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
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 – 7:00 PM
PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
Reverend Jeffrey V. Bauer, of Christ Church – United Church of Christ, offered the Invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag.
1. ROLL CALL
President Eric R. 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.
Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority
President Evans called to order a Public Hearing to consider the Resolution for the organization of a municipal authority titled, Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority, under the Pennsylvania Municipality Authorities Act, and to file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Resolution sets forth and approves the Proposed Articles of Incorporation of the Authority and authorizes the filing with the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; authorizes and directs the advertisement of a notice of adoption of the Resolution; and appoints the first members of the Board of the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority.
Communication 5 D: Community and Economic Development Program Coordinator - Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority Members
The Clerk read a memorandum dated November 1, 2013 from Irene Woodward, Community and Economic Development Program Coordinator, to which was attached the bios, stating the names and addresses of the proposed Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Zone (BRIA) Authority members. The names and addresses are as follows: James Broughal, 3323 Camelot Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18017; Joseph Kelly, 915 Linden Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018; John Filipos, 1900 Paul Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18018; Ann McHale, 750 Barrymore Lane, Bethlehem, PA 18017; and Gretchen Longenbach, 259 E. Market Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.
Joseph Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development, affirmed there have been conversations about the new incentive that the State has put forth for Third Class Cities titled the Community Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ). He noted it is a different program than the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) but yet is a powerful incentive. Mr. Kelly advised that the application period is short and the requirement is the creation of a new Authority titled, Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority, similar to the Bethlehem Authority. Mr. Kelly confirmed the action that would be taken at the Meeting this evening is to take steps to create the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority, and added that the legal publication was made. As a part of the Authority, Mr. Kelly acknowledged the first members who are Mr. Kelly, James Broughal, Ann McHale, John Filipos, and Gretchen Longenbach. Mr. Kelly advised that Ms. Longenbach had a Planning Commission meeting tonight in Easton but is on her way to this Meeting. Mr. Kelly informed Council that the Authority members are at the Meeting if Council has any specific questions of them. Mr. Kelly explained that essentially what the CRIZ allows the City to do is to take a new increment generated in designated areas of the City to help economic development. There are 130 acres available to the City designated by parcel, and the Authority has the obligation and requirement to approve those parcels, after which they have to submit an application to the State. The application is due no later than November 30, 2013 if the City wants an opportunity to obtain the incentive this year. Mr. Kelly pointed out that the State is only approving two of the CRIZ designations a year, and the next time the City would potentially be able to apply would be sometime in November of 2014 for the following year. Mr. Kelly stressed that time is of the essence. Mr. Kelly informed the Members that the Administration has looked at and evaluated some potential sites from the City’s side. Observing that 130 acres is not as large as one would think in a City that has a large brownfield, Mr. Kelly pointed out the CRIZ incentive does emphasize two things the City does very well that is attract companies from out of State that is the most beneficial, and also technology companies and incubators that can also benefit from this incentive. Mr. Kelly, stating that the CRIZ does dovetail nicely with the City’s KIZ, and with the Ben Franklin Technology incubator companies, emphasized it is another tool to keep those very valuable tech companies here in Bethlehem. Mr. Kelly explained it opens up the opportunity to potentially put other incubator spaces in North Bethlehem because the KIZ is limited geographically to South Bethlehem. Mr. Kelly advised that Attorney Valentino DiGiorgio has been helping the City with the legal side of the matter and is at the Meeting to answer any questions Council may have.
President Evans, acknowledging this is a new program from the State, affirmed that the City has an interest in this. President Evans stressed it clearly will be a powerful tool for two lucky cities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and he hoped that Bethlehem is one of them.
Ms. Dolan said she wanted to comment positively on the diversity of the expertise of the people on the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority. Noting that Members are familiar with quite a few of the names, and some are new, Ms. Dolan commented it seems to her that there will be lively discussions with this group.
Mr. Kelly added the hard work will begin if the City gets the CRIZ and that will be developing additional guidelines and requirements for people to participate in the CRIZ designation. Mr. Kelly noted there is much work left to do, the State set the timeline, and the City has to meet it. Mr. Kelly stated he trusts the City will have an application that the State will look upon favorably.
Ms. Dolan mentioned it might be a good idea, since there are many people at the Meeting, to talk a bit about where some of the possible parcels are located because there might be some misunderstandings as a result of some comments today.
Mr. Kelly explained at this point the Administration is evaluating land for potential projects, and areas of the City where redevelopment is needed. For the most part, the focus has been on brownfields and urban infield development, since that is where the incentive can be most lucrative. Mr. Kelly advised the other challenge is the need to continue to diversify the economy in the City. Mr. Kelly continued on to say the City is looking to continue to have an incentive that attracts companies like Curtiss-Wright that just recently came to South Bethlehem, bringing 95 jobs with an average salary of $80,000. Mr. Kelly stressed under the CRIZ incentive that would be a remarkable, powerful tool to continue to attract those types of jobs in Bethlehem. Acknowledging that Council is familiar with the areas that need an incentive like this to get redeveloped, and it is the Authority’s job to designate those areas, Mr. Kelly pointed out all are well aware of what those properties are. Mr. Kelly added that from what has been heard from the State he does not think the State is looking for a lot of public infrastructure, and is looking for projects that will happen based on private investment. Pointing out that the State wants a private investment driven application and designation, Mr. Kelly said he is confident this is the type of application that the City will put forward.
Ms. Dolan requested clarification that this is not for a project that is already in the works, but rather for places where there are not projects currently in the works.
Mr. Kelly, replying he does not want to say no or yes, explained that the City is looking at land. Mr. Kelly, noting it is a parcel designated piece of property, said the City will continue to evaluate those things. Mr. Kelly advised if this particular incentive can help projects get done the City will use this incentive in a way to get valuable projects done in the City provided the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority agrees with that.
President Evans, pointing out that the City’s application to the State is due on November 30, noted it would require the Authority to schedule a meeting.
Mr. Kelly reported that there will be at least one and perhaps two meetings. The anticipated date is November 11 for a meeting, and in view of the Thanksgiving holiday, there is not a lot of time. Mr. Kelly explained that the earlier meeting date was considered in the case of additional work to do beyond the designation and the application.
President Evans asked if the meetings of the Authority would be open to the public and held in Town Hall.
Mr. Kelly confirmed that the meetings will be open to the public and held at Town Hall.
Mr. Kelly added that one thing Council should be aware of is that the City has to designate 130 acres, but the Authority does have the ability to shift the acreage around as long as it never exceeds 130 acres, provided there are no incremental tax dollars spent there. In order to meet the application deadline the City has to identify 130 acres. Mr. Kelly explained that the City wants to identify acreage where there is not a lot going on because the incentive is most beneficial to a place that does not have an existing increment. He pointed out that is the way the City can leverage the most money from the incentive. Mr. Kelly continued on to explain that the focus is on vacant property rather than property that is in use. The CRIZ is very different than the NIZ in that the NIZ allows the existing tax increment to be essentially taken out of the Commonwealth’s General Fund to leverage development as is being done in Allentown. Mr. Kelly informed the assembly that is not how the CRIZ works because it only would allow a developer and the Authority to leverage a new increment. If a company moved from Allentown to Bethlehem, for example, unless they grew from 100 employees, there would only be the growth of the increment from 100 employees, so it does not in any way incentivize companies to move regionally or within the Commonwealth. It really is best served for companies moving in from out of State. Mr. Kelly stated that given Bethlehem’s location and the infrastructure, the City is ideally situated to make that happen.
Bruce Haines, 63 W. Church Street, stated he is the managing partner/owner of the historic Hotel Bethlehem. Mr. Haines advised he is fully supportive of Bethlehem’s pursuit for one of the two CRIZ zones to be awarded by the State, and stands ready to help recruit companies to come here once Bethlehem gets the award. Mr. Haines stated he does believe that the selection of projects should be determined by insuring win/win situations with regard to the impact on the existing businesses in the community. Specifically, Mr. Haines expressed that the inclusion of a tax subsidized conference center and hotel at the Sands casino location is a direct competitor to existing hotels and conference facilities in Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Haines informed the Members that the Hotel Bethlehem has 14,000 square feet of meeting space and relies heavily on corporate meetings and conferences, social events and weddings for a significant part of its revenues. Mr. Haines observed that these events are the life blood of the Hotel and also helps fill empty guest rooms. The hotel occupancy in the Lehigh Valley stands at only 62% year to date. Mr. Haines continued on to say that this unhealthy level of occupancy drives competition for the limited demand and especially the midweek demand. Mr. Haines stressed that a new tax subsidized conference facility and hotel will be seeking to attract the very same events to that new facility with its flexible sized meeting space. Mr. Haines asserted this will result in simply cannibalizing the existing businesses with no new demand generators to absorb the added capacity. Mr. Haines advised that hotel representatives in Lancaster verified that the new convention center and hotel complex in Lancaster has done little to bring in outside conventions and conferences to the region. Lancaster representatives describe the new facility as simply pirating their traditional regional events. In addition, a public subsidy has been required to keep the convention center afloat due to the over built convention center problem nationally. Mr. Haines pointed out that a conference center and hotel at the Sands location as part of the CRIZ effectively provides the owner of that facility the benefit of minimizing their mortgage payment. The State sales taxes collected at the facility combined with the State income tax withholding from their employees would be used to cover most if not all of the bond payment. This establishes a blatantly unfair competitive advantage with resultant injury to existing competition playing by different rules. Mr. Haines commented that specifically the Hotel Bethlehem as the closest competitor would become the biggest loser in this scenario. Mr. Haines expressed that sound economic development policy should not be about creating winners and losers in his opinion and hopefully all would agree. Mr. Haines noted that the CRIZ zone should be used to create demand for guest rooms and conference facilities and not simply to foster unnecessary additional capacity. Mr. Haines believed that the focus of the CRIZ for Bethlehem should be high rise office buildings in the downtown. This would permit business owners to seek and attract out of State corporate headquarter companies to relocate in the downtown. The benefit of injecting thousands of people in the downtown Historic District would be significant for the merchants on Main Street as well as the existing hotels and restaurants. Mr. Haines added that Main Street has been virtually ignored over the past several years in favor of the South Side revitalization. While expressing the understanding that this was a necessary priority for the City of Bethlehem, Mr. Haines said it is now time to refocus on the downtown Historic District where the shops on Main Street remain at 30% below the 2008 peak sales year. Mr. Haines advised that the recent transfer of $3.5 million of funds originally destined for a Main Street parking garage to a South Side garage is another blow to the Historic District merchants. Mr. Haines added that customer unfriendly back in angle parking has further magnified the problem. Mr. Haines stated that creating a downtown CRIZ specifically designed for office buildings and first floor retail in the Walnut/Guetter/Broad Street corridor west of New Street should be the highest priority of the CRIZ in his opinion. Mr. Haines noted this would also solve the urban infield problems existing in that particular area. Mr. Haines thanked Council for considering his input and hoped that the new Authority members appointed will be open minded to this and other community input prior to the submittal of the CRIZ to Harrisburg.
Ted Wachtel, 374 East Dark Hollow Road, Pipersville, Tinicum Township, remarked that he is President of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), a graduate school that has two buildings on Main Street at 544 and 531 Main Street. The business brings several thousand people a year who attend professional development or graduate courses to Main Street and to Bethlehem. Mr. Wachtel noted he is in favor of the CRIZ and hoped that Bethlehem will be successful. Mr. Wachtel also expressed concern in the tentative understanding of some of the properties under consideration that downtown Bethlehem, Main Street, and the Historic District has been short changed. He stressed that the question of how to achieve balance and a fair distribution of those 130 acres is critical. Mr. Wachtel remarked that when the company bought the first building in downtown Bethlehem it was following the florist store closure in 1993. Mr. Wachtel said he bought the building in a bit of a gamble that the value of the property could be sustained and confirmed that has in fact happened. Mr. Wachtel noted that shortly thereafter the Hotel Bethlehem was bankrupt and thanks to Bruce Haines and his organization they have made it a vibrant place. Mr. Wachtel advised that he is from Allentown but his wife grew up in Bethlehem and attended Liberty High School, and they had their wedding reception in Historic Bethlehem so he has a nostalgic attachment to this district. The Glazier family had retail stores up and down Main Street and the South Side so he has no particular vested interest in this development except that Main Street is the company’s campus. He informed the Members that the company’s world conference was held in Bethlehem a few weeks ago, and people from as far away as Pakistan and Hong Kong attended and people love Main Street in Bethlehem. Mr. Wachtel pointed out that Main Street is the crown jewel of Bethlehem and it is the face of the City to many visitors. Mr. Wachtel echoed the comments of Mr. Haines in that he thinks it is fair that other areas be developed, and there have been exciting developments in the old Bethlehem Steel acreage and the South Side, but it is critical that it is not forgotten how tenuous the downtown is. Observing that the figures about retail sales suggest it, Mr. Wachtel asserted that the notion of office space nearby as part of the CRIZ package is critical and needs to be considered by the Authority. It will allow the City to attract outside of the State corporations to a very attractive downtown. Mr. Wachtel hoped that the Authority is open to reconsidering the configuration of space.
Neville Gardner, 381 Biery’s Bridge Road, noted he is the owner of Donegal Square and McCarthy’s Restaurant and Pub, and is the current President of the Downtown Bethlehem Association Merchants. Mr. Gardner believed that the CRIZ could be a fabulous thing for the City of Bethlehem, and an economic tool that could bring businesses here from all different parts of the country. Mr. Gardner remarked that the North Side of Bethlehem has been on the losing side of the development that has happened in the past 10 years, while at the same time people are very happy to see things happen on the South Side because the merchant community there needed the support. Emphasizing it is important to see development on the South Side, Mr. Gardner remarked it is great to see all kinds of redevelopments happen in Bethlehem. Mr. Gardner pointed out that people want to make sure there is some consideration given to having a portion of the 130 acres allocated to the North Side. He acknowledged that as Mr. Haines has said many of the businesses downtown are having a tough time staying in business. Mr. Gardner pointed out that restaurants seem to be doing well, but the retail businesses are shrinking. The group is working hard to keep a very active energized business community, but the influx of an office building with 1,000 people, for example, in the Historic District would be a big benefit for the businesses there. Mr. Gardner remarked that if the Hotel Bethlehem and other businesses had not been refurbished it would be a very different situation in Bethlehem. The economic development that has happened in the past 15 years has happened because the downtown is bright and shiny and appears very energetic. Mr. Gardner said he wants to make sure the Authority could give careful consideration to allocating some of the space to development in the Historic District.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, while expressing that the CRIZ could be a very big thing for Bethlehem, noted his concern is eminent domain. He thought that urban renewal in North Bethlehem was a mixed blessing at best. He said the building on the south side of Broad Street has a fortress like atmosphere and does nothing compared to what was there before. Mr. Scheirer asked if the Authority will have the power of eminent domain. If it does can the 5 members of the Authority be over-ridden by Council or would it have to go to the Courts. Mr. Scheirer asked if the 130 acres have to be all in one place.
President Evans, stating that the 130 acres do not need to be contiguous, asked if Mr. Kelly can respond.
Mr. Kelly affirmed that the 130 acres do not need to be contiguous. Mr. Kelly stated that the power of eminent domain does remain with the Authority, but if that would be done he did not think the Courts would be the only system. While commenting he would have to look more in depth at the guidelines, Mr. Kelly advised that the legislation lays out in finite details what the dollars can be used for in the CRIZ.
Steve Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, referring to the proposal for a South Side Bethlehem Community Benefit District, noted there is a lot on the South Side at New and Third Streets that could come under the CRIZ. Mr. Antalics remarked that the South Side business district suffered years ago when the City demolished the market house that could have been equal to the Reading Market in Philadelphia and brought business into the area. Mr. Antalics stressed that the businesses on Third Street need a magnet. Mr. Antalics continued on to say that the further destruction of the Third Street businesses occurred when historically good buildings were torn down and a gas station was put in, in addition to tearing down other buildings where the past market house was located to put in a mini-mall. Mr. Antalics suggested that shopping centers have a core like a supermarket or some big business that brings customers in and the small businesses benefit from that. Acknowledging that while an office building could bring in customers but is not a guarantee, Mr. Antalics asserted if that property were to be open to a large corporation with a consumer product that would be a dramatic improvement to Third Street. It would bring in customers to support the existing businesses since employees in an office building would not be there on weekends to shop but only at lunch time. Mr. Antalics strongly urged the Authority to try to bring a magnet to revitalize Third Street based upon what the proposed Community Benefit District is asking for. Mr. Antalics thought that might be the best use of the lot rather than putting in an office building.
President Evans stated that the Resolution is on the Agenda under item 9 C.
The Public Hearing was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Minutes of October 15, 2013 were approved.
3. PUBLIC COMMENT
4. OLD BUSINESS.
A. Old Business – Members of Council
B. Tabled Items
C. Unfinished Business
1. Request for Public Hearing – Proposed Southside Bethlehem Community Benefit District
President Evans stated that the date for the Public Hearing on the proposed Southside Bethlehem Community Benefit District has been set for Thursday, February 6, 2014. President Evans added that in view of the City Council schedule this fall and Budget Hearings, and the upcoming vacant City Council seat that will be filled in January 2014, the Public Hearing was set for February 6, 2014.
2. Article 112 – Campaign Finance Reports
A. President of Council – Proposed Resolution to Repeal Resolution 2008-205 – Regulations for Use of CDBG Funds
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 25, 2013 from President of Council Eric R. Evans to which was attached a copy of a proposed Resolution to repeal Resolution 2008-205 – Regulations for Use of CDBG Funds. This issue was raised by Committee Member Dolan at the Community Development Committee meeting of October 9, 2013 and the City Council Meeting of October 15, 2013. If adopted, the fact that the funding regulations are no longer in effect would start with the 2015 CDBG Program.
President Evans stated that the Resolution can be placed on the November 19 Council Agenda for consideration.
B. City Solicitor – Use Permit Agreement for Public
Property – Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of
Commerce – Christmas City Village
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 30, 2013 from John F. Spirk, Jr., Esq., City Solicitor, to which was attached a proposed Resolution and associated Use Permit Agreement between the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, by and through its Downtown Bethlehem Association and the City of Bethlehem for use of Main Street between Broad Street and Church Street for the Christmas City Village.
President Evans stated that the Resolution will be listed on the November 19 Agenda.
President Evans advised that the Administration has requested
that Communication 5 C, Lease Agreement – Mister C’s
Eateries, Inc. – Earl E. Schaffer Ice Rink at Illick’s
Mill Road, be taken off the Agenda.
E. City Solicitor – Agreement of Sale – City of Bethlehem and Greenway Park, LP – 6-12 West Third
The Clerk read a memorandum dated October 31, 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 6-12 West Third Street to Greenway Park, LP. Also attached was the appraisal completed for the subject property.
President Evans stated that the Resolution will be listed
on the November 19 Agenda.
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – Steven L. Glickman – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor Callahan reappointed Steven L. Glickman to membership on the Fine Arts Commission effective through November 2016. Mr. Donchez and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution No. 2013-192 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
C. Human Resources and Environment Committee
Mr. Recchiuti, Chairman of the Human Resources and Environment Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:30 PM in Town Hall. The Committee considered the following: Human Relations Commission – Update; Environmental Advisory Council – Update. The Committee postponed review of Article 112 – Campaign Finance Reports until March 2014.
7. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL READING
8. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Approving 2014 CDBG and HOME Programs
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Recchiuti sponsored Resolution 2013-193 that approved the Annual Action Plan for the 2014 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Programs for submittal to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 217 Broadway (Garage Door) DENIAL (Postponed October 1, 2013)
Ms. Dolan and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution 2013-194 that denied a Certificate of Appropriateness for the garage door at 217 Broadway.
President Evans affirmed that the South Side Historic Conservation Commission (HCC) denied the application so a vote of Aye would be to deny the application and a vote of Nay would approve. He restated that a vote of yes is in agreement with the HCC to deny the application.
Ms. Dolan commented she had the understanding that there was going to be some explanation or something delivered to Council from the owner, and that was also going to be forwarded to the HCC.
President Evans, reporting that did not happen, advised that following the October 1 City Council Meeting he stopped by the business and made a second visit on October 22 and hand delivered to the owner the letter about which Ms. Dolan is speaking. President Evans stated at that time the owner assured him that he would be able to deliver some documentation to show the changes in the door. When the door was delivered it was not the right color and the manufacturer offered to paint it, but that was not a feasible solution so it was returned. The new door that came in was then installed, and it turned out that it did not meet the specifications. President Evans noted that on October 22 when he met with the owner and presented the letter that requested documentation, the owner agreed to do that but it did not happen. President Evans asked the City Clerk to follow up with a phone call to the owner and a message was left but there was no response.
Ms. Dolan commented that she thinks Council always wants to do whatever it can to support business people and to give them every opportunity possible to thrive. Ms. Dolan explained she was ready to vote Nay to override the HCC if there had been some attempt to provide documentation. It comes down to a promise of something showing why the rules should be bent, agreeing that something be brought in, and it was not brought to the HCC. Ms. Dolan, adding that President Evans went to great effort that she appreciates, noted it was made clear to her that there would be something provided by the owner that City Council could look at that would explain how this happened. While commenting she does not know if she will be the only one voting in support of the HARB, Ms. Dolan stated at this point it almost is not only about a garage door one way or the other, but it is about having some respect for the institutions that are put into place. Observing that the owner did not seem to have the time to fax over or drop off a letter explaining the situation, Ms. Dolan queried why Council should vote against its own Historic Review Board. Ms. Dolan expressed that she finds it insulting and it set an even worse precedent than what was talked about at the City Council Meeting. Ms. Dolan added it is one thing to override the Historic Commission but it is another thing to override the Historic Commission without any documentation whatsoever, even though it was requested and promised twice, and effort was made to get it more than once. Ms. Dolan stated that she will definitely not be voting against the HCC on this application.
Mr. Reynolds commented that he will respectfully disagree with Councilwoman Dolan on this. He observed that ultimately taking the door down is not what will end up happening. Mr. Reynolds affirmed that most Members of Council have gone to the business and have seen the door from the inside and outside, when the door was up and when the door was down. Mr. Reynolds, expressing his understanding of Ms. Dolan’s comments, noted that as with many issues there is a total picture including the practical application. Mr. Reynolds stated that he disagreed originally with the Historic Commission in that they thought it was inappropriate, especially when on one side there is a hair salon with a gas station next to it and a CVS on the other side. With all due respect to the process that was followed, Mr. Reynolds thought that the door is one of the nicest things on the block now especially when one looks across and sees the garbage that is kept there. Mr. Reynolds remarked that for Council to vote against it, not only is it impractical because Council will not make him take the door down, but also it is an issue of respect for the business that took a building that was vacant and put money and effort into it. Mr. Reynolds communicated it probably would have been more ideal if the owner had sent the documentation. Mr. Reynolds advised that from his personal point of view, having conversations with the owner, looking at the door, and with the context of the whole block, he is comfortable voting to put this issue behind and to move forward.
Mr. DiGiacinto recalled that he had brought up at the past meeting that he thinks the door is fine. Mr. DiGiacinto, stating he is very disappointed with the lack of response from the owner, said he thinks that is the same response he gave the HCC. Mr. DiGiacinto thought that the building looks very good, and the building front really changed when it was sold by the former owner of Bethlehem Sporting Goods and had the actual barn doors on it and became the Fire House. Mr. DiGiacinto stated that was the change of that building and it is the third generation of doors that he is aware of. Mr. DiGiacinto expressed that he agrees with Mr. Reynolds, although he is disappointed with the owner in not showing the documentation but he does not know what Council can make him do. Mr. DiGiacinto communicated he cannot imagine that the door can be knocked down at this point. Mr. DiGiacinto, noting his thought of going against the HARB when he left the October 1 Meeting, said he is having a hard time deciding what is Council’s recourse if they agree with the HCC, and wondered what the next step would be.
Ms. Dolan stated she hopes in the future that the Council Members who went to such an effort to understand the situation of this business owner are willing to go to such efforts again and again whenever needed when the Historic Boards turn something down. Ms. Dolan pointed out it that seems like a lot of effort for someone who simply could have written a letter explaining the situation, saying he did the best he could and this is the situation, and ask for a break, then Council absolutely would say yes. Now, Council is in a situation where that person was not cooperative so we all bend over backwards. Ms. Dolan advised that she was at the business, saw the door, and sees nothing wrong with the way the door looks. It is obviously a modern style garage door so that could be overlooked. Ms. Dolan stressed she does not know why Council got no documentation. She noted that people tell stories like this to the Historic Board about how they tried to buy something, but could not get that certain version, and the Historic Board is only as strong as Council will back up the Board, that includes the HARB on the North Side, and the Historic Conservation Commission on the South Side and West Side. Ms. Dolan, explaining she is not saying Council will rip off the door, questioned why would Council vote to overturn the HCC, when the owner can go back and apply again, and this time show respect of the law by coming in with some paperwork. Ms. Dolan, pointing out what would happen next is that the owner would have to go back to the HCC, queried is that really too much to ask of someone who is in a Historic District. Ms. Dolan said she does not think so, Council has done a lot, and he has done nothing except talk to Council Members when they go to his facility. Ms. Dolan thought that Council should make him go back to the HCC and that is not too much to ask.
Mr. Reynolds commented that in the past generally when the Historic Board has turned something down Council tabled it, and this includes the situations with Holy Family Manor, the neighbor on High Street, and the Kemerer Museum. With all of these situations, after Council tables them they go out and look at it and try to have conversations with people. Mr. Reynolds said he understands what Ms. Dolan is saying, and that he would not have handled this the way the owner has handled this, but Council did nothing new here. When the Historic Board turns something down often times Council does table it, sends it back to the Board, looks at it themselves, and comes to a conclusion. Mr. Reynolds thought what happened here is consistent with what Council has done in the past.
Ms. Dolan pointed out that in all of those cases, those entities, and those people came and talked to Council and brought documentation.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 5. Voting NAY: Mr. Recchiuti, and Mr. Reynolds, 2. The Resolution to deny the Certificate of Appropriateness passed.
C. Authorizing Incorporation – Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority
Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution 2013-195 that approved the incorporation of the Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority and appointed the members and their terms as follows: Ann McHale – 1 Year, John Filipos – 2 Years, Gretchen Longenbach – 3 Years, Joseph M. Kelly – 4 Years, and James L. Broughal – 5 Years.
President Evans expressed his wishes to all involved with the City’s application the best of luck, and commended the Administration with the selection of the Authority. Noting it is a strong Authority, President Evans pointed out they have a number of difficult and important decisions ahead, and stated that Council places great trust in them. President Evans continued on to say the Council thanks the Authority members for their service and is confident they will work hard in a very short time period to bring a very strong application from the City to present to the State.
Mr. Reynolds thanked the members of the soon to be Authority for volunteering their service, and the Administration for their hard work in putting together the Authority. Mr. Reynolds observed that some of the economic tools available to municipalities such as Allentown raised the stakes. He stressed that the Administration and all parties involved deserve a lot of credit for continuing to lobby and tell the story of mid-size cities and the necessity of these types of economic development tools. Mr. Reynolds asked that the Authority let Council know what they can do to support the application going forward.
Mr. Donchez commended the Administration and Joseph Kelly for a tremendous amount of work they put into this matter over the last several months. Mr. Donchez, commending the members of the Authority, pointed out this could be a great project for the City, and acknowledged the Authority has a lot of work to do in a short period of time.
Mr. Recchiuti thanked the members of the Authority for their service, and pointed out there are many experts who are donating their valuable time and resources to help the City’s application get approved. Mr. Recchiuti thanked the Administration for putting the Authority together, and updating Council throughout the process.
Ms. Dolan, noting that the old style of urbanization involved knocking down what was beautiful and replacing it with something ugly, said the hallmark of the Administration and what has set Bethlehem apart over the past 10 years is that when Bethlehem has done things innovatively like urban infill and revitalizing brownfields it has done so differently than in the past. Ms. Dolan pointed out this is one more excellent example of Bethlehem stepping up, stepping forward, and shining under the Administration. Ms. Dolan expressed she is grateful for the wisdom and forward thinking of the Administration and that the effort can continue.
Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolution passed.
D. Authorizing Execution of PennDOT Turnback Agreement –
South New Street from Third Street to
Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution 2013-196 that authorized a Turnback Agreement to transfer from state to municipal control the portion of SR 3011 from Segment 10, Offset 0000 to Segment 10, Offset 0540, a distance of 0.1 miles, according to the Agreement.
E. Authorizing Execution of Highway Safety Grant Contract
Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. DiGiacinto sponsored Resolution 2013-197 that authorized the execution of Highway Safety Project Grant No. CTSP-2014-Bethlehem City-00006.
Motion – Considering Resolutions 9 F through 9 J as a Group – Certificates of Appropriateness
Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 9 F through 9 J as a group. Voting AYE: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Motion passed.
F. Certificate of Appropriateness – 305 West Fourth Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2013-198 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install window signage at 305 West Fourth Street.
G. Certificate of Appropriateness – 414 East Fourth Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2013-199 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove and replace a door and frame and restore a brick column and two storefront windows at 414 East Fourth Street.
H. Certificate of Appropriateness – 3 West Morton Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2013-200 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace three signs at 3 West Morton Street.
I. Certificate of Appropriateness – 826 East Fourth Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2013-201 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install a sign at 826 East Fourth Street.
J. Certificate of Appropriateness – 416 East Fourth Street
Mr. DiGiacinto and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution 2013-202 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install vinyl signage in the first floor window at 416 East Fourth Street.
Voting Aye on Resolutions 9 F through 9 J: Mr. DiGiacinto, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Belinski, and Mr. Evans, 7. The Resolutions passed.
10. NEW BUSINESS.
Chairman Recchiuti announced a Human Resources and Environment
Committee meeting on Monday, November 25, 2013 at 4:30 PM
in Town Hall.
2014 Budget Hearing Schedule
President Evans announced the 2014 Budget Hearing Schedule, as follows:
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 7:00 PM – Town Hall
First Budget Hearing:
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 – 7:00 PM - Town Hall
City Council Meeting
First Reading of 2014 Budget Ordinances
Thursday, November 21, 2013 – 7:00 PM - Town Hall
Second Budget Hearing:
Parks and Public Property Department
Golf Course Enterprise Fund
Public Works Department
Liquid Fuels Fund
Water and Sewer Resources Department
Water Fund Revenue and Expenses
Water Capital Budget
Sewer Fund Revenue and Expenses
Sewer Capital Budget
Monday, December 2, 2013 – 7:00 PM - Town Hall
Third Budget Hearing:
Non-Utility Capital Fund
Council, Mayor, Treasurer, Controller
Department of Administration
Community Development Block Grant
Community and Economic Development Department
General Fund Revenue
General Fund Expenditures
Thursday, December 12, 2013 – 7:00 PM – Town
Final Budget Meeting
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 – 7:00 PM – Town Hall
City Council Meeting
Final Reading of 2014 Budget Ordinances
11. PUBLIC COMMENT
The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.