Clarifying the development process

(Latest post on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside, Affordable Housing)

You know what you need to do:
Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development: Seth Moglen (
Mayor Donchez:
City Council: c/o
Morning Call letter to editor:

Today is recycle day.

Gadfly would take you back to two of his “modest proposal” posts (for the full thread of modest proposals, see under Topics on the sidebar).

Both have to do with Gadfly’s hunger for information.

In “The more the merrier,” Gadfly modestly proposed “that the half-dozen or so ‘independent’ Authorities be requested to attend at least two City Council meetings per year, once in the first six months and once in the second, to report on current activities and future plans and to receive comments and questions from both Council members and the general public.”

And, building on that idea, in “An even merrier more,” Gadfly modestly proposed “that each [City] department head come to a meeting twice a year, once in the first half and once in the second, and briefly tell ‘us’ what’s happening in that department. . . . Our Council meetings are ‘live’ and on video now. We could announce a schedule of such guest appearances – ‘coming attractions’ — and promote them in a modest way. People with interest in certain areas could be alerted to attend or tune in or catch up later.”

Gadfly was thinking about these two proposals — aimed at greater exchange of information — aimed at greater transparency, visibility, accountability — in regard to what he called the “teachable moment” when the Mayor responded to the letter from the South Bethlehem Historical Society.

The Mayor said, ” I also hope you understand that there is a process that each developer has to go through. . . . There are various City departments, boards, authorities[,]*** and commissions that assist with development,” etc., etc.

“I also hope you understand” — well, not necessarily.

Lou James and the board of the South Bethlehem Historical Society have been around for a long time. Maybe they need no tutorial.

But Gadfly thinks most of “us” do need one.

To Gadfly — who sees himself as your average citizen — the development process is pretty much shrouded in mystery.

Here’s what Gadfly means by a “teachable moment” in this case.

This would have been a good opportunity to lay out and walk us through the generic development process in detail.

Gadfly has so many questions.

Where does a project start — with a developer or with the City? Are there conversations, arguments, negotiations over aesthetic as well as technical matters? What give-and-take goes on? What kind of projects are sought, what turned away? Who are the key people at the key junctures in the process? What sticky points arise, and how do they get reconciled? How much control does the City have? Where does “history” get on the table? That kind of thing.

A presentation about the steps or phases in a generic development process would be illuminating and would be sure to stimulate questions leading to a better understanding of how we get what we get.

Gadfly can see this as a valuable example of a department presentation at a City Council meeting he modestly proposes above.

*** Prof Gadfly — Conan the Grammarian to several decades of Lehigh students — is a proponent of the Oxford comma and just had to insert it here.


2 thoughts on “Clarifying the development process

  1. Professor Gadfly:
    And I suppose I can call you that without hesitation or reservation since I was one of your legion of English students. While memories fade after almost 50 years, I remember a discussion about the “Oxford comma,” I believe in your class, since it wasn’t in Fluid Dynamics or Organic Chemistry. I became a proponent of its use and continue to do so. Thanks for reminding me why. Sorry for the delayed reaction to your post.

  2. I neglected to mention that the grammar correcting app – “Grammarly” – one of my favorites, uses the “Oxford comma,” to correct your writing, even in e-mail. The first time it corrected me, I was surprised, relieved, and impressed.

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