(20th in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)
It’s time now that we are getting into decision-mode to see what the Planning Commission did at the end of the 2 ½ hr hearing on Nov. 8.
The job of the PC is to make a recommendation to City Council. Council has the final say.
The Planning Commission is a volunteer body made up of 5 members. 4 members were present for this hearing.
Council chairperson Rob Melosky made a motion to approve the submitted text amendment as written and to pass it on to City Council with a positive recommendation.
The voting split 2-2.
Mr. Melosky and Mr Stellato voted for.
Mr. Melosky supported the petition but did not overly elaborate on his position. Gadfly gathered that he was making his decision on “local” evidence – the support of local long-term and reputable residents and decisions by the local Zoning Board and local County Court.
Mr. Stellato did not elaborate on his position at all.
Ms. Joy Cohen and Mr. Matt Malozzi voted against.
“Although I applaud the clients being good neighbors, maintaining the property, renovating the property, and supporting other arts and other events in the community, I am very concerned how this is going to impact other portions of Bethlehem . . . There are other areas . . . that might be severely affected.
“It’s easier when someone is here that is not of the sterling character, the long-time charitable giving and all the other attributes and superlatives that have been heaped upon the current owners . . . the owners have public standing, but I feel it is our duty to cut that away and not be emotional. We are looking at plans that were put into place following the municipalities code in the state with lots of public involvement, that are reviewed and updated over time . . . allows for exceptions . . . an office is not one of them . . . The uncertainty about what this does to other areas is a concern . . . The preservation of the neighborhood character and the compatibility between commercial uses and adjacent uses specifically on the edge of a residential district makes this even more of a concern, not knowing the unintended consequences. There are other commercial properties available . . . what is not available [land for luxury apts, etc.]. We had a realtor saying the same thing here. [Cutting some stuff away] and weighing this in terms of our Comprehensive Plan.”
Key points for:
- support of local residents
- affirmative decisions at the local level by the Bethlehem Zoning Board and the Northampton County Court in previous legal processes and actions before the State Court’s rejection
- local level knows best
Key points against:
- unknown impact on other areas of Bethlehem
- the character of the petitioners, while remarkable, is not pertinent
- an office is not an allowable exception
- preservation of the neighborhood character
- the office could be in the commercial district
- residential properties are in demand
- decision should be weighed in terms of the City’s Comprehensive Plan
Ok, Gadfly says it’s time to stop absorbing and to begin weighing.
You’ve seen how four of your fellow residents voted and supported their votes on precisely the same information as you have.
Do you agree or disagree with your fellows? And agree or disagree for the same or different reasons?
Follow Gadfly as he tries to sort it out for himself and chime in.