should go, particularly in dealing with asbestos.
Ms. Dolan queried whether the benefits of disposing non-toxic or valuable materials would go to the owner.
Mr. Kelly replied yes, such as sale of scrap steel. Mr. Kelly continued on to acknowledge that, if the property were easy to redevelop it probably would have been done so by now, but it is both difficult to develop the property as is, and there is a great deal of cost to knocking the tower down.
Ms. Dolan asked if the City received verbal indications of interest in developing the property if some demolition or total demolition would be allowed.
Mr. Kelly responded not Martin Tower itself, since the City always looked at the value of keeping the Tower as is. He added that the historic tax credits would require that the Tower remain in its current condition. Mr. Kelly advised that other out-buildings have been viewed as potentially being demolished to make the site slightly more developable.
Ms. Dolan stated that Council’s job is to discern between what is of historical value to the community and not just of historical value in reference to one company. She added that Bethlehem Steel’s history has been and will continue to be dramatically and adequately told. Ms. Dolan did not think the story of Martin Tower can be told, from a tourism or visual perspective, with its present placement and any potential development. Ms. Dolan further stated she did not think it will ever be used as a way to understand the beneficial aspects of Bethlehem Steel to the community. Ms. Dolan thought that the City should stand out of the way of what is needed to remove Martin Tower from the list.
Mr. Reynolds mentioned that when Martin Tower went on the National Registry several years ago in order to obtain tax credits for redevelopment the developers had to follow the Secretary of the Interior Standards.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The motion passed.
Motion (Failed) - Deleting Section 1321.07 (c) (2)
Ms. Dolan, commenting she wants to make a substantial change, observed that would require the Zoning Ordinance Amendment process to recommence. Ms. Dolan communicated she did not think there were any threats to demolish buildings on the Identified Historic Resources List currently. Turning to Section 1321.07 (c) (2), Ms. Dolan stressed that her earlier comments about connection between historic structures and neighborhoods is completely subverted by this paragraph that reads: demonstrate that demolition of a building is an unavoidable and integral part of a construction scheme affecting a larger area than the building in question, which will provide substantial public benefit. Ms. Dolan said if anyone had any of those ideas individually there are mechanisms in the proposed Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance to achieve that. She continued on to point out that to have a paragraph separate from demonstrating there is unreasonable economic hardship and basically say it is part of a bigger development that would affect a larger area than the building in question is the opposite of why the Ordinance was developed. Ms. Dolan, advising the Ordinance was developed to protect individual structures, explained what makes individual structures so often come down is development of a neighborhood, and a structure has to come down because it would affect a larger area than the building in question. In looking at the Identified Historic Resources list, Ms. Dolan observed half of the structures could potentially be part of larger construction schemes. Highlighting the fact that she is not against development, Ms. Dolan stated, however, she did not think the intention was to say one of the ways to get around the Ordinance is if there is a large development plan, there happens to be a historic structure on the plan, and there is a substantial public benefit. She questioned what constitutes a substantial public benefit; e.g., hospital, housing tract, rehabilitation facility. Ms. Dolan explained the reason for the Zoning Ordinance Amendment was to prevent exactly this type of thing from happening.
Ms. Dolan moved to strike Section 1321.07 (c) (2) that reads: demonstrate that demolition of a building is an unavoidable and integral part of a construction scheme affecting a larger area than the building in question, which will provide substantial public benefit. There was no second to the motion. The motion failed.
Mr. Recchiuti suggested that Ms. Dolan could consider making the amendment after the Ordinance is adopted, and go through the process again, in view of the concern about passing the Ordinance so that it is in place and not delayed. Ms. Dolan indicated she would consider that.
Mr. Reynolds, expressing it is something that needs to be reviewed, stated the Zoning Ordinance Amendment should be passed and the Section reviewed in the near future, rather than sending the Ordinance through the whole process again.
Ms. Dolan asked is there a time limit on reviewing Section 1321.07 (c) (2) and whether the Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance remains as is until an amendment were to be passed.
President Evans, noting that any further amendment would need to follow the same procedure as the Zoning Ordinance Amendment, affirmed just the Section 1321.07 (c) (2) referenced by Ms. Dolan would need to follow the procedure as opposed to the entire Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance.
Voting AYE on Bill No. 12 – 2013, as Amended: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. Bill No. 12 – 2013 was passed on First Reading.
A. Approving DCNR Grant Application – South Bethlehem Greenway Extension - $500,000
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution No. 2013-57 that approved a DCNR Grant Application in the amount of $500,000 for the South Bethlehem Greenway Connection to Saucon Park Ballfields.
Voting AYE: Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
10. NEW BUSINESS.
11. PUBLIC COMMENT
Single Garbage Hauler
Nancy Matuczinski, 716 Sixth Avenue, noted that primary election day is 7 weeks from today and her subject is the single garbage hauler business. Recalling this issue has been tossed around since last autumn, Ms. Matuczinski affirmed she has spoken at City Council Meetings several times to ask that the issue of garbage pickup by a single hauler be made a referendum on the ballot. Observing that Mayor Callahan and several Council Members want the City to contract with a single hauler, Ms. Matuczinski stressed that since the citizen is the one who has to pay for this they should have the option to say yes or no. Ms. Matuczinski observed that putting the question of a single garbage hauler on the ballot would mean that once it is voted on, no matter what side wins, no matter which party someone is on, this issue will be settled once and for all. Ms. Matuczinski did not think that the Mayor or a few Council Members should make a decision for the 70,000 citizens in Bethlehem, but rather it should go on the ballot and let the people vote.
Landmark and Historic Resources Ordinance - Identified Historic Resources List - Martin Tower
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, wondered, if someone on Council says they spoke to the owner of Martin Tower and the owner suggested either putting the building on the Identified Historic Resources list or taking it off, whether this was the principle owner. He questioned if there is more than one owner can an owner with less percentage ownership speak for all. Mr. Antalics said he would like to know who the owner was who was speaking for Martin Tower and if this is public information.
President Evans reported that he does not have as of now the information in that regard.
Mr. Antalics mentioned in the past one of the owners was speaking about an issue related to Martin Tower and was acting like the owner but only owned 25% of the building that was noticed by former Council Member Michael Schweder at the time. Mr. Antalics noted since then the owner who spoke sold out his interest, so now there is a principle owner and a secondary owner. Mr. Antalics stated the question is what owner spoke to Members of Council in terms of having the authority to have Martin Tower taken off the list. Mr. Antalics, noting there is one owner who is rarely mentioned and is behind the scenes, said people may get the impression that the local owner is the only owner but that is not true. Mr. Antalics stressed this information should be brought out at public meetings so the press can reflect on it and the citizens will know the true story. Mr. Antalics thought it is an obligation of City Council to make that public information.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, expressed his opinion that Martin Tower shows the history of mismanagement, and the history that should be told would be the former Bethlehem Steel’s previous corporate headquarters on Third Street. Mr. Scheirer commented he has heard the Sands is stabilizing the former headquarters building on Third Street that he said has quite a bit of interior history. Stating he agrees with deleting Section 1321.07 (c) (2), Mr. Scheirer noted he had commented on it at a hearing but thought this solution is better. Mr. Scheirer, emphasizing there are two other loopholes in the Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance, said both can be solved by using the age of a building to be the trigger for Council to review before demolition and after recommendation by the Historic Conservation Commission. He observed this would be much like what is done with the Historic Districts and Certificates of Appropriateness. Mr. Scheirer explained one huge gap in the Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance is that it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to add something to the List of Identified Historic Resources, and the time involved would be much longer than the time it would take for a developer to demolish a building. He continued on to say the other huge gap concerns buildings that are not as significant to be on the List but otherwise contribute to the historical atmosphere of the City. He said an example is stone houses that are scattered throughout the City. Mr. Scheirer explained if there was a back stop using age as a proxy it would not tie up Council anymore than with Certificates of Appropriateness, but it would save those buildings that ought to be saved if the City truly wants to call itself a historic city.
Landmark and Historic Resources Ordinance - Identified Historic Resources List
Mary Pongracz, 321 W. Fourth Street, pointed out that the City has been working on the Landmark and Historic Resources Ordinance for a long time. Ms. Pongracz thought it is unfair to Darlene Heller, Director of Planning and Zoning, with all the work she put into the Ordinance that she was not here to speak tonight and justify her reasons for placing the items on the Identified Historic Resources list. Highlighting the fact that there are Historic Conservation Commissions in the City and were not involved, Ms. Pongracz thought there is something wrong when someone comes to an important meeting about preservation and then it is said that a few buildings will be taken off the list. She wondered if this is fair to the people involved and whether they have been notified that buildings were being considered to be removed from the Identified Historic Resources list. Ms. Pongracz expressed she would be very upset if her building was removed from the List at a Council Meeting and she was never notified. She continued on to say that she thinks the process that was used tonight to justify the exclusion of two buildings on the list was poorly handled. Ms. Pongracz advised that she sees a definite lack of communication between the Historic Conservation group and City Council, and reiterated that it is not fair to Ms. Heller or Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development.
President Evans informed Ms. Pongracz that although Ms. Heller is not at the Meeting she was informed, there were calls made and there was communication.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.