Gadfly asked for this! Peter does some chewing on the Mayor’s letter!

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.


1. Why do the Mayor & Council assume that economic development = progress?
Wouldn’t a more logical & holistic approach be to define progress not only in terms of money, but in realizing the provisions of Article I, §27 of the PA Constitution? (‘The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come….’)

2. The Mayor says, “There is a process that each developer has to go through prior to the demolition, rehabilitation, construction of a particular project. . . . There are various city departments, boards, authorities, and commissions that assist with development in the city of Bethlehem often paying close attention to the historical nature of the site and the potential impact the development will have on neighborhoods.” Are these ordinances and guidelines waived for certain favored developers? Why then did the administration pressure the Historic Conservation Commission to recommend a Certificate of Appropriate for the new building at 3rd & New and support Planning Commission & City Council approval — despite the fact that it violated provisions of the zoning ordinance and historic guidelines?

3. I suppose we will never know whether the department that approved the exception for Zest was negligent, incompetent, or just going along with [Dennis] Benner.

4. The Mayor & Historic Conservation Commission should demand that Council rescind the COA for a 9-story building at 4th & Vine, another absurd and outrageous violation of the zoning ordinance & historic guidelines. (This was also approved by the HCC under extreme pressure from the city.)

5. Those concerned about a sustainable future should demand that no new building be approved unless it is climate-neutral.


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