On February 20, 2018, Stephanie Hnatiw and Virginia Oskin of the Bethlehem
YWCA named Councilwoman Olga Negron YWCA’s Public Servant of the
Year. Councilwoman Negron will be formally honored on April 12 during
a dinner at the event center at Blue in Bethlehem Township.
In other news, the final vote on plans to covert parts of Filbert Street
and Second Avenue to be “vacated, discontinued, abandoned and stricken
from the city’s general plan of streets,” has been rescheduled
for another time. The proposed action for the streets will support redevelopment
plans for the vacant armory on Prospect Avenue.
Despite the vote being postponed, residents continued to voice their displeasure
by campaigning against the project. William Scheirer, a local resident,
spoke out against a particular amendment that the Zoning Hearing Board
had granted to the project. The amendment he opposes “increases
the lot coverage by 10 percentage points for all buildings in all RT,
the most dense, residential zones.” Scheirer calls the move made
by the Zoning Hearing Board “a Trojan Horse that will enable developers
to build even more massive projects as a matter of right.”
Speaking on the issue, Scheirer had the following to say: “Do we
want to become a wannabe [sic] small city with pretensions to concentrated
urban dynamism, or do we want to retain the delights of a large town that
have [sic] bequeathed to us? If the latter, then ask the administration
to simply limit the additional 10 percentage points to decks and sheds.
What could be easier?”
Minutes after Scheirer vocalized his complaints, the council approved an
article that would increase the maximum building coverage in RT districts.
Speaking favorably about the historic buildings, Marsha Fritz said, “Many
cities have local organizations that promote the preservation of buildings,
but Bethlehem does not. Instead concerned citizens must organize around
each threatened building; rarely do they have the resources for the inevitable
legal action. Developers know this. So do politicians who can wait out
citizens in favor of developers.”
Other business approved by the council included approving the vacation
of a portion of Pyatt Street at the intersection of Pyatt Street and Covington
Avenue. Nearby properties are owned by Ryaz, Khairunisa, and Mubina Gangji
and by Gentle Family Dentistry.
The council also voted to change the definition of a hotel. The new ordinance
they passed will reduce the number of rooms a hotel must have. The council
also approved use of the Memorial Pool building to the American Association
of University Women of Bethlehem for its 2018 Book Fair that will take
place from April 26–30. The St. Luke’s University Health Network’s
2018 Boutique at the Rink also received approval from the council to use
the Earl E. Schaffer Ice Rink from May 29-June 2.
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